Friday, May 28, 2010

iPad prompts VC firm to double iFund for apps

While there is a significant amount of hype around the Apple, the iPad/iPhone, and Android, an interesting trend has gone little noticed, but important trend has been missed by most analysts. VCs are increasing funding to companies that develop Apps. VCs, seeking to stay ahead of current tech developments, are putting money into incubating the Apps industry. This means that the number and breadth of Apps will continue to grow at an exponential rate. It is also means that these mobile/tablet devices are here to stay, not just some over-hyped technology. Take a close look, this is just another marker to how dramatically the computing experience is changing.

(submitted by Tom)

The Espresso Book Machine

There is little doubt that the publishing industry is in transition (or freefall) as the digital age threatens all aspects of the publishing supply chain. Now comes this article that you can go to a machine like an ATM, select a book title and print the digital book, bound and trimmed as a library-quality paperback book in a matter of minutes, the time it would take to make a cup of espresso coffee. This article, an interview with the Chairman and CEO respectively of OnDemand Books, the company which developed this technology, chronicles the history of book publishing over the past 50-60 years focusing on the recent dramatic developments that are revolutionizing the industry.

(submitted by Judi)

Happy Birthday: YouTube Turns 5

It is hard to believe that YouTube has only been around for five years, but the biggest time waster since Napster celebrated half a decade of existence last week. The most shocking number is that YouTube generates 2 billion views per day. Along the way YouTube helped to redefine Web 2.0, politics, and has challenged the major media companies to come into the 21st century. So with let's raise our glass and salute YouTube for bringing us; Britain's Got Talent, Numa Numa, Lightsaber Kid, Tron Guy, and many, many more. Now let me excuse myself I have to get back to see what new video has been posted.

Speaking the Language of Analytics

An interesting article in Wired Magazine about how the world is becoming driven by analytics. Naturally the implication is that to succeed, or even survive, people are going to need to better understand the language of analytics. From politics to education and health care to the economy, statistics are increasingly driving the world or as the author puts it "statistics is the new grammar." Unfortunately there is no prescription, but this is clearly an opportunity for our colleagues and clients.

Apple: The King of Tech

It is official now, Apple is the most valuable company. The NY Times reported this week that Apple officially passed Microsoft as the most valuable tech company. To most observers this is no surprise as Apple has been the center of innovation for nearly ten years with products such as the iMac, iTunes, iPod, iTouch, iPhone, and the iPad. Each of these innovations has changed everything from eliminating the floppy disk to finding profitability in digital distribution. However, what makes this news important is that Apple is at the forefront of a tectonic shift in computing. We are entering the post-PC era, where most computing happens on mobile devices and increasingly tablet computers. Of course Apple is by far and away the leader in this new era as they are defining the space as much as they are leading it.

All that said we have to keep in mind Microsoft has a stranglehold on the corporate desktop and server market and that is unlikely to change anytime soon especially with the SharePoint 2010 release. And Google has the smarts and agility to catch or even surpass Apple. All of this translates to goodness for consumers.

(submitted by Judi)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Valuable Data: Researchers Study Facebook and Linked In User Data

Undoubtedly the most valuable data in the world now is the user data tracked by Facebook, Google, and other social media sites. Where users go, what they do, what they are feeling, companies and people they "like," those they dislike, in short knowing the collective intelligence of the digital world. This is the data these companies possess. And there is a long line of people that would love to get their hands on this data, but alas it is proprietary and not forthcoming, at least in raw format. However, this article gives a brief behind the scenes look at how Facebook and Linked In look mine their data. For example, Facebook has created a "Gross National Happiness Index," by measuring the positive and negative words in status updates. Linked In on the other hand is tracking career paths such as the rise lately in independent contractors or geographic migrations based on the information their users input on job status/location. This is only the proverbial tip of iceberg, expect much, much more to come out on this front in the future.

Computer Vision: Visual Search Makes You “Kind of Like a Superhero”

There have been major strides in development of visual search technology. Researchers at major technology companies and a handful of startups are building sophisticated algorithms that can identify the subject of photographs with increasing accuracy. Visual search technology can identify objects and return relevant information such as product information/pricing, identifying landmarks and pinpoint their location with GPS and mapping imagery, and even translate text from one language to another (see previous article). The most obvious player in this space and the one leading the way commercially is Google, but Amazon is jumping in too. Microsoft and Yahoo are conspicuously absent, at least for right now. While visual search may not make us exactly superheroes, it will certainly give us faster and more relevant information when we need it most.

(submitted by Tom)

Supply Chain and Social Media: A Small Real World Example

A funny but poignant article about the supply chain of coffee at Logan airport. The author was at the airport seeking a morning cup of coffee, due to a water main break, there was no water in the airport, at least for making coffee. Starbucks was closed, but Dunkin Donuts was open and serving a long line of people seeking to satiate their early morning caffeine fix. How did Dunkin Donuts know and react so quickly to the absence of a critical ingredient to their business? The simple answer is through the use of social media and planning. While the author presents a simple example here, the lessons here are profound, both good and bad.

(submitted by Walter)

Verizon Announces Development Deal for Android Tablet

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam has announced that his company is working closely with Google on a tablet computer. The tablet will be based on the Android operating system. This is exciting stuff and looks like Apple will be facing stiffer competition in the tablet market than it ever did in the iPod world. With this new Google product, and an HP/Palm tablet likely certain, hopefully consumers will see the benefit of all-out tablet war.

(submitted by Simon)

The Laser turns 50 years old

Fifty years ago this past Sunday, researcher Theodore Maiman at Hughes Labs built the first working laser that has changed the world. Laser is an acronym standing for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”. On May 16, 1960, Maiman used a flash lamp to simulate a ruby pink rod – the world’s first laser. Since that day, lasers have been used in a wide range of industries and government agencies, from consumer electronics to law enforcement, the military, entertainment, and much more. Laser technology stands to be at the heart of many technological breakthroughs in the upcoming decades.

While the progress on the laser front has pushed the limits of the scientific and technological frontiers, we want to know when the laser pistols are coming.

(submitted by Judi)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

CaaS: CIO as a Service

Given the size, complexity, and cost of ERP deployments combined with the lack of ERP implementation skills within some IT organizations there is a new trend emerging whereby companies rent an experienced CIO to manage ERP deployments. There are a litany of problems with this strategy, namely what happens when the project is over, but on the other hand this is a way for companies to ensure they are getting the experience and leadership necessary for projects of high value and importance. In either case, it is an interesting trend to follow.

Diaspora*: A New Facebook?

In what is being billed as a threat to Facebook, "four nerds" have developed an open source alternative to the social media giant. Citing issues over Facebook's lax privacy standards the four intrepid developers have spent the last few months building their new creation. Diaspora* will be de-centralized and free for developers to extend. But the real question remains can be Facebook be slayed with the perfect technology or are its roots so far extended into our culture that there is no turning back.

(submitted by Judi)

Alternative Outsourcing Countries

India, China, the Philippines, and Brazil are the undisputed leaders in outsourcing, but are there other options? This article presents 10 other countries that provide alternative outsourcing options. The list shows just how far globalization has reached and how the flat the world can be.

Where R U? Geo-location and Social Media

The new buzz in social networking is focusing on the question: Where are you? Services such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Rummble allow you to “check in” at bars, restaurants, clubs and even offices and railway stations so that your friends know where you are. You can use services on your mobile phone to find places that have been recommended by your friends, or by strangers.

The big sell however for business is that in the very near future companies will be able to target you with advertising and promotional campaigns based on your real-time location. You could be walking past a particular restaurant, use the foursquare app on your iPhone to “check-in” at that location and within seconds you receive discount offers to entice your through the door.

(submitted by Simon)

Sneak Peak at Office 2010

With all the buzz and excitement around Office 2010 here is a sneak peak, and fairly comprehensive look at what users can expect in Office 2010. Perhaps the most important improvement is Outlook's complete makeover. It sports an enhanced user interface, a vastly improved message viewer, and direct connections to social media applications (the article contains a note about Xobni). Combined with additional integration with SharePoint 2010, the reality should match the hype.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Age of the Zetabyte: That's a Lot of Data

Ever wonder what comes after a Gigabyte, it is a Petabyte (a million gigabytes). But what comes after a Petabyte? The answer is a Zettabyte, roughly a million Petabytes. IDC recently recently published a study about the growth and size of data. It is estimated that the digital universe will eclipse 1 Zettabyte in 2010. That is a lot of data. Naturally this has many implications from how to search, how to classify, how to backup, and how to secure all this data.

Perhaps the silver lining in this is that of all this data 75% is a copy of something else. Thus, the data de-duplication (software to logically manage the removal of duplicate data) market is poised to take off...

The World Wide Web Becomes Truly Global

The internet regulator ‘Icann’ (which controls all web domains) this week implemented a system that allows full web addresses that contain no Latin characters. The first three top level domains are for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. With over half the internet users around the world using non-Latin based script as their native language this is a move which is long overdue.

(submitted by Simon)

Using Data for Humanitarian Purposes

An open source database called Ushahidi is being used to aggregate and track damage related to the oil spill in the Gulf. This database tool, originally built to track violence in Kenya, collects data submitted by people via texts, tweets, and email, processes it and maps it so that a high level picture and specific details become readily available to government officials and the public.

(submitted by Walter)

Social Networking: Coming to an Office Near You

An interesting article describing how the features of social networking are permeating throughout enterprise organizations. The article cites a variety of vendors, but the most notable is Microsoft's new version of SharePoint 2010 which incorporates many social networking features such as colleagues (friends), likes, and the wall concept. With the SharePoint 2010 release only days away, social networking in the office environment is just about here.

(submitted by Judi, Carrie, and Mike)

Another Star Trek Device Comes to Fruition

All those wonderful gadgets imagined by the creators of Star Trek seem to be coming alive. In a previous posting we reported about the portable handheld translator. Now comes the Star Trek wonder scanner, a new portable device that uses laser technology to determine the molecular and chemical structure of an object. In other words a handheld device that tells the user what an object is. A laser in the device reacts with the substance at an atomic level and because almost every substance has its own unique pattern, the substance can be identified. One company, DeltaNu, which is developing and marketing this technology, predicts that within five to ten years, the devices will be available for under $5,000 and will be capable of identifying just about anything. All that’s needed is a vast database of Raman patterns, something that is already underway. Full speed ahead!

(submitted by Judi)