13
Jan

Rounding off some of Google’s edges makes a pretty picture, but little more

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthKatie Benner, a writer published on the Bloomberg View web site, presented a hypothesis about Google on January 13, 2015. She questions whether some of Google’s recent features, what I would call its edges, are familiar because they are characteristic of another very large tech company – Microsoft. But has she actually rounded these edges to render an otherwise sloppy picture into something somewhat more appealing?

The title of Benner’s article is Google is the New Microsoft. Uh-Oh (http://www NULL.bloombergview NULL.com/articles/2015-01-12/google-is-the-new-microsoft-and-that-should-freak-it-out).

The sticking points, for me, in her characterization of Google as a maturing tech business “print[ing] money” are some otherwise simple mistakes Google has made, which are NOT the kind of mistakes worth anyone’s sympathy. Unfortunately Benner doesn’t talk to these points.

What she does opine about is her portrait of “innovation” (an otherwise meaningless abstraction if there ever was one) as an elusive quality of product development existing somewhere beyond the grasp of “hugely profitable compan[ies]”, like Microsoft.

What is missing from the piece is Benner’s definition of “innovation”. Is it safe to say she does not consider Google Glass to be “innovation?” What about the driverless car? Or, finally, what about inexpensive DNA profiling? As anyone following Google is aware, each of the above products have emerged from the “Googleplex” (the last is offered by a company headed up by Sergey Brin’s wife, 23andme).

So, to follow the point further, if the above products are not examples of innovation, would it be safe to assume Benner is talking to a definition of the term perhaps closer to what Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, presented last year, when he positioned his business as an enterprise focused on delivering solutions to enhance personal productivity? In an earlier post to this blog I wrote on this point, with reference to an article Irving Wladawsky-Berger wrote last year for the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Blog on the concept (readers need only review The Science of Innovation (http://blog NULL.irvingwb NULL.com/blog/2014/12/the-mit-innovation-initiative NULL.html) to get a glimpse of how Wladawsky-Berger understands “innovation”).

To wrap up this exposition, then why doesn’t Benner include Microsoft along with Apple in her ranks of large businesses capable of “innovating core products”. Unfortunately I can not answer these points as, in my opinion, Benner’s article rounds off these hard edges. I would have preferred to see them nailed together into a tight frame for Google’s mistakes, which I regret, are perhaps a lot more pedestrian and far removed from any notion of “innovation”.

The biggest of these, and the most recent as far as my gaining cognizance of its existence, is Google’s architecture for its Android IP business. Deciding not to update some comparatively recent versions of this O/S is a wrong decision not likely to win Google many friends from the OEM community, nor from end consumers. Certainly the decision to abandon these versions was correctable, and a rather simple thing to fix without a lot of buzz about “innovation”.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

10
Oct

In 2014, is “responsive and accomodating” the new recommended posture for Enterprise IT?

In the Keynote presentation for day one of Microsoft’s Office 365 Summit (http://summit NULL.office NULL.com) event in New York City, Michael Atalla, Microsoft’s “Office Guy”, described what he portrayed as a very new world of enterprise computing, where the pace at which innovation is introduced is managed by users, rather than the enterprise IT organizations tasked with supporting them. This relationship, and the posture it requires enterprise IT organizations to assume, contrasts, vividly, with how this relationship played out a mere 10 years ago, when, Atalla contends, all of the innovation emanated out from enterprise IT to users. The net effect on Enterprise IT organizations, Atalla contends, is to transform their activity into much more a process of accommodation as new devices appear on the consumer tech market, than has ever been the case in the past.

What enterprise IT is accommodating, Atalla explained, is innovation in the form of new devices and processes entering the enterprise as the result of formal BYOD policies, and personnel taking advantage of them. Boiled down to simple terms, this process amounts to the latest Smart Phone, tablet (or even PC) magnetizing interest from the community of computing users at the organization. People start to purchase these devices, which may result in unsupported processes showing up on enterprise IT’s radar. So it falls on enterprise IT to quickly regroup around this phenomenon to provide the support and structure required for personnel to safely consume the new processes across the internal network.

Atalla’s presentation took up at least a third of the Keynote for this event. Perhaps it would have been helpful for the audience attending this presentation to hear a bit about how a cloud SaaS like Office 365 can provide enterprise IT with a tool they can leverage to get ahead of users as this BYOD phenomenon continues to unfold.

With Office 365, or Google at Work, or any other similar competitive service, the actual processing of tasks, and “housing” the computing activity produced by them, takes place in, ostensibly, a much more “static” environment than one might otherwise expect to be the case. Regardless of the device, cloud SaaS solutions require a type of functionality referred to in the past as terminal processing. Or do they?

In 2014, there are important, and challenging, issues with client devices functioning as terminals talking to servers located in the public Internet, or cloud. The app model (which Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon have all embraced) requires a lot more intelligence on the consumer device end of the data conversation. Therefore, even Office 365 computing is not as simple as it may otherwise appear to be.

Regardless, Microsoft is subtly presenting a new message in its effort to hasten the pace at which larger organizations come to accept cloud, SaaS offers as legitimate opportunities to reduce costs and increase user benefits. Many of the attendees of this event likely came away from Atalla’s presentation with this notion about Office 365, as a method of smoothing out an otherwise uncomfortable relationship between IT and users at larger organizations.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

16
Sep

New Product Introductions, Hosted by Big Tech Businesses, as a Genre of Marketing Communications Event, Need a Makeover

Mature ISVs, including Microsoft, Apple, Google, Oracle, and Salesforce.com, to mention merely a few of the most prominent businesses in this industry segment, have made a habit of hosting new product exhibitions on a quarterly, or semi-annual basis. One of the usual objectives of this genre of corporate event is to magnetize someone prominent in the media to write about the new device before her, or him, as a great example of innovation. But, if some of the new products under scrutiny are representative of current trends in product marketing, perhaps the term innovation, itself, needs a makeover. Therefore, these events, in this writer’s opinion, may prove to be more of a waste of cash than anything much more.

Apple’s debut of the iPhone 6, and the iWatch on September 9, 2014 is a case in point. An enormous amount of editorial content has been created around the event, and, one can argue, Apple has benefited from a public relations success. A substantial segment of its target consumer market is sure to have more awareness about the products exhibited than would otherwise be the case.

But, we would argue, the public relations currency, upon which the presumption of benefit from the event is based, is grossly inflated. One buck in this new currency has the buying power, this writer would argue, of a penny of the older PR currency these events used to create.

The problem at the root of this spreading worthlessness, is a real disconnection between the items debuted and any semblance of a panacea for the burning needs of the targeted consumer market for the product category. In this writer’s opinion, the iPhone 6, the iWatch, and Apple’s announced tap and pay payment system are not what most consumers of smart phones, wrist gadgets and retail shoppers are after. It would not be a surprise if sales prove to be much lower than anticipated for these devices.

The difficulty of the notion of innovation is the abstraction inherent to the term. Innovation simply means different things to different people. But perhaps the common landscape beneath most credible notions of innovation includes the familiar accoutrements of either substantial lower acquisition and life cycle maintenance costs for consumers, or a substantially increased set of functionality. If either, or both of these types shrubbery are absent, there is little likelihood anything really innovative is at hand and we are all standing in a desert.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

18
Jul

Do Enterprise IT Customers Respect Technology Tradition?

In a July 10, 2014 memo to all employees at Microsoft, Satya Nadella, CEO (http://www NULL.microsoft NULL.com/en-us/news/ceo/index NULL.html) repeated a position statement he originally voiced on his first day on the job as CEO. This statement positions “tradition” vs. “innovation” for the ISV business: ” . . . our industry does not respect tradition – it only respects innovation.”

At least three questions can be posed based on Nadella’s statement:

  1. Is it safe for anyone interpreting Nadella’s remarks to consider enterprise business customers part of the industry to which he refers?
  2. If this industry only respects “innovation”, how do we account for the perennial success management consulting firms like IBM, McKinsey, Booz Allen, CSC, HP, etc have enjoyed leveraging the famous “3F” rhetorical argument (“Feel, Felt, Found”) as they have pursued opportunities to collaborate with their customers?
  3. How does a very large business, staffed with a high proportion of personnel with a deep background in technology management consulting, implement Nadella’s position statement as an operative principal?

1) Should we consider enterprise business customers part of the industry to which Nadella is referring?

In this writer’s opinion the answer is “no.” Enterprise business customers have a long history of retarding the pace at which they have implemented technology. Perhaps this slow pace is less a matter of respecting “tradition” than it is a matter of operating within the boundaries of a sound risk management policy.

2) What about “Feel, Felt, Found” and the long track record of success of IBM, CSC, the “big 5”, etc satisfying enterprise business appetite for IT project management, and more?

Despite a recent critique of “Feel, Felt, Found” by some of the leading theorists in enterprise technology sales (principally Jeff Thull), this rhetorical argument still provides an important component for what this writer argues are most of the awards enterprise business makes for IT projects.

A recent, highly publicized award by the U. S. Federal CIA to Amazon, and not to IBM, for a private cloud can be cited as an example of a change in direction on this long standing policy. But, this award looks more like an outlier, and not the starting point of a trend with any real momentum behind it.

If we are an ISV implementing a policy of producing innovation, even at the cost of breaking with tradition, then what kind of staff do we need to succeed?

As written elsewhere in this blog, this writer holds the opinion marketing and sales personnel tasked with producing revenue from an enterprise business market will likely succeed if they can demonstrate a thorough understanding of the complex process large organizations must, and do, implement when they face a need to implement computer technology products, services, and even integrated solutions. This understanding, necessarily, must include an awareness of why, a good part of the time, it will not make sense for enterprise business customers to implement innovation, despite conflicts with a sound policy of respecting risk management (synonymous with tradition).

So, in order to achieve an objective of producing a lot of innovation, even at the expense of tradition, a different type of background will likely be required of personnel, if they are to succeed.

Ira Michael Blonder (https://plus NULL.google NULL.com/108970003169613491972/posts?tab=XX?rel=author)

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved