Archive for September, 2008
by Jenny Ambrozek
Marking Infoworld’s 30th birthday 9/23/08 their staff and IDG review the series of past future shocks “from the ascent of the personal computer to horrifying strains of malware to the sizzling sex appeal of the iPhone.” to look ahead to the potential future shocks in the next 10 years. The list makes an intriguing read:
1. Triumph of the cloud
2. Cyborg chic
3. Everything works
4. Nothing escapes you
5. Smartphones take center stage
6. Human-free manufacturing
7. Perfect image recognition
8. Big Brother never sleeps
9. Unbroken connectivity
10. Relationship enhancement
Infoworld has summoned a thoughtprovoking list, but I wonder from your perspective, how many of these future shocks are already arrived? Contributor Bob Lewis’s observations about the potential of human-free manufacturing to impact job loss and wage decline particularly caught my attention:
“Right now, manufacturing in the U.S. is up, while manufacturing employment is down. By 2018, automation will have hit enough labor sectors that while the GDP will continue to grow, fewer and fewer people will receive that growth in the form of wages. This will drive either social collapse or the establishment of a no-apologies welfare state.”
Infoworld‘s list makes me think about the individual and organizational challenges the next 10 years of technology innovation will bring. How will people and enterprizes adapt to put these new tools to work positively?
Stories and analyses emerging from the financial industry failures witnessed in recent weeks and months remind us of the crtical human factor in successful technology adoption. False human judgements about risk levels built into trading algorithms and platforms failed to highlight the serious and contagious financial losses accumulating in global organizations. Further, as my colleague Victoria Axelrod eloquently articulates (most recently during our KMWorld Open Networks for Co-Generating Knowledge workshop), how rapidly will organizations move to adapt compensation programs to reward more effective ways of working emerging technology enables?
Thoughts anyone? Meantime if you would like to participate in a collective intelligence project to project the future in 2019, the Institute for the Futures’s SuperStruct Game begins October 6, 2008 here: http://superstructgame.org/
~ Jenny Ambrozek
by Anita Campbell
A while back I wondered aloud about where to find a directory to look up Web apps. A variety of sites and blogs have posts that cover SaaS apps / Web apps. But I was looking for THE definitive place.
Mashable.com doesn’t give us the definitive directory, but it is getting closer, with its list of 270 Web apps for running a business. That’s in addition to an earlier list of 230 Web apps from last year. Add them up and you get 500 Web apps between the two posts.
They range from accounting apps, to calendar apps, to project management apps, to virtual office apps, to email apps, to voicemail apps.
Both posts do a good job of pulling in the smaller providers. However, many of the industry leaders are missing. So are some of my favorite apps.
For instance, while in last year’s article I saw QuickBase, still I didn’t see other standards such as: QuickBooks Online; ; Billing Manager; Email Center Pro; eXpresso for sharing Excel spreadsheets; and several other familiar names.
The posts definitely are worth checking out to find some new apps you may not be aware of. However, there’s still a need for a directory in my view.
by Jon Husband
Services like Intuit’s SaaS QuickBooks represent the kinds of web-enabled databases that will support the workplace of the future (which increasingly will consist of connected communities of customers, employees, vendors and other stakeholders).
In this comprehensive blog post outlining an interview Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang recently carried out with Scott Wilder, one of Intuit’s practice leaders and community champions, they explored Quickbook’s value proposition, capabilities and challenges.
Intuit Bakes Community Directly in Quickbooks Product
Left Image: This sample screenshot of the embedded community experience from the Quickbooks site.
Over the next few years, expect your friends and network of experts to be interacting with you as you use desktop software –community will be integrated within your products.
This weekend, I had a discussion with Scott Wilder at Intuit, who is one of the practice leaders when it comes to community and how it impacts business. He’s one of those leading the charge at Intuit, who has developed very large communities that thrive beyond the product itself and serve the lifestyle of the community.
Scott discussed his strategy of embedding the community features right in the software products –extending the discussion, network, and peer to peer strategy past awareness, consideration, purchase all the way to support and development. Although this is mainly a supporting objective, when brands embed community this close it’s naturally going to lead to ‘embracing’. Watch this video to learn about all five objectives: listening, talking, energizing, supporting and embracing.
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How can this cascade to other products? Microsoft, Dell, Oracle, SAP, IBM, HP, Symantec, Electronic Arts, Hitachi, Adobe, Autodesk, and Apple can start to embed community into their desktop operating system and software. TV shows can start to allow users to embed community actually on the TV set (we saw an early taste of this with Current TV during the elections), and the possibilities can continue on.
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All of this points to the larger trend how people are connecting to each other, and forming their own power bases, some companies who embrace this stand to benefit –but only if they are prepared.
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by Celine Roque
“Getting Things Done” in The Enterprise
Jason Rothbart ponders, in light of a recent conference session he attended with the author of “Getting Things Done”, how GTD concepts can be implemented on an enterprise level. For all the talk of tools and methodologies, the most important element by far, he says, is “the discipline and commitment to do it.” One key aspect he argues – managment commitment: “There is no way that an entire group will practice GTD if the management team is not fully committed and emphasizes it every day. Managers (and team members) need to conduct meetings with GTD principles and plan work in the same way.”
Is Mainstream Media Really Ready to Get Social?
Steven Hodson touches on the seeming imminent social media crossover into the mainstream – “With its scaling problems seemingly behind it, Twitter may finally be ready to cross that line between the techies and the rest of the Web using world.” – but also suggests that experiments such as CNN’s don’t necessarily indicate that big media companies really get the appeal of Twitter.
Can Web 2.0 Survive the Cancer of Comment Trolls?
A look at the pros and cons of an important feature of many of today’s social media experiences – comments - and the sentiment of some who argue that vitriolic comments, particularly those posted anonymously, are eroding civil discourse and degrading discussion. The article provides examples of a few nasty episodes and offers up a few tips on “giving good comment” and how sites can combat unconstructive comments.
Do Social Networks Bring the End of Privacy?
Daniel Solove, a law professor who’s authored several books on the topic, comments in Scientific American on the issue of privacy, or lack thereof, in the Internet age. The key points made in the article: 1) “Social-networking sites allow seemingly trivial gossip to be distributed to a worldwide audience, sometimes making people the butt of rumors shared by millions of users across the Internet.” 2) “Public sharing of private lives has led to a rethinking of our current conceptions of privacy.” And 3) Existing law should be extended to allow some privacy protection for things that people say and do in what would have previously been considered the public domain.”
How to lose 10 pounds of junk in one day
Digital Nomads’ Chanpory Rith offers his ideas on how to slim down – your daily gadget baggage, that is: “Get a smaller bag. ‘But wait,’ you say. ‘My briefcase/purse/backpack is already too small. I need a bigger bag, not a smaller one!’ But let’s remember Parkinson’s Law: data expands to fill the available space for storage. In short, it’s always too small.”
Are we ready to declare the “time of death” for the enterprise data center?
Dion Hinchcliffe argues that the age of sprawling data centers will soon be over: “The relentless forces of commoditization and competition are having their say as well and cloud computing offers up very substantial bottom-line returns. Throw in an economic downturn and a round of enterprise cost-cutting and the market and cloud computing seem ready to meet…”
Do ‘Clouds’ Get in the Way?
Offering another perspective, this article engages in the hot debate about the actual term “cloud computing”, and quotes an IBM Senior Vice President stepping into user’s shoes: “I know you guys use stupid terms… Just show me the pragmatic results and don’t try to deliver something to that doesn’t meet my business needs.”
by Celine Roque
A lot of people like the idea of working from home. However, after being at it for some time, a few feel isolated and actually miss the office setting, where you can bump into 10 people on the way to the coffee machine, swap stories, and get instant ideas. Digital Nomads recently ran an article on “coworking” – a rising trend for people to work together in a cafe, a house, or a rented office space, to get the real-world social interaction they might be missing from being away from the corporate environment.
I think it’s understandable that some personality types are really better suited to traditional offices, especially if you’ve worked in one for many years. Personally, though, I don’t see myself letting go of the independence, flexibility, and the generous amount of quality time this lifestyle allows me to spend with my family. If you’re like me, you’ve found that there are many ways to avoid being down with the blues. These are just some of the simple things I do:
Exercise. Walk around the neighborhood every morning, and if you have one, why not take your dog with you? Or if there’s a nearby gym, get a membership and make some new friends.
Play music. Nothing makes a dull afternoon come alive better than playing my MP3 collection while working. I’ve even heard of people being able to concentrate more with heavy metal background noise, but I prefer less aggressive tunes myself.
Take frequent breaks. Every two hours or so, I try to rest my eyes from the monitor, stretch, wash my face, and spend quality time with my family. Eat a lot, but eat healthy.
Do errands. Volunteer to do some errands like going to the grocery, paying the bills, and other things that will let you get out of the house and interact with other people.
Find a hobby. Hobbies can be very relaxing, and provide an outlet for your creativity. Right now, I’m into carpentry, building model airplanes, and gardening.
Get pets. They’re not only adorable, studies have shown that having pets can actually reduce stress, control blood pressure and stave off loneliness.
Maintain contact with friends. With so many ways to communicate, it should be much easier to retain friendships. And at least once a week, maybe you can arrange dinner with your friends.
Watch the news. Working from home usually means you don’t get to go out much, so make sure you’re still in the loop with what’s happening around the world by watching news programs.
Work-related travel. A great way to learn new things and do real-life networking is to attend seminars, conferences and expos if ever they are held near you.
Joint ventures. Establish a working relationship with other related home-based businesses. This way, you can bounce ideas off each other, and maybe even get referrals.
Do you also work from home? What are the things that you practice on a regular basis?
by Anita Campbell
Two recent articles about telecommuting bring up an interesting question: in tight economic times, is it better to be a telecommuter, or work in an office?
One point of view says it’s better to be a telecommuter. Businesses can save on office space expenditures, and employees can save $1,200 a year on gas (assuming $4/gallon gas). Brendan Koerner writes in Wired.com:
“Given that it costs more than $15,000 per year to provide an employee with 200 square feet of cubicle, the savings would be significant — so great, in fact, that companies would still come out thousands of dollars ahead after springing for workers’ broadband and VoIP expenses.
Ditching the office could also provide businesses with a leg up in the scramble to recruit and retain talent. For starters, location would no longer limit a company’s employment pool — gifted Kansans wouldn’t be forced to uproot their lives for opportunities in, say, California. Also, based on the average American’s commute time, driving speed, and vehicle specs — and assuming that gas costs $4 per gallon — a telecommuter would save around $1,200 a year on fuel alone — an instant salary bump, of sorts.”
So, save money on gas and office space — that’s one point of view.
Now here’s the other: in times of layoffs, it’s risky to be a telecommuter because the first to go may be the telecommuters. Karen Burns suggests at U.S. News and World Reports’ On Careers blog that in tough times being a telecommuter can be risky:
“Employers are only human. Humans tend to take the easy way out. And it’s easier to lay off someone you only see rarely than to lay off someone you see every day and who has become an integral part of your work life.
You may have fought to earn telecommuting privileges. You may love the savings in gas and wardrobe expenses. You may know in your very soul that telecommuting has made you a more productive, and hence valuable, employee.
But please consider this annoying-yet-true cliché: out of sight, out of mind. It’s human nature.”
So in times like these which is it for you? Would you rather save money and have the convenience of working from home? Or risk being the first to go if layoffs come?
I’m not saying that companies are going to start making layoffs or that telecommuters would definitely be the first to go if that happened — just thinking about all the potential benefits and disadvantages.
by Jim Ware
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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a recluse, and not ready to become an “Island, entire unto myself” (to quote John Dunne).
But I’m getting more than a little overwhelmed by all these different social networking websites – LinkedIn, PlaxoPulse, Facebook, and there must be a couple of others that I’ve somehow been dragged into joining (though the fact that I can’t remember what they are says something about how (un)important they are to my life and work).
Seriously, though, I know many people find one or more of these networks meaningful and even helpful in their life and their work. And I’ve followed the recent research on “the tribalization of organizations” by Beeline Labs with genuine interest.
But for me right now these network sites seem more peripheral than central to my daily routine. I mean, it’s occasionally nice to find out something about one of my colleagues/associates/friends. But it really feels like most of my interaction with these networks is when someone reaches out and wants to become my “friend” or Linked to me – and about 90% of the time I literally don’t them from Adam. What I find really frustrating is that these folks who either don’t know me at all, or in many cases are a friend of a friend, send me the canned/impersonal Invitation Request – no effort to personalize it or tell me why they want to link up with m, or what’s in it for me.
Again, don’t get me wrong – I do see plenty of potential value in these networks for some people (though I get the sense that many of the folks who are actively using the networking sites are in the job market and are just blasting the linking invitation to everyone in their address book).
So what am I missing? Which of these networks is good for what? Help me – I’m really curious, and for a self-proclaimed futurist, more than a little embarrassed at what a neophyte I am about what is obviously one of the most important stories about collaborative technologies and their impact on both business and life in 2008.
Tags: LinkedIn PlaxoPulse FaceBook socialnetworking futureofwork