Guide to Video Conferencing

Cisco Telepresence

Cisco Telepresence (Photo credit: Tom Raftery)

“Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American writer and activist

I recall many years ago how I used to setup video conferencing across ISDN lines and the fun of trying to make the video run smoothly. These days, video conferencing has become ubiquitous along with the availability of faster communication links, i.e. broadband etc.

With better connectivity, the downward spiral of costs associated with video conferencing (VC) and increased competition, even smaller businesses can afford much better VC systems. The cloud has assisted by many companies offering cloud based systems, including Telepresence that only a few years ago were available to large corporates only.

Here comes the technical bit (Skip this paragraph if not interested): H.323 & SIP seem to be battling it out on which will become the defacto standard/protocol for VC and I suspect that over time both will be absorbed by one another and eventually SIP may be the one that all VC systems use.

The next battle zone will be video on the move. i.e. across smart phones aka mobile phones. The technology is certainly there now and so is the connectivity. As data charges become cheaper, the need for multi national businesses and even families to view each other as they talk will drive the need for video calling on the move.

This is great for eco-friendly consumers, such as me and our planet as it will mean that people have to travel less to meet each other. Change established mindsets will however take time, as many people still think it pertinent to travel to meet!

I have done a series of articles on management styles of business leaders and would like one of my readers to recommend who I should select for the next article. So, without further ado, here is your chance to recommend your choice, just leave your recommendation as a comment to this article. Please send your recommendations by 30th April.

Advertisements

Facebooking for Office: How Social Media Inspires Voters

English: Data from April 2011 Editor Survey th...

English: Data from April 2011 Editor Survey that lists Social Media activities (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article (and graphic) is attributed to & re blogged courtesy of onlinecourses.com

Traditionally, student-aged voters (those between the ages of 18 and 24) aren’t always so great at remembering to cast their votes. In fact, in the 2008 presidential election, less than 1 in 2 18-to-24 year olds actually voted. While the percentage of those in the student-aged demographic may not always be astute at remembering to fill out a ballot around election time, most 18-to-24 year olds are good at staying plugged into social media outlets. While less than half of that particular demographic voted in 2008, as of 2012 fully 98% of them have some sort of social media account with which they share content and connect to people. As social media changes and spreads, however, elections are clearly becoming a different game. For one thing, even politicians are making themselves present on the web, from Facebook pages to Twitter accounts and more. And for another thing, recent studies have begun to show that when it comes time to vote, the influence of social media can inspire younger voters (those aged 18 through 24) to get their votes out. Those who see via social media that their peers have voted become more likely to take the next step, and vote themselves. The following infographic takes a look at why social media might have become crucial to mobilizing the youngest generation of voters.

Facebooking for Office - Attibuted to OnlineCollegeCourses.com

Facebooking for Office – Attibuted to OnlineCollegeCourses.com

The future of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)

“In the automotive world the potential for intelligent transport systems is almost unlimited and eventually technology will help alleviate the major problems of congestion and safety.”

Max Mosley, President, Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), 1993-2009

The world population is growing exponentially and recently hit the 7 billion mark. By 2050, we will have reached 9.3 billion. Cars have just passed the 1 billion mark. In a global society, such trends demand that we create solutions to these problems. Unfortunately, as once envisaged, the solution is not to build more roads, as the more roads that we build, the more traffic we invite onto these roads.
High rates of population growth and increased car ownership will cause, for instance, more traffic congestion making this problem worse. Traffic delays represent a huge loss of revenue for business while creating frustration and stress for road users. These delays also damage the environment and increase emissions of greenhouse gases. While alternatives to road transport are currently being looked at by most countries, the use of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), could become increasingly more important.

One of the disadvantages of all this activity is that currently there is no global standards body controlling the way that these systems are developed. However, there are European and American bodies that are involved and are driving ITS forward.

One such initiative gathering pace globally is CALM:

According to Wikipedia, “CALM enables the following communication modes:

  • Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I): communication initiated by either roadside or vehicle (e.g. petrol forecourt or toll booth)
  • Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V): peer to peer ad-hoc networking amongst fast moving objects following the idea of MANET’s/VANET’s.
  • Infrastructure-to-Infrastructure (I2I): point-to-point connection where conventional cabling is undesirable (e.g. using lamp posts or street signs to relay signals).”

Other situations could be cars (V2I) automatically stopping (In the future), as ambulances communicate their emergency to traffic lights, cars (V2V) braking automatically as cars in front brake etc.

Ford has recently developed and demonstrated a Car-to-Car and Car-to-Infrastructure Communications system for a German Safety Research Project.

What are Intelligent Transport Systems?

According to ETSI, “Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) add information and communications technology to transport infrastructures and vehicles in an effort to improve their safety, reliability, efficiency and quality.

ITS services are also designed to optimise transportation times and fuel consumption thus providing greener and safer transportation. However, the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems and the provision of corresponding services are not limited to the road transport sector only, but includes other domains such as railways, aviation and maritime as well.”

ETSI adds that, “Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) include telematics and all types of communications in vehicles, between vehicles (e.g. car-to-car), and between vehicles and fixed locations (e.g. car-to-infrastructure). However, ITS is not restricted to Road Transport – it also includes the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for rail, water and air transport, including navigation systems.

In general, the various types of ITS rely on radio services for communication and use specialised technologies.

Uses of Traffic Data

ITS systems are reliant on traffic Data as it is extremely valuable for both traffic planning purposes and for live traffic updates. This “Live” information can be broadcast as real-time traffic updates to users of Satellite Navigation systems, radio listeners, TV viewers and website users. Mobile phone users can receive this information by SMS message, a dial-in traffic information service or iPhone type applications, such as iHop2. This information can also be displayed on road signs such as the illuminated displays often seen on motorways.

The “Live” data is only valuable for a few minutes as it is constantly replaced. This data is still valuable however and can be stored in large databases. This “historical” data can be used by traffic planners to analyse traffic movements over a period of time. The ability to compare average journey times and conduct studies using origin / destination analysis is all essential tools for good traffic planning.

The traditional method of collecting data has been to use a network of static sensors. There are several different methods such as infra-red cameras and inductive loops. These methods all have two things in common. Firstly a large amount of capital expenditure is required to build the network and secondly they are expensive to maintain.

The future of ITS

Future solutions will warrant moving beyond just collecting data and providing information for one mode of transport, i.e. road traffic data.

The vision for future ITS: to design true multi modal ITS (Integrates several data streams from air, land and sea) systems capable of ‘real time’ traffic information (for example, even from car parks and parking meters). This process utilises maturity modelling and stream computing applications (YouTube) and information gathered is disseminated through multiple delivery channels. This information can also be displayed on road signs such as the illuminated displays often seen on motorways.

According to a Press release by IBM – “The trend in transportation management is to use data to predict future traffic conditions and allow agencies to implement strategies and provide traveller information in anticipation of those future conditions,” said Christopher Poe, assistant agency director, TTI.

When it comes to addressing traffic problems today, transportation agencies are largely reactive, focusing on isolated incidents and single areas of congestion. Through innovations such as road sensors and predictive analytics, transportation systems can be made smarter, allowing agencies to be more proactive in dealing with traffic issues. For example, technologies exist today that make it possible to predict traffic conditions anywhere from an hour to 15 minutes in advance, providing drivers with valuable information on what is going to happen, rather than what has already happened – even before they get in their vehicles.

Beyond easing traffic congestion, smarter transportation systems can help reduce accidents, improve emergency response times, lead to cost savings, and increase community liveability by promoting increased use of public transit. In addition, intelligent transportation projects have the potential to drive sustainable economic development through the creation of new jobs, technologies and businesses.

For example, the city of Stockholm is using IBM’s streaming analytics technology to gather real-time information from GPS devices on nearly 1,500 taxi cabs to provide the city and its residents with real-time information on traffic flow, travel times and the best commuting options. The service will soon expand to gather data from delivery trucks, traffic sensors, transit systems, pollutions monitors and weather information sources. IBM is also assisting the cities of Brisbane, London and Singapore to address traffic management and congestion challenges.

More Info:

Intelligent transportation system – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Floating car data – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Forums and International ITS bodies

Communications, Air-interface, Long and Medium range – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cooperative Vehicle Infrastructure Systems (CVIS) project

Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) – Vehcle to Vehicle Infrastructure

Safespot

European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) ITS

TRL – Independent Transport Research, Consultancy & Testing.

International Transport Forum

European Commission CORDIS – Search for ITS etc

Network of National ITS Associations

ERTICO (Europe)

Institute for Transport Studies: Institute for Transport Studies

Project MESA – Mobile Broadband for Public Safety – Home Page

International Transport Forum – Web TV

Intelligentransport’s Channel – YouTube

ITSA

ITS South Africa

ITS-UK › Home › About ITS › About Us

IBEC ITS | International Benefits, Evaluation and Costs (IBEC) Working Group

Guidance on Investment in ITS

Transport: What do we want to achieve ? – European commission

ITS/Operations Resource Guide 2009

World road association – Includes complete PIARC handbook on ITS

Easyway – Co-financed by the EU

Transport Advice Portal: Intelligent Transport Systems

Urban Traffic Management & Control – UTMC

ITS-Arab > Home الرئيسية

Home – Multimodal ITS

Conferences

RTIC 2010 | The IET Road Transport Information and Control Conference and the ITS United Kingdom Members’ Conference.

ITS World Congress

World ITS Summit·China 2011

data.gov.uk | Opening up government

Consortiums

Saferider – ADVANCED RIDER ASSISTANCE SYSTEMS (ARAS) and IVIS become ON BIKE INFORMATION SYSTEMS (OBIS).

EU Funded HAVE IT – Highly automated vehicles for intelligent transport

MIRA | Smarter Thinking for Vehicle Engineering, Test and Defence

News

Traffic Management – Industry Projects Category – Road Traffic Technology

Mobile Synergetics

San Francisco rolls out new smart parking meters with ‘demand-responsive pricing’ — Engadget

Twitter, Now With Geo-Location | In Telematics Today

Twitter Blog: Location, Location, Location

Facebook, Twitter Ready Location-Based Features – PCWorld

KeepMoving – UK Traffic and Cheap Fuel Price Information

Sir Henry Royce Lecture 2010 – Smarter Transport by Jamie Houghton, Head of ITS, IBM

Country and global City Resources:

USA

Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology–

Section 4 – Vehicle Classification Monitoring

Be-Mobile | Control the traffic flow!

Singapore

MIT School of Architecture and Planning and future urban transport

Future Urban Mobility

Intelligent Cities

Kuwait

Openware – The GIS Software Leader – ESRI Openware Kuwait – Kuwait Maps

Axis Solutions – Committed To Our Customers’ Success

Australia

Brisbane Metropolitan Transport Management Centre

Traffic & Transport – Brisbane City Council

131940 Traffic and Travel Information

Scotland

Traffic Scotland

Wales

Traffic Wales – the Welsh Assembly Government’s Traffic Management and Information Service

England

Welcome to Traffic England

UK Highways Agency

Highways Agency – Traffic Information

Malaysia

CSC DBKL’s ITIS Set To Ease Traffic Woes

Suppliers:

Siemens

Siemens Traffic Solutions SITRAFFIC Concert

Serve atOnce Traffica | Nokia Siemens Networks

Logica

Intelligent Transport Systems

IBM

IBM – Intelligent transport: How cities can improve mobility

IBM – Smarter Transport for a Sustainable Future – Start Summit Day 3 – United Kingdom

IBM News room – 2010-04-16 IBM Helps City of Stockholm Predict Better Commuting Options – United States

IBM: The Smarter City

IBM: The Smarter City – Traffic

InfoSphere Streams enables smarter transportation at the city of Stockholm. – YouTube

IBM – Stream Computing – InfoSphere Streams – Software

INRIX

ITIS Holdings plc acquired by INRIX – Historical, Real-Time and Predictive Traffic Information

Mott MacDonald & ITIS Floating Vehicle Data system Transport Technology Services

ITIS Floating Vehicle Data system – realisation of a commercial system

OPTUS TRIALS ITIS CELLULAR FLOATING VEHICLE DATA TECHNOLOGY IN SYDNEY. Goliath Business News

ITIS Integrated Transport Information System

ITraffic.ie Home Real Time Traffic Information

Other suppliers

Home – Q-Free

PSI Transcom – Solutions for Public Transport Systems

INIT

SmartTrans | A Global Leader in Intelligent Transport Solutions

Nortech Detection Motorway Traffic Monitoring Systems

Traffic Products, Services, And Solutions – Motus Traffic

Pell Frischmann – Traffic & Transportation

Road Transport – Thales

ENVITIA Transport

ibigroup.com – Transportation

Spatial Technology (UK) – Home

TomTom Licensing

WebTech Wireless – GPS Vehicle Tracking and Telematics Solutions

TAN – Transport Associates Network | International Independent Consultants | UK based

ITS Action Plan for Europe | Ankerbold International

hop>2: Travel Information

Richard Branson’s (CEO Virgin) management style and CIOs

Industrialist Richard Branson at the Time 100 ...

Image via Wikipedia

You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.

Richard Branson, Entrepreneur and businessman (1950-)

Today’s article is the tenth in a series of articles (1st Steve Jobs, 2nd Michael Dell, 3rd Warren Buffet, 4th Bill Gates, 5th Larry Ellison, 6th Eric Schmidt, 7th CIOs and the ideal management style, 8th Louis V Gerstner and the late Steve Jobs and Tim Cook’s, analysing current and past leaders to ascertain how senior management including  Chief Information Officer’s (CIOs) can learn better management by applying the management practices of leadership, practiced by these leaders.

PS: CIO is a generic term and other analogous titles are Head of IT, IT Director, Director of IT etc.

The Management Style

Richard Branson started his working life in the 60’s by starting a magazine called, ‘Student’ and has never looked back. He is an entrepreneur that defies the usual rules of business. He sold his record label and company and started Virgin Atlantic defying convention and established business practices as he not only had no experience of the airline industry but was also stepping into a hugely competitive marketplace. He also took on the might of British airways when he claimed that his business had been the victim of a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign. In both cases, he proved that he could ‘win’ and has since gone from strength to strength.

Let’s see what CIOs and general management can learn from this icon of modern business. (In no particular order and a few other sources utilised):

1. Succession planning and his reputation: RB – “The company must be set up so it can continue without me.”

Richard Branson has created autonomous companies under the Virgin umbrella, precisely so that these companies can operate without him. Succession planning has been ‘built in’ to the very core of Virgin. As such, it is important for CIOs to have succession planning in order that the business has continuity in the unfortunate event of a CIO not being able to provide management.

2. Spotting opportunities: RB – “If something is a good idea, consider it, then work out how to make it happen.”

As someone who has created 200 plus companies, the lesson that can be learnt is that within IT we need to spot opportunities for improvement. It is not enough, however, just to spot them, the onus is to spot them and then to create an environment to leverage that opportunity and to make it happen.

3. Focus: RB – “Whatever you sell, first identify your market.”

Richard Branson has always identified markets where he can add value. That has often happened in an already crowded marketplace, with existing competitors. The secret to his success is that he enters these markets and creates and delivers products, better than his rivals, usually through value for money and a better customer experience.

CIOs needs to focus on the most important issues that are relevant to the business and to shy away from the issues/projects that do not add value to the business but may just be a ‘nice have’ or appear to add value. Learn to say, ‘No’.

4. Talent acquisition: RB Employees think for themselves. They have good ideas to listen to. What is the point of hiring bright people if you don’t apply their talent?

Richard Branson believes in empowering his employees to make the decisions and to make it happen.

A CIO needs to trust their gut instinct and allow his/her staff to get the job done and to believe in their capabilities. I think, the strategic fit, is a very good measure. How will a new hire fit into the culture of the company? Will they enjoy it here? Have they worked in a similar culture before? The danger is that the culture could be so alien to the new hire, that they find it difficult to adjust.

5. Handling barriers and roadblocks: RB – “My interest in life comes from setting myself huge, apparently unachievable, challenges and trying to rise above them”

It is hard to stop someone who knows how to tackle barriers and roadblocks. CIOs need to know when to intervene. For example, in many cases that could mean stopping projects altogether to take stock of current situations or to change the direction. Create challenges for your employees and set them targets that ‘stretch’ their capabilities.

6. Successful innovation: RB -. Pioneer, don’t follow the leader, Drive for change  

CIOs need to think how they can do their jobs differently to provide competitive advantage for their companies. As IT becomes standardised across many industries, it will become harder to differentiate the IT offering. Look harder, competitive advantage is still achievable through innovative uses of IT. The question is whether you as the leader can locate and exploit it?

Virgin has proved that such success is achievable. Many businesses lack of innovation is due to their fear of failures.

7. Earn respect: RB – “Having a personality of caring about people is important. You can’t be a good leader unless you generally like people. That is how you bring out the best in them.”

CIOs need to care more about their staff and have to understand and overcome any difficulties that they face in their everyday jobs. Caring managers will always be able to deliver better results.

8. Family commitment: RB – “Divide your private life from your work life. The break down in family live has played a big role in lack of social cohesion and skills.”

This is an aspect of life that I firmly believe in as well. Time cannot be turned around or replaced. It is very important that we spend time with spouses and spend time with our children. As they grow up we have to ensure that they become responsible and active citizens. A work/life balance is crucial and ensures that we work optimally.

9. Learning: RB – “People don’t leave their jobs through lack of pay – they leave because they aren’t valued. Many companies leave people in boxes; encourage them to be adaptable and innovative.”

All great leaders have made it a habit to constantly learn. RB constantly interacts with his employees and is always open to suggestions on how to improve the business or to welcome ideas about new business.

10. Business reputation: RB Detached from values, money may indeed be the root of all evil, but linked effectively to social purpose; it can be the root of opportunity.

Richard Branson believes in the power of money to achieve a better world and he constantly strives for that through his Virgin unite charity. As he became involved with the airline industry, he started to look into ways of offsetting the carbon footprint of Virgin through the usage of eco-friendly fuels etc. Companies’ need to support the eco system that they operate in.

CIOs need to understand that IT systems can enhance and assist companies to become better corporate citizens and need to look for these opportunities

11. Follow your instinct: RB – ‘Never let facts get in the way of a good idea. If something is what you really want to do, just do it. Whatever your goal is you will never succeed unless you let go of your fears. It’s easy to give up when things are hard but we have to keep chasing dreams and our goals; once we decide to do something, we should never look back, never regret it. I rely on my gut instinct more than thick reports.”

CIOs need to listen to their inner voice and recommend changes accordingly.

12. Create and nurture ‘the correct culture.’RB-“Staff first, then customers and shareholders, Shape the business around the people. Having a personality of caring about people is important. You can’t be a good leader unless you generally like people. That is how you bring out the best in them. For the people who work for you or with you, you must lavish praise on them at all times,” Branson says. “If a flower is watered, it flourishes. If not, it shrivels up and dies. People don’t need to be told where they’ve slipped up or made a mess of something.”

13. Develop a Clear Vision–and Stick to It. – RB – Around the world we’re looking at taking the brand into a number of different industries. Our criterion is, will it fulfil the Virgin yardstick of being good value for the money? Will it enhance the brand by bringing great quality? Will we have fun doing it and can we make it profitable? If those criteria work, then we’ll seriously look at a new industry.”

Above all, you want to create something you are proud of…. That has always been my philosophy of business. I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off doing nothing

14. Relax and feel at home RB –“Work should not be a chore and should be fun. You want to have fun at home; why shouldn’t you have fun at work?”

CIOs often forget to create a culture of fun within their department. This results in a high turnover of staff. Create strategies such as allowing staff to spend a percentage of their time on projects that they want to do. The more staff enjoy work, the more productive they will become.

15. ‘Image’ is everything. – RB – “Outstanding brands are built around great people who deliver consistently great customer service every day.”

CIOs need to change their images from just being technology leaders to leaders who understand business and can apply their strategic IT and business skills to the wider business.

16. Employees’ performance: RB – “As much as you need a strong personality to build a business from scratch, you also must understand the art of delegation. I have to be good at helping people run the individual businesses, and I have to be willing to step back.”

Branson hires the best and brightest people that he can and then allows them to have a stake in the ownership of that business. CIOs need to become better at delegating tasks, trusting employees to get the job done.

17. Earn respect by ‘listening’: RB – “You learn more by listening to other people.”

18. How do you run this company? RB – “I’ve had to create companies that I believe in 100%. These are companies I feel will make a genuine difference. Then I have to be willing to find the time myself to talk about them, promote them and market them. I don’t want to spend my life doing something that I’m not proud of.”

19. Time Management: Richard Branson spends an equal third of his time on trouble shooting his businesses, new projects (business/charity) and on promoting and marketing his businesses while creating time for family and vacations.

More:

Lesson #1: Be A Good Leader

Richard Branson and the Virgin group of companies in 2004

Leadership by IBEC.IE

Management style of Richard Branson

The importance of being Richard Branson

Michael Walenius blog – The leadership style of Richard Branson

Time – Many times a virgin

Time Video – 10 questions for Sir Richard Branson

Time – How to raise a billionaire

Time – Q&A – Virgin founder, Richard Branson

15 small business lessons from Richard Branson

Five secrets to business success by Richard Branson

Richard Branson as a leader

Business book notes – Richard Branson – Screw it let’s do it

Richard Branson’s, Screw it, let’s do it (Review)

‘You’ The Brand and ‘Social Media.’

Social Media Iceberg

Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”

James D. Miles (1830 – 1914) Steamboat Captain in the Northwest

Some of you may remember, the television shows of the 80’s where TV series/serials, used to start with, ‘Previously on xyx.’I felt a bit nostalgic today, so I will start the same way. Previously on my blog, I have written about Social Media (SM) in various contexts. I wrote about the effect of SM on a friend’s daughter – The ugly side of social media, the conundrum facing CIOs – The Social Networking dilemma and the CIO, a quick primer on SM – Social Media Primer – Succeed by using LinkedIn and blogs, Toyota and its failure to use SM – How Toyota became the werewolf and the three step process to embrace SM: Organisations “Don’t get” social media (UPDATED, RECOMMENDED READING FOR THIS POST, with ALL NEW SM monitoring tools for both personal and business use). It is becoming evident though that some organisations have become adept at SM, as witnessed by Ford’s recent Ford Explorer, campaign. “We couldn’t think of launching a vehicle today without launching it early using social media,”Jim Farley, Ford’s Vice President for Global Marketing – Courtesy of Social Media Explorer.

Senior management need to understand the business and how IT can be utilised to provide competitive advantage – Leveraging IT for Competitive Advantage – Myth or Reality? The problem these days is that many CEOs start working at new employer’s without taking the time and effort to understand and appreciate the business and its culture. Without understanding fully, their business, there is no way for them to realise the potential within their existing or future procured IT systems. In addition, many businesses still have their IT chief’s reporting to CFOs. Without board level representation, IT cannot deliver any benefits to the bottom line. Within that context, Terry Leahy fully understood the impact of IT and allowed his CIO, Philip Clarke to analyse and innovate. In effect, Philip Clarke, successfully created, ‘Philip Clarke, the brand.’ Can anyone create a successful brand, using the Internet and Social Media? The answer has to be a resounding ‘Yes’. I will now outline the steps. The secret to leveraging the success of SM is to integrate, disseminate and monitor SM (automate as much of this as possible, especially if you are building your personal brand – due to time constraints).

Integration: If you are thinking of setting up a new business or personal brand, Google Apps could be the ideal platform for you. I covered this previously, Google Apps – The myth, hype and reality. Google Apps Premiere edition was recently named as  Google Apps for Business and now incorporates all the FREE apps that used to be available to personal Google/GMAIL account holders, such as my favourites, Google URL shortener and Alerts. Regardless, of whether you are a small business or corporate, the website needs to provide analytics to ascertain demographic analysis, page views, referrals (Which sites are referring your site) and statistics and words used for searches conducted, using tools such as Google Analytics. The website also needs a blog feature (Or if you are building your personal brand, enable a personal blog using WordPress/Blogger (Free)). The blog needs to auto connect with SM to deliver posts (Such as, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo, MSN and YouTube) automatically.

Dissemination: A decision has to be made on which SM will be most effective in disseminating information (News/blogposts/articles) to your target audience. For example, with the launch of the Ford Explorer, Ford decided to use Facebook.  Appropriate profiles for various SM (Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace etc) need to be created. There is plenty of information available on the Internet, to help in creating these profiles but the rule of thumb is that all of your SM profiles, need to be as similar to each other as possible, across all SM. Again, automate as much of this as possible, (especially if you are building your personal brand – due to time constraints)

Monitor: Once SM has been integrated and dissemination profiles/channels are completed start monitor ing‘key people and blogs and setup appropriate RSS feeds’ for content/people that your business needs ‘to follow’ in order to keep abreast of trends in your field. Monitoring also needs to be setup for adverse comments, as the case with Toyota (See above) highlights. As SmartPhones are prevalent now, appropriate phone apps need to be setup to provide the ability to monitor, regardless of location.

Finally, I wanted to leave you with some Twitter cheat sheets that also include other SM tools etc as well (Courtesy of the following):

Geneabloggers.com-Twitter-Cheat-Sheet

@gminks of Adventures in Corporate Education’s Cheat sheet

The Social Media guide.com’s Cheat sheet

The public you.com and Rich Sauser’s Cheat sheet

Louis V Gerstner (CEO IBM 1993-2002) management style and CIOs

IBM Electronic Data Processing Machine (1952)

Image by Chemical Heritage Foundation via Flickr

“Watch the turtle. He only moves forward by sticking his neck out.”

Louis V Gerstner, Jr (1942 – ) IBM CEO 1993-2002

Sign in Louis Gerstner’s office:

THERE ARE FOUR KINDS OF PEOPLE:

THOSE WHO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN

THOSE TO WHOM THINGS HAPPEN

THOSE WHO WATCH THINGS HAPPEN

THOSE WHO DON’T EVEN KNOW THINGS ARE HAPPENING

Today’s article is the eighth in a series of articles (1st Steve Jobs, 2nd Michael Dell, 3rd Warren Buffet, 4th Bill Gates, 5th Larry Ellison, 6th Eric Schmidt, 7th CIOs and the ideal management style), analysing current and past leaders to ascertain how Chief Information Officer’s (CIOs) can learn better management by applying the management practices of leadership, practiced by these leaders.

I don’t usually read a book and write about it but I really liked Louis Gerstner’s (LG) very own style of writing and the way that he turned around IBM. In 1993, IBM was losing market share and perhaps on the verge of bankruptcy. Louis Gerstner accepted the job and walked into this situation without really knowing whether he could revive IBM to its glory days.

This series is about leadership and this is the first time I am moving away from offering my thoughts on how CIOs (and others) can apply these leadership practices within their own businesses. The main reasoning is that, I will from now on leave it to my readers to apply what they have learnt from my blog posts. I am increasingly conscious that my readership now envelops many disparate disciplines and I am grateful for that. It has always been my intention that I disseminate my knowledge to others who may benefit as well. After all, knowledge taken to the grave is knowledge lost!

For the full version, please read the book, Who says Elephants can’t dance – Inside IBM’s historic turnaround by Louis V Gerstner. I am also grateful to Harper Collins as I have used excerpts from the book itself.

PS: CIO is a generic term and other analogous titles are Head of IT, IT Director, Director of IT etc.

The Management Style

Louis Gerstner started his working in life with McKinsey & Company in 1965, joined American Express as their Head of Travel related Services Group in 1977 and accepted the CEO’s position of RJR Nabisco in 1989. Let’s see what CIOs and general management can learn from this icon of modern business and technology. (In no particular order):

1. Success in general may be built on failure:

As LG started his new job at IBM, he met with the Corporate Management Board (Top 50 executives of IBM) and told them that he had not looked for the job and took it reluctantly as he thought that the responsibility was important to the country’s competitiveness and health. He then went on to outline his expectations:

i.            Eliminate bureaucracy by decentralising wherever possible while ensuring the right balance with central strategy and common customer focus.

ii.            Benchmarking costs against those of competitors and then achieving best in class status.

iii.            Layoffs maybe necessary (Let’s not kid ourselves)

iv.            IBM management wanted to breakup IBM into smaller autonomous businesses. LG said, “Maybe that is the right thing to do, but maybe not. We certainly want decentralised, market-driven decision making. But is there not so offer comprehensive solutions, a continuum of support? Can’t we do that and also sell individual products?”

v.            About morale, he said, “I want can-do people looking for short term victories and long term excitement.” He also told the audience that it would be his priority to utilise internal talent rather than bringing in outsiders.

2. How did he want to run IBM? LG -.

  • “I manage by principle, not procedure.
  • The marketplace dictates everything we should do.
  • I’m a big believer in quality, strong competitive strategies and plans, teamwork, payoff for performance and ethical responsibility.
  • I look for people who look to solve problems and help colleagues.
  • I sack politicians’.
  • I am heavily involved in strategy; the rest is yours to implement. Just keep me informed in an informal way. Don’t hide bad information – I hate surprises. Don’t try to blow things by me. Solve problems laterally; don’t keep bringing them up the line.
  • Move fast. If we make mistakes, let them be because we are too fast rather than too slow.
  • Hierarchy means very little to me. Let’s put together in meetings the people who can help solve the problem, regardless of position. Reduce committees and meetings to a minimum. No committee decision making. Let’s have lots of candid, straightforward communications.
  • I don’t completely understand the technology. I’ll need to learn it, but don’t expect me to master it. The unit leaders must be the translators into business terms for me.“I would say a few things. First, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. That’s how you learn, so I believe a lot in trio al and error and course corrections. Often companies are unwilling to admit when they’ve made a mistake. We tend to question things more in our business.

                                              

3.        SWOT analysis: LG pointed out five ninety day priorities on joining IBM and they were:

I.            Stop the bleeding of cash as IBM is running out of money.

II.            Ensure that IBM is profitable by 1994 (LG joined IBM in April 1993).

III.            Develop and implement a customer strategy for the next two years (93,94) that indicated to the customers that IBM had returned and was there to serve them.

IV.            Complete the ‘right sizing’ of IBM.

V.            Create ‘an intermediate-term business strategy.

4.        Constant analysis: With regards to mainframe pricing, LG was convinced that the reason IBM was losing out to competitors was that IBM had the pricing strategy all wrong, so he reversed it with ‘an aggressive price reduction. In addition at a conference attended by approx 175 CIOs and after listening to them during the conference, LG laid out his expectations:

I.            IBM priorities would be redefined, starting with the customer.

II.            IBM laboratories would be allowed to do what they wanted to do and would deliver open, distributed, user based solutions.

III.            IBM would be easier to work with, would recommit to quality and re-establish its leadership position.

IV.            IBM would work for the customer and deliver the performance the customer wanted.

5.        Improve productivity: As LG moved forward with re-inventing IBM, he took the following measures to improve productivity:

  • All of IBM would stay together as one company and not converted into autonomous units.
  • IBM economic model would be altered, such as expenses as IBM were spending 42 cents to produce $1 of revenue while its competitors were spending only 32 cents..
  • Business re-engineering would be undertaken. For example processes and systems would be reviewed as internally IBM had 128 CIOs!
  • Underproductive assets would be sold to generate much needed cash.

6.        Business reputation and brand: IBM had never had a true Head of marketing and just like the processes and the 128 CIO scenario, marketing was controlled by countries and business units etc. That resulted in a totally disjointed marketing campaign. The new Head of marketing decided to consolidate all of IBM’s advertising relationships into a single ad agency. This spawned the “Solutions for a Small planet” and was followed by the coining of the term, “e-business.”

7.        Rating of employees’ performance: – In the past, I have reviewed many CEO’s management style but Eric Schmidt’s and Louis Gerstner’s style is the closest fit to Deming’s ‘Annual rate of performance’ that I have yet come across.

“This was all about pay for performance, not loyalty or tenure. It was all about differentiation: Differentiate our overall pay based on the marketplace; differentiate our increases based on individual performance and pay in the marketplace; differentiate our bonuses based on business performance and individual contributions; and differentiate our stock-option awards based on the critical skills of the individual and our risk of loss to competition.”

8.       Spotting opportunities: While looking for opportunities, LG met the Head of ISSC (IBM Subsidiary), Dennie Welsh. The opportunity that Dennie had spotted would change IBM forever. “He told me that his vision of a services company was not one that did just IBM product maintenance and strung together computer codes for customers, he envisioned a company that would literally take over and act on behalf of the customers in all aspects of information technology-from building systems to defining architectures to actually managing the computers and running them for the customers. My mind was afire. To be truly successful, we would have to do things that would shake the place to its roots. For example, the services unit would need to be able to recommend the products of Microsoft, HP, Sun and all other major IBM competitors if that, in fact, was the best solution for the customer. Of course, we would have to maintain and service these products as well.”

9.        Create and nurture ‘the correct culture.’ – Watson, Sr had created the original culture of IBM but over the years, IBM personnel had moved away from the original ethos of that culture and had started to interpret it quite differently to how it was originally intended. LG made it an imperative to change the IBM culture that was a better reflection and fit for the changing times. The original culture hinged around:

  • Excellence in everything we do. – This became an obsession with perfection. The culture that developed threatened to halt IBM due to checks, approvals and validation meant that decision making just ground to a halt.
  • Superior customer service.- This translated into “servicing IBM machines on customers’ premises”, and as a result the customer’s real needs were usually not entertained.
  • Respect for the individual. – This meant that employees expected their entitlements regardless of performance. This meant that in many instances the best people were not getting what they deserved.

10.     Develop a Clear Vision–and Stick to It. – LG “I was always amazed at how many executives thought that “vision” was the same as “strategy.” Vision statements are for the most part aspirational, and they play a role in creating commitment and excitement among an institution’s employees. Good strategies start with massive amounts of quantitative analysis –hard, difficult analysis that is blended with wisdom, insight, and risk taking.”

11.      Business/IT Strategy/principles: LG- “I am struck by how much of the culture change of the following ten years they describe”

LG outlined eight principles that were to envelop the business strategy and underpinned the new IBM culture.

1)        The marketplace is the driving force behind everything that we do.

2)       At our core, we are a technology company with an overriding commitment to quality.

3)       Our primary measures of success are customer satisfaction and shareholder value.

4)       We operate as an entrepreneurial organisation with a  minimum of bureaucracy and a never-ending focus on productivity.

5)       We never lose sight of our strategic vision.

6)       We think and act with a sense of urgency.

7)       Outstanding, dedicated people make it all happen, particularly when they work together as a team.

8)       We are sensitive to the needs of all employees and to the communities in which we operate.

12.     Be ‘shrewd’ and keep the team on its ‘toes.’ – LG – “We’re getting our butts kicked in the marketplace. People are taking our business away. So I want us to start kicking some butts-namely, of our competitors. This is not a game we’re playing. We have got to start getting out in the marketplace and hitting back hard. I can assure you, our competitors are focused maniacally on these charts, and they talk us down constantly. For example, this from Larry Ellison (CEO Oracle): “IBM? We don’t even think about those guys anymore. They’re not dead, but they’re irrelevant.”

13.     Hire ‘Action’ oriented employees. – LG was once asked, “What do you really want people to do?” He answered, “Win, execute and team.”

  • “WIN:    It was vital that all the IBMers understand that business is a competitive activity. In the new IBM there would be no place for anyone who lacked zeal for the contest.”
  • “EXECUTE:         No more studying things to death. In the new IBM, successful people would commit to getting things done – fast and effectively.”
  • “TEAM: This was a commitment to acting as one IBM, plain and simple.”

14.     Focus: LG – “History shows that truly great and successful companies go through constant and sometimes difficult self-renewal of the base business. They don’t jump into new pools where they have no sense of the depth or temperature of the water.”

15.     Quality management: LG ”But alas, too often the executive does not understand that people do what you inspect, not what you expect.”

16.     Succession planning and his reputation: LG – “When IBM’s Board of Director’s considered who would succeed me, passion was high on their list of necessary attributes. Sam Palmisano (Current IBM CEO), my successor, is an extraordinary executive – a man of many talents. However, he would never have had my recommendation, despite these many talents, if he didn’t have a deep passion for IBM, for what it stands for, for what it can be, for what it can do.”

Eric Schmidt (Ex CEO and current Chairman – Google) management style and CIO

Image representing Eric Schmidt as depicted in...

Image via CrunchBase

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.”

John Wooden (1910 – 2010) Hall of Fame basketball coach of UCLA

Eric Schmidt (1955 – ) Google CEO and Chairman from 4th April 2011 onwards

Today’s article is the sixth in a series of articles (1st Steve Jobs, 2nd Michael Dell, 3rd Warren Buffet, 4th Bill Gates, 5th Larry Ellison), analysing current and past leaders to ascertain how Chief Information Officer’s (CIOs) can learn better management by applying the management practices of leadership, practiced by these leaders.

This article also follows my previous articles on Google, Microsoft Googles Apple in 2011, Google Apps – The myth, hype and reality, Weather bulletin – Google Cloud and icy Microsoft downpour and Used iphone under a palm tree where I met android and formed a symbian relationship with a blackberry

Eric Schmidt arrived at Google to help Google’s inexperienced founders; Sergey Brin and Larry Page. He has led Google to become a globally recognised company with approx 24000 employees. Recently, he has stepped down to become the chairman and to pass the leadership to Larry Page (on 4th April 2011). Over the years, he has mentored the young founders and believes that the time is now right for them to take the helm. For his efforts, he leaves with a golden shake of $100 million in equity and shares worth 9.1% of Google stock.

“As a CEO, Schmidt is more inclined to provoke than proclaim. “Google is run by its culture and not by me”, said Schmidt in 2009. In Google, when a key executive decision is reached, all interested parties are invited to the decision making process and are encouraged to share their opinions. Schmidt’s job is to oversee the whole procedure and make timely decisions. This bottoms-up way of decision making usually leads to a better buy in and a better decision.  Google allows employees to spend 20% of time on self-directed projects. To closely connect to Google’s frontline innovators, each week Schmidt and his senior associates spend up to six hours in dialogue with team members from across Google, who believe their projects have great potential. This unique management style has hatched a series of great products like Gmail and Google News.” Courtesy Vivian’s Tech Blog

PS: CIO is a generic term and other analogous titles are Head of IT, IT Director, Director of IT etc.

The Management Style

What can CIOs learn from Eric Schmidt’s management style? Let’s investigate while allowing you to decide.  (In no particular order and a few other sources utilised):

1. How do you run this company? – ES “It’s run in a strange way. We have a normal hierarchical structure. The company is organized ‘bottoms up’ from the standpoint of product creativity and ‘tops down’ from running the quarter and the financials and so forth. We encourage dissent, we encourage large group conversation, we encourage there to be somebody who’s opposed to the decision, and we work very, very hard to be not hierarchical in the way that decisions are made. Often if we can get a decision, we get the best decision if we have two decision makers, not once. We never make decisions in private; we always do them right in front of everybody.” Courtesy Marketplace

2. When the going gets tough, investment in people always pays: ES – “Getting the most out of knowledge workers will be the key to business success for the next quarter century. Here’s how we do it at Google.

At Google, we think business guru Peter Drucker well understood how to manage the new breed of “knowledge workers.” After all, Drucker invented the term in 1959. He says knowledge workers believe they are paid to be effective, not to work 9 to 5, and that smart businesses will “strip away everything that gets in their knowledge workers’ way.” Those that succeed will attract the best performers, securing “the single biggest factor for competitive advantage in the next 25 years.

At Google, we seek that advantage. The ongoing debate about whether big corporations are mismanaging knowledge workers is one we take very seriously, because those who don’t get it right will be gone. We’ve drawn on good ideas we’ve seen elsewhere and come up with a few of our own. What follows are ten key principles we use to make knowledge workers most effective. As in most technology companies, many of our employees are engineers, so we will focus on that particular group, but many of the policies apply to all sorts of knowledge workers.” – Courtesy 1000 Ventures

For more, read – Google’s ten golden rules for getting the most out of knowledge workers.

When Eric joined Novell, the company’s future was very much in doubt. He correctly recognized a culture of fear that pervaded the organization. Bright engineers with revolutionary ideas were reluctant to voice them for fear of being fired. The engineers however, complained vociferously amongst themselves leading to a culture of corporate cynicism. Recognizing this pervasive bellyaching, Eric asked two engineers he met on the company shuttle, to give him the names of the smartest
people they knew in the company. Eric met with each of them, and asked them in turn to identify the 10 smartest people they knew. In a few weeks, Eric had a list of 100 engineers he considered critical to Novell’s future. He met with each of them personally, encouraging them to take chances and follow their instincts. He removed the possibility of reprisals by their managers for voicing their opinions. This inspired the engineers and focused their efforts, resulting in innovative and improved products. These changes helped Novell transform itself from a loss of $78
million to a gain of $102 million”. – Courtesy Scribd.com

One person alone cannot handle everything. The secret is to surround yourself with employees that are smarter than yourself. These smart people will challenge organisations and force them to think differently. I covered this, under mobility of management when I covered; can IT Management failure be caused by a deadly disease? Part II. CIOs need to understand the importance of retaining and investing in people as one of the business’s most important assets is yet again confirmed by another business leader.

3. Business/IT Strategy: “At Google, Eric has stated the company’s goal as “…Organizing the world’s information making it universally accessible and useful”. An engineer working to index billions of web pages can easily identify with this laudable goal. As a practical matter the goal of making information universally accessible is a more
meaningful goal for the engineer, interested in making his mark on society, rather than a mundane goal of increasing Google’s revenues by $300 million dollars. Eric considers this transfer of ownership to be so important that while at Novell he created a quarterly in-house radio show modeled after NPR’s “Car Talk”. He even made tapes available for in-car listening.” – Courtesy Scribd.com

Sometimes it’s best to follow your instincts and to believe in yourself to do the right thing. Paralysis by analysis is often the cause that many organisations cannot do well. It’s as Nike says, Just do it!

4. Rating of employees’ performance: – In the past, I have reviewed many CEO’s management style but Eric Schmidt’s style is the closest fit to Deming’s ‘Annual rate of performance’ that I have yet come across.

“Eric management style is to let the team’s progress be reviewed by individuals the team respects. In most companies there exist a few individuals that are universally respected or at least more respected than everyone else.
These individuals have a way of articulating principles and have very good memories. Since they are considered impartial, teams are more open to receive feedback or decisions even if the decision goes against them. – Courtesy Scribd.com

5. Earn respect by ‘listening’: – ES “Listening to each other is core to our culture, and we don’t listen to each other just because we’re all so smart. We listen because everyone has good ideas, and because it’s a great way to show respect. And any company, at any point in its history, can start listening more.” Courtesy Andrew McAfee

6. Competitive advantage: This is an area of great interest, as currently, Google is the undisputed king of search but Microsoft’sa Bing is knocking on its doors. So, for the moment Google is able to keep its competitive advantage. The worry for Google has been the defection of key employees (who view Facebook as ‘cool and the place to be’) to companies such as Facebook. Social Media is an area where Google doesn’t really have a strong foothold and that is worrying for them while in the mobile arena, Android is not a huge money earner (albeit, earnings are approx $6 per user per year) when compared to Apple IOS. Google is in a battle with Apple, Microsoft and Facebook and it is ambiguous which markets Google ultimately wants to compete within.

CIOs need to ask themselves how they can help the business through leveraging IT to create competitive advantage. I covered this in my post, Leveraging IT for Competitive Advantage – Myth or Reality?

7. Talent acquisition – Hire ‘Action’ oriented employees: “I might have been mistaken, actually. Having your name and picture up on that big screen at End of Quarter may not be the biggest incentive. The thing that drives the right behavior at Google, more than anything else, more than all the other things combined, is gratitude. You can’t help but want to do your absolute best for Google; you feel like you owe it to them for taking such incredibly good care of you.” Source unknown, courtesy Oliver Thylmann

Google actively recruits recent Ph.D.’s and Ph.D. candidates. All 1,900 Google employees are researchers and developers in addition to their regular duties. Where other companies will keep their research departments and core businesses separate, Google places all their Ph.D.’s in the rank and file of the company. Workers at Google enjoy a company devoted to benefits (Stross, 2004). They also enjoy an informal company culture where employees have access to gyms, massages, pool and ping-pong tables, well stocked snack rooms and other recreational amenities (Google Culture, 2009). Courtesy Marty Andrade

A CIO needs to trust their gut instinct, as one can only learn a certain amount in an interview. I think, the strategic fit, is a very good measure. How will a new hire fit into the culture of the company? Will they enjoy it here? Have they worked in a similar culture before? The danger is that the culture could be so alien to the new hire, that they find it difficult to adjust.

Eric Schmidt has hired the smartest people who can ‘get the job done.’ Hire your friends and past colleagues, as they will have loyalty to you and as you know them personally, an informed decision can be made on whether they have what it takes to realise your ‘vision.’

8. Spotting opportunities and innovation: LE –  “innovation is the key to Google’s success, everything Schmidt does revolves around creating more innovation. Without it, Schmidt believes there is nothing to prevent another company from overtaking Google as the king of digital information.  Innovation is systematically encouraged at Google at all levels throughout the organization, including management. At Google, management follows the “70/20/10″ rule where seventy percent of their time is spent on core business projects, twenty percent is spent on projects related to the core business and ten percent is spent on projects unrelated to the core business (Battelle, 2005). Schmidt, in order to remain true to the 70/20/10 rule, actually divides these projects into different rooms and tracks his time spent in each of the rooms.” Courtesy Marty Andrade

For More Info:

The Daily Telegraph’s articles on Eric Schmidt

Google’s greatest innovation may be its management practice

Android OS is profitable, might generate $10 billion per year

Google CEO, Eric Schmidt: “We don’t have a 5 year plan.”

The New York Times: Eric E Schmidt

Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, will not talk about “Private conversations” with Apple about becoming CEO

e-reader and printed books

various e-book readers. From right to left iPa...

Image via Wikipedia

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

Harry S. Truman (1884 – 1972) – 33rd US President

Harry Truman, did not know that in time, one could carry his or her entire library on a 6 inch device. We find ourselves surrounded by information. The Information explosion leads most of us to suffer from information overload. There is so much information that it has impacted the world of books as well. In our daily lives, we not only have to keep abreast of the news, blogs, RSS feeds etc but also have to decide on the books to read.  Now, if you are like me that means scouring the resources, I just mentioned and creating lists. I always managed to lose my paper list until I found the Amazon, ‘Wish list’ feature and the LinkedIn ‘Reading List’ (powered by Amazon). Now, all I have to do is purchase the book from Amazon or visit my town’s ‘online’ local library database, to check if it is stocked.

That is all well and good but I do have a problem with all the books that I end up purchasing. I am not a library builder and believe that books should not be kept on shelves. If books are kept in cupboards/shelves then they are not benefiting anyone. I strongly believe that books should be read and given to book charities or to someone who could benefit from the book. That is an age old practice and as far as I know, no one has ever been sued by any publisher for reading a borrowed, presented or purchased book at the local jumble sale.

I have been debating and following the progress of the e-reader and recently on a trip abroad thought that I ought to take the plunge and invest in an ‘e-reader.’ That would shave some weight off my luggage (especially my hand luggage – weighed down by my books) and give me the opportunity to carry my own library around with me. Herein lies my problem:

Cost:

The average price of an e-reader is approx £100. Now, I could buy an awful lot of books for that amount. Once I finish reading those books, I could ‘pass’ them around to many benefiting others. I am not so sure, I could do that with all the security that is embedded in e-books, such as Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Portability

Portability of e-books is a lesser problem as for example, Amazon’s Kindle Apps allow e-books to be read across multiple hardware devices. Not so sure though that if I purchase a book in 2011 that it will be readable by my e-reader in 2030 though. I do know though that in 2030, I will have no similar problem with my printed books!

According to an article in The IET;

“Many books are now published as e-books at the same time as the hardback version is released. But some authors, including big names such as JK Rowling, have so far not published electronically. According to Neil Blair, a partner at literary agent Christopher Little: “We have been looking into the options for digital publication of our client JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books for some time now – evaluating the market and determining the right time and method. This evaluation is on-going. The truth is that we wanted to take the time to make the right decision. The market is developing very quickly and this vindicates our strategy of ‘wait and see’.”

Publishing and buying an e-book can be a bewildering process depending on the different software and digital rights management (DRM) restrictions involved.

Firstly, there are a variety of file formats for e-books, with EPUB being the most wide-spread. This can be used on a variety of devices, but interestingly, not the Amazon Kindle, which is one of the most successful e-readers on the market but uses a different file format. Secondly, there are a variety of DRM restrictions which are used to limit copying, printing, and sharing of e-books, with the level of restriction specified by the publisher or distribution agency. So lending a friend one of your books is now often not possible. Because buying e-books is an anonymous and instant process, publishers have found an increase in demand for erotica and other unusual books.

Despite the unprecedented growth in e-book sales, many people do not believe that e-books will mean the end of books in dead-tree format. Jon Howells, a spokesman from book seller Waterstones predicts the company will have sold one million e-books by the end of the year, but that this does not signal the death of the paper book. He said: “There will always be a place for the physical book. The format has been unchanged for 500 years.”

Where do I stand at the moment then? Well, undecided as I remain unconvinced that I need to purchase an e-reader at that cost. Besides, inspite of all the tax cuts, we still have libraries and I haven’t reached a stage where I have exhausted all the reading material that I have access to…

For More:
The IET article – Will e-readers dominate this year’s Christmas market?
Comparison of e-book readers

ebook readers review

ebook reader review

E-Book Reader Matrix

A publisher’s point of view on e-readers – Accolade Publishing

Microsoft Googles Apple in 2011

Diagram showing overview of cloud computing in...

Image via Wikipedia

“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

Babe Ruth (1895 – 1948)

The quote above is apt when you are up against a person but what happens when you encounter organisations that are trying to outdo each other? 2010 was certainly interesting in that respect. Hunter Richard’s blog post on Microsoft (MS) is “All In” for the Cloud, but What About Dynamics? outlined Microsoft’s dilemma that is not limited to just MS Dynamics.

Microsoft is still trying its best to innovate as its key visionaries, such as Ray Ozzie (View Ray Ozzies’s – Dawn of a new day OR BBC’s summary) were falling by the wayside. At face value, it could be argued that MS is reinventing itself, as it has done so quite successfully in the past (WordPerfect vs. MS Word, Netscape vs. Explorer,……list continues),  but this time around, there is a caveat. Is MS actually listening to its own visionaries and customers?

MS knows that history is repeating itself once again as it has done so many times before and MS is trying its best to change and adapt, as it knows very well that if it doesn’t, it could wither away and die, just as it had slain Netscape and WordPerfect in the past. The secret to Apple’s and Google’s success is that they listen to us, the customer. They are finely attuned to what, we, the consumer want and need, just as my previous blog post Leveraging IT for competitive advantage, has alluded to. Secondly, this battle is not just about the hardware and software anymore, as all three companies go after our hard earned cash. Even Apple overtook MS, in terms of revenue this year.

Microsoft is a giant in the software world and one of the penalties it is paying for its enormous success is that:

1.        Its products are now so diverse that only IT experts can make any sense of them. Need convincing. Ask any non IT personnel to visit any Microsoft site and ask them to explain a particular Microsoft site’s products and what they can actually do for them.

2.        Sheer confusion. As a business owner, for my Microsoft IT system, where do I start? Microsoft Licensing and its payment model – Again, this is an open challenge to Microsoft. How many Microsoft employees can explain Microsoft licensing without referring to a price model manual? The correct answer should be at least half its workforce. Why? You cannot sell what you don’t understand (Microsoft have actually done remarkably well then!). Ah, would an employee be able to explain it all in a pub, though?

3. Microsoft’s entire business model is built on desktop/laptop client installation and as long as it has enough businesses that utilise that legacy because they have no other option, for the short term, it faces no financial problem. Office365 is a step in the right direction but unlike Google, MS products were never designed to ‘run in the cloud’ whereas as Rajen Sheth, Google’s senior product manager for Google Apps said, “It will be tough to build up the cloud expertise that’s been built into Google’s DNA since day one.”

So, where does that leave Google, Microsoft and Apple? They should all acknowledge their key strengths, concentrate and focus on those and licence each other’s products. That can be hard to acknowledge by ‘massive’ organisations such as these three but the reality is that sometimes other organisations just do it better than you can.

Let’s take a brief trip down memory lane. Novell was the King of network software, had the opportunity to licence its NDS to MS for its Active Directory, failed to strike an agreement and MS ended up killing its business because they could do it better. So, in hindsight, an effective licensing agreement by Novell would have been better. Then, we have Apple. MS Office is one of the best sold software for its desktop/laptop equivalent and Apple decided years ago that it would not concentrate its efforts on a ‘war’ to decide who could create a better office type software suite. Google became the king of search and MS decided to ‘take it on.’

I would argue that all of these companies need to innovate more. Apple and Google innovate, quite successfully. I would argue though that as innovation is stifled at MS, MS have not released a single innovative product in 201o. MS did finally catch up with Apple (iPhone) and Google (Android) with a WM7 marketplace though! We even saw new releases of old software, such as Windows Mobile 7 and for those who want to argue and labour the point, did anyone release anything groundbreaking as Apple’s iPhone equivalent in 2007 or the iPad this year?

Oh and let’s not forget, Office365 still has no marketplace equivalent!

For more:

What is Cloud Computing? Its Pros/Cons and making it work

Microsoft announces Office 365 beta: test new cloud-based Office one year before its launch

Office 365 Beta: a first look

Steve Ballmer speech at UW: “We’re all in” for cloud computing

Microsoft Straightens Out Cloud Strategy — Finally

The 7 sins of Windows Phone 7

Apple iOS vs. Google Android

Top Tech Company of 2010: Apple

Will Google Apps survive Office 365?

The road to Office 365: The future

Office365 vs Google Apps

A guide to Office 365 versions and pricing

Windows Marketplace

Larry Ellison’s (CEO Oracle) management style and CIOs

Used iphone under a palm tree where I met android and formed a symbian relationship with a blackberry

Bill Gates (Chairman Microsoft) management style and CIOs

Choosing technology over customers

Google Apps – The myth, hype and reality.

Cloud based ERP. Fact or fiction?

Weather bulletin – Google Cloud and icy Microsoft downpour

Steve Job’s (CEO Apple) management style and CIOs

Back to basics Enterprise Resource Planning

Search wars – Past, Present and future – Bing, Google or new entrant?

Leveraging IT for Competitive Advantage – Myth or Reality?

Microsoft and Apple Tablets, pens and swords

The wonderful world of FREE Windows 7 applications

Houston, Windows is counting down 10,9,8,7…

The future is bright but is it mobile?

Used iphone under a palm tree where I met android and formed a symbian relationship with a blackberry

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10

Image via Wikipedia

“Wisdom knows what to do next, skill knows how to do it, and virtue is doing it.”

David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) Eugenicist, Ichthyologist and peace activist

Forgive me for the long winded and confusing title. Well, it was deliberate, as I wanted to create a title that reflected the confusion that most people face when they purchase a phone. Well, we don’t purchase phones anymore, do we really? We are sold features that most of us never use by the clever marketing departments of both the phone manufacturers’ and the mobile operators.

Additionally, most of you out there by now must be totally confused by all the different mobile phones (Hardware) and their operating systems (OS) (Software). Now, before I go into my short story of selecting an appropriate mobile (or is it a Smartphone now?).  I would like to explain, in layman’s terms, for the uninitiated, what the hell, I am on about.

Well, in a galaxy, many lights year away from our humble abode and before Star Trek hit our screens, we, as earthlings, were managing quite well, with, err, telephones. Yes, that’s right, that piece of plastic that is still sat in the corner of some homes and occasionally goes, tring, tring or is it bing, bing (maybe Microsoft have bought the rights for the old plastic phones now aswell).

Anyway, these evolved into phones that we could carry around and then started to be called ‘mobile telephones’ or ‘mobiles’ (Americans had to be awkward and called them ‘cellular phones’ or ‘cells’). Currently, though, we don’t use them for phones anymore. They have become ubiquitous with carrying a ‘pocket computer.’ Now, there are five OS’s these ‘Smartphones’ use.

Symbian – Used by various manufacturers,  based on ‘open source’ software and founded by Nokia, Sony Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo, Motorola, Texas Instruments, Vodafone, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics and AT&T

Android – Used by many manufaturers’ and is Google’s attempt at creating a mobile phone OS, based on ‘open source’ software.

Iphone OS Used by Apple Iphones, based on Apple’s proprietary OS.

Palm WebOS – Palm, based on Palm’s proprietary OS, was recently acquired by HP and they have been busy creating the Palm WebOS.

Windows Phone 7 – Microsoft’s proprietary OS and the re-incarnation of Windows Mobile, used by various manufacturers’

Blackberry OS6 – Used by Research In Motion (RIM) on all their proprietary Blackberry phones with their latest OS6 platform and new        Blackberry Torch models and others.

So, you can already see the direction that my blogpost is heading towards now. You can select many smartphones (hardware) but they can arrive with many different mobile OS’s (Software).

Selecting the phone, was quite an easy decision for me, as all I had to do was find the phone that could, ‘beam me up, scotty.’ Naturally, I was disappointed when I found out that in this technological era and with all that competition between hardware/software providers, my key criteria of being teleportated across galaxies couldn’t be met.

As I still needed a Smartphone and my provider could supply all of the above, a decision had to be made. I was already a customer approaching the end of my 18 month contract. I didn’t really want Symbian, as in the past whenever I have tried ‘syncronising‘ my Outlook, contacts etc, using Symbian, it has always, quite successfully deleted or amended my most important information and subsequent ‘syncs’ were painful.

Okay, I will admit that I did want to buy the IPhone but I just couldn’t see the logic of contributing a sum of money towards it and paying approx £20 more per month, just for the privilege of owning a proprietary phone. Especially, as other phones can do the same now and more. Yes, I know, there are 300, 000 applications out there for the Iphone. However, I don’t think, I need that many and I will probably be dead by the time I went through the entire list, anyway.

That leaves the Palm WebOS, Windows Phone 7 and RIM phones. No one in my circle of friends, so far has mentioned HP’s re-incarnation of Palm, however, I will admit that many years ago, I was absolutely fascinated by the Palm devices and my past fascination in today’s fast paced technological world, just wasn’t enough to even justify it. As you can see, my selection criterion wasn’t very logical, but, hey, it’s my life and my choice, so I can select according to whatever criteria, I see fit.

Now, then, finally, we have Windows Phone 7 and RIM’s blackberry. Windows 7 wasn’t launched when I bought my handset in early October as the release date for Windows Mobile 7 was 21st October 2010. That said, Microsoft is renown for ‘bugs’ in its early days, so probably best to buy Windows 7 phones, after at least a year, anyway.

Even though, I still think, Blackberry are the best phones for email, I wanted more than just email, so Blackberry was also eliminated.

Yep, as you can guess by now, I settled on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 phone powered by Google’s Android OS. An additional reason for my selection was that Google now powers my personal (Via igoogle, web browsing history etc) and business life (IT system), so it made sense.   I won’t launch a review of the X10, suffice to say that I am happy with it, so far and it takes nice photos.

For more information, please read:
Android Beats Apple–In One Small Corner of the Mobile Ad Market
Apple Has $51 Billion and a Shopping List. Is Facebook on It?
Jobs on Android: The Fight Isn’t Closed Vs. Open, but Integrated Vs. Fragmented
Get smart: What makes a clever phone?
Comparison of Android vs iPhone vs Nokia vs BlackBerry vs Windows Mobile 7
iPhone vs Android vs webOs vs Blackberry vs Windows Mobile vs Symbian
Ultimate Mobile OS Showdown: iPhone vs Android vs webOs vs Blackberry vs Windows Mobile vs Symbian
Palm WebOS 2.0: Now This Is Multitasking
Enterprise Java: Oracle’s real reason for suing Google?