• Collaboration? I’ll have Two of Those – In Blue Please


    My good friend and buzzword slayer Mike Riversdale, is in the habit of slaying the dragons of enterprise newspeak. He regularly bemoans organizations whose collaboration strategy is articulated (somewhat facetiously) by the title above – you know, the organization who pay lip service to collaboration and fully believe that it’s a technical issue rather than a cultural one.

    It’s an issue I come to time and time again in two distinct fields – collaboration and social media.

    In the social media space it generally rears its head in the form of a large business that wants to “do” social media – either because they see it happening in other business and want to play with the cool kids or (and sadly more often) because some “expert” preaches to them the need for social media (see the Social media Guru video below);

    Generally these sorts of organization may implement the social media initiatives, but somehow forget the importance of enabling the initiatives through an organizational cultural shift.

    At the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco, Bevin Hernandez from Penn State University gave a presentation looking at the success they’ve had rolling out ThoughtFarmer as a collaborative platform. She shared a cool video that showed some of the same issues, but in the collaboration area;

    NEO from Bevin Hernandez on Vimeo.

    It’s something my friends who practice in the Enterprise 2.0 space come up against time and time again – but we’re our own worst enemies. I walked the expo floor at Enterprise 2.0 and was depressed to overhear the conversations going on in the booths – everyone is declaring themselves a collaboration platform, focusing on the whiz-bang technology and forgetting all the things that actually matter – culture shift, migration easing, barriers to adoption.

    It was discussed in the back channels at Enterprise 2.0 ad nauseum, the need to move away from technology and really find the value, look at the culture and ease the transition.

    So yeah, collaboration huh, make mine a double… with cream


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  • Another PR Rant, I Must be Tired


    I’ve posted many times before about traditional PR and how it falls dismally short. This post is an opportunity to celebrate some success stories and tell a few sorry tales.

    Before the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco, and in an attempt to make my time as efficient as possible, I posted an invitation to PR staffers with some guidelines about how best to connect with me.

    So here’s some bouquets out to some stellar performers;

    Kate Hobbie – MediaBrew consulting and Aria Systems. Kate is kind of a token offering here. We were already friends from previous connections when she’d spent time talking to me about SaaS billing in her communication role with Aria so there was some context there. However Kate went out of her way, even picking me up from the airport and playing taxi service for me.

    Rachel Peterson – Nectar communications. Rachel I’d also met previously when talking to Zuora and Sliderocket, two companies she works with. Despite not actually meeting up with Rachel this trip, she went out of her way to facilitate things for me, even arranging for me to meet Sliderocket CEO, Chuck Dietrich for a great run on the Presidio

    Alison Mickey – Schwartz communications. Alison saw my post and REALLY went out of her way to understand what I’m about. She sent me an email that referenced my area of interest in blogging, and even showed that she’d done some research about my outside interests and hobbies. The briefings she arranged were well resourced and I had enough information before them to make the briefing time valuable.

    Julia Mak – Community manager at LeapFILE. Julia also reached out to talk with me. Her company were originally going to demo at Enterprise 2.0 but for various reasons did not. We still met up and had a good chat about where her company is going, and the chat was tailored to my particular areas of interest.

    Christie Denniston at Catapult PR. Christie works with ThoughtWorks studios who were demo-ing their Google Wave integration at Enterprise 2.0. Despite being remote from the conference, Christie went out of her way to ensure I had everything I needed, as an aside it was pretty disappointing that despite her staunch efforts, the team from ThoughtWorks never delivered the resource they had promised for my post – you can’t pick your clients huh?

    So there you go – anyone needing some awesome PR/communications people would do well to talk to Kate, Rachel, Alison, Julia or Christie – if you’re interested just drop me a line and I’ll make the connections.

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  • Apprenda’s In the Money – $5 Million in Funding


    I’ve written before about Apprenda, a company I’ve followed since I started blogging. Their company blog (sadly somewhat silent of late) was one of the early places for vendor thought-leadership around PaaS in particular. I was stoked to hear…

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  • MinuteDock Makes Every Minute Count


    Services businesses life blood is their ability to track time. As such it could be argued that any accounting application that is focused on the services market should have time tracking built in as a core feature. Having used…

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  • LTech – Holding Hands in the Move to SaaS


    LTech is a company that has a long partnership with Google – originally they were a systems integrator helping organizations deploy Google search appliances. They now focus more on easing the deployment of Google apps into enterprise customers – they’ve been a Google Enterprise Partners since the program was launched.

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  • Billflo Powers (Almost) Seamless Invoicing


    Back in April I reviewed the newly launched service that billFLO provides. In their own words billFLO; billFLO focuses on eliminating invoicing friction for SMBs. We work with the likes of Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Less Accounting, Harvest and Blinksale to…

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  • The Customers Asked, Xero Answered. FreshBooks Integration…


    Go to market strategies are an intensely interesting topic of conversation. In the very early days of its existence, I was a little dubious with the strategy that Xero took – that is partnering with accounting practices and using…

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  • Is the Cloud Going to Kill Conventional SaaS?


    Longhaul flights are sometimes useful in that they allow one to ruminate over some of the issues that the daily deluge of data doesn’t allow. On this partiuclar flight I’ve been ruminating over a post I read recently from…

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  • Einstein Embraces EC2


    Well nearly…

    It’s nice being able to tell a story about cloud computing being used to power some really cool projects. While Youtube is cool and all, it doesn’t come close to the coolness of exploring the depths of the oceans or outer space. It’s in this second category that this post lies – apparently the European Space Agency (ESA) currently has a project called Gaia is a project to;

    conduct a census of one thousand million stars in our Galaxy. It will monitor each of its target stars about 70 times over a five-year period, precisely charting their positions, distances, movements, and changes in brightness. It is expected to discover hundreds of thousands of new celestial objects, such as extra-solar planets and failed stars called brown dwarfs. Within our own Solar System, Gaia should also identify tens of thousands of asteroids.

    Which, you have to admit, is a pretty cool thing. (oh and along the way Gaia will also provide stringent new tests of Albert Einstein’s general relativity theory)

    Apparently The Server Labs (TSL), a cloud computing consultancy firm, has decided on a project to migrate the Gaia project over to Amazon EC2. The Server Labs estimates the ESA could save 50 percent in overall costs.

    In May this year The Server Labs successfully completed the first feasibility study with ESA testing the potential of moving the project’s data processing to the Cloud the nuts and bolts of the project involves the processing of massive quantities of data collected in space – the sort of use-case that is tailor-made for the hyper-scalability that cloud computing brings.

    In the next stage of the project, TSL will further test the capacity of its data processing, testing the horizontal scalability of Gaia’s data processing grid to limits impossible with the current in-house cluster. TSL will run ESA’s Gaia data processing in Amazon’s Cloud, incorporating RightScale’s and Oracle’s technology.

    Geek and science fiction fact? A match made in heaven!

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  • The iPhone and Business; Netsuite Banks on a Happy Union


    It was only a couple of years ago that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, fatefully dismissed the iPhone as a device and as a concept – for those who haven’t seen it, check out (for posterity’s sake if nothing else) the video below;

    Fast forward two or three years and we have the situation where an iPhone application is a non-negotiable requirement for someone delivering software – seemingly every day another consumer application launches it’s iPhone app – it seems if you’re a consumer facing service and don’t offer an iPhone app you’re destined to be jeered into oblivion by the crowds (or at least Fake Steve Jobs).

    Beyond the consumer stuff however we’ve seen a significant number of business applications develop a specific iPhone offering. Into this fray rides Netsuite who recently announced the launch of its application for iPhone and iPod touch. The Netsuite application delivers up the expected dashboard and information overviews including;

    • NetSuite Dashboards including KPIs, report snapshots, trend graphs, scorecards, reminders, and recent records. The dashboards are interactive, allowing users to drill down and explore trends with the touch of a finger.
    • NetSuite Calendar with support for accepting or declining events and marking tasks complete.
    • Lead, Prospect & Customer records tailored to mobile sales, field service and executive leadership, including access to associated contacts, marketing campaigns, opportunities, quotes, orders, purchase history, financial history, cases, and issues.
    • Productivity tools that leverage native capabilities of the device, such as click-to-call from any NetSuite record containing a phone number, click-to-email from any NetSuite record containing an e-mail address, and click-to-map (via Google Maps) from any NetSuite record containing a physical address.

    What interested me more than the functionality however was to look at the uptake for the iPhone app and look at Netsuite’s reasons for building an iPhone specific application. In the month or so since the release of the application, around 5000 people have downloaded the app – it’s early days and hard to take too much from that – but it’s a significant number of downloads.

    As for the decision to create an iPhone specific application specifically, and leaving other mobile device development to their mobile partners, Netsuite have made primarily a marketing move, I put this to Netsuite, and asked them for their reasoning behind the move, they told me that in their opinion;

    Apple is driving a lot of innovation in the smartphone market right now… By developing for the iPhone platform ourselves and working directly with Apple, we were able to deliver features like the NetSuite executive dashboard and provide visibility across the whole ERP cloud-computing suite, while our mobile partners have so far largely focused on CRM-centric solutions. We haven’t ruled out developing other mobile solutions ourselves, but there’s plenty of room in the NetSuite mobile ecosystem for both in-house and partner-delivered solutions, tailored for different types of businesses and users.

    It’s an interesting answer but one which doesn’t really address the reasons to focus on the iPhone in particular. No doubt Netsuite have looked at their customer mix and decided that whether for marketing reasons or functional ones, the iPhone is a good bet.

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