Monthly Archives: December 2008

The story of 2009? Enterprise disruption?

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In addition to the interview I did yesterday with socialtext, which explores some of the disruption coming to enterprises, there’s another trend I’m tracking: the coming fight between the collaborative web and Microsoft.

Now some pundits in the industry think that the fight will be head on. Not me. I think it’ll be more parasitic. Like how mold takes over a strawberry. Slow, but in the end the strawberry dies.

Is that what we’re seeing now? Well, here’s something that is a small piece of the bigger trend. You could call it a few cells of mold on the strawberry, if you’d like.

What is it? Panorama Software for Google Apps. I shot two videos with Oudi Antebi, VP of marketing and strategy of Panorama Software. Never heard of them? Neither had I, but what they are doing is very disruptive to bigger companies:

Part I. Where we discover what is happening in the Business Intelligence space and learn what Panorama Software is doing. (This video is embedded above).
Part II. Demo of how the Panorama gadget is used to display real-time data.

So, why did this catch my eye? First, they are taking something very expensive, Business Intelligence charting and dashboarding, and making it free. That alone is pretty disruptive. When Microsoft is charging $a few hundred a seat (and Microsoft is disrupting lots of other players in the market who charge a lot more than that) you know there’s disruption when some new player comes along and under prices everyone.

But don’t focus on that disruption.

Instead, look at the bigger picture. Here they are using Google spreadsheets to bring you live, collaborative, business intelligence. Watch the second video to see how different this is from most of the “old-school” approaches that haven’t yet built on a platform designed for the web from the start.

See that’s the real disruption: there’s a new platform being built. Right now it’s ugly and incomplete. But every year it gets better and better. Will 2009 be the year when lots of you try out a web-based collaboration suite like the ones from Zoho or Google?

I am sensing “yes” is the answer. Why? The economy is forcing big companies to cut every cost they can and this stuff is not only lower cost (often free, or a few bucks a month) but it also is much more productive. Now anyone in a group can update a spreadsheet and everyone in the company can see that activity in real time.

This is very powerful and useful. I remember visiting Printing for Less a few years back. They had graphs like this on their intranet for all their employees. But now anyone can build them for very little money.

And keep watching, this stuff isn’t only for Google. It is for Salesforce.com and other enterprise data.

After the cameras were off he showed me something else they are working on for 2009. He swore me to secrecy, but I can say this, if what he showed me comes out a lot of things will be flipped and a lot of people will finally get some use out of the collaborative world.

The other question for 2009 is will Microsoft’s slow efforts to “webize” its Office Suite be enough to keep these trends at bay for another year? My gut feeling? Microsoft is so strong and so well capitalized and living off of the continued strong momentum that it won’t be hurt in 2009 but by the end of the year most pundits will start noticing the fuzz on the strawberry and will start asking deep questions of Microsoft’s leadership.

Who said that enterprise software was boring?

The view of economy from Palo Alto’s socialtext

Socialtext is one of those companies that got started during the last downturn and has played an important role in the valley’s startup culture for the past few years (they hosted the first BarCamp, for instance). So yesterday I went over to have a chat with founder Ross Mayfield and CEO Eugene Lee. We discussed mostly the economy, but a little bit about the enterprise software and services that socialtext sells. Socialtext started as a company that sold wikis to enterprises, but has expanded that into a social collaboration and productivity suite that’s doing very well. While I was in the office two sizeable sales came in from two big companies.

Eugene Lee was an executive at Cisco when Cisco had to lay a lot of people off during the last downturn, so he talks about that too. I split the interview up into three pieces:

Part I. What will happen to both large and small companies during downturn? What are they seeing from their enterprise customers? (Hint: record sales so far this quarter but great uncertainty for next year).
Part II. Discussion of corporate pain of email.
Part III. Ross tells me about socialtext’s alumni network and how that can help both companies and workers who are laid off.

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20 ways to being a bigger friendfeed monster than Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki is on friendfeed but you can be a lot better at it than he is.

Just watch this video
where I show you the 20 key features of friendfeed and how to use them to be an aggregating social media monster!

Oh, and how do I know you can beat Guy? Because he has no likes and only has made four comments on friendfeed total. I know Guy and he will start using friendfeed by mid-year 2009 because he’ll start seeing the power then (he got on Twitter late, too, which he admitted to me in an interview we did with him). You have a chance to get into it before Guy learns all the tricks and becomes an unmatchable friendfeeding monster.

Sorry it’s a little blurry, I was using my flipcam. Maybe we’ll do this with our good cameras later in the week.

Here’s the list of 20 things we cover:

1. Why friendfeed?
2. Get inbound content with the aggregator.
3. Get inbound content via friends.
4. How friend-of-a-friend feature brings more inbound content.
5. Using the everyone tab to get more inbound content.
6. Using rooms to find inbound content.
7. Using “best of” feature to find more inbound content.
8. Using the “me” and “home” pages.
9. Using lists to do friend management.
10. Creating media in friendfeed.
11. Sharing media found on the web.
12. Creating media with email.
13. Deciding between Twitter and friendfeed.
14. Your outbound content, likes.
15. Your outbound content, comments.
16. Your outbound content, send to Twitter.
17. Your outbound content, your stuff.
18. Your outbound content, using rooms.
19. Using search.
20 Using real-time features.

Of course we’re talking about this video over on friendfeed. In two places, actually.

Thanks Mike Arrington for taking us off the rails into Twitter idiot land

Yesterday Mike Arrington took us off the rails and into the idiot land.

Listen, I’m as egotistical as the rest of them. I can say “follow me” along with the best of them. According to Loic Le Meur and Mike Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, I have more authority than either of them because I have more followers on Twitter. Their words, not mine.

That idea is patently idiotic. We have been derailed from the promised land of smarter conversations on Twitter and have moved into the idiot land if that’s the way we think.

Even worse, my post yesterday about this got 12x more traffic than my two video posts did (even though one of them was with the guy who named Web 2.0 and is my favorite interview of the year). The 12seconds.tv video post took far more time and money to do (and more time to think about and consume too). The fact that no one cares about actually learning something and trying a new service or hearing about how the entrepreneurs are doing it is telling me a LOT.

We’re off the rails and well into idiot land now.

Why is former TechCrunch author Duncan Riley is writing about celebrity news more on his Inquisitr blog than trying to find another tech scoop? Look at the traffic curves. TechCrunch is headed down for the past few months. Inquistr, Riley’s new site, is headed up.

We are a land of idiots. Idiots care about who is following them. Idiots care more about celebrity news than science. Or technology. Or geeky stuff.

Idiots try to rank things based on who has the most followers. Idiots can’t be bothered with thinking about adding value like Tim O’Reilly or Jay Rosen, all guys who teach you something in nearly every tweet and who I can’t remember ever caring about how many followers they have.

Look at this attitude close up in this post by Jesse Stay, who posted his defense of the follower idiocy on Louis Gray’s blog so it could “get to more eyeballs.”

Aaarrrrrgggghhhhhh.

Of course, Mike Arrington is not an idiot. Neither is Loic Le Meur. Neither is Jesse Stay. So, what are they up to?

They know there is money in idiocy. That is where their future traffic will come from. That is where their profits will come from. There aren’t enough smart people so you gotta create some drama to pull in the idiots. Steve Gillmor figured it out.

Maybe I’m the idiot. Sigh.

Now, to be fair, the post that started this mess, from Loic Le Meur, had a good goal: to make it possible to find better tweets in searches. In other words, to separate the news from the noise. Except Loic used the word “authority” and hooked it to popularity: the number of followers one has.

Loic claims he didn’t do that to start a fight, but that demonstrates he just didn’t know that the idiots would rebel against the thought that they don’t matter as much as someone else. It also fed the idiots who believe that the only thing in life that matters is celebrity. How lame.

Here’s why I’ve been saying for the past year that it is far more important who you follow than who follows you: if you follow people just to get followers you’ll end up being overworked, deep in information overload, and superficial to boot. You won’t have a philosophy. It +will+ show. You might be able to fool most of the idiots most of the time, but eventually they’ll see the difference between the “collect follower” types and the “surround yourself with smart people” types like Tim O’Reilly or Jay Rosen.

I can smell the “follow me” types a million miles away, can’t you?

One crowd is off the rails in idiot land, the other is building something of lasting value.

Which one do we want to incent? The “follow me” idiots? Or the “try to get smarter” crowd?

I know I’m swimming upstream, but I want to get smarter. Screw the page views. Screw the business models. They all are lame anyway. I want better friends. Better content. Better news. Better ideas. That means I need to find better people to be part of my social network. Idiots be damned.

So, when I say that listing search results by numbers of followers is idiotic, now you know where I’m coming from. There are a lot better ways to find the high value Tweets. I covered that yesterday. But no one cared, which is why that post didn’t show up on TechMeme.

I guess I should just give in and join the idiot crowd. I bet this post gets on TechMeme or, even better, Digg.

Aaarrrrrggggghhhhh.

See, this is why I really don’t care about Mike Arrington’s claim that I should blog more because my traffic is going down. If I cared only about building a business or making money then he’d definitely be right.

My goal, though, is to have smarter conversations every day. Does anyone else care about that goal? Or are you all wanting to be celebrities so you can sell stuff on your Twitter account, like what Jesse Stay is advocating for?

How do we get this back on the tracks now that Arrington has derailed us?

The interview of the year: Tim O’Reilly

How can you tell that someone I interview is good? My producer/editor Rocky Barbanica can’t cut much out of the interview (most interviews lately get edited to just their good parts, which usually means a 40-minute interview comes out to about 20 minutes or so). Not this one.

Tim O’Reilly talks about web 2.0, foo camp, book publishing and a lot more. The first part is up and is 24 minutes long. Second part will be up on Monday.

For those who don’t know who Tim is, he is the guy who named “web 2.0″ and he runs a publishing company that produces a ton of the industry’s most popular events, books, and magazines. You can read more from him on his blog and he’s also my favorite Twitterer, bringing tons of interesting stuff to his followers on his Twitter account.

After the “pro” interview that’s up on FastCompanyTV (shot with two HD camcorders) we went outside and shot even more with my FlipCamera. Here he responds to questions left on friendfeed.

Anyway, enjoy the interview of the year and thanks to everyone who gave me a great interview this year.

Oh, and by the way, Tim got me to live a foocamp life which led directly to my show. What’s the foocamp life? Have interesting conversations with smart people every day. I’ve been living that life almost every day for more than four years now. We cover that in the video too.