Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tech Titan SAP buys SuccessFactors for $3.4 Billion

Announced on a Saturday, this deal signifies that the Tech Titans may be loosening their purse strings to make acquisitions that help them with long term growth (see a related Aragon Research First Cut on SuccessFactors). For SAP, this signifies that a growth via acquisition strategy may be a long term play for them. Note that for others, such as the IBM Software Group, this strategy has worked successfully for years.

Aragon Research will be doing a full First Cut with analysis of this announcement, which was announced today, December 3rd, 2011. It is clear now that there is a trend that has Talent and HCM Suites appear to be coming together (see Aragon Research First Cuts: Talent and HCM Part I and Part II).

One thing that we will be looking at long term is how well does Enterprise Learning fit inside a Talent Suite. In Enterprise Content Management (ECM) for example, Web Content Management never really got absorbed as part of that Suite (note, Aragon Research covers Learning as part of its Knowledge topic).

In the short term, this will put some pressure on remaining providers of Talent Management Software (Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba Software, Silkroad, Sumtotal Systems, Taleo, Ultimate Software, Workday) on what they do:

1. Remain standalone;
2. Combine forces with another Talent or HCM provider;
3. Get bought by a bigger tech titan (ADP, IBM Oracle, SAP).

Regardless, this may signify that with the better unemployment numbers that just got issued in the US, that it is a good time for large enterprises to loosen their purse strings and make some acquisitions.

Stay tuned for our Aragon Research First Cut early next week.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Big Brother is Monitoring your Cell Phone

Depending on your device, your cellular carrier (or others) may be monitoring all of your activity on your cell phone. In a story that was broken by Trevor Eckhart and reported by Wired and others, it appears that a Mountain View, California based firm, Carrier IQ has an app that is installed on millions of phones. It tracks everything, the numbers you dial and the text messages you get. Watch the video below and see for yourself.

It appears that Carrier IQ's tool is used by Carriers to test their network etc. The big problem is that it is an app that cannot be turned off or opted out of by users. This is Big Brother at its worst. We don't know who else has access to this data.

Wireless Carriers like Verizon are distancing themselves from this and there has been no mention yet from phone manufacturers. This story is going to get bigger. Stay tuned....

Friday, November 18, 2011

A New Cisco

I've covered Cisco for years and this week attended their Collaboration Analyst and Partner Summit in Miami. While Aragon Research will be publishing a First Cut with our Analysis of their new product announcements, this blog post is about the changes I see occurring at Cisco.

Cisco really only started to make the true shift to Collaboration Software after it bought WebEx and it took a while to get the integration done. Cisco pioneered HD Video with its Telepresence offering and now it is poised to take that to the masses. Cisco has also innovated too. It's Enterprise Social Networking offering, Cisco Quad, was developed internally and is now deployed globally at Cisco.

CEO John Chambers has been the lead evangelist for Collaboration at Cisco, but that is changing. This week, Cisco SVP Barry O'Sullivan's General Managers were focused and on-message. The messages were integrated and so were the products.

Sometimes it takes a crisis to motivate a workforce and today I see a very motivated Cisco team that is ready to deliver their Collaboration vision to their customers. Since there were customers at the event this week, it was nice to see them start to tell the execution story.

What I see emerging is a new Cisco, leaner and more focused. In fact, I spent time with one of Cisco's  Account Managers, Matt Coleman, who brought one of Cisco's flagship customers to the event. Matt has the passion for Cisco Collaboration and it is clear that his customer does too.

Finally, what should have been the opening video at Cisco's event was shown at the end. It takes a lot of guts to show Executives doing a Rap Video (see below). You need to watch it several times, but the messages are as compelling as the video is entertaining.

What I see is an inkling of a new Cisco that is beginning to emerge. It isn't all about hardware anymore.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Social is the new KM

People are getting Social Media, Social Networking, Learning and Knowledge Management (KM) mixed up thanks to a few misleading blog posts by two of my former colleagues at Gartner. Or are they? If you read the responses at HBR, you will see that people are calling them on it. To be fair, Jeff Mann does get it and his blog is also counter what was being said (see his blog).

First, on taxonomy, here is how I explain social terminology to clients. 

Social Media is generally viewed as the public consumer grade sites, microblogs, forums etc. where discussions or chats take place (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, Youtube, Second Life). Using Social Media to market your products and support your customers is a good use of these mediums. 

Using Social Media to talk about your work is a bad idea, mainly because so many people are listening, including bad people that want to steal the intellectual property of the firm you work for. In fact, one of the research notes my firm recently published is titled, "Facebook is not a friend of your Enterprise". 

Social Networks, particularly Enterprise Social Networks are private communities, which when implemented properly with identity and access control, are safe places for people to share information, connect with people and accelerate the pace of knowledge dissemination at a company. Many enterprises are still formulating their social networking plans. They have deployed customer communities to build brand loyalty but often the internal social network is still a few steps behind.

On Knowledge Management, when Social Networking (an internal or external community) is done right, with certified profiles of people (what they are trained or certified on), and with the ability to collaborate with others informally, lots of great things start to happen. First, people in remote geographies connect with others, they solve problems and influence each other by the content and comments they share. Often there is an acceleration factor that kicks in, because the pace of interaction is faster and wider.

From a learning perspective, tying formal learning to informal activities, related content and discussions, is now referred to as Social Learning. It is real and it does work. There usually is an ecosystem manager that facilitates the correlation of formal training with some of the informal content, but at the end of the day, the Social Network, as it gets used more and more, becomes the Knowledge Network. People can search it and find what they need.

Since I've actually overseen the development of Social Networking platforms and also deployed Social Networks, I recently conducted a short poll of some Sales Execs who had been using one of the Communities for over a year. My simple question to them was this: "what do you use to find the information you need to do your job now?" Their answer was "we just search the network (community) and we find what we need". 

So, in reality, as an Enterprise Social Network gets used more, it will evolve into a Knowledge Network. People find what they need to do their jobs or they can ask someone in the community who can point them in the right direction. It is self-curated and self-sustaining, with a little help from the community manager and IT.

Hopefully, this has helped to clarify things. Social Networking and Social Learning are the new KM. We are covering Knowledge as one of our key topics in our Workplace Service at Aragon Research.

(Note: Jim Lundy is the Founder and CEO of Aragon Research.  He founded and led the Social Software and Collaboration team at Gartner and oversaw the Corporate Learning coverage for ten years).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The War for PeopleSoft is over: Someone forgot to tell Workday

In the year before PeopleSoft was bought by Oracle in a hostile takeover in 2005, there was a huge amount of drama in the marketplace (about whether the deal would go through due to anti-trust laws) and even Gartner was in the mix.

Oracle did succeed in buying PeopleSoft and most of the Senior Executives at PeopleSoft ended up leaving the company. Today, PeopleSoft is a successful part of Oracle and at Oracle OpenWorld last month, CEO Larry Ellison did a nice job of telling the Fusion story (the integration of a number of legacy products into a common platform). Oracle Fusion looks good and because of that and Oracle execution in general, Customers feel a lot better about Oracle than they did back in the day. The battle for PeopleSoft is over, Oracle won.

However, when you hear from an upstart called Workday, which features former PeopleSoft executives Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri, it sounds like the battle is not over. Workday is doing some great marketing (particularly with press and analyst influence), but as always with marketing and spin, you have to separate the facts from the fiction.

Today, Workday is still a pre-IPO start-up. Oracle is a Titan. Besides PeopleSoft, over the last few years Oracle has gobbled up Siebel Systems and most recently Sun Microsystems (this week they announced a $1.5 Billion deal to buy RightNow).

It used to be easy to bash Oracle, but times have changed and Oracle is bringing its A game. They make a compelling argument to the Enterprise CFO to consolidate and go with an all Oracle Suite. On top of that, Oracle also is launching their own Public Cloud.

Ripping out core HR is easier said than done, particularly when Oracle now has  Oracle Social Network, a full Social platform that integrates with its HR Suite. So, let the war of words continue and we'll see how both providers fare in the land of execution.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gartner, Forrester and now Aragon Research

Since this is the week of Gartner Symposium, an annual ritual I attended for 12 straight years, I thought it would be good to put things in perspective.

Many colleagues I worked with (who ended up being real friends), joined Gartner when it had revenues in the $30M to $60M range. I joined when revenues were around $300M and left just after they hit the $ 1 Billion mark.

During my time at Gartner, we grew tired of the ex-Gartner-ites at Meta Group (nearly all were from Gartner), so Gartner CEO Gene Hall bought them. Then the Meta and Gartner internal turf wars started and things got interesting.

Forrester is the one large analyst firm left that still has relevance, particularly outside of IT. They have their strengths and weaknesses just like Gartner. While I was at Saba, I was a customer of both firms. More on that later. Will Gartner buy Forrester? Only time will tell.

One resounding theme I've heard from end users and vendors alike is that there isn't that much choice anymore when dealing with analyst firms.  Offering choice and going back to real, hard hitting research and analysis is why we founded Aragon Research. There are lots of good bloggers out there, but there are not many analyst firms publishing research notes with real analysis and advice every month.

We offer a choice to enterprises and to technology providers and we have the track record that can help ensure you make the right technology related decisions to grow your business. Check out our website or our launch video and have fun at Gartner Symposium!

PS Make sure you wear comfortable shoes while in Orlando!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Collaboration and Content in the Cloud

First came ECM, then came Microsoft SharePoint, then Google took content to the Cloud. Now everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon, as sharing content gets even easier in the cloud. Lots of start-ups and existing providers are jumping in (Box, Dropbox, Citrix, IBM, Google, Microsoft, Mindjet) and many others. It is all about making access to content fast, easy and mobile.

At Gartner, I helped coin the term Basic Content Services (BCS) as a way to describe what, at the time were emerging capabilities in products like SharePoint, which was not full Enterprise Content Management (ECM). Microsoft didn't like the term BCS and started to proclaim themselves as full ECM.

Jump ahead to 2011 and files are larger, people (like sales execs) are using tablets for work, and email systems block the transport of large files. Some are calling this new capability Cloud Content Management and for vendors it is a hot market. There is a large amount of investment, mainly at Box, which is gaining significant attention in this space. As a result, there is also new M&A activity occurring (e.g. Citrix announced it is buying ShareFile). Expect to see a lot more in the coming months.

In 2011, it is about more than just putting content in the Cloud. People want to be able to collaborate too, and for those that remember, collaboration has always been part of the content management story. People need access to the content, but often they need to collaborate with others on it. Google established the collaborative content approach with Google Docs and now others are working hard to capitalize on that trend.

As a recent example of collaborative content, Mindjet now offers their mind mapping tool as a Cloud service, Mindjet Connect. You can create information maps, edit and collaborate on them, as well as manage content with this new cloud service. Additionally, Cisco recently acquired Versly, which allows users to collaborate within a Microsoft Office document.

Aragon Research is publishing a syndicated research note this month that reviews this shift towards Collaborative Content in much deeper detail. There are lots of choices that will emerge and it is clear that business leaders are not waiting for the old way of doing things with ECM.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Tale of Two Tech Titans, IBM and Kodak

The tale of two 100 year old tech firms is really about  thriving vs surviving.  IBM and Kodak have both been around  for over 100 years. In fact, earlier this year, IBM celebrated its 100th year.  Kodak has been around longer, going back into the 1880s, when George Eastman developed film and the first camera.

Kodak and IBM are part of American history. When I was a kid, my mom loved her Kodak Camera. Later on I got a Kodak Instamatic  and thought it was cool. IBM was there too, with the famous punch card machines that fed data into mainframes, typewriters, and the IBM PC. Today, you can see some of that history when you turn on an episode of Mad Men and watch one of the actors typing on an IBM Selectric or using a Kodak Carosel projector.

Jump ahead to 2011 and it is a very different tale for the two firms. Today, IBM is thriving, its market cap and stock price are up, but that is partly because over the years, IBM has made some very tough decisions that it often took heat for. IBM exited businesses, such as typewriters and PCs as they became commoditized (they also exited the printer business).

Kodak is not in the same place that IBM is, but it is still around (most firms from the 1800s are not).  Today Kodak is struggling to survive, partly because of the shift from analog to digital photography. People are not buying film and they aren't printing photos as much as they used to. Kodak does make one of the best inkjet printers I've used and by far one of the best scanners, but it is a crowded market.

Rochester, New York is the home of Kodak. Kodak employment in Rochester has shrunk from a high of over 60,000 in 1982 to now under 7,400. When I lived there, many neighbors worked at Kodak, but many found their careers cut short. Some were 4th generation employees.

IBM has gone through tough times too, and there was a time when it had to do some serious downsizing. IBM weathered that storm and today it is back on top, as one of the strongest Tech brands in the world.

The lesson learned here is that business survival is tough. In a digital world that we live in today in 2011, it is even tougher because new competitors can emerge out of nowhere.

There is still hope for Kodak, but these are tough times in Imaging and Printing. Just ask any camera manufacturer what they are thinking, now that Smartphones (e.g. iPhone 4S) have world class camera lenses in them.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Your Life, For Sale on Facebook

If 2011 was the year of the Like button for Facebook, 2012 could be called the return of the app. Today at their annual Developer Conference (D8) in San Francisco, Facebook unveiled new capabilities that increasingly are focused on allowing Facebook to monetize the nearly 800 million users that visit their site each month.

Facebook unveiled a new profile feature called Timeline that allows the history of your posts and activities to be displayed in chronological order (by year). More importantly, they added verbs (watch, read, listen, hike) to actions so that users can be listening to music, and that action (and the song you are listening to) is automatically shared with others via the music application (e.g. Spotify).

While digital natives will clearly enjoy this new way to show off their lives via Timeline, it also, at the same time, offers up a level of privacy infiltration that some may find undesirable. Friends and future employers can now get to know you in ways that they didn't before. Of course, users now have control over what they allow to be seen on their timeline, but over time, we expect that users, especially younger ones, will become less sensitive to what is there.

On the applications (apps) that so badly want to access your Timeline (and sell something), once an app has access to your profile, it doesn't have to ask permission ever again. It is clear that what is at work by Facebook is the continued expansion of its ability to grow revenues, which are estimated to be around $4.2 Billion for this year.

A friend that I worked with at Saba once said to me that her goal was to have zero information about her available on the internet. She is not a Facebook user. For those that are, with the coming launch of  Facebook Timeline, your life, at least what is visible, is basically for sale.

Author's Note: We'll be covering Facebook (and the implications for Enterprises) in more detail in our premium research that is at

Monday, September 12, 2011

Windows 8 will Compete against the iPhone 6, iOS 6, and the iPad 4

Tuesday, September 13th is the big unveiling of Windows 8 and with ARM support, it is widely expected that Microsoft will support a variety of hardware platforms, including Slates - their term for Tablets.

A new user interface is fine and good, but there are other things at work in the Mobile Ecosystem world in 2011. Within a few weeks after the announcement by Microsoft, Apple is due to ship both the iPhone 5 and iOS 5, which in itself will feature a host of new capabilities, including over-the-air updates and iCloud support. Additionally, Google will be shipping a brand new version of its Android OS this fall - code name is Ice Cream.

Windows 8 is taking shape in a world in which mobile product life refresh rates occur at least every 12 months, and consumers and enterprises have gotten used to this new, faster cadence (note, Windows 7 shipped in October, 2009).

In the second half of 2012, the world that Windows 8 will launch into will include a different set of products than we are about to have this fall. In less than 12 months, we expect to see launches of the iPhone 6, iOS 6, a new version of Android OS (rumored to be called Jelly Bean), new Android Phones, Android Tablets and a strong possibility of the release of the Apple iPad 4.

Will Microsoft surprise us with a quicker release date? History would indicate that answer as most likely no. How should enterprises deal with all of this? Tune into the Aragon Research Webinar on September 28th and we'll cover all this in detail.

We'll also be publishing our formal First Cut on the Microsoft Windows 8 announcement on

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Aragon Research - The Webinar on Tablet Computing and Mobile Ecosystems

Greetings. I'm pleased to announce that Aragon Research is hosting its very first Webinar  on Wednesday, September 28th from 1-2 EDT (10-11 pacific).  We're going to be discussing a hot topic: Tablet Computing and Mobile Ecosystems. Our take is that there is more to mobile than just the devices. We're talking about a concept called Mobile Ecosystems, what they are and why they matter to you and your enterprise.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Does Touchpad Success equal second thoughts at HP?

There must be a raging debate at HP over its Touchpad, a product that was cancelled on August 18th (see Aragon Research First Cut Note).

Now various news outlets are quoting HP's Todd Bradley that it might have been premature to cancel the product. So, while HP is discovering that consumers do react positively to low prices, the world will wait to see what HP does next. The bigger question is around the future of its PC Unit.

Stay tuned.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Introducing Aragon Research - The Video

We're heading into week three of the launch of Aragon Research and it wouldn't be right if we didn't leverage all possible channels to get the word out. I have spoken with a great number of people in the short time we've been in existence. The reaction and receptivity to Aragon Research has been great.

Attention spans are short, especially this week, with both VMWorld and Dreamforce going on. So in that spirit, the intro video, Introducing Aragon Research is short and to the point.

I'll be up at Dreamforce this week and hope to catch up with many of you.  We'll also be announcing some upcoming webinars, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Patent Wars are not new, the Battle for Mobile is

The battles we are now witnessing among tech giants for patents are not new. What is new is the realization that mobile is the new battle ground and the stakes are high.  In patent wars, it is a chess game and one of the objectives can be to stop the other vendor from succeeding. Often this can be mitigated by a cross-licensing arrangement that users rarely hear about.

In mobile, Microsoft  has been racing to catch-up and it is working hard to make sure it has plenty of armor (patents). Apple has been surging and it has been filing patents in droves for years. They learned the hard way (from all the Microsoft battles in the early years) that patents help sustain and protect the business. Apple has also been working very hard on doing the right patent acquisitions (note that Apple won the bid for the Nortel patents because it partnered with EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, RIM, and Sony).

Much of the talk has been around Google, its failed bid for the Nortel patents and this week, its hefty purchase of Motorola Mobility. Given that it failed on the Nortel bid, it didn't have much choice to buy Motorola and gain access to its 17,000 issued patents. What was ominous for Google was that Microsoft was one of the other bidders. That said, while Google is getting abused in the press about the Motorola price tag, it is getting 17,000 patents (Microsoft has over 18,000).

IBM has one of the biggest patent portfolios in High Tech, it is very good at creating patents and it has made a business out of licensing them. IBM plays the game very well and it is professional about it. It can get a little nasty with some of the others. Google could certainly learn from IBM and it looks like it has, since they just cut a deal with IBM to license 1,000 of its patents.

An example of patent licensing that many don't know about occurred in the copier market. Years ago, Canon had invented a new way of applying toner to paper and later a modular system for packaging toner cartridges. It brought Xerox to the table and a cross licensing deal was cut way back in 1978. However, while Xerox got access to the Canon patent portfolio, Canon gained access to Xerox's high speed paper handling patents and 20 years later, Canon eventually crept up into the departmental copier space where Xerox made a large majority of its profits.  There are always trade-offs to patent licensing deals.

In mobile, the battle it isn't just about patents on the core technologies, it is about the entire mobile ecosystem. More about that in some of our upcoming research. If you haven't checked out the newest research firm, Aragon Research, please stop by our site.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Founding Aragon Research

Today, I wrapped up a great 19 months at Saba Software. I worked with some incredible people and we launched some award winning products that lots of customers are taking advantage of. I'm proud of what I did at it is time for my next move.

Since I left Gartner, many of you have told me that there is a lack of choice in technology research today. Next week, my co-founder, Mike Anderson, and I are going to be unveiling the next generation of Technology Research firms, Aragon Research Inc.

Aragon Research is going to offer you that choice by providing high quality technology research and trusted advisory services.  Our initial focus is going to be on everything involved with work - people, collaboration, mobile, social, content, portal and knowledge. We have a powerful agenda and can't wait to share our story with you.

In fact, tune in on Monday, 8/15,  and visit our new website,  In the meantime, check out our fan page on Facebook and  and give us a Like!

Stay tuned for more and feel free to reach out to me at

Jim Lundy
Founder and CEO
Aragon Research Inc.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tech Recap Week Ending 5/13 - a new Clash

It was a busy week in Tech and May is usually that way, spanning back all the way to May of 1990,  when Microsoft introduced Windows 3.0 to the world. Things changed.

This week Microsoft was at it again and they announced that they were buying Skype, which at 8.5 Billion is a steep price to pay to get your Mojo back. See my take on the deal here.

Of course Google was at it too and the shot that hasn't yet been heard around the world is their new Chromebook. A nifty way to shift people from buying to renting a PC (prices are roughly US $20-28 per device/month) and more importantly some clever security and a new way of isolating of apps from the OS to stop intrusion attacks. Google still needs to show that it is committed to this approach with its partners, but this week it certainly showed it is dedicated to Chrome. The progress Google showed with Chrome in just twelve months is impressive and it also shows that Google's development teams are maturing.

The last item probably would have never showed up at all had it not been for a smart reporter that wasn't about to be duped and it has to do with the whisper campaign Facebook tried to launch against Google. While this has been widely reported and widely tweeted about, what is interesting is that this represents an epic shift of the clash of the titans.

I used to discuss Microsoft vs IBM as the big titan clashes. Now that the battle is in the cloud, it is Google facing off against Facebook. This time it is really all about Ad revenue. Google has it and now Facebook does too. I'll certainly be talking about Facebook in the future, but suffice to say, Facebook is pretty vulnerable to the same type of PR attack it launched on Google. Even more worrisome, Facebook is also an effective tool to use as part of a cyber-attack on an enterprise (see As Facebook Grows, so does Cyber Warfare).

So a busy week in tech and it doesn't show any sign of slowing down.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Will Microsoft Get its Mojo Back with $8.5B Skype Purchase?

Microsoft needs a shot of Mojo and Skype could be part of the answer. In an Internet era where Facebook, Android, iOS, iPhone, iPad and Skype are uttered hundreds of thousands of times a day on Twitter and the blogosphere, getting a brand called Skype certainly should help Microsoft's brand recognition in the consumer space.

Of course, that assumes this deal goes down as reported in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal.  Assuming it does, Microsoft gets a hot consumer brand that it should be able to leverage its Bing Search engine against (advertising revenue).

For enterprises, the question could quickly become: Should I (pay for) Lync or should I Skype. Clearly the spin will say you can do both, but for many Skype is an attractive easy to use alternative to a Microsoft Lync, whether it be Lync on-premise or Lync Online.

Of course, the problem with acquisitions these days at Microsoft is that resistance is futile. The big divisions at Microsoft don't take kindly to threats to their dominance, so the question is, what happens to Skype after the deal goes down? Does Skype remain somewhat independent or will they be absorbed.

Either way, this deal will give some pricing leverage to enterprises on the Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) front. Skype is good enough on many fronts so that Lync doesn't have to be licensed for all users in the enterprise and that could mean a big savings for both the CIO and Business Unit GMs. Just as in Content Management, it is time for enterprises to start segmenting users and their UCC needs vs a one size fits all approach.

So overall, this deal will be viewed as more of a  Microsoft tries to get their (Internet) Mojo back than anything else. Microsoft needed to do something in UCC and this deal is far cheaper what they were looking at paying for purchasing Yahoo as recently as 2008. Whether Microsoft really leverages this Sykpe acquisition with the rest of its products remains to be seen.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Tablet as your new all-in-one

Tablet devices like the Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab  and Motorola XOOM are changing our world in ways that people are now just beginning to realize. The rise of the tablet and the apps that run on them is causing a shift to occur that will affect the things people buy and how they access content.  Products that had unique hardware for enabling common tasks or conveying information are about to be replaced.

Applications (called Apps), running on a tablet computer, are going to become the defacto way to access content  (news, tv, movies) and to control devices (TVs, PCs, game consoles and more). The Cable service that used to give you a remote control, will now give way to an app that runs on a tablet. XfinityTime Warner Cable and others are leading the charge here with their respective cable tv apps. With these apps,  and others from Slingbox, and Netflix, the remote is built-in. The Tablet just became your new all-in-one and it will go much further than just controlling your TV.

Regarding content (news, tv, games and movies), the publishing industry is still figuring out the eBook/eMagazine business model and distribution strategy (see prior Ebooks post). Clearly, tablets will play a huge role in how we consume news. News Corp is jumping at the opportunity with The Daily, a paid application that gives you daily news for $39.99 for a two year subscription.

It doesn't stop there. Last week, I used my iPhone to advance a PowerPoint presentation on my PC, more as a way to demonstrate how change is occurring than anything else. Car companies like Hyundai Motors are now offering the owners manual for their Hyundai Equus car in a digital format - they provide an iPad as the actual owners manual.

Look for much more than just owners manuals, magazines, movies and remote controls going forward.  Tablet apps are going to explode and the demise of consumer electronics dedicated hardware has begun. Look for more and more games to be tailored for tablets. How much money will game controller firms throw at hardware in the future?

So in a way, the tablet and their affiliated Apps becomes the new All-in-One. Going forward, it will be less about the tablet itself, and more about the Apps that run on the tablet that becomes the consumer selection criteria. The race for tablet App development has already started, but it is about to explode.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

An Operating System that changed the World

The seeds were planted years ago, soon after the Apple iPod came out. However, Apple never disclosed its multi-device OS strategy until their momentum in the market was well established. Today, Apple's Operating Systems are powering phones, tablets and Macs. That has created a fair degree of market envy, but Apple now has a few generations of users that know their products work and pretty much keep working.

The high tech industry, which from 2007 until early 2009 failed to take Apple seriously, is now reeling from the continuous product hits coming out of Apple. In fact, one could argue that the PC industry has been permanently changed. Netbooks have given way to Tablets and Smart Phones without apps are just not highly desired, since data, not calls, are powering Carrier growth. Mobility, Applications and ease of use are the watch words.

Google recognized the trend early, put together a great team and now Android has become the OS of choice for most handset and tablet manufacturers. Other providers failed to act and now are scrambling to catch up.

The OS is not the only part of this success story, Apple made it easy for developers to monetize their work and that unleashed a wave of application innovation like we haven't seen in decades. The others that are in the game, with the minor exception of Google, don't have the same application portability across phones and tablets.

I was in the battles of the Desktop Operating Systems in the early days of a GUI based OS (I was at Xerox in Palo Alto) and in those days the desktop OS was looked at in one dimension (Workstations/PCs).  What is fascinating to me is how many large vendors have continued to look at the OS in a single dimension. Apple and Google get As, they did their homework, monetized their designs and are now reaping the rewards.

The question though is what lessons the other vendors (Microsoft, Dell, HP, Nokia, RIM, Sony) will learn from this. For many, a multi-dimensional OS was never viewed as strategic. For a few, it is fast becoming a matter of survival. Mergers and acquisitions will be the things to watch this year.

A sidebar about IBM. IBM certainly knows about Operating Systems, but they of stepped back from the desktop OS fray when they exited the PC business. Given all that is going on, this may be a time that they evaluate their strategy, since they have the core competence to scale an OS up and down.

The result of all this is that that it will no longer be a one OS fits all approach. Users will pick the apps they want, run them on the devices they want and access secure corporate portals that serve up the right content, data and analytics.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Global Travel, Blackberrys and the iPhone

So the iPhone is going to launch on Verizon's network. Cool, many people will be happy. That said, for many business executives who travel, the issue is having a phone and wireless carrier that they can use on a worldwide basis.

For many years, Blackberry RIM devices were THE standard and today for many, they still are. It is a great device for email and phone calls. I used mine all over the place, but about a year ago, I switched to the iPhone. On a recent trip around the world, the only device I took was the iPhone. It worked - flawlessly.

I used it for calls, for email, SMS texting and Web Conferencing. One of my products - Saba Centra Web Conferencing runs on the iPhone. I had to join a meeting right after landing in Amsterdam, and joined it via iPhone. I was in the meeting, watching the slides and talking via VoIP. Try that with other products.

So, anyway, my transition from Blackberry to iPhone has been a positive one. I'm much better at touch typing than I used to be. I'll also note that in Silicon Valley, I have very few dropped calls, but I'm not in San Francisco.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Is Harassment via Twitter the Same as Email?

People communicate in different ways and for many, communicating via email has had its set of issues.  Over the years, people started to use email as a way to harass others. It got so bad that many states passed laws that  made it a misdemeanor to send e-mail "with the intent to harass".  Normally, the line gets crossed when multiple emails (or tweets) are involved that are intentionally abusive.

Sometimes, a twitter chat can turn unexpectedly ugly.  If you get harassed on Twitter and the person persists in their abusive behavior, the best thing to do is not to respond. If it is an associate you work with, you can report it to your HR department. If it is someone you don't work with, you can block the user and report them to Twitter via this link. If it involves real threats, call your local police department.

It is clear that the day is coming when states will update their legislation to make harassment via Twitter the same as email.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 in Review: As Facebook Grows, so does Cyber Warfare

If the growth of Facebook and the emergence of the Apple iPad were the most widely reported tech stories in 2010, the emergence of Cyber Warfare that targets governments and enterprises is the most under reported one, with far greater consequences.  In fact 2010, could be viewed as the year that Cyber Warfare emerged as a true weapon. Below I outline six steps to take to protect your enterprise.

It is now very clear that certain governments are using Cyber warfare to attack adversaries, including private/public companies. Some key things that occurred in 2010:

1. Facebook and other consumer social sites played a role in the Great Hack of Google and 34 other firms. However, it is worse than that. Thousands of firms may have been breached according to Kevin Mandia, CEO of security firm Mandiant.
2. Redirection of US Internet Traffic by China on April 8, 2010 and the attack of at least 5 other firms.
3. Confirmation by the US Federal Government that attacks against Google and other enterprises were ordered by Chinese Government officials (via CNBC).

A key conclusion from an earlier post: these new modes of attack, known as Advanced Persistent Threats, are far too sophisticated to stop with software and firewalls.  The best known method to protect your corporate assets (source code and intellectual property) is to isolate key corporate systems from the normal corporate network. In other words, you need two networks.

What does all of this really mean? Well, for starters, it is a new era of electronic warfare and this time it is information that is the currency that is being fought over. There stakes are very high: the future of countries and the future economic well being of both the country and the companies that operate in those countries.

Why? Well, the military and technology firms are linked together in interesting ways, as this article (based on research by Rand Corp) demonstrates. Companies have become fronts for governments and military organizations. Some may say that this is not new, but the scale of what is going on now has not been seen in the past.

For enterprises, all of the investment in products that represent the future could be wasted if those secrets are stolen. Cisco learned this a few years back when some of its code was stolen by Huawei Technologies Inc. The lawyer who represented Cisco, G. Hopkins Guy, won an injunction against Huawei and was widely recognized for his ground breaking work that resulted in a worldwide injunction against Huawei.
What does this all mean to you and your enterprise? For starters consider doing this:
1. . Develop a comprehensive strategy to combat cyber warfare and make sure it includes a training program (cyber war gaming) for executives, not just IT staff. 
2. Take the steps to isolate your corporate systems. No matter what you hear from major analyst firms or anyone else, physical separation of information on computers (e.g. a separate network) is the only sure way to stop intrusion right now. Look at models that the military has used (classified vs unclassified systems). This also has major implications for desktop/pc access.
3. Shield key data centers/systems from wireless access and wireless monitoring. For those with remote sites (e.g. retail branches), don't over look these sites as methods of access. If you have any doubts about this action, you need to read The Great Cyber Heist (courtesy of the NY Times).
4. Re-evaluate all browser and operating system security at an architectural level. Evaluate roadmaps from all providers and make the tough, but correct decisions on what platforms you will invest in going forward. Blindly following the incumbent provider may not be the answer that solves your issues.
5. Intrusion from the inside is also a growing issue. Compartmentalizing information so that no one person has access to everything is key, as is a practice of not keeping all source code in one location or on one physical server.
6. Block Facebook. As popular as it is, Facebook isn't secure and it isn't good for your corporate security. Run Facebook in conjunction with certain web browsers and you have the perfect system for intrusion. Many governments and enterprises block access to Facebook and now you know why. This won't be a popular decision, but it is the right one.

So, in 2011, expect to keep hearing more about Facebook and its growing valuation.  2011 may also be called the year of the Tablet (the rise of Android based Tablets). That is all well and good, but the number one issue your enterprise or government needs to prepare for is cyber warfare. 2011 is the time to get prepared for the attacks that are yet to come.....Happy New Year.