Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Samsung BD-P2550 packs Blu-ray, Netflix, and Pandora

Although I've had no postings this months, I finally found something worth posting, based on many variables. I found a device that can play Blue-Ray, Netflix, and listen to Pandora.com radio, all in one place. You can hook it up to your TV and Home Theatre for watching HD movies, online movies, and listen to music... the only thing missing: WiFi

read more | digg story

Sunday, December 28, 2008

More than one Blog?

A quick post before the end of the year triggered by the holidays and vacation trips: Is there a reason for having more than one blog? There are many!
What if you want to keep a record of family trips? or what if you want to carry on with a specific project that you want to record things about? Such as a charity event, ot a product launch. 
Blogs don't have to be never ending records of your life or your work. They can certainly be short term projects with a defined goal. Here are some examples:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Campus Communication Fabric Architecture


Architectures are more important than Network Designs. The network is more than a platform for transporting packet of information. Same as constructing a building with an architectural plan, IT infrastructures should be developed with an architectural framework in mind in order to prevent it from collapsing and allowing scalability. The goal is always to prevent the IT platform from having fires and produce costly revenue losses.

A Campus Communications Fabric framework can help a business solve complex planning issues, provide support for rich-media applications, enable consistent services and policies, and take advantage of a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) foundation, among other things. What that means is that the network will be scalable to any level, will recover itself from failures, and will become a revenue generating and cost reducing instrument without major hassles, specifically for media transport purposes in the Campus. i.e. Using high-definition TelePresence video as meeting medium.

There are six attributes of the Campus Communications Fabric:

  1. Application Intelligence: Take control of applications and user experience
  2. Unified Network Services: Connect any person to any resource with any device
  3. Integrated Security: Secure every port with built-in protection for access, identity, and data
  4. Nonstop Communications: Stay connected with a resilient infrastructure that enables business continuity
  5. Virtualization: Simplify your network and maximize resource utilization
  6. Operational Manageability: Do more with less—deploy services faster and automate routine tasks

For more information on the value of an architectural framework, just visit Wikipedia, and search for the definition of Architecture: "the design of the total built environment, from the macro level of how a building integrates with its surrounding man made landscape". You can substitute the word "building" for "IT platform or Network", and "man made landscape" for "interrelated IT applications".

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Apples in the office


After three years of my IBM Thinkpad T43, the time has come to get a new laptop for work. I love my Thinkpad: it resists everything, and Windows XP is a great OS too. This time, I have decided to try out a MacBook Pro for the office.

My decision was based on two things. First of all, I can't seem to get over the idea of running 3 more years of an almost end-of-support Windows XP operating system. It is great, but I would rather have the option of a Windows Vista laptop. Second, I am not familiar with Apple at all. Yes, I have an iPod, and all I know is that the OS is based on FreeBSD. There is something very attractive about having to learn something completely new.

I have always thought that Mac's were for the home user and that Apple had very little to offer to the enterprise. This time, I will experience firsthand if that is true. I will be using this very same MacBook for 3 years as well.

I am compiling a list of applications that I use and its Mac OS-X version. I am collecting them in a dedicated del.icio.us page under a Mac-Migration tag. Some of my everyday apps and tools that I will be using are:

  • Cisco VPN Client for Mac OS X for my virtual office
  • Opera Web Browser for Mac OS X
  • VMWare Fusion for Mac OS X for running Windows XP and the apps that have no Mac version
  • Cisco Unified Personal Communicator for Mac
  • Twhirl with Adobe Air as my Twitter client
  • Adium as a multi IM platform client to connect to my corporate Sametime IM server and Yahoo Messenger for external communications
  • MS Office 2008 for Mac OS X, with Entourage as the primary email and calendar client (IMAP).

There are very few important applications that I will not be able to install natively in the Mac, but that I can install in a virtual instance of Windows XP. These are a design application that I use every day, Netformx, and WebEx Connect for my collaboration spaces and document repository. Netformx will be the ultimate test because I use it every day, but I am not concerned as everybody tells me that it runs fine in Fusion. WebEx Connect has a web-based client in beta today and, hopefully, there will eventually be a Mac version released.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cloud computing's future

Cloud computing or offering software-as-a-service (SaaS) such as Google Docs, Collaboration Spaces, and even Yahoo Mail, is maturing at an accelerated pace. The key component: good old open-source...

read more | digg story

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Innovating in New Product Launches

Here's an example of an innovative and brilliant marketing campaign for a new go to market product: utilize social media, online resources, and creativity.
Start by going into the "Tech Edge (Fictitious) Blog" which simulates a news blog reporting on the new product to launch. It is updated almost daily, utilizes RSS to inform interested customers, and incorporates videos.



Also check out an alternative launch channel for the same product through more traditional advertisement that will eventually be linked to the former.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Confluence of Web 2.0 technology and adventure

One of my favorite applications of technology is the intersection of collaboration technologies and web 2.0 applications with outdoor adventures. My favorite example, not perfect, but getting there, is the 2008-2009 Volvo Ocean Race. This year's race around the world has 6 teams sailing around the world collaborating and updating everybody in the World by the means of email, blogs, RSS, Vlogs, and other applications. For example, any crew member of any team can pick up their on board laptops and send an email message that is immediately parsed as a blog post on their team website and syndicated via an RSS feed. Also, you can follow up the vessels virtually with the Virtual Raceviewer as they circumvent the globe, or simply listen to a podcast from the crew.

Collaboration tools can be used as logs (hence the name blog and vlog) very efficiently. I have used them in the past for posting updates on specific events like Cisco-Live. It can be as easy as sending a text SMS message: Twitter gives you 140 characters per twit, a full blown blog gives you more space if needed, twitpic lets you upload a picture from your cell phone directly, and Picasa even lets you tag the location of a picture in the world. These are just examples of applications. The important thing is that its simplicity and flexibility make online collaboration apps very appealing for races, adventures, and other activities.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rent a meeting space anywhere in the world

TelePresence is a virtual conference system that includes high-definition video and audio as well as rich-media presentation capabilities. It comes in configurations that range from a single screen for a home or branch office to a three-screen setup with two rows of seats.

Cisco, in collaboration with business partners, is offering a network of public TelePresence meeting centers to the United States, India, and United Kingdom. Public Cisco TelePresence rooms provide convenient local meeting sites that offer the experience of in-person meetings for businesses, friends, and family. You can rent a public Cisco TelePresence room for an hour or day to increase personal interaction with customers, partners, consultants, etc.; reduce travel expenses and time; increase productivity; and reduced environmental impact.

Pricing varies between $299 per person for one hour meeting, to $899 for up to 18 people. More impressively, you can book your meeting online here: http://ciscotelepresencesuites.com/createMeeting/ in any of the locations available today.




Oh, by the way, standard amenities for work and personal meetings are also available, including internet access, print/fax/copy services, and catering. Therefore, think of an on-demand conference room for anywhere in the world.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gartner's 20 ways of cutting expenses in IT

Gartner analysts presented a list of 20 ways that IT execs can slash expenses.

  1. Gartner estimates that 37% of the average IT budget is dedicated to personnel, so this represents a major opportunity to save money. Gartner recommends a blend of hiring freezes, reducing or eliminating special bonuses, cutting back on outside contractors.
  2. Flatten the organization. A flat organization not only saves money but also can lead to more efficiency.
  3. Move to shared services. Consolidate things like help desk into one group that services the entire company.
  4. Bring a finance person into your leadership team for that person to analyze your budget and find ways to help you trim costs.
  5. Don't ignore "unmanaged" costs like printers or data center power. Specially DC Power.
  6. Make sure your vendors are charging you what your contract specifies.
  7. Eliminate unused software and modules.
  8. Think about renegotiating contracts and strategize ways to save money with vendors.
  9. Deploy a telecom expense-management service. It pays for itself and more.
  10. Deploy a corporatewide plan for buying cell phones. Then, buy a cell phone plan that optimizes expenses.
  11. If there are places where you don't need five nines of availability, settle for three nines.
  12. Consider buying a videoconferencing solution rather than constantly renting or outsourcing videoconferences.
  13. Where possible, use the Internet as a replacement for expensive WAN transport services. Leverage VPN Technologies.
  14. If your hardware is holding up, consider sticking with it another year.
  15. Use commodity products wherever possible.
  16. Consolidate and virtualize servers and infrastructure.
  17. Reduce storage costs via data deduplication and other methods.
  18. Use better processes and policy to make better use of existing tools.
  19. Deploy IP telephony and VoIP as a way of cutting costs.
  20. Harvest unused licenses and reuse them when a new employee makes a request.

(from NetworkWorld.com's article)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cisco Energy-Saving Technology May Generate $1B/yr Market

Cisco plans to develop networking technology that boosts the efficiency of electrical grids. Available in about 18 months, the products will use IP networks to create so-called smart grids, which are managed remotely, just as described by Tom Friedman in his book "Hot, Flat, and Crowded".



Read the full article at Bloomberg.com | digg story

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The problem with collaboration is that I want to work alone

I think I have already written about how in the beginning of the Internet era (90's) companies and the enterprise world determined the path of innovation. After the Web 2.0 boom, all innovation comes from the masses, and then is implemented or ported to the enterprise. For example, think of CRM technologies. Oracle was a leader in this space and targeted only institutional companies. Nowadays, Salesforce.com and Netsuite leveraged the power of SaaS and other collaboration technologies used by people, for people. Another example, and the one that I want to focus on this post, is collaboration in general.

We've had Instant Messengers with presence information, rich-media collaboration tolls like sharing pictures and diagrams, and even embedded VoIP technology to make phone calls. I have used Yahoo Messenger since almost its beginnings and It was the first to integrate voice and other cool collaboration features. In fact, I used to use it with customers as a great form of collaboration. It was, sometimes better, to IM the customer to see if he was available to chat, or if he received that document. If he didn't, I could try resending the document via the messenger.

The IM technology has matured and come a long way. Many companies deply IM and Presence technology internally. Although they are not customizable systems. I truly believe that we finally have come up with a stronger replacement for the fixed IM client as a main collaboration tool in the office. That is, Webex Connect.

Webex connect is a collaboration product for any business process, based on WebEx's SaaS. The functionality is delivered on an extensible, open development platform based on SOA and XML. You can use the WebEx Connect Platform to extend the functionality of applications a company already has to create customized business mash ups (like widgets) that build collaboration into any business process. That said, the power of the WebEx Connect Platform comes from a framework to merge collaborative applications with business software in ways previously not possible.

However, collaboration has a component that is often forgotten: the social aspect of it. Some people just want to work alone. Companies often implement productivity tools; only to be disappointed when there doesn't seem to be any return on investment, ROI. There are two defined reasons for the failure: the tools and the people.





In many cases, the problem isn't the tools; it's that workers don't use them. On one side, the tools may simply not be adaptable enough. They are fixed and imply a change in business process. That is where WebEx Connect is a breakthrough, and we can no longer say that the tools are the problem. On the other side, we need to better understand the generational differences within the work force, and looking for ways to support collaboration between these different groups. Sometimes people just like to work alone.

The industry and technology was able to adapt the tools. Now we have to work with the social aspect of social technologies.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

VC Take On Market Crash: Short-Term Bear, Long-Term Bull

It's been a long time since I don't blog through Digg. I found this very interesting piece on how the VC industry and entreprenurs are not really being affected by the general financial debacle in the US financial markets. I personally have my money on the "alternative energy systems" industry.

read the full story here | digg story

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How can technology help small businesses? - Work from anywhere


In this series of posts I have explained how SMB companies can streamline business and improve their position by leveraging communication technologies. Today I will be addressing a third way to do that: “Work from anywhere”:

As your business grows, success means giving people the flexibility to work from home or on the go. With Unified Communications solutions, your workforce has easy, secure, wired or wireless access to:

  1. Your company's resources. Securely access data whether you're in the office or working remotely. Being mobile and staying productive in any environment helps boost revenues.
  2. Customers, colleagues, partners, and suppliers. Customers can reach available workers as incoming calls are automatically routed to whatever mobile device your employees choose. You can provide secure guest access. Employees can work after hours from home and save money on travel costs.
  3. Your network. With dual-mode phones that work both on data and cellular networks, you can continue conversations even as you move in and out of the office

Give employees secure access to the same phone and data network that they have in the office, even when they're away. This helps your company save money, boost productivity, and improve customer service. Some technologies that make this possible are:

Once again, a secure network foundation connecting various devices, such as PCs, phones, and printers is key. Security is very important, as you permit emploees access to your network from home via VPN technologies. Also, wireless business phones enable employees to work from anywhere on site with their desk phone close at hand and access information on the company network.

A combined voice and data, with voice, data, voicemail, instant messaging, automated attendant capabilities, video, and remote-access security built into one network is what is called a Unified Communications Network. Integration equals low cost.
Wireless access lets your workforce stay connected to the network even when they're not working at their desks. You can easily provide secure guest access to visitors, too.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

How can technology help small businesses? - Serve customers better


In the previous post I explained how SMB companies can improve business – reduce OPEX, increase profit, stay competitive – by using technology. Today I will be addressing the second way to do that: “Serve Customers Better”:

The most satisfied customers are those who have easy access to your company 24 hours a day. Linking your customer information to a secure voice and data network can help you increase customer satisfaction by:

  1. Immediately identifying incoming callers. When customers call, their records pop up on a computer screen. Now your employees have everything they need to quickly address customer inquiries.
  2. Viewing other employees' phone status. Don't know the answer to a customer's question? You can quickly determine whether or not the right person to help them is available. You'll save time—and provide more attentive customer service.
  3. Understanding call patterns. Managers can easily see data for caller wait times and abandoned calls, so they can identify where additional training, hiring, or other improvements may be needed.

You can deliver the information that your customers need, regardless of when or how they contact you. And, more importantly, your workforce can easily collaborate to meet customer needs. Some of the technologies that can help your business follow.

Just like in the previous post, a secure network foundation, combining voice and data on one network is of most importance. Start by building a solid technology foundation that allows you to offer limitless possibilities for your business. If you fail to have a solid and stable technology infrastructure, it will be a roadblock instead. Technology is a double edge sword.

Wireless connectivity and wireless business phones, added to your network, enable employees to work from the sales floor, the office, or even the warehouse with their desk phone close at hand.

Software and applications that link your customer relationship management database to the phone system on your data network, enhance the functionality of both. Anyone can instantly call a customer by double-clicking his or her phone number in the shared company database. Anyone can IM with them on a public and free client. Anyone can maintain your customers informed on the web. And see important information when customers call, via instant computer screen pop-ups.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How can technology help small businesses? - Be more productive


What is important for your small business? The obvious answer from any business school is to reduce cost while increasing profitability. The difficult part is how you get there.

There are multiple challenges. First, competition is fierce, especially for SMB start-ups and established companies, whose main pressure is exercised by large companies and multinationals. In addition to that, due to the large amount of communication channels and low cost of information today, your customers are presented with many more choices and therefore becoming more scarce. Finally, the global economy is a reality, making everything unstable and more sensitive to issues. For example, an economic debacle in China will impact your business in Latin America, your vendors, your customers and your ecosystem partners at the same time anywhere in the world.

There are three alternatives to combat these challenges and strive for lower production and operation costs and increase in profitability by means of leveraging technology. In this post, I will be talking about the first one: “Be More Productive”: Work more efficiently; do more with less.

You can take productivity to the next level. Look for ways to help teams be more productive through better collaboration:

Don't just tell; show. When unveiling a new product to a remote sales team, turn a regular call into a video call for maximum impact. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is price less.

  1. When communicating with your customer, be “virtually” there by having a rich-media web conference with video.
  2. Easily bring people together to solve problems. Need to call an urgent meeting? With just a few clicks, quickly find out who's available and set up conference calls or online meetings. Access customer information wherever you are, so you can easily work with colleagues to resolve issues quickly.
  3. Stay connected to mobile workers. With multiple channels of communication always available being out of the office no longer means being out of the loop. As a matter of fact, you should never leave the office.

Remember, the golden rule says when workers stay connected, they stay productive. Here are some ideas:

Start with a reliable, flexible, secure network infrastructure foundation combining voice, data, video, and wireless on one network so everyone can roam about, stay connected, and be productive.

Add software that links your customer relationship management database to your phone system. That way, computer screen pop-ups let you instantly view data about each customer. Instantly find out if someone is available to answer a question or attend a last-minute meeting.

Add video telephony software and cameras, allowing you to turn regular phone calls and online meetings into video calls along with phones that are designed to keep mobile workers in touch and give them anytime anywhere access.

Add applications that deliver call control and presence features to enable workers to know if colleagues are available and how they prefer to be reached and use toolbars within common applications like Microsoft Outlook and Internet Explorer to enhance productivity.

Using Twitter to Monitor Energy Consumption

A GreenTech blogger kept track of her energy consumption for 2 weeks in Twitter. She lays out her conclusions of that experiment.

read more | digg story

Monday, September 15, 2008

Imagine, Facebook for something useful...

We all have the typical Facebook friends who use
the site’s “Status Update” feature to tell the world he or she “is happy”, “is full from eating so much cake”, “thinking”, or some other gibberish like, “George is
Fridayyyy!” Like many of you out there, I used
to think Facebook’s Status Update feature was an absolute waste of time. But these previously questionable micro-posts are evolving into a useful tool for individuals and businesses.

Most of us, however, don’t know how to use this feature properly. It is safe to say that a good number of Web 2.0 light users are still misusing their status-updates with banalities and absolute nonsense.

If we relate Facebook with a big house where all your “friends” living in, then think about the status update as sticky notes on the fridge. For example, a note saying, “Jose is koowa6652owakoo!” or a sticky that only one other person could understand would make the sticky notes seem like garbage – or at the very least, out of place.

Before you start defending whatever expressions you usually post on Facebook, let's take a look at those who use the mother of all status-updaters, Twitter (www.twitter.com). Twitter is basically the same idea as Facebook’s status-updates – minus Facebook.

For instance, we could learn a bit from Twitter user and Vancouver local tech critic, Jeffery Simpson. He recently wrote an article revealing how he used Twitter to get some assistance. Realizing he was lost, Simpson posted a “tweet” – as Twitter posts are called – with his phone number asking for help. Soon enough he received a call that guided him back on track.

Another good use example is Rebecca Bollwitt, a renowned Vancouver blogger (www.miss604.com). Whenever she writes an article, a tweet goes out to more than 1,100 people who chose to follow her.

Even businesses benefit from this feature’s proper use. Darren Barefoot, founder of the tech-marketing firm Capulet Communications (www.capulet.com), uses tweets to solicit aid from other users. Barefoot posted a message asking for help translating a couple of messages and had 3 offers in less than 24 hours.

See? It can work a little better.

The challenge, then, is learning how to use this feature properly so we can take full advantage of it. Granted, most of us are not critics, bloggers, or reporters with constant thrilling news to report, but the potential for good use within our less influential social network is there.

In fact, as I’m finishing this article I noticed my friend Ray, who usually reports pure baloney, is for the first time making good use of his status update: he’s asking if anyone wants to go golfing tomorrow – Hallelujah!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cisco Nexus 7000 aims for data center dominance

Building a big data center and looking for a switch to match? How do 256 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports and nearly 1.7 terabits of capacity sound? Intending these boxes to be a data-center mainstay for the next decade, Cisco has constructed the Nexus switches to be outside of the current offerings. Value Prop: Power and unified Fibre Channel/Ethernet

read more | digg story

Sunday, September 7, 2008

America's Cup this year will feature multihulled sailboats.

Due to constant bickering and deadlock negotiations between BMW/Oracle's Larry Ellison and Alinghi's Ernesto Bertarelli, we'll have an innovative and unpresedented America's Cup with multihulled vessels like catamarans or trimarans. BMW/Oracle will have a trimaran.

read more | digg story

Friday, September 5, 2008

Rules for Going Global change: do it from the beginning

Globalization is inminent and no longer a novelty. It is, perhaps the strongest weapon in the business world to raise barriers of entry and improve brand image. However, in today's Internet era, globlization for small businesses was limited to the use of the Internet. The international presence was only possible in the virtual ether.
Small businesses are realizing that to compete, not only they need to have that Internet presence and the capability to process transactions and reach customers in the other side of the world. In order to compete, they have to establish a physical presence too.
The rules have changed, the marketplace is the entire World. If you are going to enter a market, why not utilize the whole world for testing.




Thursday, September 4, 2008

Speed test: Google Chrome beats Firefox, IE, Safari

In spite of speed tests name Google's Chrome way much faster than Opera, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari for JavaScript, a key foundation for rich Web apps. And in spite of all the huge fan base praising it, my opinion about these products is the same: yet another product that does not satisfy a market transition, but only a fan base and maybe a fad.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

[ZDNET] Why the Olympics didn’t melt NBC

The 2008 Beijing Summer Games presented many challenges for NBC. Therefore, NBC made the choice to have all broadcast shot selection and video editing done in the United States, with efforts shared between NBC Studios in Los Angeles and NBC Headquarters in New York City. How did they digitaized all that video? - Cisco's Scientific Atlanta

read more | digg story

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The importance of an Executive Briefing Center

Almost every large corporation has an Executive Briefing Center (EBC). Cisco, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, and IBM are classic examples. An EBC is a stunning venue designed to showcase product offerings and solutions to potential customers. Attendees are mostly executive level, but there are several variations of the briefing center that may include technical staff or even business partners and independent consultants.

An EBC has many benefits for the customer and the solutions provider. It offers a special opportunity to experience one-on-one time with experts and senior executives, gain first-hand knowledge of innovations, and collaborate with technology specialists to plan real-world business and technology strategies. An EBC is also customized for the client, making it unique and very valuable. Whiteboard and design sessions with the top experts are a direct benefit. Furthermore, the connections between the customer and solutions provider grow tighter and tighter along the executive organization of both companies. In other words, CEO's of both companies can truly establish a relationship and business partnership instead of only low level account teams and staff roles in both companies.

Secondary benefits are usually forgotten. An important one is with respect to focus. Both parties, vendor and customer, have to take time off to travel and give 100% of the time to the briefing. Also, new opportunities may be discovered from digressions in main topics. Finally, it offers a great start point milestone for mid and long term projects.

Every large corporation has a Briefing Center. Most of them, offer virtual versions of it as well. Next time you talk to your account team, ask them about their Briefing Center option. It is much more effective to have a customized briefing session than to part take only in conferences and events.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture, has died.

Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor whose final lecture inspired millions, has died of pancreatic cancer. Dr. Pausch, 47, who turned the lecture into a book, said that no one would have been interested in his words of wisdom were he not a man in his 40s with a terminal illness.

read more | digg story

If you haven't seen the lecture, here it is:


and, oh, by the way... "it's not for us, it's for his kids"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It’s called Positioning, not Spying


When Nike and Apple announced the Nike + iPod partnership I thought, "Man! That's brilliant!" My second impression was, "Dude! That's cheap!" After all, it was only $29 for the sport kit and I already had the shoes and the iPod.

The technical term for that is wearable computing. That is computer devices that are worn in clothing and I'm proud to say that my Alma Matter, Carnegie Mellon University, is a leader in that space. In the Nike + Apple case, a Bluetooth transmitter located in the sole of the shoe would send information to the iPod. This in turn, when synchronized with the home computer, sends the information to an Apple + Nike website for exercise tracking. The concept is simple and seems harmless.

In my opinion, the media killed that product. Newscaster all over the world claimed that you could keep track of people by sampling the Bluetooth signal sent by the shoe. A college student demonstrated it by hanging Bluetooth scanners around his university campus while he was keeping track of his girlfriend as she run.

The key here is that having the ability to track somebody does not necessarily make it a bad product. What about the people that wants to willingly be tracked? Say military personnel in Iraq, Alzheimer patients, Autistic children, or outdoor adventurers. For those, there are wonderful products coming out. A terrific example is ID Conex.

The direct benefit is that you can quickly locate a human being when in trouble, anywhere in the world. Thru a beacon type of signal, the GPS capable shoe can forward the exact coordinates of the person to ID Conex and plot it in a map. Of course, privacy is important, so ID Conex offers two modes of operation: One where ID Conex will receive geographical information upon request of the wearer - say by pressing a button – and another one where the shoe is constantly uploading its coordinates to the server. It is very promising for the military, healthcare, sports, and adventure markets.

Finally, there are two main concerns about such product. First of all, what is the opportunity cost of having such ability in your shoes? ID Conex and the shoe manufacturers think that it is around $300. I personally think that it is too high still. It should be closer to $200 instead. And last but not least, how good of a shoe is it? Notice that, contrary to the Nike + Apple product, this is not an addition to any regular shoe. The computer is embedded into the shoe. Is that going to affect the comfort and quality of the shoe? Say for example, that it may eventually compete in the sports market segment with Apple and Nike. Then it better be a good running shoe, because it is hard to beat Nike in that space.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Issues that can be anticipated when using a Web 2.0/social media platform in the Enterprise?

To name a few issues that you would face if you do not enforce policies to control the use of Web 2.0 technologies in the enterprise:

  • Very difficult for all the systems to interoperate, users may never adopt them - in the real world we have the average teenager using Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Digg.com, Del.icio.us, MySpace, and other tools. These all need to interconnect to make it successful. Take a look at Facebook's ability to have applications talk to it. For example, Twitter can update Facebook's status, and you can show your diggs in your Facebook profile.
  • People get bored of them easily - the fad runs away sooner or later, and MySpace gets displaced by Facebook. Blogs get displaced by Twitter. You may experience a boom of one tool that fades away in a few months.
  • Employees leaving the company can't take their networks with them - like a computer backup, you'd like to take your social networks with you, outside of your job, and this needs to be simple and possible
  • Employees leaving the company can take confidential information - if you make it easy for employees to fully personalize their web 2.0 environment outside of the company, they may take and share internal information
  • Since people like to keep pleasure and work separate, employees may not adopt these technologies in favor of leaving them for personal use - if, for example, you were to use Facebook or MySpace for inside of the company, few employees would like to have their bosses as friends in Facebook.
Now, here's my disclaimer. I don't favor policing and strictly enforcing control over Web 2.0 deployments for company use. Quite the opposite, I favor the full freedom for employees to utilize these tools as they see best fit. Also, they should be open to the public; not only for internal use, so that productivity may be expanded in all directions: customers, partners, coworkers, managers, friends, and family.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Cisco Live Summary and Highlights

Last week I spent 4 days at Cisco Live 2008, Cisco System's technical conference. In general, this was a great conference about all Cisco-related industries and markets; e.g. Networking, Collaboration, Unified Communications, Service Providers, Wireless, Data Center…

The main topic for the conference was Collaboration. This, of course, translates into ways to increase employee productivity and reduce operational costs, such as travel, by engaging in collaboration practices. WebEx was a big name and the product spotlight was the Webex Connect suite. I personally was very impressed, and can't wait to start testing it. This is a collaboration client for staying connected with coworkers, friends, and customers from a single place. It is the result of mixing the following ingredients: Skype, AOL IM, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and WebEx's online meetings. It offers a space with Instant Messaging, Presence, WebEx Meetings, Personal Dashboard, Team Spaces, and Business Widgets. This was demoed by John Chambers during the conference; check out how it integrates with the iPhone here.


Almost all Keynote speakers addressed the topics of how obvious it is that to increase productivity you have to collaborate in the Web 2.0 era, and to reduce operational cost you have to go green by collaborating more online and virtualizing the workplace. For example, if you know the presence information of a person you need to talk to, you can be more effective at how to reach him. Say you need to speak to Jim about last week's report. If you know that Jim is at a meeting, you avoid calling his desk or cell phone and use IM or Email instead. That's what a collaboration client can do for improving that.

The entire conference applied the collaboration and going green theme. First, this year they did not provide with printed copies of the technical training sessions, but gave out USB thumb drives with 1GB worth of presentations. Second, and more importantly, they incorporated a virtual component to the conference by having sessions at Second Life and a full blown virtual version of the conference called Cisco Live Virtual.

When it comes to the expo, it was called World of Solutions Expo. Big partners had great booths. In my opinion, the best ones were Intel, WebEx, Lancope, and Nokia. Intel showed their advances in Wireless (WiMax and 802.11n) and their 10Gbps interface for servers. Lancope had a great security appliance for MPLS type of networks, and Nokia had the latest mobile phones. Actually, thanks to my Nokia E61i I was able to log on to the conference site, check my calendar of events, reply to surveys, and Twitt my update in real-time (see my posting with my Twitter Timeline)

Finally, some relevant links for further getting what you missed if you did not attend:

Cisco Live 2008 Twitter Timeline

[This is a collection of my real-time updates of the Cisco Live 2008 event via Twitter]

leoboulton Getting ready to go home. Had a great time, learned a lot, and met new people. 08:29 AM June 26, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton Returning from the Customer appreciation event. Even though the "blue man group" was a fiasco, we ride The Mummy about 5 times... 12:45 AM June 26, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton @padmasree Great presentation this morning. i missed the funny guy during Jim's demo though :) 04:33 PM June 25, 2008 from web in reply to Padmasree     

leoboulton Going back to hotel to get ready for tonight's event: Blue man group. I hope I can see some of my customers. 04:28 PM June 25, 2008 from web     

leoboulton At the Intel super session, under a major thunderstorm. Talking about wireless, security, and mobility 03:07 PM June 25, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton They have booths around the expo to do vloging... Video blogs. 02:41 PM June 25, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton Http://www.cisco.com/go/efficiency 10:43 AM June 25, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton Answering to polls while she speaks.... She encouraged us all 10:30 AM June 25, 2008 from web     

leoboulton Attending the Cisco CTO super session. I like the SMS use for answering questions on the board 10:11 AM June 25, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton Nokia Throws Open Mobile Software http://snipr.com/2ooiy 09:55 AM June 25, 2008 from twitterfeed     

leoboulton You can gain access to the main presentations thru Cisco-Live Virtual. It's an online space created for attendees 08:36 AM June 25, 2008 from twhirl     

leoboulton Attending my first session of the day: Interconnecting Voice and Video Networks with CUBE http://www.cisco.com/go/cube 08:19 AM June 25, 2008 from twhirl     

leoboulton Just left the Network World super session. Going back to hotel to pick up my car for dinner with customer. 04:21 PM June 24, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton At the Network World panel about collaboration. sitting next to Ramesh 03:36 PM June 24, 2008 from txt

leoboulton The AXP session was very good. Explained the entire development process, how to package software, and the Cisco needs to sign the app. 03:15 PM June 24, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton Now... back-to-back Developer track with the AXP Session. Looking forward for this one!. 01:59 PM June 24, 2008 from web     

leoboulton
Now... back-to-back Developer track with the AXP Session. Looking forward to this one!. 01:59 PM June 24, 2008 from web     

leoboulton The MeetingPlace and Presence API session for the developers track was very high-level. It was biref and concise; but too high level. 01:52 PM June 24, 2008 from web     

leoboulton Now: Learning about Presentity, Watcher, and Notify. In other words, Presence API. 01:12 PM June 24, 2008 from web     

leoboulton After lunch, I spent somre more time on the Expo Floor. Great booths at Intel, Lancope, and Nokia. Was disapointed with Fluke 01:11 PM June 24, 2008 from web     

leoboulton @CiscoLive it does rock... 10:59 AM June 24, 2008 from txt in reply to CiscoLive     

leoboulton Webex Connect demo with John and Jim 10:48 AM June 24, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton Listening to Chambers: "why would you invest on IT? Only if you trully believe that a collaboration wave is coming to raise productivity" 10:25 AM June 24, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton There is a full track of MPLS for those who want to deploy an MPLS infrastructure. "MPLS is a technology for delivery of IP services" 08:15 AM June 24, 2008 from web     

leoboulton Off to the first breakout session: Intro to MPLS 07:18 AM June 24, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton Great day 1: orientation was informative; solutions center expo had great partner booths (Intel, IBM, and GlobalKnowledge standed out) 10:30 PM June 23, 2008 from web     

leoboulton Having dinner with some engineers in downtown disney 07:28 PM June 23, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton At the expo. Not that big, but great booths.... Check out the Emergency response vehicle 06:10 PM June 23, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton Registered. The convention center is pretty large. Got my bagpak and lots of notebooks and other goodies 02:56 PM June 23, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton It appears that the Customer appreciation party will be at Universal Studios on Wednesday. 02:56 PM June 23, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton Riding the bus from hotel to the convention center. My room wasn't ready, so I will register and then figure it out. 02:10 PM June 23, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton Arrived early. Will go to hotel first, and take the shuttle 01:21 PM June 23, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton If this is your first time at networkers, attend the Cisco Live Orientation today at 4pm at Chapin Theater. 12:30 PM June 23, 2008 from txt     

leoboulton Done... now printing (on PDF) directions. I'm planning to leave around 11am. It will take me about 4 hours. 07:42 AM June 23, 2008 from twhirl

leoboulton Before we start. I'm filling my Cisco Live Connect profile to collaborate with attendees. You can look for me: leoboulton. 07:20 AM June 23, 2008 from twhirl

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nokia Throws Open Mobile Software

Buying Symbian and making its mobile operating-system software open source should keep the likes of Apple and Microsoft on their toes

read more | digg story

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Getting your own IP Telephony PBX at home

It's been a while since my last post; and it's been even longer since my last technical post. This time, I've decided to get a Cisco router as my IP PBX for home, and offer SIP service to my family abroad, and I would like to briefly document it all.

It started when I got my Nokia E61i dual mode mobile phone. I wanted to use it with my SIP provider at home, but I discovered that it will not let me have both, my cell-phone and home ATA registered at the same time. Therefore, I decided to bypass it by having a home IP PBX.

Here are the overall steps. This is not a step by step process of how to do it all, but rather as what needs to be setup for getting it done. So here we go:

Ingredients:

  • A Cisco router with Cisco CallManager Express and Cisco Unity Express - I am using a UC520 with 8 user license; it has wireless connectivity, 4 FXS ports, 4 FXO ports (I will not use them) and 8 Ethernet ports with PoE.
  • A third-party SIP phone or adapter - I will be using the Linksys PAP2T.
  • A dual-mode Nokia E61i - this acts as a third party SIP phone
  • A SIP provider for the phone line - I use Broadvoice.

The overall steps are:

  1. Install CME/CUE on the router
  2. Configure CME
    1. Create Data and Voice VLANs
    2. Create and setup two SSIDs in the wireless interface: one for data, one for voice
    3. Assign IP addressing to the interfaces. The router will have to be set-up using irb (bridging wired and wireless).
    4. Configure IP Phones (SCCP phones and SIP phones).
    5. Generate a dial-plan that does not require to dial 9 to call the outside world.
    6. Configure analog voice ports as e-phones with STCAPP (details here)
    7. Configure hunt-groups, so all the phones will ring with the same DN
    8. Configure interaction with CUE (Voicemail)
    9. Configure SIP Trunking for outgoing line
  3. Setup the Nokia SIP client as a third-party SIP phone
  4. Setup the Linksys ATA as a third-party SIP phone

Friday, May 23, 2008

How to read a business book

Great blog post with three specific things to do, when reading a business book:

1. Decide, before you start, that you’re going to change three things about what you do all day at work. Find those in the reading.

2. Make it productive. Use a postit to write what to change.

3. Share what you learn. Teaching someone else, helps you learn too.



read more | digg story

Monday, May 12, 2008

AT&T and Cisco team to push intercompany telepresence

AT&T and Cisco have teamed up to offer the Cisco Telepresence high resolution 'virtual reality' videoconferencing technology for installation in the offices of client companies as a fully managed service, enabling inter-copmany TelePresence service

read more | digg story

Monday, April 21, 2008

Apple- it's time to stop playing with yourself

Before I start down the path of bashing the fine folks who work on Infinity Loop, let me say that I am a big fan of their products. I own a Mac, use an Airport Express, and stare jealously at the people who casually flick through songs or phone numbers on their iphone. Macs have made computer sexy- easy to use, but powerful enough for almost any task and in some instances superior to their PC counterparts.

However, lately I have been dealing with a number of issues with Apple and wireless. As Macbooks become more prevelant in the home, people are starting to clamor for them at work or bring their own. Just as people want one number, one cellphone, or one microwave, people are starting to want just one computer they can take with them that has everything they need. In this arises my gripe with Apple. They have long implemented their own version of doing lots of things. You want a song for your ipod? Better buy it on itunes. You want access to the itunes store? You need to load the itunes player. You want to do WPA2 WDS with an Airport Express? You better use an Airport Extreme base station. The music ones don't bother me- I mostly still buy CDs and LPs, but the Airport Express issue and wireless in general has bothered me for a long time.

Wireless relies on standards. Heck, most of networking relies on standards. That's why you can rest assured when you plug in one device to another, it is going to work as you please. This kind of interoperability is what drove wireless to where it is today, and why people know that when you take your dell laptop with its Intel chipset you are going to have a connection at your local Starbucks. Apple uses these standards, but then tweaks them just enough so that if you don't use an Apple base station you aren't going to get as strong performance. I understand that you want to protect your company and create that beautiful "Halo Effect," where a desire for one product like an iPod causes us sheep to buy a $3,000 computer to plug it into. It's wonderful and I love capitalism, so cheers.

However, if you are going to make inroads into the enterprise market-and Apple has not been shy about saying that it has the hardware to do it and thinks it can- then you better start doing some interoperability testing. They have no infrastructure play in the enterprise space, and given the fairly high barrier to entry and the inflexibility of most IT staffs, they would have a tough time proving they had enterprise-grade equipment. Apple has high margins based on the fact that it carries a lot of cachet with consumers (I don't want to hear how you can do all these great unix programs on there because the majority of Apple users aren't doing anything more than typing term papers) and its stuff isn't able to handle the beating that companies will put on it. You cannot connect that many people to an airport base station and expect it to work, so there will be a very significant investment there. The hardware that Apple really cares about and believes can be in the workplace is the laptop. Laptops are replacing desktops at a very fast rate, so we know from the trends (and if Apple understands anything it is trends) that Apple will be pushing the laptop as the hardware. Anyway, given that we now have Apple in the workplace and no Apple access points, it means we need interoperability and Apple is not at all fond of working with other partners or companies.

The famous iphone incident at Duke which crushed their network was rightfully blamed on the Cisco infrastructure, which unfortunately had no idea that Apple had implemented DHCP addressing using a different RFC. A quick patch was put out that fixed the issue, but it could have been avoided entirely if Apple had listed the RFCs it was using. Which products were already using those RFCs? Why, Apple's, of course. With this next generation of iphone soon hitting shelves, Apple has turned to using Cisco's VPN technology and seems to be more willing to work with Cisco to ensure it will work in the enterprise environment. Apple has also signed on to the CCX program (or at least trial it for some time).

This is what really had me upset- Apple always backed away from joining CCX, which provides vendors a way of ensuring special capabilities with Cisco wireless equipment), saying that they would rather do it their own way. They didn't see the great benefit to them. This was being said while they were also being touted as the educational device of choice, while most universities were using Cisco APs. Because Apple did things differently or authenticated into the wireless network, most IT staffs refused to support Macs. Since they are becoming a larger part of the population, they have no choice but to support them. Here's where my problem arose- From a wireless perspective, you don't have to follow every one of the 802.11 standards. You may not use 802.11e for Qos, or 802.11d for world domain control, but most chip manufacturers understand that you need to include most of these because you have to work within a number of vendors. Furthermore, macs are notoriously hard to debug without knowing a lot of hidden commands. Wireless is no exception, and a lot of the time it is a matter of hitting a button and hoping for the best.

I am glad to see Apple joining CCX. Not only does it help the people running the network and those of us who have to figure out what is happening, but it ultimately helps Apple. They are pushing into a very lucrative and large market that they will not be able to control from end-to-end and by joining the consortium they are allowing themselves to be successful.....and letting me sleep.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cisco acquires Nuova; release unified fabric switch

Cisco announced another excellent acquisition that opens the door to the new Nexus 5000 switch: Unified SAN and LAN fabric with 10 GigE for data center and virtualization.

read more | digg story

Gaining Twitter Followers Experiment

I started an experiment with Twitter last week to prove one hypothesis: The more often you post messages to Twitter, the more followers you gain. Or in other words, you can gain followers just by posting lots of messages per day. Here's what I did:

  1. I Installed a Twitter client in my home computer and work laptop. I like twhirl a lot.
  2. I Set-up my Smartphone for Twitter updates. Only had to add the mobile version of Twitter to my browser favorites.
  3. Then, I post everything I'm doing, when I have a chance. There is a limit of how many updates per hour you can post on Twitter (70 requests per hour). I did only about 12 updates per day. Some of the people I'm following do about 30 updates per day.
  4. Then watch how people start following.

I've been doing this for the last week. And so far, I have added 14 people to my followers list. I don't think that they are very relevant to the people that I want to have as a follower. Most of them are generic company or project names, not individuals. Also, most of them are probably seeking to get more followers by following people (there is another proved theory that if you follow people, they will return the favor and follow you).

Anyway, the only complain I've got is from my wife who can't understand my work related Twits. I will continue with my experiment and update this post in a month or so.

/// Update ///

I'm up to 59 followers, and I have not requested to follow anyone else. The interesting fact, is that I'm being followed by people that have obviously no interest in reading my twitts. THey only want me to return the favor by following them. These are companies and startups. For example, onlineincome, workathome8, and debtconsolidation are following me. In conclusion, the list of followers augment, but the quality diminishes. Still, the technique of following people in an attempt to being followed is more effective.

/// End of Update - April 21st 2008///

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

RSS Feeds for your LinkedIn Network

LinkedIn now let's you track updates and connections across your LinkedIn network via RSS Feeds. LinkedIn is growing up!.

read more | digg story

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Globally Distributed EcoPanel with Al Gore

From VoiceCon Orlando 2008, Al Gore joins John Chambers for a discussion of the critical role innovation can play in mitigating climate change. The virtual discussion simultaneously addresses live audiences in London, UK and Orlando, and is hosted in Orlando by Cisco Chief Marketing Officer Sue Bostrom.

The key topics include: Latest observations of the effects of global warming and the impact of IT; how businesses can reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the use of new innovations; and how the technology industry can help create the most sustainable model for addressing global climate change. Using Cisco TelePresence, Mr. Gore participates from Nashville, TN, and Mr. Chambers from Cisco headquarters in San Jose, CA.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Twitter in images

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cell-phone as boarding passes

Continental Airlines will test a system that allows using a cellphone to download the boarding pass with a bar-code that can be scanned directly from the phone's screen. Train systems in Europe have used the system successfully for a while.

read more | digg story

Thursday, March 20, 2008

5 Things to look for in a Telepresence System

Telepresence is hot: This week, Al Gore and Cisco's CEO, John Chambers, had a TelePresence presentation at VoiceCon addressing how to get greener in business. The bottom line is that TelePresence is getting all the hype these days. Here are 5 things to look for in a Telepresence system, to ensure that you get the best meeting experience:

  1. High Definition Quality Video – It has to be realistic video that looks a lot like a real person, not a binay version of one. Look for scale of the other party and make sure it is real live scale and not a smaller (or larger) version of the person. Have the individual show you his/her wrist watch, you should be able to read it from your end.
  2. Quick and easy to forget technology – when you are in the meeting, you should forget that you are in a Telepresence meeting in 5 minutes tops. It is supposed to feel like a real meeting, not a Skype call with a webcam.
  3. No Echo – people tend to talk when others are talking. It's human nature to interrupt the other party. Make sure that there is no echo, reverb, or other annoying effect with the sound.
  4. Spatial effects – if someone on the right opens a can of Coke, the sound should come from the right, not from the center of the room.
  5. Not affected by outgoing speakers – if someone likes to move a lot and use hand gestures, these should come to the other end seamlessly, without any delay or effect on the video quality.

Friday, March 7, 2008

One OS or several OSs across your product line? – Which is better

After a long time since my last post; a comment by Juniper's founder about Cisco having too many operating system versions sparked my interest for the subject. I decided to do some research and thought, and came to the following conclusion:

"A single OS across multiple platforms shortens the product lifecycle of the entire product portfolio and is inversely proportional to it in adverse levels"

What this means is that as the product portfolio grows, having one Operating System is unfavorable for the customer who has to upgrade more frequently if he/she wants to stay current. That is, because the product lifecycle gets shorter and shorter as new products affect them. For example, if you have two products with one OS, then it is beneficial: it brings consistency, and helps to solve problems for both products at the same time. When you introduce a third and a forth product, that incorporates more variables that are prone to bugs; therefore new code needs to come more frequently. That is for the entire product portfolio because they are all running the same code. When you have one hundred products, all running the same code, a bug or issue found on one of those 100 product causes the other 99 to get a new OS as well, leaving your customer to update the OS more frequently.

In other words, it simply does not scale. You have to find the balance of how many versions you can have, to satisfy a reasonable update cycle for your customer.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cellular/WiFi convergence gains momentum

The problem with Cellular/Wifi convergences is the mobile carriers: If a company implements dual mode phones, the carrier loses talk minutes when the phone is used on the wifi network. A loss of revenue is not appealing. However, some companies are coming with creative products, and early adopters are noticing.

read more | digg story

Monday, February 11, 2008

Amazon’s online forum could be a great tool (part 2)

Last time I posted about how valuable a web 2.0 tool can be for almost any business. In particular, I gave the example of Amazon's Forum, and praised how it brings customers and company closer by giving a more human service. In specific, I tell the story of how an unreleased product that I ordered early December has been pushed several times while an Amazon employee keeps us all eager buyers updated in the forum.

Well, the story got so much more interesting in the last couple of days. One morning, all posts of such Amazon employee where removed from the forum. At that point, we all started speculating on whether the employee was real (I got a comment on my post to prove it) or if he got in trouble for telling us that the product was going to be released in late February. Some aggravated customers went ahead and wrote letters to the manufacturer directly, while others wrote about the most effective way to file a complaint with Amazon Customer Service. A great one came from a user called "M. Halstead". He posted a summary of all the posts that were deleted from the Amazon employee (I guess he looked in his archive and put it all together for everybody to read). On my end, I decided to post on the blog again and let my readers and everybody know.

The bottom line is that, today, everybody is upset with Amazon and the manufacturer. Some people blame the manufacturer for taking too long; others defend it because they want to release a quality product. I take the side that puts the blame on Amazon.

An online forum is a great way to keep your customers close and have a friendly tone with them. Especially Amazon, a famous-for-supply-chain store can benefit greatly from it. Myself and others are still hanging in there and approving the pushed forward dates, mainly because there is quite an amount of activity in the forum and R.C., the Amazon employee in trouble, was updating us on the process and his/her talks with the manufacturer. We, as customers, deserve to be informed by Amazon, the intermediary between consumer and manufacturer, on the status of our orders. Instead, we've been getting automated emails of "click here to approve a delay in your shipment"… I wonder why the company decided to put a web 2.0 tool in place, and not use it appropriately

My next step: a letter to Amazon's customer service, and a template of it to share with the forum. It's worth telling Amazon how to use a forum most effectively.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Amazon’s Forum – A personalized service

As I was reviewing a delayed purchased from Amazon, I decided to do some research as to why my order got delayed for the third time in the last two months. At first, I thought that Amazon was pushing back out of stock products on their highly automated systems. Then I thought that the manufacturer delayed the release of the product (in case you care here's the product I'm buying). Therefore I decided to Google delays related to the product. To my surprise, the first link that pops up is the very same Amazon product page. I click there and notice, at the bottom of it, a forum post about delays in the release of this product. That's right, Amazon offers a forum service, and several angry buyers like me were expressing their frustrations on it.

What a great form of "service personalization"! Amazon, and other online stores and service providers, are using forums, chat-with-a-representative and other web 2.0 services to be more human. In particular, in this forum post, an Amazon representative is keeping everybody up to date with the timings of the release of the product. He is even going the extra mile and asking for feedback about offering free one-day shipping to everybody. For the last weeks, hundreds of eager buyers like me, have been chatting directly and expressing our concerns with a real Amazon sales person (or supply chain manager, who knows the exact title). The fact is that we all feel much better about it than just getting automated emails.

Definitely technology advances like collaboration services (e.g. forums, blogs, twitter, and Facebook) as well as Unified Communication applications (e.g. Chat with a representative, call-me back buttons, and Web-based support systems) are getting business the competitive advantage of becoming more personalized, human and quicker to react.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The best business application of Web 2.0

A post on Twitter's blog reveal what I consider the most useful application of Twitter for businesses: keep track of customers complains on twitter, and fix it quickly.


Of course, ideally you should also keep track of all complains in Web 2.0: Facebook, MySpace, public blogs, digg, rss, etc. Wherever there's a public space where people can complain, they will leave an online footprint. That gives you the opportunity to quickly react and address the problem as soon as you can to increase customer sat.


In my humble opinion, this the best business application of Web 2.0 that I've found of so far.




read more | digg story

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

When recession strikes, who wins?

The media is exaggerating the coverage on two topics these days: Presidential candidates and a possible economic recession in the US. After almost two weeks of silence, I've been pretty busy with interesting projects, it is time to speak my two cents on the second topic. As usual, I will be brief, and will not go deep on whether we are heading into a recession or not. Instead, let's talk about how to act and who gets affected.

When a recession comes, who does it affect mostly?

First, it will initially impact the smallest and reactive businesses and then large and slow corporations. This is because even though small companies can usually react quickly, they are affected by a small change in the economic environment more profoundly. The good news is that by the nature of start-ups and small businesses, these companies can adapt on the spot and change direction to survive the storm. This is something that large companies can't usually do: they set up yearly budgets, and then have committees to make decisions on what to do about it. If you can quickly make decisions, then you can quickly swim to shore.

The other type of company that would be affected the most is point-product sales oriented companies. That is companies that sell only physical goods. If the main stream of revenue comes from sales of a specific physical good, people will just stop buying it and look for ways to avoid that cost. On the other hand, if the most profit comes from the sale of a service, customers will typically seek more of that. In particular, if t is something that will help them save money. That is why is so important to have a solutions based approached of selling, and have your services more profitable than then product.

Lastly, companies with a value proposition of cost savings will prevail. Usually cost savings is the second or third thing that a customer looks at, and it is a very difficult message to sell. However, when recession strikes, everybody will look for ways to save money, streamline process and drop cost. After all, everybody wants to save money, right?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Top 10 Digital Signage Vendors

Who are the top players in Digital Signage as of today... here's a great blog post on an analysis of the top vendors of digital signage technology today.

read more | digg story

Saturday, January 12, 2008

If the 90’s were the Telecom years, the 00’s are the Marketing years

I am an Electrical Engineer by education. Did my studies during the 90's and that means I was in the sweet spot: Telecommunication. The 90's was all about it because of several things. If you are unfamiliar with it, do a little research online about the Telecom bubble.

Basically, companies saw the Internet as a magnificent thing, better than it really is, and invested a lot in the physical conduit for the Internet, among other things. That said, the telecom industry experience a great time: new companies came afloat, the FCC was at its peak, the Telecom Act of 1996 was passed, and even in the emerging economies the radio electric spectrum went out for bids everywhere in the world.

We all know how it ended: market crashed, people got fired, companies went broke… and new technologies came up! The industry is fine today, though.

The Internet did not die, we were just a little bit more cautious. In the 00's, the Internet is it. Yahoo and Amazon are still around, MySpace and Facebook came to life, and Google became a colossus. All this because of the faithful revenue stream that remains constant: Online Advertisement.

Low cost of distribution of information has brought limitless benefits to Marketing. It has actually made marketing popular again. Everybody with a Google Adsense account and a small website can make money with it. Will this still be the case in 5 years? We can't really tell, but what we can tell is that Marketing definitely needs to adapt; and it has been doing so nicely.

A successful Internet Marketing campaign (and this applies to anything that is displayed over an IP network including Digital Signage, Email, and Internet Browsing) must not be annoying. In other words, (1) must not try to trick you to click things, (2) must not be disruptive of a real activity, (3) must not be offensive, (4) and must be related to things that I like.

Just take a look around next time you go online. Even Television ads have adapted to the TiVo and DVR years.