Weekend Video 18.11

Samsung pokes fun at Apple in the above, and it caused some laughing in our household. Make sure you notice the haircut at 0:52.

As a long-time iPhone user I have never stood in line on release date, have skipped generations of the phone, and yet have found it to fit well in the ecosystem of devices I use daily. Apple keeps updating the hardware on schedule, and the software frequently too; I appreciate the backwards compatibility to older devices. While the video calls out some good points of comparison in a humorous way, switching sides isn’t just about the phone, unless that’s all you use.

I won’t be buying a Note 8 (and “growing up” to use Samsung’s phrase), but full marks to Samsung for the ad.

Weekend Reading 18.11

There are lots of other people doing interesting work around the world. Here’s a selection of the interesting ideas I have come across this week. Find yourself a coffee or tea, pull out your digital reading device of choice, and go exploring.

  • 3 Collaboration Skills You Need for Today and Tomorrow (David Coleman) … “While collaboration has always been a needed skill in the workplace, increasingly distributed workforces, knowledge silos and new developments in technology have put renewed pressure on learning the art and science of collaborative work. Because today people aren’t only collaborating with people, they have the added challenge of collaborating with machines.” More

  • Two Google alums just raised $60M to rethink documents (Matthew Lynley) … “Two MIT graduates, coming in from Microsoft and Google, have built up a team that for the past three years has quietly been trying to rethink how we approach documents …. We like to describe it as a new document that blends flexibility of documents, the power of spreadsheets, and the utility of applications into a single new canvas.” More

  • Work and the Loneliness Epidemic (Vivek Murthy) … “There is good reason to be concerned about social connection in our current world. Loneliness is a growing health epidemic. We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s. Today, over 40% of adults in America report feeling lonely, and research suggests that the real number may well be higher.” More

  • Alec Ross on the Book that Changed His Life (Alec Ross) … Interview with Alec Ross, a candidate for Governor of Maryland. Alec talks about creating and harnessing energy, finding productive time, books, and technology. More

The “Other” Consideration of Collaboration Tools; Welcome to the New World of GDPR

Collaboration tools provide amazing capabilities for helping people work together across time and space, and selecting the right tools for your organisation is important. However, there’s another side to the whole area that I haven’t often written about on this site: compliance. And if you or your organisation does anything with the personal data of European citizens – regardless of where your organisation is located in the world – you need to know about GDPR – the “General Data Protection Regulation” released in May 2016 and due to go into force from late May 2018. Given its wide scope, as the white paper below points out, it would be better to refer to it as the “Global” Data Protection Regulation. Seriously. And it has implications for how your organisation uses collaboration tools too.

Osterman Research recently published a new report on GDPR – exploring what it is, and the types of organisational and technological responses that will be required:

GDPR Compliance and Its Impact on Security and Data Protection Programs
Protecting personal data has been an important issue in the European Union (EU) for more than 20 years, and the recently ratified General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes data protection to an entirely new level. In addition to a new set of legal requirements that necessitate both organizational and technological responses, the GDPR is applicable to almost every organization around the world that collects or processes data on residents domiciled within the EU, including permanent residents, visitors and expatriates.

It’s worth a look … because it is likely to cause a lot of soul searching (data analysis, policy formulation, technology considerations) for organisations across the world. Including yours.

See: The Impact of the GDPR on Your Business

Martin comments on HP and Autonomy

Martin comments on the news out of HP about the write-down of the Autonomy purchase price by $8.8 billion:

The wording is very definite. HP are not just raising the possibility of misrepresentations but is stating that they occurred. The writedown for Autonomy is around $5 billion, or around half the purchase price. It seems that someone internally within the Autonomy senior management blew the whistle. HP have reported the issues to both the Securities and Exchange Commission in the USA and the Serious Fraud Office in the UK. HP states that it is still committed to Autonomy, but then it could not really say anything else without having to write down even more of the purchase price. It is also worth recalling that in September 2011 Oracle released a press release about a presentation given by Mike Lynch to Oracle in which the company stated that the market value of $6 billion was way too high, let alone the premium that HP paid on top of the market value. It is not only the Autonomy Board of Directors that will have some questions to answer but also Deloitte as Automony’s auditors and the senior management team of HP at the time and their advisors. There was clearly not enough due diligence on the part of HP.

It is sad to see this sort of problem sour the reputation of Autonomy.

Not good for HP. Not good for Autonomy’s customers. Not good for the industry.

Read more: Searching for the missing billions – HP reassesses its purchase of Autonomy

John Chambers on Cisco: We Will Make Changes

John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, announced a range of changes to fix the ailing company:

Cisco Systems Inc. Chief Executive Officer John Chambers, after reporting disappointing earnings four quarters in a row, will makes changes aimed at regaining the company’s lost credibility and sharpening its focus.

“You will see Cisco make a number of targeted moves in the coming weeks,” Chambers said yesterday in a memo to employees at the San Jose, California-based company. He didn’t give details on what form the changes would take.

In the 1,500-word message, Chambers depicted a company that has lost focus and been slow to make decisions. Cisco has seen profitability erode and is struggling to meet sales growth goals while pushing into 30 new businesses. Tackling additional markets also has left Cisco vulnerable to rivals such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Juniper Networks Inc., which are moving into its home turf.

My Comments
1. This is a telling tale of trying to do too much at once. “Pushing into 30 new businesses” is a hard ask, and while on one level Cisco could be commended for trying to broaden its appeal beyond its core product lines, the net result has not been good for investors or customers.

2. Companies – like people – that have too much cash on hand and don’t have to fight for survival each day, can become complacent and stop playing hard enough to win. Being a bit more resource-constrained can greatly help with focus on the essentials, rather than fiddling with the interesting possibilities and market extensions. But Cisco has been down-and-out before – after the great Internet bubble for example – and fought back to an elevated plain. Here’s hoping John and his team can do it again.

3. Cisco’s collaboration business remains core to its go-forward strategy. This includes WebEx for web conferencing, telepresence for high-end video meetings, and Cisco Quad and related collaboration software offerings.

4. For more on Cisco and collaboration, see my 2009 report, Cisco for Collaboration: Vendor and Product Analysis.


CORUS Share is a new online collaboration tool for small businesses. The Corus team are focused on replacing email with a new way of interacting – with work, discussions, and sharing oriented around a “topic.”

Here’s a scenario they discuss:

1. You manage multiple conversations on multiple topics with a variety of co-workers, clients and friends.

2. You work on multiple versions of documents, trying to keep track of which document version is current.

3. You share these files or wait for someone else to finish working on one. You spend time deciding where to file or which version to keep or delete.

4. Having finished you need to share the now 10Mb file. Then you have to track who read it and what comments/changes they may require.

5. You also spend time collecting links on customers or researching topics or planning yourself a well deserved holiday. Along the way storing bookmarks or emailing links to others. Creating more items that need to be filed and later found.

6. Finally you schedule a meeting to discuss all this. How many emails does that create?

Rebooting the iMac … Some Items to Share

My computer has 105 open tabs in Safari, and I need to restart it (which hasn’t happened for … at least two weeks). So … here’s some of those:

Thinking about Collaboration Inside
– Fredric writes about the emergence of the social intranet, and some of the challenges inside organizations.
– Sheila from Cisco talks about the Cisco approach to collaboration, as expressed in Cisco Quad. She says that the communication and video aspects of Quad are a “killer combination.”
– Jason comments that strong inter-personal relationships are key to IT project success.
– Dion writes about who should be in charge of Enterprise 2.0. His answer: “we” not “I”.
– If you want to achieve B, don’t reward A (PDF from 1995).

User Adoption
– Datango offers a suite of tools to support the introduction of a new application inside an organization.

New Product Announcements
– The makers of 5pm released SmartQ, a visual project board that supports multi-step processes. SmartQ includes the ability to customize data capture forms.
– Microsoft announced Office 365, a replacement for BPOS. It will include SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync. eWeek has more detail. Due in 2011.
– Atlassian updated Confluence, its enterprise wiki, with enhanced editing and navigation support.
– Cisco released WebEx Meet, a free online meetings service for small businesses.

Random Things
– Seth says it’s no fun being a novice, and to ship while you are still learning. While stage 3 (expert) is great, too few people ever get there.
– HP shares 25 tips for smarter meetings. Some tips apply to longer projects too.
– Mark suggests that if you are facing a roadblock, ask whether you can control it or not, and then act accordingly.
– CNN argues that Microsoft is dying as a consumer brand. What happens in the consumer world comes across to enterprise IT.
– Jacob talks about his use of the iPad, and what is and isn’t working for him.
– Peter looks at the challenges of migrating from one collaboration system to another, in this case away from Lotus Notes.
– Procrastination is the death knell for dreams, projects, and goals. Start it now!

Collaboration Scenarios (April 6, 2010)

Okay, so this is an idea … re-orienting what I’ve historically done about new products and services in line with common collaborative processes. I’m not promising to do this again, or regularly … I’m just experimenting. Comments welcome. I’ll have to re-think this layout though … it’s hard to scan.

Managing a Project
Interesting academic article from January 2009 on collaboration in software teams. Basically, the researchers looked at communication patterns within a geographically-distributed software team, and using communication patterns reasoned via social network analysis, were able to predict 70% of failed builds based on the communication pattern for a particular build.

EvoApp is a newish project collaboration service. Without signing up, however, the Web site is light on details.

Holding a Meeting
Citrix released GoToMeeting App for iPad, which enables people with an Apple iPad to join a meeting hosted via GoToMeeting.
– More at the iTunes Store.

Cisco also released an iPad app, called Cisco WebEx Meeting Center. It is free, and supports the use of voice-over-IP.

Making a Decision
SAP released SAP StreamWork, its collaboration decision-making software.
– StreamWork was called “12sprints” during the beta. See my review (from February).

Co-Authoring a Document
Why do people keeping going back to email for document co-authoring? The author suggests three reasons: change, the learning curve, and everything else.

“Virtual Collaborative Writing in the Workplace: Computer-Mediated Communication Technologies and Processes” is a new book due in May on document collaboration at work. It includes input from academics and practitioners.
– See the press release.
– Amazon has it listed for US$180. Ouch.

Requesting Feedback
Crocdoc is an online tool for collecting feedback on documents. Supports PDFs, Word documents, and PowerPoint presentations.

Tracking What’s Going On
Microsoft Office Labs discussed OfficeTalk, a potential microblogging service for the enterprise.
– Research by Microsoft has shown the value of this in a business context.
– Read the original blog post.

Mobile Devices
There is renewed interest in slate form-factor devices.
– Apple shipped the first iPad’s in the United States.
– Reviews of the iPad: MercuryNews (“it’s more expensive than a netbook, but much more fun”), James Kendrick (“with a little practice, I have gotten pretty good at typing with the onscreen keyboard”, and he notes that the Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard works with the iPad for on-the-go typing), ComputerWorld (“they sold 300,000 in two days).
– If I was buying an iPad, I’d probably get a Timbuk2 bag to go with it.
– HP is teasing the world with its HP Slate ads (eg, on YouTube, A Full Mobile Experience). The video includes a demonstration of using Skype on the HP Slate.

IBM announced the Simmbook, a netbook for emerging markets. It will include access to IBM’s cloud services. Price starts at $190.
– See overview at YouTube.

Apple will talk about the iPhone 4.0 operating system later this week. Looks like a new iPhone might be coming mid-2010.

News Updates (March 1, 2010)

Sendmail App Store … Sendmail offers an App Store for its Sentrion Message Processor platform. “Unlike competitive offerings designed as specific-purpose products, the Sentrion Message Processor is a messaging platform with integrated enterprise messaging applications. With each new application, your email infrastructure improves and your total cost of ownership decreases. Why? Simply put, an application on the messaging infrastructure is more efficient and less costly than separate products. Browse the Sentrion MP App Store to see for yourself how many different applications you can add to Sentrion — everything from data loss prevention applications to applications that help improve deliverability of your sales and marketing email sent from salesforce.com.More
– eg, Compliance Policy Applications

Collaboration in Government … There’s a drive within Washington to rewrite the laws that currently prohibit collaboration between government and outside organizations. “Times have changed. Maybe the laws about collaboration should change, too. That’s the bottom line from technology experts, who testified before a House Armed Services subcommittee this week. Tech America Chief Executive Phillip Bond says laws that prevent the Department of Defense from collaborating with academia and business came up years ago. He says those laws might’ve made sense back then – but now they hinder cybersecurity innovation. Democrat Loretta Sanchez of California chairs the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee. GovInfoSecurity.com reports she is concerned that the old laws which limit collaboration are also limiting the federal government’s ability to develop solutions to protect government IT.More

Task Pooper for GNOME … The GNOME community is exploring ways to enhance task management tools in GNOME 3. “The design largely emphasizes task-driven interaction and explores ways that this model can be enabled more effectively on the desktop. In the design document, there is a reference to research conducted at PARC which found that many people use their e-mail inbox as an ad-hoc to-do list. Some of the new GNOME design concepts are a response to that pattern. The GNOME Task Pooper concept, which is intended to bring first-class task management to the desktop, has a content drop-zone that organizes itself temporally. It will automatically move expired content into an archive so that immediately relevant action items are easily accessible and not obscured by clutter. Beyond the initial 3.0 release, the document says that the Pooper could eventually be augmented so that users can drag entire windows and workspaces into it for later use.More

BPOS Federal … Microsoft is introducing an edition of Business Productivity Online for the Federal Government. “The main difference between these proposed SaaS solutions and the ones currently available is that it will be housed in separate facilities. For the federal government, security is the biggest concern when it comes to any form of networking, but Ron Markezich, corporate vice president of Microsoft, has told CNET that there should be no worries. He said: “No one else provides this [high level of security] for the public sector. We’ve raised the bar with regard to security and privacy.” The US government has recently sought to encourage the use of SaaS across its agencies and departments.” Why not “FPOS”?. More

Excel Hell … Why do users keep using Excel, when there are enterprise applications available to them? “Excel hell is not an evil Microsoft plot, or some sort of madness that descends upon otherwise sane managers and knowledge workers when they open the PC. It is the fault of enterprise software failing to provide an alternative … Most employees in an organization are voluntary users for the vast majority of processes. They don’t have to log onto the employee skills dashboard every week to check if their team is on track for their development goals. If once a year they log on to the HR application, complete the appraisals as fast as they can, and get out of there, they will. Many top sales people spend as little time as they possibility can in CRM systems. Many poor salespeople spend considerable time logged onto CRM applications.More

Other News
– Android is moving beyond the smartphone.
– PC World offers a menu of 16 tools to improve productivity and collaboration, all that cost nothing.
– Mark offers 9 ways to make meetings more effective, eg, #1, make people show up on time.

News Updates (February 26, 2010)

Central Desktop 2.0 … Central Desktop released a major update to its hosted collaboration service, with a revised UI, an online file viewer, improved wiki navigaton, and more. “In the crowded collaboration software market, Central Desktop remains the only full-featured SaaS collaboration solution designed specifically for the mid-market since 2005. Central Desktop’s full suite of online tools for both internal and external communication helps businesses collaborate efficiently, increase productivity and reduce costs. Central Desktop 2.0 affirms the company’s position as the industry’s leading SaaS-based SharePoint alternative for mid-sized businesses.More

Oracle Beehive 2.0 … Oracle’s got a list of what’s new in the 2.0 release of Beehive. Eg, “Oracle Beehive Extensions for Outlook: Ability to access Oracle Beehive Team Collaboration from Microsoft Outlook, Display Beehive shortcuts, Redesigned workspace management UI, View booking characteristics for Resources, and Ability to apply server-side rules to team workspace folders.More

Formotus for SharePoint … Formotus provides mobile device integration with SharePoint. “Formotus enables rapid delivery of custom SharePoint-enabled business applications to mobile phones. The mobile workforce can now be dispatched to job sites, collaborate in company workflows, submit and retrieve data from lists, and even download InfoPath forms for offline editing. The Formotus solution requires no server-side installations and depends on no mobile browser or constant network connection.More

Hard Road for GAPE … Google’s finding it hard going in the enterprise collaboration market, 3 years after the release of its hosted collaboration services. “But by 2009, both Microsoft and IBM had released hosted collaboration solutions to keep Google Apps from being the lone wolf in cloud collaboration. Microsoft’s Business Productivity Office Suite and IBM’s LotusLive mark those companies’ serious forays into the cloud. Google finds itself in a daunting position on Monday, Feb. 22, the third birthday of GAPE. The company is trying to dislodge legacy on-premises installations from Microsoft and IBM while fighting off SAAS (software-as-a-service) solutions from those same companies, as well as new cloud offerings from Cisco Systems and from a slew of startups such as Zoho, Mindtouch and others. More

Nordic River and Box.net … Nordic River announced a partnership with Box.net, to integrate its document collaboration capabilities with Box. “Using its WeaveSync technology – an indexing, matching and synchronization tool for documents – TextFlow offers a more simplified way to manage input, as well as merge and track suggestions and text contributions from multiple writers at once. The integration of TextFlow into Box will enable teams to gather all feedback among multiple versions of their shared documents, reflect on it, and then decide how to incorporate each member’s input into the final document.More

V-Rooms Update … V-Rooms updated its Virtual Data Rooms service, with new digital rights management capabilities. “DRM for documents is an approach to enhanced document security in which the saving, copying, printing and distribution of digital content is restricted according to rules established by the owner of the document. This works by encrypting the files and then selectively granting access to them based on whatever credentials the documents’ owner uses to authenticate users.More

Other News
– Fujitsu released the S1300 Mac and PC desktop scanner.
– Palm’s new smartphones aren’t finding market traction.
– SetFocus, a Microsoft business partner, is hosting seminars in March 2010 on migrating to SharePoint 2010.
– If you can’t wait that long, see Ann’s pointers on SharePoint 2010 migration.