Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dropbox Dropped the Security Ball

Dropbox is a cloud based storage system, used by upwards of 25 million people.  Unfortunately for those users Dropbox made a code update Sunday night that accidentally removed the system's password protection.  This left all 25 million accounts completely unprotected for 4 hours, allowing anyone to access anyone's Dropbox account.  This is a reminder of how vulnerable users are to cloud based solutions.  By using a cloud solution, whether for files, music, photos or whatever else, users are ceding total control over their data to the company running said service.  This can bring benefits, but as was the case here, this can bring significant risk.  Dropbox should (and will likely) be roasted for this gaffe, but if this trend of cloud adoption continues combined with service provider errors, look for some measure of governmental regulation.

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(submitted by Mike)

Selling Products with History

This short article describes an extremely innovative way of selling products.  This shop takes donated items, collects memories and stories about the product, and then embeds this history with an RFID tag and QR code.  Shoppers can then use their smartphone or RFID reader to learn about that item's history and in the process hopefully creating a deeper bond that leads to a purchase.  This is just an experimental project, but it has tremendous implications for what is possible in both product development and marketing.  Using this technology would allow companies to tell a story to consumers; how this product was made, why it is green, etc...  While this capability exists in part today on the web, it is limited in scale and not part of the direct shopping experience.  This is something to watch.

Read the article.

(submitted by Helen)

Mr. Congressman, Let Me Explain to You How Twitter Works

The news about the Congressman from New York resigning due to sending explicit photos over Twitter proved to be too salacious of a story to pass up.  However, instead of reporting on the tawdry aspects, this article explains why Twitter is technically different than other technology platforms and how the Congressman's inability to understand these technical nuances of Twitter left him vulnerable to political attack.  If you use Twitter this is a good read, if you send naked pictures through Twitter this is a must read.

Read the article.

(Submitted by Walter)

Dealing with Large Scale Databases- New Open Source Solutions

Infobright, Ingres, and Jaspersoft released new open source large scale data analytics platforms this week.   Infobright's Analytic Database, designed to process large sets of auto-generated data (e.g. sensors, network appliances, etc...), features two innovative tools.  First is "Domain Expert" that extends the meta-data surrounding data sets allowing for faster processing.  Second is "Rough Query" that allows users to quickly scan through gigantic data sets to narrow down results before writing queries.  Meanwhile Ingres (database) and Jaspersoft (BI tools) combined their products to create "VectorWise" an integrated database and BI platform.

These vendors, along with EMC's recent Greenplum announcements, demonstrate the innovation occurring in the analytics software space.  All of these products are designed specifically to handle the processing of large scale databases and when required are built from the ground up to solve a specific problem.  This is something commercial vendors and products do not have the ability to do.  By making these products open source it allows developers and communities to incubate the tools to meet technical not financial requirements.  Do not be fooled by the "open source" moniker either.  Open source usually implies low cost, little support, but used properly open source can equal high efficiency.

Read the article.

(submitted by Bharath)

Is the Blackberry Developing Mold?

Research In Motion (RIM), makers of the Blackberry and pioneer in the smartphone industry, announced layoffs, lower revenues, and product delays.  On top of this Dolby is suing RIM for patent violations.  RIM executives cited issues with hardware as the cause for delay and "streamlining" its operating model to focus on growth opportunities.  All of this sounds good, but it is hard not to wonder if this is the beginning of a steep decline for RIM.  Apple and Google are rapidly creating the future of the smart phone and that future has little in common with RIM devices, operating systems, and business model.  While RIM is not in danger of going away, it is very close to becoming irrelevant in the smart phone market.

Read the article.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Apple is About to Change the PC Market Again

Apple has a stunning record of predicting what users will want even if those users do not know it.  Apple's recently unveiled iCloud offering could be yet another such offering.  While everyone loves their iPod/iPhone/iPad and related mobile devices, the problem is they are dependent on a PC to sustain them.  Software updates, managing and transferring content (music, photos, videos, documents, etc...), and backups all require a physical computer system at some point.  This is limiting because it requires users to pick and choose from content stored on a physical machine at home or work.  So if someone is traveling and they want to view pictures on their iPad, but did not transfer them before leaving, then they are out of luck.  iCloud seeks to solve this problem.  Instead of synching devices to a physical computer, users transfer their content to iCloud, which is a personalized cloud based storage system.  Then users synch their devices straight to the cloud.  This includes not only content but system updates and backups as well.

If successful, this will continue to reinforce the trend away from PCs towards mobile devices.  This is ironic because Apple has built its business on the PC market, but Apple seems to recognize the future and has made a full-scale alignment towards it.  Of course Apple is not alone in this, Google and Amazon are already well down this road, but Apple's foray seems to make final what analysts predicted.  The downside to this strategy is cost and security.  For now Apple is offering 5gb of storage free, not including iTunes purchased content and photos.  For many users their music and video collections are measured in hundreds of gigabytes and terrabytes, so there is a major gap there.  Also, security is always an issue, transferring one's files to the iCloud means transferring security control to Apple.  Though given most users inability to protect themselves, this may not be a bad thing.  Finally, the million (or billion) dollar question is what this means for the enterprise IT market.  The enterprise IT signs have been pointing this way for years, but cost and security concerns have slowed this adoption.  But today consumer IT trends drive enterprise IT trends, so if successful, iCloud will contribute to and accelerate a significant change for the enterprise IT market.

Read the article.

Lessons Learned from Friendster's Demise

Before Facebook, Twitter, and the social media explosion the first social media site was Friendster.  But it was quickly surpassed in popularity by MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. Friendster was never able to compete and it officially ended its existence last month. Friendster's demise provides those who follow social media and business collaboration software valuable lessons about how and why people share information.  This article highlights the main gaps Friendster's focus on the profile vs. friends and the lack of a Wall (hey Linked In are you paying attention).  Turns out in the social media world only the strongest and most popular survive.

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Businesses Saving Money With Groupon?

Groupon is the deal-of-the-day website site that specializes in providing users discounted coupons targeted at specific companies.  Recently an IT consulting firm posted  "$25,000 of services for $12,500 deal on groupon.  While nobody took the company up on the coupon the effort represents a experimental foray into using a business-to-consumer tool to market or attract business-to-business clients.  However, the larger question is not whether Groupon is a way to attract business related business, but rather how long is Groupon going to remain in business.

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(submitted by Mike)

It's Trendy to Have an Appstore

Add Microsoft to the growing list of companies with their own "Appstore."  Microsoft recently announced their new Appstore (Apple is suing them over the name) which features Apps and professional services that extend their cloud based Office offering.  Most notably this includes the SharePoint cloud offering. Given SharePoint's need for customization, which is constrained in the cloud version,  this offering makes quite a bit of sense.  As with Apple's App store, Apps submitted to the store are required to meet stringent requirements and evaluation to ensure security and stability.

Read the article.

(submitted by Bharath)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rating Consumer Product Ingredients

GoodGuide, the perfect example of technology, transparency, and doing good for the world.  This recent startup analyzes and rates the ingredients in consumer products.  Want to know if the sunscreen you are using contains toxic chemicals, check out GoodGuide (website or App).  Want to know if the toy your kid is playing with is safe, check out GoodGuide.  While this seems like the traditional activist vs. business narrative, CPG product makers can use this as an opportunity to highlight their product ingredients and get social networking credibility.  Moreover, GoodGuide is selling custom feeds of ratings to procurement departments that have environmental and societal purchasing requirements.  The potential for where GoodGuide can go are seemingly limitless (think crowdsourcing, supplier ratings, certifications). Interestingly they are a "B Corporation" with Silicon Valley funding, not the traditional non-profit.  This gives them a better chance of long term sustainability.

Read the article.

(submitted by Tom)

The Future of Procurement Systems: Games and Social Media

Who says procurement has to be boring?  In today's business world procurement is benefitting from new strategies, techniques and recognition in many enterprises.  Looking ahead, this supplymanagement.com article predicts that the future of purchasing will heavily leverage social and gaming networks, as well as augmented reality.  The author cites the biggest change driver as the younger technology aware workforce (Millennials, Generation Y, etc...).  While millennial theme has been overdone in recent years, the author does make good points about how collaborative and sharing collective knowledge within purchasing organizations can be enhanced by use of these new technologies.  While the purchasing technology is not going to become cell phone, social networked, and virtual world based overnight, it is nice to see a cutting edge vision or procurement technology that has nothing to do with SAP, Oracle, or Ariba.

Read the article.

(submitted by Helen)

Throw the (Blackberry) Playbook Out

The long awaited and much anticipated Blackberry Playbook has been out in the market for almost 2 months now.  Not surprisingly it has not moved the needle of excitement at all.  While being built on decent hardware and having a few nice features, this device will likely gain little traction in the tablet market.  Requiring an existing Blackberry phone device to connect to email, contacts and calendars this device will probably only see use in the corporate markets.  Even then, corporate users are likely to continue purchasing Apple and Google tablets given the large number of Apps available for those platforms and the dearth of BlackBerry compatible Apps.  If you are in the market for a new tablet, this review will help you decide.  Otherwise, the key takeaway from this article is that the Playbook is not worth the hardware it is built on.

Read the article.

(submitted by Walter)

Playing Corporate Matchmaker (again)- Marketing and IT

Recently there has been much excitement around the increased relationship between Procurement and Finance (noted here and here), there is a new office relationship to pay attention to; IT and Marketing.  The recent explosion in data growth has opened new opportunities for marketers to get more comprehensive reports and understanding of marketing campaigns.  A the same time there remains huge gaps in IT platforms and skills provided by IT departments.  Citing real world examples such as Kodak and the Royal Bank of Canada, this article discusses the challenges and opportunities for closer Marketing/IT relationships.  Definitely worth the read.

Read the article.


(submitted by Carrie)

That's Cool: Land Annexed for Data Center Cooling

The State of Utah just annexed 500 acres of land to facilitate the building of the National Security Agency's newest data center.  The reason for this acquisition, to ensure the NSA data center is never cut off from its water source, which is used for cooling.  One of the biggest challenges facing data centers today is cooling.  Thousands upon thousands of servers and related computing devices, jammed into small spaces,  generate a tremendous amount of heat.  Naturally these electronic components are sensitive to overheating, so keeping them cool is of the utmost priority.  Water plays a key role in cooling data centers.  To ensure adequate cooling capability, those building new data centers tend to pick locations near uninterruptible water sources.

Read the article.