Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Firefox OS is to mobile what Chrome OS is to laptops: update from ZDNet

Mozilla's Firefox OS eyes mobile domination - with tablets to follow | ZDNet

As shown in this slide from Kleiner Perkins' Mary Meeker, there are about 5 billion mobile phones in the world, but only 1 billion of them are smartphones.  The entire presentation is available online.

This is a perfect opportunity for the stateless model, in which a simpler, lower-cost device handles your connection and user interface, but all data and application activity is in the cloud.  Mozilla's Firefox OS is nearing readiness to seize that opportunity space; this ZDNet article provides an update, and useful insight into the way Mozilla sees the stateless model as applied to ownership and rights licenses.

Mozilla VP of mobile engineering Andreas Gal is quoted by ZDNet on this idea: "You sign in with your identity and when you purchase an application you really purchase the application for that identity and not the device. For example, if I sign into my identity and purchase the New York Times app and then go to my desktop browser and assign the same identity, I essentially take that content with me," Gal said.

"Content is no longer bound to one specific device, it is now bound to my identity that I can take with me to all these different devices."

This is precisely the decoupling of device, data, and application I've evangelized for almost two years.  The battles of the future are not between legacy operating systems like Mac and Windows, iOS and Android. They are between different stateless delivery models and the ecosystems that support them, now reflected by Chrome OS and Mozilla OS.  These are going to be interesting times. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Design firm Ziba: 12 trends for 2013. How many does your business know?

The 12 Trends That Will Rule Products In 2013 | Co.Design: business + innovation + design:

How does your company value customer-facing employees?
Image from
Here is another set of predictions for 2013, this time from design/innovation company Ziba by way of Fast Company. Their insights are worthy of attention by technologists and business strategists, because they remind us of one really important idea: some of the most important news that impacts tech and business is not directly about either one.

These four stood out:

#2: Customer-facing employees are your brain and your backbone. "Technology in 2013 will focus on helping (frontline) employees do more, more intelligently, and the wisest organizations will invest in this wholeheartedly."

#4: Worth is determined by philosophy, not price. "If two competitors spend equal amounts on production, the one whose ideals resonate with the target market is the more valuable.  Your values are a competitive advantage."

#7: Technology moves too fast to care about.  I've written many times that corporate IT will achieve true value when it essentially disappears, when those who consume IT's work no longer have to know or care how it was achieved.  Ziba's take: "’s become too much, too fast. The Internet runs on an alphabet soup of languages and protocols, and only a slim population of early adopters counts pixels or processor speeds anymore. The rest of us just want to know what it’s like to use."

#9: Brand loyalty is how we escape decision fatigue.  "...our options have multiplied rapidly, and it's wearing us out."  It's like asking a really trusted friend, "which one should I buy?"  The difference is, loyalty to your brand could take the place of that friend's advice.

All of this is pure Era of You impact: business success driven by personalization of service, tech-enabled social business and relationships, and corporate concern for users and customers.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A different take on "top 10 emerging technologies" for 2013, and it's not all about technology

The top 10 emerging technologies for 2013 | Forum:Blog | The World Economic Forum:

--from the WEF blog article, an image of a wristband
made on a 3D printer
Yes, this report is from those global movers and shakers who meet in Davos.  Some of the ideas are to be expected, like 3D printing.  But there are also predictions about healthcare, energy production, and medicine.

As buried as we get in thoughts of applications, mobile devices, and the like, this is a worthwhile look at an even bigger picture.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The "Anti" technology trigger: DRM and 3D printing

Here's a scenario from, perhaps, 2015.

I just bought a $25 case for my phone with a clever new mounting bracket to use in the car. Cool, this is really useful.  To surprise a friend who has the same phone, I take pictures of the case from three different angles and upload them to, who convert the photos to a digital file for a 3D printer, send it to the printing station at my local Kinko's, and store a copy in my Google Drive inbox.  An hour later, I pick up an excellent copy of the case for $5 and present it to my buddy.  By 2018 or so, costs will have come down so far, I'll do the printing at home instead.

The CNET video shows a similar scenario already in production, just not commercialized yet.

When you or I can do that, what has happened to the business model of the original manufacturer, and the designer of the case?  Disintermediated.  Those in the CD industry knew your pain years ago.  Just as we created the ability to digitize music, we will soon have the ability to digitize things.  That means we can store and move them online, we can share them, and replicate them at will.

Yes, 3D printing is not very sophisticated yet, but who can doubt that it is a temporary thing?  Like music, video, books, and applications, some objects are about to become stateless--not permanently bound to one means of storage, delivery, or consumption.  Patent trolls have already figured this out.  Click through to this article from last fall:

How DRM will infest the 3D printing revolution

That is why the title of this post refers to the idea of an "anti technology trigger."  Some developments trigger new uses of existing abilities; some--like imperfectly resolved rights management--hold those new uses back.

This behavior is typical, and expected, whenever a new technology threatens existing business models and profit streams.  Just be warned.  3D printing has profound implications for manufacturers, both as an enabler for your supply chain (parts created just in time, or the ability to recreate archive parts at will) and as a threat to now-secure ownership of creative and manufacturing processes.  We saw firsthand what it did to the music industry, an upheaval that is by no means settled even yet.

Remember, in times of change and controversy lie business opportunity.  One such opportunity, a multi-billion dollar business that doesn't exist yet, is Digital Content Identity and Access Management.

What are you thinking about 3D printing?  Still more hype than delivery? Or are we going to see it in widespread use so quickly we'll have to catch our breath and put it to work?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Before Big Data, clean data | TechRepublic

I've been hesitant to hop on the big data bandwagon while the term is ascending into the buzzword sky like fireworks.
Big Data: sparkly, but remember what it takes to get there
image from
Why?  Because I see in the hype the rush to leap right past the unsexy, heavy-lifting work that most companies need to do in order to make sense of the data they already have.  To think you can leap boldly forward without getting your house in order first is largely fantasy: great meat for research companies to pounce on, but hardly a true thing for business.

Furthermore, big data and the associated analytics it promises are tools.  Big data is an enabler for the dramatic personalization promised as part of the "era of you."  That is the important idea, that we can know more, in more places and in more situations, to bring the power of intelligent action to bear in ways that were not possible before.

Before Big Data, clean data | TechRepublic:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Forrester: 15 emerging technologies to watch

There are many ways to group related ideas in the near-term tech future; this is a pretty good version from Brian Hopkins at Forrester Research, and a report from the enterprise architecture community on their emerging tech predictions.

He completely misses the upcoming revolution in artificial intelligence (AI)-driven digital personal assistants.  One aspect of the AI tsunami I'm just starting to be aware of is its potential to make sense of big data in a human-like manner (understanding context, relationships, data cleansing,) but at computer speeds.  We'll see these ideas show up in new releases of Apple's Siri, and in Google Now.

Also not even mentioned: 3D printing.  I'm not certain if we will see it impacting business in a big way by 2018, but the implications of "print to order" parts and products could well be important.  I'll write more soon about another 3D printing effect I haven't seen mentioned anywhere:  what happens when you can store things digitally, share them freely online, and create-to-order?  Will it bring about an intellectual property revolution like the one we saw with digital music, books, and video? What will happen when we can treat physical objects as part of the stateless future, in which content, storage, and delivery are decoupled from each other?

Let me know in the comments if you think there are other big topics in the 5-year horizon.

Forrester's Top 15 Emerging Technologies To Watch: Now To 2018 | Forrester Blogs:

'via Blog this'

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Clueless in Chicago: Crate and Barrel ignores the entire Android user community

C&B to the entire Android world: we don't want your business
This is such a facepalm moment.  Crate and Barrel is the Chicago-based asprirational home lifestyle retailer and web merchant. They seem to understand some parts of modern marketing very well, while remaining utterly clueless about missed opportunities and wrong signals to customers.

The good: they're on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Last month I praised them for including the story of a gay couple in their catalog.  They do bricks and clicks really well.  And their products are great. My own home has C&B scattered everywhere, from a stockpot I bought there in 1975 to my everyday melamine dishes from their hipster spinoff, CB2. I'm writing this partly to highlight a huge social business fail, but also as a longtime friend of the company who would like to see them do better.

Crate and Barrel meets you on your phone or tablet, with a variety of apps to plan things, have fun, envision their products in your home, even a measuring tool app.  And cool music downloads to accompany the great life you'll have while using their products.  That is, if you use iOS devices and Apple iTunes.

The bad: Android users, you're out of luck.  In the entire C&B marketing universe, there is one Android offering, a bridal registry app.  So I wrote customer service:  "Hey, Crate and Barrel, why do you ignore me and everyone else who is not an iOS user?" I got this reply:

"Dear Donald Ham,
Thank you for your email.

We appreciate your comments about Android users and thank you for taking the time to write us. We are constantly striving to make improvements and value your opinion. We have forwarded your comments to our corporate office.

We understand your disappointment and regret we were not able to provide you with the positive purchasing experience we wish for all of our customers.

We hope to serve you better in the future.

Should you require further assistance, please reply to this email or contact us at 800-967-6696."

Translation: "I took 15 seconds to pull boilerplate answer #3b/Android, now go away."

That in itself has an important takeaway:  One of the effects of social business is that the inquiry you get from the web site--the person you just blew off--just might be someone who's going to blog about your company, and share it with a large audience.  The failure to grasp that the customer/frontline service relationship has profoundly changed is endemic.  Of course, United Breaks Guitars is the classic example, which triggered a $180M drop in United's stock valuation.

So what is going on in Chicago?  I am guessing that a) folks in Crate and Barrel's marketing and art department are squarely in the universe of those to whom there is no tech beyond Apple.  And b) none of Crate and Barrel's senior management is aware of these two research studies by IDC:

One last point: my twin 11-year-old stepdaughters just disposed of their iPhones in favor of Android.  We really thought that coolness factor and peer pressure would make that a no-go.  We were wrong.  The vote from 11 years old: iOS has lost its edge as a statement that you are cool.  

If only Crate and Barrel had heard the news.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

MIT's John Mooney on the inevitability of the cloud, and what to do about it: 9 min video

Essential Practices for Embracing the Inevitability of the Cloud « Center for Information Systems Research - MIT Sloan School of Management:

This is a short talk from MIT's Center for Information Systems Research (CISR.)  The implicit:

  • it's time to move beyond thoughts of cloud computing as a way to save money in the data center
  • Instead, think of the cloud as a springboard toward a mindset of services management,
  • Speed-to-user-benefit is a key driver
  • So is a move toward deployment of human resources to higher value work.

You can create a free account at the CISR site, and access some excellent research reports.  For more on low-or-no cost ways to supplement your research portfolio, see Tech research without spending big bucks: four information streams for business.

Monday, February 4, 2013

from Fast Company: The 5 Questions Every Company Should Ask Itself

The 5 Questions Every Company Should Ask Itself | Co.Design: business + innovation + design:

This is an excellent article, part of Fast Company's coverage of design; The article contends that the 5 questions require you to back away from the heads-down, task oriented way business is done every day.

"Why are we here?" "What if we started this company from scratch today?"  These are big ideas, and concepts that should be at the foundational level of any consideration of corporate or IT strategy.