Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Every CTO should be on Facebook

Every CTO should be on Facebook. Why? Facebook could well be what applications look and work like in the future. I don't know if Facebook itself will persist, but certainly the ideas behind it will.

By now, I assume most of us are using LinkedIn, and finding it to be a valuable business networking tool. While Plaxo is mimicing LinkedIn, LinkedIn is mimicing Facebook. You can now load your picture in Linkedin. And LinkedIn just added "today", "yesterday", "last week". Guess where that comes from? Facebook.

"Facebook?", you say. But that's mainly kids. I am not saying that you will get a social networking benefit from using Facebook, but you will learn tons about how new social network interfaces are evolving. Facebook follows the same connection rules as Facebook, other members can only connect to if you accept. I have some personal rules for using facebook. First, accepting links/friends only from people I've met and know. And most importantly, I limit myself to 5-10 mins at a time, Facebook can be really addictive and time-consuming.

There are 1,000s of developers (or more) developing applications for Facebook, and you can try all of them out. Facebook is truly a technology marvel., if your not checking out Facebook, you may really be missing something.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Video promise

Two bigs trends on the web right now are Social Networking and Video. I've been following internet-based video off-and-on, starting when I did some consulting for a CLEC in 1998. I also looked at IP-based video conferencing for international collaboration. It always seemed to me that video was a promise that never delivers; stiff video conferences and postage stamp-sized choppy video were hard to get excited about.

Well, consumer video (like youtube) is changing all that as it takes off, clearly exploding in use. The combination of high-speed internet and the fact that almost all single-shot digital cameras can also shoot and download video clearly helps. Anyone can shoot a video and download it, and then have youtube or similar deliver it at no cost. Google search results now frequently include videos.

What crystallized the potential of video for me was my own experience playing the guitar. As I hear a song that I would like to learn to play, I now go to youtube to see how other amateurs guitarists have played it. They've shot themselves close-up, with view of guitar fret board, so you can see what chords and strumming patterns they are playing, verses trying to learn the song from listening to the recording. This has been a completely breakthrough for me on new songs, and has improved my playing immeasurably.

I can't help but imagine that there are thousands of other examples, both personal and business, where simple-shot video can be used as a training, business, sales or help tool. Expect to see video really take off in 2008.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Enterprise Social Computing

My last blog posting was "The problem with Social Networking", and I should have realized that there were smart people already working on the problem. I quote from my last blog:- "Instead of a social network home page, what I would like to see is the intersection of SOA (service-oriented architecture) and social networking". It appears the solution is Enterprise Social Computing.

I attended today the first-ever Alfresco User Conference in New York, Kaplan is a recent customer using their WCM platform. While I could only stay for the morning, I had the privilege of attending Alfresco CTO John Newton's presentation on their product roadmap. He started with a description of his conversion into an open source vendor (John is formerly from Documentum), and how open source is changing market dynamics. John talked about current trends, my favorite quote is "Web 2.0 is right-brain", meaning it is about people, concepts and creativity.

Further into the presentation (and where I got truly excited), he described how enterprise employees use both internal tools like email, MS office, intranet, CRM, etc, and external tools like google search, linkedin, wikipedia, google maps, etc to perform their jobs, and that these tools should be integrated together in an Enterprise Social Computing platform. Yes!!

John went on to describe what enterprises needed:- Facebook-in-a-box. He described how Alfresco had integrated itself into the Facebook api in 3 days, and productized the results in 3 weeks. This was music to my ears, and exactly along the lines of what I believe to be the right solution for corporations.

Enough of facebook, time for me to get some of that facebook-in-a-box (or linkedin-in-a-box) John was talking about. Maybe email will finally start to go the way of the fax and memo?

Monday, November 5, 2007

The problem with Social Networking

Social networking is huge right now, both in usage and press attention. But I look to history to see what the outcome might be. Remember the AOL/Compuserve/Prodigy (and others) battle? How about the home page battle between Yahoo, Excite, Lycos, Infoseek, AOL?

I believe that the competition to be our social network of choice is flawed. Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Flickr, Youtube and others (including small niche communities) all want us to picK them as our single destination, just as we singularly use email, Google search, iTunes and Amazon. Problem is that I just don't have time to check pages on many different communities.

Instead of a social network home page, what I would like to see is the intersection of SOA (service-oriented architecture) and social networking, where I could have my own home page that shows me all my friends/colleagues from all sources. Think of this as a kind of newsreader for social networking. Until this happens, I will spend most of my time on LinkedIn (for work) and occasionally Facebook and Myspace to check out my friends/contacts.

I still believe that the workplace benefits of social networking has yet to hit corporations, and I haven't yet found a compelling story (beyond the US Army) to taut as a shining example. I am still losing the argument of "it just wastes more time", and I can't prove that it will displace email usage to improve business productivity.

But social networking is where web 2.0 technology is focusing, and is not going away anytime soon, so if your not staying current with it, you may miss the boat.