Tuesday, August 15

Gary Kildall : A good life !?

As the popular press celebrates the 25 years of PC revolution, and recounts the PC stories where the heros are Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell etc., it is also important to remember Gary Kildall who could have/should have been where Bill Gates is today.

I came across this article about Gary Kildall, head of Digital Research and who wrote CP/M operating system. According to article/legend when IBM came knocking for an OS to run its PC, Kildall was of flying his aerobatic biplane, and left his wife Dorothy to do the talking who in turn was too hassled planning for vacation to take the IBM proposal more seriously.

The article quotes former CEO of Symantec Gordon Eubanks: "Gary could have owned this business [ie, computing] if he had made the right strategic decisions... He did not care that much. Dorothy ran the business and he ran the technical side, and they did not get on."

Article goes on to mention : "Kildall died in 1994 at the age of 52 from injuries received in a biker bar brawl during a night out in Monterey, California."

A more sympathetic story in Dr. Dobb's journal mentions the cause of Kildall's death as falling from a ladder in the bar. The story refers to Kildall as an academic type who cleared the path on which Microsoft flourished.

He starts of happy, a laid back academic -- "Gary was happy in his marriage, happy to be living by the ocean, happy not to have gone to Vietnam, and most definitely happy in his job". -- whose accomplishments though path breaking was overshadowed by the success of Microsoft "his resentment of Bill gates was inevitable" but "never expressed publicly"

He did become wealthy by selling his company to Novell 1991.

Gary then moved to the West Lake Hills suburb of Austin, Texas. The Novell deal had made him a wealthy man. His Austin house was a sort of lakeside car ranch, with stables for 14 sports cars and a video studio in the basement. He owned and flew his own Lear jet and had at least one boat

A great quote from Tom Rolander's eulogy at Kildall's funeral " ...It was then that I learned that computers were built to make money, not minds."

In some ways every competitor to Microsoft has been a repeat of the Kildall story. Kildall was passionate about software, Bill was passionate about the "business of software".

Everyone is a hero, depending on your perspective.

Gordon Eubanks sets the record right about the MS deal with IBM in this interview. (very interesting reading)

Thursday, August 10

Norlin's Maxim & Digital Footprints

AOL's accidental release of the search records, while giving an interesting peek into private livesof its users, is another proof of Norlin's" Maxim: that "The internet inexorably pulls information from the private domain into the public domain"

Inspite of Norlin's Maxim, enterprises are clearly duty bound to treat users/customer's digital footprints with same level of care as they would treat their credit card numbers. I don't think I am comfortable with AOL/Time Warner having any such data in its possession in a manner that is potentially accessible to someone/anyone. My identity and my digital footprints should be inaccessible to anyone that includes people within organizational boundaries.

Digital lifestyle does leave footprints, your entire life is being recorded. Here is interesting article that appearded on this issue: "Beyond the question of informed consent lie larger questions: Should all of this electronic flotsam and jetsam be archived in the first place? What are the consequences for us if our digital footprints survive indefinitely? Who should decide whether they do survive?

Sunday, August 6

IBM is Legacy, Infosys is the future

It's been interesting to see the reaction to Chidamdaram's (Indian Finance Minster) comment "IBM is legacy, Infosys is the future,". Beyond the sheer immodesty of comparing a $90 billion American/Computing icon to an $2 billion Indian firm, the reactions have generally been dismissive ranging from denial, shock, angry, patronizing.

IBM has transformed itself before; it could and most probably will transform itself again. Clearly IBM has woken up to Indian skills and it is re-organizing itself coupled with $6 billion investment over next 3 years , and few would dare to bet against IBM. Yet till it successfully achieves this gut wrenching transplantation/transformation, I guess it is fair to call IBM legacy.

Stephanie Moore of Forrester Research in her latest report points to some reasons why Chidamdaram might be right.

Friday, August 4

Open Source & Open Innovation (Cont'd)

Below are reasons why IT services firms will begin to look beyond supporting third party open source communities and instead will look at open source as way to enable rapid innovation, rapid diffusion and market acceptance of those innovations.

Overcome Frontloaded Investment Model

Major successful open source communities represent cumulative effort running into billions of dollars. Many IT service vendors would abandon pursuing such opportunities due to capital constraints and risks involved.

De-risk early adopters

Open source reduces risks for early adopters, which is especially important for enterprise IT customers. Enterprise IT customers are among the most risk-averse. They assiduously avoid building in any dependencies on specific IT service vendors. Open source model allows them access to source code and any derived work or modifications can used under the same terms as the original work.

Software especially un-proven, "innovative" code needs to be observed to make sure it performs the desired operation without undesired side effects. Using software means placing an enormous amount of trust on the IP provider’s intentions, capability and future roadmap and viability. Making source code available mitigates a significant amount of these risk perceptions in an effective manner. Clients can now maintain independence from vendor in the event of technical difficulties and/or bankruptcy of the software vendor.

In-Built viral marketing model

General Public License (GPL) and similar licenses guarantees your right to share and change software. This encourages developers to share their work and modifications. Key strength of OSS is the ability to customize to satisfy heterogeneity of demand. By creating, building and maintaining external communities, the firm can now engage in serious, in depth discussions with influential individuals, companies & organizations. This puts the firm in a position to demonstrate leadership & vision and enable us to influence the direction and structure of the competitive landscape.

Network Externalities & Complements

By being the first mover in the market, a firm can “cross the chasm: and build a large user base, leading to network externalities especially if the innovation can act as a platform on which others can innovate upon. But the biggest gains come from reputation of being a thought leader and building relationships with the most likely early adopters who will reveal themselves as participants in the open source project.

Network externalities manifests itself in multiple ways 1.) New users are always influenced by what previous users have chosen, 2.) Early entrant in market can acquire superior reputation, capabilities, alliances & resources 3.) Having one's innovation accepted a standard in certain situations may lead to user lock-in 4.) Tap into ingenuity of outsiders to develop complements on the firm's IP. All of these increases the value of underlying innovation to the market and hence higher the chances for making money.

Open source community can now supplement a company's sales force as a lead generator and an effective channel to push IP assets that then generates demand for high margin services. Incubation & stewardship of successful open source projects can act as an inexpensive (based on opportunity cost of status quo) reputation building tool to extract higher margins. Being the gatekeeper of the open source projects can act as a sustainable competitive advantage.

Open Source & Open Innovation

Traditionally open source has been seen as an community based software development model which was an alternative to more structured development methodologies. Today "open source" from its origins in utopian ideas of free & open software movements, has morphed into a deadly weapon that is tactically used for larger strategic objectives. Significant number of programmers, who are part of the open source movement are paid to do so and not necessarily doing so as hobbists, amatuers or for other altrustic purposes. Large corporations have usurped the open source movement to commodotize competition and/or increase adoption of complementary offerings by offering it free.

[Complements: Bread & butter are complements, so if price of bread goes down (becomes zero/free) and demand for butter goes up]

Clearly few independant developers would want to be willing participants to such shenanigans given that increasingly objectives of more successful projects are for a for-profit organization for private returns. So the point I am getting to is this: Open source is becoming less & less of an altruistic alternative development model and increasingly become the mainstream ADOPTION model for profit-oriented corporations. And there is nothing wrong with that.

What software companies in the open source space aim to achieve and more likely to get are groups of early adopters and dedicated users, who can act as highly informed and credible validators, some of whom could contribute code. More simply companies will aim to create a market for an innovation that was not their earlier.

My argument is that open source will evolve as a robust business strategy where software and services are complements. With the growth of services, software will increasingly become "freer" and companies will resort to open source. R&D invesments of services companies result in IP assets that are complementary to services and rapid diffusion of IP assets using open source will generate demand and reputation for associated consulting and application development and support services. The primay goal is to increase the number of potential customers/market for the innovation then use their superior strengths in service delivery to monetize the innovation. Beyond monetization & business models open source is a compelling model to benefit from innovation that happens outside the firm also referred to as the "open innovation" paradigm.

Saturday, July 22

It's official, its mainstream & its called Crowdsourcing

Open source paradigm now moves beyond building software, to building anything or atleast many things. Check out Crowdsourcing

Something business will clearly have to look closely at and see what it means for them and how to leverage it.

Invention & Innovation

Invention is the development of a new device, process or method. Innovation is when the invention succesfully meets a market opportunity.

From the mythical days of lone inventors Ben Franklin, Wright Brothers, Edison, Alexander Bell etc. to mammoth R&D labs of large corporation like Xerox, IBM a single entity whether an individual or corporation could "innovate" if it owned the invention.

But things are changing as barriers to acquiring knowledge across the globe fall, ability of anybody anywhere to create new connections, new knowledge and hence "invent" constantly rises. Invention always a stochastic process is not something large R&D even with billions of dollars can now hope to control and own.

As Chesbrough points out "the old 'closed innovation' model-vertically integrated research-and-development departments that develop technology in-house for the sole use of their corporate parent-is becoming obsolete "

“Open innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively. [This paradigm] assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as they look to advance their technology.”

Invention is not the sole domain of a few subject matter experts, scientists, or technical folks; users and customers are also participating as individuals and more importantly co-create their experiences as part of communities.
P&G gets this phenomenon and is captured in its Connect & Develop Innovation Model

Open Source movement in software is the most visible example of this paradigm. Ron Goldman & Richard P. Gabriel's book "Innovation happens elsewhere" explore this phenomenon. But their book should have been more appropriatly titled "Invention happens elsewhere, but Innovation (hence profits) should happen here"

So how should firms and their R&D departments respond and see this paradigm as an unprecedent opportunity to deliever superior experience to their customers.

Coming up...stay tuned...

Thursday, July 6

Appropriating value from innovations in IT Services

Over next couple of posts, I would like to explore the subject of extracting value from innovation in IT services industry. I believe this is an extremely interesting problem.

In summary:

Unlike pharmaceuticals, biotech, microelectronics, chemicals; IT Services industry structure provides a “weak” appropriability regime for innovation. Patents, copyrights, secrecy etc. do not provide effective models to protect innovation from imitation by clients, competition and/or software application vendors.

In addition IT services firms rarely possess any “special” synergistic superior complementary assets for extracting value, rather it's salesforce that is "partner-led" or high touch account managers have very limited reach and associated overhead costs makes wider selling & marketing very costly & difficult.

Obviously I am ignoring innovations where value extraction can be achieved by spinning of subsidiaries, selling or licensing the innovation. In most cases R&D and innovation plays a critical role of signaling superior capabilities to prospective and current clients, thus playing a critical role in “premium rate justification”

Hence in general I believe IT services firms will move towards an “open innovation” paradigm by leveraging open source based business models to extract value out of technology innovations.

Monday, July 3

It's not the method(-ology or tools), it's the mindset

On a recent roadshow I had the opportunity to visit and talk about innovation & research to IT leadership teams of some of the biggest/well-known corporations in US. Sadly most enterprise IT folks viewed innovation as mere application of new technologies, widgets etc. i.e SOA, BPM, Mobility. IT management practices in itself are rarely viewed as a source of innovation or catalyst to "business innovation".

Successful examples of truely innovative companies like Wal-Mart, Dell, Toyota, Progressive (Refer to HBR article "Deep Change: How operational innovation can transform your company") exemplify how IT can be exploited to achieve breakthrough business impact. IT leaders are supposedly in a unique position to champion this form of operational innovation. They have the broad top-management org-wide view of strategy, in addition are connected intimately with the nuts and bolts of key organizational & operational processes. Unlike HR or accounting leaders who might be constrained by their functional views & reach within the organization, IT managers have the resources and relationships to affect broad change and innovation. I have always held the view that IT function can be as good a breeding & training ground for general management leaders as finance, marketing functions.

YET, IT leaders are struggling to gain credibility, struggling to go beyond organizational cultures that devalues information technology. Worse many have abdicated the responsibility and instead of stepping up to the leadership challenge, view themselves primarily as a support/enabler function.

I believe it is this dangerous self-perception of IT as merely a support function that leads to some very dangerous trends of bureaucratic procedures, obsession with new technologies, us vs. them divide. Even the some of the popular industry language perpetuates this mindset i.e. "busines-IT alignment", as-if business (them) & IT (us) are different in the first place. Nobody talks of "business-marketing" or "business-finance" or "business-accounting" alignment.

IT leaders clearly have to step up and view themselves NOT as just supporting operational processes, but step up and show leadership in achieving operational innovation through effective & innovative IT management.

Sunday, February 19

"Doughnut effect" in Enterprise IT

For decades enterprise IT was the queen bee around which all cutting edge technologies were developed. But just like many cities in the United States were subjected to the “doughnut effect”: the city centre becomes “hollow” as population moves from inner suburbs to the outer suburbs in search of newer, larger or more affordable houses, enterprise IT is going through a similar hollowing out effect.

Consumers & Clients drive technology choices

Today consumers external to enterprise boundaries have access to more choices, more powerful, richer technologies than enterprises. Earlier era was dominated by “processing industries”, where enterprise IT was characterized by “islands of automation” and that was ok as long as the islands supported the critical internal processes. Today with the growth of knowledge based economy, organizations cannot afford to lag behind in terms of being able to connect with stakeholders using latest technologies, where transactions, processes & relationships with all stakeholders, especially those external, need to be rich, dynamic, and adaptable, subject to constant reinvention. Ubiquitous connectivity and pervasive computing throws open unbounded opportunities for innovation across the enterprise. Consumers can now migrate from passive recipient to active co-creator of value.
Yet there is a rapidly widening technological schism between technologies within the enterprises and technologies consumers have access to. Rapid adoption rates of new technologies mobile phones, web based services, communities, blogging etc. is in sharp contrast to the way enterprise IT is stuck in legacy traps and is generally resistant to and suspicious of all new technologies even in the face of obvious end user adoption. In a competitive marketplace IT departments will have lead the way and move fast to close this gap to provide information and interact with consumers on their chosen technology platforms.

Software as Service

SaaS represent another dimension of this technology doughnut effect, where huge monolithic applications are being replaced by external web service providers. SOA & SaaS (Software as a Service) is gathering huge momentum; the buzz on the web is overwhelming. Salesforce.com has now morphed into Appexchange with all kinds of services available. http://www.salesforce.com/appexchange . MS has released Office live beta. Google is providing “customized” hosted email service. Rather than look SOA from internal Enterprise IT perspective, the disruption is applications being replaced by “outside-in” services. While conservatives would point to security, data ownership, customization challenges, I believe there are enough instances of Global 2000 going for salesforce.com. “Outside-in” services solve the legacy trap issue in single sweep. While the trends are not new or unknown, the tipping point is approaching faster than earlier thought.


While nothing new, earlier outsourcing contracts were designed as a “all or nothing” total outsourcing deals, that essential transferred employees, sold assets to the outsourcer, changing little else. Infosys was among the earliest to promote Modular Global Sourcing where executives have to work hard to “modularize” IT into strategic and logical components that can then be distributed geo-locationally, to perform them where it creates the maximum value. Since then subsequent large outsourcing deals have confirmed this trend where companies have started thinking very strategically about how exactly outsourcing can/should add value.

Innovation Networks

Innovation and continous innovation is critial and this can only be supported by a market ecosystem i.e. Innovation Networks — that matches an enterprise demand for innovation with worldwide supply. "Innovation Networks will let firms fluidly weave internally and externally available invention and innovation services to optimize the profitability of their products, services, and business models. Innovation Networks will deconstruct vertically integrated invention-to-innovation cycles in software, finance, and CPG industries" (Forrester.com). Enterprise will have to facilitate complex webs of relationships among firms, universities, and other organizations for generating and sharing knowledge relevant to innovation.

While intimidating I believe these trends offer a unique unboundless opportunities to “Enterprise IT” leaders to go beyond “business-IT alignment-subservience" to leading businesses to horizons they could never see.

Thursday, February 16

Digital Identity, Reputation meets real world

Check out dontdatehimgirl.com. Is this identity theft or freedom of speech? How far behind is a mashup with Google Maps ;-)

21 million subscribers of myspace.com, facebook, and other public social networking group don't care about privacy. Reputation is treasured more than privacy and security is taken for granted (government's job)

Sometimes with issues like privacy, security, trust we get confused between "ends" and "means". And the technology possibilities overshoot real world requirements

Internet Freedom and Tech companies

The recent controversy around Yahoo’s role in arrest of Chinese writer, Google’s self censorship, and in the context of “Prophet Muhammed’s cartoon” controversy raises the question of role of industry in furthering values of democracy and freedom of speech. Should industry and companies go beyond mere passive compliance to local laws to a more activist stance?

In the 80s Sullivan Foundation & Sullivan principles represented a voluntary industry effort to oppose apartheid. Religious, gender based discrimination, repressive Islamic regimes, environment, etc. etc. are all equally worthy issues that companies should not shy away from. Passive compliance seems like the easy way out, I believe firms should proactively aim to be a force for “good” while striking a fine balance with respect for diversity and differing value systems. It is difficult, yet responsible leaders will have to struggle with and find the right balance.

As opposed to a voluntary effort the proposed “Global Online Freedom Act 2006 ”, does look like overly intrusive in scope that takes a rather simplistic view of the nuances of issues involved. Check out Rebecca Mackinnon’s (former CNN China correspondent) website for a better understanding of the context and issues involved.

Wednesday, February 15

Universal Identity Metasystem

Recently announced Infocard project from Microsoft aims to provide “a uniform way for people to log on to Web sites, conduct transactions and prove their identities online” and will be incorporated into Vista. According to Kim/MS, Infocard shows the way to a Universal Identity Metasystem.

Kim Cameron’s website http://www.identityblog.com/, gives a good insight into the thinking that went behind the project. It begins with laws of identity that defines the architecture:

Law 1. User Information should be revealed only with consent & user has control of how and when this information is released
Law 2: Minimize the information revealed
aw 3: Information should be released to only participating entities in the relationships
aw 4: The universal identity metasystem should support “omnidirectional” identifiers (for public entities) and “unidirectional” identifiers for use by private entities
aw 5: The Universal Identity Metasystem should channel and enable interworking of multipleidentity technologies run by multiple identity providers
aw 6: The system should extend to and integrate the human user in a manner that is meaningful to him/her
aw 7: The system should provide a consistent experience across contexts,

The components that implement the above architecture are

1. A way to represent identities using claims
2. A means for identity providers, relying parties, and subjects to negotiate
3. An encapsulating protocol to obtain claims and requirements
4. A means to bridge technology and organizational boundaries using claims transformation
5. A consistent user experience across multiple contexts, technologies, and operators

The Identity Metasystem is built on interoperable Web Services (WS-*) protocols, i.e WS-Trust, WS-Metadataexchange, WS-Security Policy and secured using WS-Security

The first law concerning user consent and control has generated some controversy. What extent of control should user expect over the records of transactions he/she conducts with service providers? What about reputation information like credit score, ebay ratings etc.? What happens when regulations demand users reveal their identification? Does users control over their identity information conflict with someone else’ freedom of speech? Check out http://identity20.com/ for in depth exploration of these issues.

Within large enterprises too identity management aims to go beyond access control, SSO, directory integration and provides scalability and business agility in a way the was not possible with earlier technologies. Whether strong centralized IT departments see the need to re-engineer their legacy identity management systems yet is still unclear. But as SOA paradigm gains momentum federated digital identity cannot be far behind.

Security, trust, authentication, privacy, identity management are all interlinked and among the biggest challenges facing Internet based applications/services, yet the solution has to be “simple, and open” and Infocard from MS looks like a great start.

Other candidates include sxip.com

Tuesday, February 14

Bill Gates sees end to passwords in sight

"Bill Gates sees end to passwords in sight:

Bill made it clear that he really cares about privacy and security, just as he is committed to helping build an identity metasystem that moves the industry to the next stage of collaboration and reach. ...Now, with Windows Vista, Gates feels he finally has the right weapons to supplant the password as a means of verifying who is who on computers and over the Internet. The new operating system, due later this year, introduces a concept called InfoCards"

For detailed background, whitepapers on Infocard, design principles check out Kim Cameron's blog at www.identityblog.com

Monday, February 13

Technology Futures and Forecasting

For the zillions of techgurus, futurists etc. out there, here is a publicly transperant way to prove your technology forecasting skills: http://buzz.research.yahoo.com

My guess is there are some holes in the system: Volumes are low, keyword selection could be controversial, multiple accounts can skew results

This is definitely something that can prove useful, at the minimum some fun.

Thursday, February 9

Blogging issues (Crisis & Ethics)

Companies & their PR agencies are getting savvy (Jim Allchin meets bloggers) in the way they handle influential bloggers, which raises full disclosure & ethical issues for bloggers. A well written article by Rebecca Buckman in WSJ highlights the these issues. (here's the other side of the story)

Anonymity is a desirable feature in blogging. I do not think "credible" and "anonymous" blogger/blogging is an oxymoron. That said clearly people (anonymous or otherwise) should be able profit from their "influence", why should it be restricted to movie stars, athletes, models...

As long as one is not crossing legal boundaries (insider trading, contractual confidentiality etc.) I do not think the ethical issues are as simple as straitjacketed "full disclosure".

As bloggers wade through these issues corporates have to prepare for the consequences. Link to an interesting article on the Economist.

$100 laptop

Nicholas Negroponte's vision for $100 laptop for every child in poor countries has stirred quiet a debate with Bill Gates/Microsoft, Craig Barrett/Intel expressing apprehensions and suggesting alternatives. Others too have chimed in with articulate arguments against the project, yet we do not see equally well articulated arguments in favour addressing the above concerns.

A look at the principals involved in the project gives some inkling why this may be so. Each one is a tech guru/star and for them collectively, an $100 laptop is an interesting technical problem to be solved whose success will not be measured in through effective market adoption and successful usage, but in just having achieved what they set out to do: make a laptop for which governments will pay atleast $100. Maybe the innovative approaches & technologies is something to look forward for, hopefully could even push industry in the right direction: simpler & cheaper.

Wednesday, February 8

Jealousy & Envy

Sometimes I think jealously & envy more than greed (which is mostly good) is a behind seemingly inexplicable actions and decisions of people who should know better.

Two examples

1. The proposal by broadband operators to charge websites money for providing "better" service. "We have to make sure that they [application providers] don't sit on our network and chew up bandwidth," says Whitacre (AT&T), who believes companies like Google and Microsoft should "share the cost" of operating broadband networks.

2. Opposition to Google's Library project. Imagine having all books from the biggest and best libraries, searchable at your fingertips. If there is one thing that should be done to bridge the digital divide it is this: Access to knowledge. Yet it is the authors themselves who oppose! Why?? Here's a better articulated argument for the project

Google Vs Yahoo Vs Amazon Vs ebay

In a interview with FT ebay CEO Meg Whitman claimed "The four dominant internet groups - Google, Yahoo, eBay and Amazon - will increasingly focus on their core activities rather than compete with each other head-on...I think we will end up specialising,...We have specialised in e-commerce, payment and voice communication. Google stands for search, Yahoo largely stands for content - so I think we may on the fringe compete, but I suspect that over time the businesses will become more specialised."

That sounds reasonable, or is it!?!

The more obvious differences are in the revenue models, broadly: Advertising for Google, Ads & paid content/services for Yahoo, commissions for ebay and sales minus costs for Amazon. All these require more than a few geeks working on Ajax, it means different competencies, capabilities, supply chains, distribution, business relationships, alliances and so specializing and focus will definitely help in ensuring efficiency in operations.

Inspite of all efficiencies, effectiveness & strategy will only be driven by two things 1. User Experience 2. Communities, and that is where the differences begin to collapse and all four do begin to look like competition.

Another way to look at it would be that a user reads about the newest, coolest widget on Yahoo, researches about it on Google, while clicking on a few ads there, buys the product on Amazon, and then auctions it off on ebay. I guess it would be easiest for ebay to move upstream, scale up and/or out spanning the entire chain and even into all aspects of e-commerce in manner that significantly impacts even mainstream retailers/manufacturers forcing them to set-up shop on ebay-ville(ebay-halli in Bangalore). I also do feel ebay has the maximum stickiness, durability & network externalities among its community compared to the other three.

It truely is a drama of epic proportions being played on the most exciting theatre: Internet

Tuesday, February 7

Challenges ahead for Web Services Management

Business logic, embedded in services fabric implemented through SOA, is not a monolithic determinstic entity. Rather sevaral externalities like regulation, changing business dynamics, partners have to be addressed in order to minimize continous changes to the core services.

Recent outages experienced by service providers had a cascading impact on downstream mashed-up website raising issues of reliability & availability. Use of external services leads to rise in risks levels that might not be within the consumers (of web services) control. How do you build redundancy in such cases i.e. multiple providers of equivalent services??

There might even be cases where for building in differentiation in QoS parameters to different consumers. This article published by SETLabs researchers gives a good overview of the challenges ahead, also proposes a practical architecture to address QoS issues in Web Services management.
Computing History tidbits

Picture of the first mouse invented by Douglas Engelbart

Intel, founded by Noyce, Grove, Moore was short for INTegrated ELectronics

The first computer hackers emerged at
MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). They borrowed their name from a term to describe members of a model train group at the school who "hack" the electric trains, tracks and switches to make them perform faster and differently.

Original home of Yahoo

Larry Page and Sergey Brin begin collaboration on a search engine called BackRub which later becomes Google.

Tuesday, January 31

Changing CIO priorities

Over the last year there has been a distinct evolution in business expectations from CIOs. This change is evident through the Gartner CIO 2006 survey where the top 5 priorities are 1. Business Process Improvement 2. Controlling costs 3. Attracting and growing customer relationship 4. Improving competitive advantage 5. Improving competitivness.

These priorities have clearly evolved from last years priorities which were 1. Business Process Improvements 2. Security 3. Costs 4. Supporting competitive advantage 5. Data protection & privacy.

These trends will accelerate over this year and CIOs will be expected to leverage technology and truely deliver business innovation. Over last few years IT departments were expected to streamline operations and reduce costs. While the pressure on costs still remain and wider economic risks still loom in the horizon, achieving business growth is back on boardroom agenda and this will trickle down IT departments in form of expectations for new applications, services & infrastructure.

The one clear area of opportunity for IT to deliver on these expectations is customer relationships, customer interface, front office capabilities. CIO have to look beyond their enterprise silos and immerse themselves in some of the amazing ways users, customers are using the web. Refer to my earlier post on "Future of Marketing". These trends are best appreciated through first hand experience. Are you a blogger, are you linkedin, where are you in myspace, did you check out that podcast, how do you search for information etc. etc.

CIOs are in a unique position to seize initiative and show leadership across functional boundaries of marketing, operations, HR as the next wave of business innovation will be technology led.

Wednesday, January 18

Web 2.0 Meme

"Web 2.0" is one of those overhyped terms that started as a vacuous concept yet the popularity it has gained over last one year makes it a useful term that marks a milestone in the evolution of the Internet/web.

Tim OReilly, orignator and chief evangelist of Web 2.0, tries to articulate the principles governing Web 2.0 as being

1. Web as Platform: Web Services, Mashup sites, software-as-service
2. Long tail Business Model: Instead to targeting the few big fish, build for millions of small ones
3. Harnessing Colletive Intelligence: Network effects, folksonomy, wisdom of crowds
4. Ease of building mashup websites make data and content ownership critical to maintaining competitive advantage
5. Software products morph into software services
6. Ajax: Asynchronous data retrieval

There is an interesting discussion on the definition of Web 2.0 here

To me the key insight in following the trends that constitute Web 2.0 is that it is not about "cool, bleeding edge" technologies rather every successful example of Web 2.0 implementation/example provides its user the ability to create his/her own experience as an individual or as part of a community.


Google redefined "relevance" of search results from being output of "sophisticated computer algorithms to collective judgement of human web authors

Amazon allows users to create unique experiences for themselves

Ebay is a community co-created example of online marketplace as opposed to uninspired B2C websites

myspace.com, Wikipedia, Flickr, BitTorrent, Napster, blogs etc. each is an example that allows users to create unique experiences for themselves

In my opinion ability to co-create should be the central insight of Web 2.0, while principles put forth by Tim above only contribute to realizing this central concept of co-creating experiences

The book that put forth this idea of Co-creation is : The Future of Competition: Co-creating unique value with Customers by C. K. Prahalad, Venkat Ramaswamy

Wall Street Tech Stories

Current market capitalization of companies is a function of future expectations. It is the best mechanism of quantifying the (smartest) collective judgement of people who are voting with their money.

Below is a market cap (as of Jan 18 2005) of key competitors and they do tell a story

Dell vs. Apple

Apple: $71.39B (Revenue: $13.93B)
DELL: $71.5B (Revenue: $54.18B)

Apple has a future, Dell might not

Oracle vs SAP

Oracle: $64.22B (Revenue $12.89B)
SAP: 56.94B (Revenue: $9.9B)

It's a tie

Google vs. Yahoo

Google: $138.05B (Revenue: $5.25B)
Yahoo: $56.91B (Revenue: $4.83B)

Advantage Google

Microsoft vs IBM

Microsoft: $287.3B (Revenue: $40.34B)
IBM: $131.10B (Revenue: $94.28B)

Products is a better business than Services

IT services

Accenture : $17.55B (Revenue: $17.57B)
EDS: $12.71B (Revenue: $20.51B)
Infosys: $19.82B (Revenue: $2.01B)

Infosys has beaten Accenture & EDS

Google vs. Microsoft

Google: $138.05B (Revenue: $5.25B)
Microsoft: $287.3B (Revenue: $40.34B)

Who Knows??

Thursday, January 12

Bangalore floods on Hosur Road Oct 2005

Floods in Bangalore

Photos on flickr.com

Future of Marketing is now

Effective Ads, Viral Marketing, Communities or social networking, Co-creation

1. Ubiquitous, contextual, granular ads everywhere (Online, Mobile, Print): www.google.com
2. Viral marketing: Buzz-oven
3. Communities or social networking: www.myspace.com , www.milliondollarhomepage.com
4. Co-creating experiences: www.converse.com

Portfolio Approach to SCM

An old article of mine published on CIO.com

A Portfolio Approach to SCM

Seamless collaboration with complete information sharing between all supply chain participants is still in the future. But there are strategies to dealwith the current transitional state to help you come out on top today.

Link to article

Wednesday, January 11

IT imperatives beyond strategic alignment

Article I wrote published in Handbook of Business Strategy

While enterprises across the board have identified significant productivity improvements, and realized substantial improvements in consumer surplus using Information Technology, there has been little evidence of significant positive impact to sustainable business profitability. While IT systems so far have provided operational benefits and enhanced consumer experience, unless managers take care to go beyond strategic alignment of their information infrastructure investments to ensure architectural flexibility and constantly optimize IT delivery efficiency, they will begin to see diminishing returns from IT as the pace of business changes increase.

Link to paper

ROI is not a formula, it is a Responsibility

Article I wrote sometime ago and was published in Journal of Business Strategy

Ronald Reagan once famously said of government, “Just like a baby – an enormous appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”

Excessive amount of ink has been devoted (in trade publications, marketing brochures and analyst reports) to help a CIO calculate “Return on Investments.” Methods recommended include, simple Cost-Benefit Analysis, IRR, Discounted Cash Flows, Total Cost of Ownership, EVA and real options. Among all this mumbo-jumbo of numbers and formulae, one loses track of the most important factor that will ensure “returns” on your investments, that is, “Accountability.” This paper lays out a framework to assign responsibility for various types of IT investments to ensure that you realize the projected “rosy” ROI numbers that any of the above formulae throws up.

Link to the paper

IT+BPO Combined Power

Integrating IT and Operational Resources for Continuous Improvement
By Krishnan Narayanan & Jacob Varghese

Managers have to look beyond the myopic silos of business transactions, IT applications and infrastructure and take a holistic view of business processes that includes all three components

As organizations begin to focus on generating long term value from offshore outsourcing, the emphasis has shifted from tactical cost reduction to sustainable continuous business process improvement. This has triggered a number of discussions about the merits of combining IT and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). So far managers have made a clear distinction between outsourcing operations vs. IT systems within business processes. Since outsourcing has been viewed as a tactical make vs. buy decision, businesses have ended up outsourcing components of a single business process to disparate service providers. What are the relative merits of an integrated IT and BPO approach? How it can be achieved for optimal results?.

Link to paper

Patents vs Open Source to Patents with Open Source

US Patent office to partner with the open source community to improve quality of software patents.

Key Points

1. Open source recognized as prior art. A consortium including IBM to build a searchable database of open source

2. Public can send emails on review of patent applications to identify prior art

3. Development of patent quality index http://www.patentqualityindex.org/.

Monday, January 9

From Computerworld

Ray Kurzweil: IT Will Be Everything: "Future Watch: AI pioneer Ray Kurzweil looks out across the century and sees a wondrous but at times frightening world, where technology is everything and we have computers in our brains. "

From Amazon

Ray Kurweil referred to as "technology's most credible hyberbolic optimist" author of The Singularity Is Near : When Humans Transcend Biology ("the singularity," a reference to the theoretical limitlessness of exponential expansion) that will see the merging of our biology with the staggering achievements of "GNR" (genetics, nanotechnology and robotics) to create a species of unrecognizably high intelligence, durability, comprehension, memory and so on" quote from Amazon editorial review.

I have not read his books but a quick google has left me curious, given he is one of the 5 advisors to the US military on advanced technologies. (Who are the other 4?.) Would he have addressed issues from social, cultural, ethical, philosophical dimensions or would it be Moore's law exaggerated & extrapolated to everything. E.g. check out Omnipotence paradox
Best books of 2005: (Amazon)