IT is Dead!

FrustrationEver worked for a company with an IT department?

Ever had a run-in with that department and been left feeling frustrated and without a solution?

Ever decided that getting someone other than IT to do it is cheaper, faster and far less painful?

Would IT even have a job anymore if you could run all your business tools through a web browser?

The short answer is no. The long answer follows :)

It may seem a little oversimplified but I believe that the IT of today is becoming a thing of the past. It’s a dying beast when an organisation can find better, specialised services to support their business over the web. Better, specialised services without even talking to IT because they have a web browser and an Internet connection.

It’s more intriguing when you consider that you can run a whole business using web tools today. New and emerging businesses are going to use as many as possible because they’re quite often free for small use. More importantly they eliminate the requirement for technical knowledge within the business. My business, One Zero One, is a case in point. I’m just starting out and I don’t want to pay for expensive services, or people to support them. I can pretty much run my whole business with free tools from the Internet. I can run my Business in a Browser.

Now, this Business in a Browser approach is called a couple of things by the technical folks. Cloud Computing. Software as a Service. The outcome is the same to the general Joe on the street. It means that you can get tools and services to support your business through the Internet.

The easiest example of this, but by no means the only, is Google Apps. They are busily soliciting businesses to convert to using their enterprise suite of products delivered through a web browser. Email, calendaring, instant messaging, word processing, intranet sites, voice calling and some other services I’m probably forgetting. Paying Google $50 a head per year for that seems like a no-brainer. No more complaints about email quotas, SPAM, viruses, corrupted mail files, slow delivery, blah blah blah. No more sunk costs until the number of users makes it worthwhile to expand. Not more costs for upgrading software when the new versions are released. No more complaints that people aren’t ON the latest version.

In this scenario the complexity and costs have just dropped dramatically. You just need a web browser and an Internet connection. Any web browser. Anywhere.

Now, I’m not completely ignorant that this scenario has it’s risks. Problems of privacy, security, regulatory implications, integration and availability of your internet connection are all buried in this discussion somewhere. In fact these things are absolutely necessary to consider but they will be addressed over the coming years as the strength of the benefits are realised and the tools and strategies to deal with them are delivered. This is where IT will play a part. Advising and assisting the businesses in getting what it needs to get done, done. A completely different skillset :)

This discussion also opens a number of other threads. If you only need a web browser and an internet connection, why do you need corporate office space? If you only need a web browser and an internet connection, why do you need to full time employees? I haven’t managed to think through all the implications yet but they’re forming.

Well, that’s it for now.

Check out a further definition of Cloud Computing and Software as a Service at wikipedia.

Image from Flickr (striatic)

What if I could organise and search all my stuff?

Welcome to the first What if? post.

During the startup of my business I’ve had a problem. Actually, I’ve had this problem for some time but it’s come to a head while starting my business and throughout evaluating a few opportunities over the last couple of years. I find it hard to find all my stuff.

There’s an answer to finding other people’s stuff. It’s called a search engine. Your friend Google does a pretty good job of finding stuff that other people have published.

There’s an answer to organising and categorising stuff online. It’s called tagging. You can assign tags or keywords to your bookmarks (e.g. Delicious), your blog posts, your photos (e.g. flickr) etc. Other people can assign tags as well. Everyone is in tagging heaven.

There’s an answer to finding stuff on your own computer, and now mobile phones, through local search. Things like Spotlight on the Mac, Google Desktop and the like. You can search your files, emails and contacts. It isn’t perfect because you can’t alway find exactly what you want.

There’s and answer, albeit a very inefficient one, to organising and categorising stuff on your computer. It’s called a Folder. Folders have limitations such that it may be necessary to create two files in different locations to be able to find it when you’re looking for it. For example, if you want to organise your invoices, do you put them all in an invoices folder or do you stick them in a customer specific invoices folder. Maybe you put it in both? There are a few options for introducing keywords and tagging to files and information on your computer but they are either specific to a file type or they aren’t integrated with the underlying file system or miss certain types of information. For example, iPhoto allows you to tag photos, Punkea allows you to tag all broad range of files from across your computer.

So here comes the what if.

What if I had a document in google apps and wanted to be able to see that next to documents I may have created on my computer? What if my gmail contacts showed up next to to documents on my computer authored by that person. What if their twitter feeds and facebook updates showed up with that person as well.

What if there was a universal way of tagging all the information that you create, whether it’s offline or online, and a way to search all of that information, irrespective of what and where it is? It would definitely make my life a lot easier :) . With the proliferation of new online services every day, I would hazard a guess that it will make other people’s lives easier as well.

Another way to look at it would be – What if there was a search box that allowed me to look at all the stuff that I have created and saved on my computer and in online services?

Hmm, just a thought.

As with all of my posts, I’m happy to be corrected. Let me know if you’ve come across anything that already exists or if you want to expand on the What if? Maybe you’re in a position to solve the What if? I’d love to hear from you.

Request requests input – Commonwealth Commericalisation Institude

Australian Government DIISR

I just read Commonwealth Commercialisation Institute – Government Calls For Comments over at TechNation which mentioned that the Commonwealth Commercialisation Institue (CCI) had opened it’s kimono for public comment.

From the CCI website:

As announced in the 2009-10 Budget, the Australian Government is establishing a Commonwealth Commercialisation Institute to provide a radical new approach to commercialising the best Australian research.

The Institute will support talented researchers, entrepreneurs and innovative firms to take their research and ideas to the marketplace.

You can contribute to the stakeholder input by completing the online form on this website. It is recommended that you read the Discussion Paper on the background and policy principles of the Institute before completing the online form.

This is great for two reasons:

  1. They’ve started moving on getting the the money to those ideas that have potential.  In particular, opening it to the public for comments and a chance to influence how the Institute will operate.
  2. They’re using social media (in this case a blog) to get it out to the widest audience possible.  It’s great to see the government’s continued push to use the web as a valuable resource.

Great work.  I beleive that Australia needs to get focused on fostering its entrepreneurial spirit and this is a step in the right direction.

Now I’ll have to try and contribute.

Telstra – Listen to yourself

Public goodwill for Telstra has been dwindling over the last few years. Speaking for myself I think they’re a bloated, egotistical organisation with an overrated sense of self importance. And I don’t even own their shares. Or maybe that was just when Sol Trujillo was at the reins.

Why the rant? I just saw an article on Australian IT titled – Shareholder value key in NBN: Thodey which, to be Frank (or John), annoyed me. I don’t think Telstra get it.

Customer service is there, but it is all about protecting shareholder value. I cannot stress that enough. That’s the way we have discussed it with the government, the way we talk about it, and the way we’ll move forward. – Thodey

Why would you say that in the press? I’m coming at this from a consumer point of view and all I hear is “We like you Mr Customer, but sorry, we’re too busy playing games with other people so you’re second best. We don’t love you.” Even if I did own shares, which I don’t, I’d be seriously wondering what their game is. No Customers = No Shareholder Value.

I hope that they get a limited stake in the National Broadband Network, otherwise Australia will continue to suffer in the telecommunications stakes on a world stage.

I’d love to hear some perspectives on what people think they are trying to do. What are your thoughts? Throw your 2c in.

ps. Get my home cooked updates home delivered through my RSS feed.

What happened to the Internet?

Social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. No one actually knows how. When finally done, there is surprise its not better.”  Avinash KaushikAnalytics Evangelist – Google

To say that Social Media is all the rage could be considered the understatement of the century.  Having been around since the beginnings of mass adoption of the Internet, I do look at the current rage with curiosity and more than a little bemusement.  Does anyone remember Internet Relay Chat (IRC)?  If you don’t it was a tool for meeting and holding conversations with people online.  You had a nickname (handle) and you joined conversations (rooms or channels – guess what? They were lablelled #topic like in everyone’s favourite tool at the moment).  Sound familiar?

The Present

Fast forward 15 years and the tools to create, publish and broadcast your thoughts and creations (content and media) are far more powerful.  The technology advances to help get that information to your computer is faster.  You can now consume all this creativity in many more places than just your computer room, such as TV’s, media centres and mobile phones.  The ability to create all this content (media) and share it in an interactive fashion (social) has resulted in the coining of a new term – Social Media.

The Principles

But have the “Social” aspects really changed?  Did it really need to be labelled just because it was an electronics conversation rather than a physical one?  I guess the reality is that the Internet, like Twitter did recently when Oprah and Ashton Kutcher brought it to the masses, went mainstream.  It needed a new label.  And we thought the Information Superhighway was the Internet going mainstream.  Hah!  Well, it’s no longer just a big pipe full of fantastic information, it’s (back to) a place for fun, creativity, innovation and social interaction.

The Loss of Perspective?

I think this is great!  But with all this I still have a weird feeling that there seems to have been a little loss of perspective.  I would suggest that people aren’t learning Social Media.  They already know how to be social, interact with other humans, the principles of trust, relationships and conversations.  Implicitly if not explicitly.  They should continue to apply those principles in the electronic world.  Maybe the lack of a physical presence (tone, body language etc) causes a loss of perspective?

Or maybe, because the Internet’s gone maintstream, there are a whole new swag of Internet users who are trying it for the first time in earnest and trying new things.   Maybe I’m just old!  Bah!  Humbug!

Poor Me!

Well, if you’ve read this far – Thanks!  I’m not sure I’ve sorted my thoughts out on this one yet and I didn’t want to make it sound like a rant.  I’m just a little bemused by the “Social Media” phenomenon but don’t get me wrong.  I think it’s fascinating.  I’ll be keeping my eye out for the hard evidence for it being beneficial for business.

What do you think?  Maybe someone fancies some homework?  Who knows who coined the term Social Media?

Business intelligence with Google Reader

google reader happy

The web is a powerful information resource for individuals and businesses alike.  Whether it’s to keep up with the sports results or keeping up with industry news and the activities of the competition.  It’s invaluable but with a with a wealth of information there is the risk of overload.

Have you ever felt like it’s all too much?  That you should just give up and stick with the newspaper?

Well, there is a tool that I think is superb at helping keep on top of the firehose that is information from the web – Google Reader.  Read on to see how you can use it effectively.

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What do you do on the web?

Have you ever thought about what you “do” on the web? Have you ever thought about where you “are” on the web? I spend my whole day on it but I haven’t really thought about it in a particularly structured way.

I had to think structured thoughts today as I wanted to finally get scrambledminds up to scratch as my place to waffle my heart out to the ether that is the web. I started with making sure that the blog had all the right elements, including some reference to where else people can find me.

This led me to jotting a quick diagram of where I spend my time from a web social sense. Or in more common parlance these days – where was I social networking. Where was I creating social media? Catchy stuff huh?

So, apart from being a very abridged version, this shows how complex the presence or landscape of anyone can be on the web. I thought this was particularly interesting in the context of what you actually “do” at each node. I’m updating my status, keeping up to date with the activities of friends and colleagues, creating and sharing content, having real time conversations. It’s had work!

It also raises the question of where do you spend your time most effectively. These things can be massive time wasters. What were people doing before this stuff existed? I should write about the techniques that I use to filter out the noise. It raises even bigger questions for where time and dollars should be spent for a business.

Do you know what your social landscape/presence looks like? How do you use your web tools? How do you filter the noise? Let me know.

Facebook SPAM

I use facebook. Not like a lot of people who are actively doing stuff there every day, but I use it occasionally to contact pepole who seem to have adopted it as their only form of electronic communication.

I received this message from one of my “friends” the other day. It smacks of SPAM.

I’M SORRY TO HAVE TO SEND THIS! Reply Facebook is recently becoming very overpopulated,there have been many members complaining that Facebook is becoming very slow. Records show that the reason is that there are too many non-active Facebook members and, on the other side, too many new Facebook members.

We will be sending this message around to see if members are active or not. If you are active please send to at least 15 other users using Copy Paste to show that you are still active. Those who do not send this message within 2 weeks will be deleted without hesitation to create more space.

Send this message to all your friends and to show me that your still active and you will not be deleted.

Founder of Facebook,

I’m going to go out on a limb here and:
a) not forward it on.
b) guess that my account will be just fine.

Anyone know any better? I doubt that my facebook account is going to be deleted, I’m worth too much even if I access it infrequently.

iPhone 3.0 Software

So it seems it’s available as of not too long ago (Wed arvo US time). I’m just about to download and check it out. A beefy 230mb. I don’t even know if it will make my life easier. Actually, there is one thing that does really bug me, and no it’s not the lack of cut and paste as every man and his dog seems to think. It’s the inability to set up a meeting with invitees from the phone! Looks like this is included in the new software.

Fun fun.