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Welcome to my World Wide Webquarters! I hope to ma...

by kochikvp In reply to The Webquarters

<span style="font-size:130%;"><span style="font-family:times new roman;"><strong>Welcome to my World Wide Webquarters!</strong> I hope to make this a place where Business and Technology intersect with plain, good horse sense! Having been somewhat hopelessly opinionated all my life, I've finally found this great tool to snare hapless strangers into reading my views on just about every topic under the sun (and a few beyond). I'll unabashedly air my views on the challenges facing today's organizations, how technology impacts business and society, why people behave as they do,....<em>ad infinitum*</em>.</span><br /><span style="font-family:Times New Roman;"></span><br /><span style="font-family:Times New Roman;">A wise soul has said that how much you benefit from what comes out of a horse depends on which end of it you are standing. </span><span style="font-family:times new roman;">Though I'm a late arrival on the blogging scene, I promise to make up for the lateness in diligence, prolificity - and.... yes, sheer equine intelligence.</span><br /><span style="font-family:times new roman;"></span><br /><span style="font-family:times new roman;">So read on, hapless stranger, and may your tribe (and wisdom) increase!</span></span><br /><p><span style="font-family:times new roman;">______________________________________</span></p><p><span style="font-family:Times New Roman;">* <span style="font-size:78%;">but not, it is hoped, <em>ad nauseum</em>!</span></span></p><p><span style="font-family:times new roman;"></p></span><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://webquarters.blogspot.com/2005/07/welcome-to-my-world-wide-webquarters-i.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Corporate Icons...and longevity.

My first post is...

by kochikvp In reply to The Webquarters

<strong>Corporate Icons...and longevity.</strong><br /><br />My first post is on a somewhat poignant note. The <em>Economist</em>, in its Feb 17th 2005 issue stated that Verizon?s buyout of MCI will result in a combined firm with sales of $90 billion. A couple of issues earlier the same magazine, in its superbly written article on AT&T?s changing fortunes had declared that the SBC-AT&T merger, with combined revenues of $70 billion, ?creates America's largest telecoms firm?. Looks like SBC got to rejoice for a whole two weeks.<br /><br />More soberingly, this brings home the increasing rapidity with which things change in the technology industry ? AT&T?s reign as the big boy on the block had lasted several decades during the last century.<br /><br />Another fallout from the imminent (?) demise of AT&T as an independent firm is the loss of a corporate icon - one of America?s greatest and most enduring. For that reason at least, let us hope that SBC-AT&T decides to badge itself as AT&T. Otherwise, AT&T will join a list of hallowed technology names that are now mere memories ? Digital, Sperry, Burroughs, Compaq,? The high-tech industry sure is no place to be sentimental.<p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://webquarters.blogspot.com/2005/07/corporate-icons.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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The End of Corporate Computing and other Fables

N...

by kochikvp In reply to The Webquarters

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<em>The End of Corporate Computing </em>and other Fables</strong>
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<br />Nicholas Carr is back and at his contrarian best with <a href="http://sloanreview.mit.edu/smr/issue/2005/spring/13/">The End of Corporate Computing</a> in this Spring's <strong>MIT Sloan Review</strong>*. He posits that Information Technology (IT) is in transition: from an asset owned and hosted by corporations for their own use, to a utility that is supplied centrally by specialized companies. His argument takes the concept of utility computing to its logical extreme, and holds that the corporate data center will go the way of the dodo.<br />
<br />Nick is wonderfully eloquent, and his argumentative skills are admirable. His case would have been very persuasive, had it been based more solidly in reality. As with his earlier article <em>IT Doesn't Matter</em>, he overstates his case here too. Business software often automates complex and firm-specific business processes, and does not easily lend itself to centralization with a utility supplier. It is difficult to imagine a car factory carrying out its manufacturing planning or control thru a subscribed utility, or an investment bank performing securities analysis on a vendor's computer sitting hundreds of miles away. The author's vision may, however be seen as providing a general direction in which computing will evolve.<br />Summing up, the horse sense view is: It appears far-fetched to state that utility computing will render the conventional model of each firm hosting its own IT applications extinct, or even that it will become the dominant mode of IT use in corporations. Utility computing may gain traction over the next few years for applications that are not highly firm-specific, where business-criticality and security requirements are moderate / low, and where speed of response is not highly material.<br />_____________________________________________<br />* <span style="font-size:78%;">Francis Fukuyama's epochal <em>The End of History </em>seems to have caught everybody's imagination so much that it has spawned an entire genre that is going strong even 15 years on! I remember lapping it up the article as a young, gawky research scholar, and the furore that followed it's publication!</span>
</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://webquarters.blogspot.com/2005/08/end-of-corporate-computing-and-other.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Blogging's Future: Up, Up and Away?

Beyond a doub...

by kochikvp In reply to The Webquarters

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<strong>Blogging's Future: Up, Up and Away?<br />
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<br />Beyond a doubt, blogging has a bright future. It's tempting to get carried away by all the exuberance being generated.<br />
<br />Bill Gates says blogging "will fundamentally change how we document our lives". <a href="http://www.technorati.com">Technorati's </a>CEO David Sifry says that there are 11 blog posts being made every second!<br />
<br />While this may well be true, we must resist the temptation to get carried away. Let's analyze blogging's prospects as a 'personal technology', or a technology that individuals use to improve their effectiveness or productivity, or simply to have fun.<br />
<br />All successful personal technologies that gain widespread use (be it the humble pen, the telephone or the iPod), bear certain hallmarks: they are easy to use, fulfil a basic need, and provide a new way to express an existing behavior or habit. Technologies that make the cut on these three respects tend to 'take-off', with their use surging steeply*.<br />
<br />Blogging certainly fulfils a basic need, the need for self-expression and social interaction. It is also more powerful in many respects than other technologies that meet similar needs - the telephone, email or online chatting - in that it is more 'permanent', and allows visibility to anyone who can access the Web. It also provides a new way to exercise our natural propensity to form groups with like-minded folks, by allowing us to form 'virtual communities' on the Web. It also allows people to 'discover' others with similar tastes, wherever they may be in the world.<br />
<br />Well, that leaves ease of use. I am afraid blogging is somewhat less stellar in this respect - while it is simpler than creating personal Web pages, it still lags far behind the telephone and email in ease of use. So, ease of use is the <em>first thing</em> that needs to improve about blogs (I hope the blog tool-makers are listening).<br />
<br />If one is tempted to argue that blogging is already very successful, one only needs to pause to consider the numbers: by most estimates there are around 80 million blogs in the world as of today, while the number of telephones world-wide (fixed-line and mobile) is around 2 billion. This is not to take anything away from the success of blogging, but only to establish (an admittedly somewhat crude) benchmark!<br />
<br />However, we've looked at only half the picture so far - becoming successful. Success brings its own problems, and sure enough, blogging too will need to overcome a couple of challenges that success brings with it:<br />
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<em>Better ways to manage 'blog clutter'.<br />
</em>Even with the current number of blogs out there, it is becoming difficult for people to navigate the blogosphere. Telephones or email don't need to solve this problem as they are 'push' technologies, which means that you *want* to restrict who can contact you using these technologies. However, if blogs are to truly live up to their promise of allowing the 'discovery' of like-minded folks, then blog search engines should (and will) get smarter.<br />Search is of course not the only way to manage clutter - for example, <a href="http://blogs.businessweek.com/the_thread/blogspotting/archives/2005/07/the_search_for.html">Business Week's Heather Green</a> talks about creating 'influential blogger' lists.<br />
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<em>Blogging needs to find ways to enable diverse communication needs<br />
</em>Blogging tools already do a half-decent job of allowing the sharing of digital content. However, as camera phones proliferate, sharing pictures and movies will increasingly become mainstream. Also blogging from heterogenous devices (phones and home appliances come to mind) is likely to need support.<br />
<br />Of course, this piece only addresses blogging as a 'personal technology'. Analysis of its prospects in business - which are fledgling at the moment - is the subject of a different discussion altogether!<br />
<br />_______________<br />*<span style="font-size:78%;">This is driven by Metcalfe's Law, which holds that the usefulness of something increases exponentially as the number of users goes up.</span>
</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://webquarters.blogspot.com/2005/08/bloggings-future-up-up-and-away-beyond.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Excitement in the Ether
An intriguing suggestion (...

by kochikvp In reply to The Webquarters

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<strong>Excitement in the Ether</strong>
<br />An intriguing suggestion (dismissed as a rumor by Nokia) has appeared over the weekend - that Cisco is eyeing an acquisition of Nokia, evidently driven by a desire to strengthen its wireless infrastructure business. At a superficial level, this sounds plausible - companies worldwide have amassed unprecedented cash hoards (see, for example, <a href="http://www.economist.com">The Economist </a>and <a href="http://www.businessweek.com">Business Week</a>), due in part to central bankers' generosity in keeping real interest rates at historic lows, and we can well expect to see a rash of acquisitions in the near future. Also, Cisco certainly is one of the cash-rich giants around, and has amply proven its acquistion credentials.<br />However, we must pause and ask, how much business sense does this make? As <a href="http://www.pmn.co.uk/20050808cisco.shtml">Marek Pawlowski </a>points out, Nokia's business is in making handsets more than wireless networking equipment, and Cisco will be hard put to rationalize buying all of Nokia just to get its wireless infrastructure manufacturing business.<br />Neither does such a deal appear to make a lot of sense for Nokia, which does not strike me as an overly enthusiastic acquisition target - at 34% of the world market, its handsets outsell those of the nearest competitor (Motorola/Samsung) by 2 to 1. And that is hardly a market that is shrinking - worldwide handset shipments are likely to double over the next 5 years to 1.2 billion.<br />The backdrop is not very promising either - recent megamergers in the tech space have hardly been stellar. HP / Compaq and AOL / Time Warner come to mind.<br />And given the size of the deal, even a veteran with Cisco's admittedly high 'Acquisition Quotient' is likely to be overreaching with this buy.</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://webquarters.blogspot.com/2005/08/excitement-in-ether-intriguing.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Blogging: Just How Much of a Phenomenon?Towards ...

by kochikvp In reply to The Webquarters

<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"><strong>Blogging: Just How Much of a Phenomenon?<br /></strong><br /><em>Towards a measure for the success of blogging</em> <br /><br />In a <a href="http://webquarters.blogspot.com/2005/08/bloggings-future-up-up-and-away-beyond.html">previous post</a> , I talked about bloggings future. Here we will try and arrive at a measure" for how successful blogging has become, and how much more it is capable of achieving.<br /><br />It is pertinent to note that we are not talking about measuring the success of a specific blog, but of blogging as a phenomenon.<br /><br />Before tackling the admittedly difficult question of measuring its success, lets pause and ask, <strong>What is blogging? </strong>At one level, it is a tool which individuals use for communication and self-expression. Indeed, this was the only use conceived initially. As its usage soared, it also emerged as a tool for on-line 'communities' to interact and disseminate news or useful information. The most recent emerging use (completely unanticipated in the early years of blogging's existence) is for commercial organizations to interact with various stakeholders.<br /><br />Thus, a reasonably general definition of blogging would appear to be, a technology that lends itself for use by individuals, communities or organizations as a means of communication, information dissemination or interaction.<br /><br />How do we go about establishing a measure of the success of anything? One way is to identify its "potential", and measure what proportion of that potential has been achieved. For example, if your company sells flat-panel TVs, the potential market would probably be equal to the number of households in the world having a household income of more than a certain figure. If you are trying to popularize a new 'world language' that you have invented, the potential probably corresponds to every human in the world speaking the language. If you sell beer, the potential sales would probably correspond to each adult in the world drinking 150 liters a year!*<br /><br />However, it is frequently difficult to assess potential in this manner. A surrogate, more practical approach would be to identify the 'best' achieved by anybody so far. If you are an athlete, your 'best achievable' may be the current world record in your event. In the TV example above, the best achievable may be the sales volume achieved by the market-leading company.<br /><br />Thus, the problem reduces to discovering the 'best achievable' usage of blogging. To do this, we must stretch our imagination a bit and ask, what are the "best" technologies** that meet roughly the same needs that blogging does, and what is the usage they have achieved? The best technologies we have that allow communication, information dissemination or interaction are probably telephones, email, and conventional web sites.<br /><br />The number of telephone lines (fixed and mobile) in the world is estimated at around 2.1 billion. Similarly, the number of email users is in the region of 600 million.<br /><br />How many websites exist in the world? <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/08/AR2005080801003.html">Yahoo indexes 19 billion web pages, while Google indexes about 9 billion</a>. Taking the smaller of the two, and assuming the average website has around 20 pages, the number of websites may be approximated as about 500 million.<br /><br />Lets be conservative, taking the smallest of the 3 figures (for telephones, email users and websites) which is 500 million. To be play it even safer, let us assume that many websites represent uses that blogs just cannot. So let us say that the figure of 500 million overstates the figure we are looking for by 90%. This leaves 250 million (assuming many websites are defunct, etc.). It appears safe to say that this represents the usage that blogging must achieve. Thus, the best achievable number of blogs is, at the very least, 250 million. The current number of around 80 million thus suggests that blogging has covered about a third of the distance to its best achievable usage.<br /><br />Of course, we will be shortchanging blogging if we end this analysis without considering time frames. While telephones have taken 20+ years to reach their current usage (counting only from the time mobile phones were invented), email has taken 15+ years, and the web 10+ years, blogging has been around only 6 years or so.<br /><br />To dwell a bit on how technologies evolve over time, let us look at an elegant concept, the 'S' curve. What this says, very simply, is that every technology has an initial period during which it grows very slowly. As it improves and gains usage, it crosses an 'inflexion point', beyond which growth takes off rapidly***. Further down, the technology reaches a maturity stage where growth once again slackens. Metcalfe's Law, which holds that the usefulness of something goes up exponentially with the number of its users, applies during the high growth section.<br /><br />Thus, in S- curve terms, blogging can be thought of as having crossed the inflexion point, and being about 30% of the way to the peak. In other words, 70% of its potential is yet to be achieved.<br />______________________________________________________<br /><span>* If that sounds high, the Czech are reputed to drink 167 liters per capita per year!<br /><br />** As is clear from the context, we use best not as an indicator of quality but to mean the one that has achieved the greatest or most widespread use.<br /><br />*** Not all technologies, of course, actually cross the inflexion point - many (indeed, most) die out well before they reach that point.</span> </div>
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<div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://webquarters.blogspot.com/2005/08/blogging-just-how-much-of-phenomenon.html"><em>This post originally appeared on an external website</em></a></div>

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Surging Profits, Booming Markets
(...and Frowning...

by kochikvp In reply to The Webquarters

<strong><span style="color:#000099;"><span style="color:#003333;">Surging Profits, Booming Markets </strong></span></span><br /><em...and Frowning Prophets?!)<br />Or, Is It All Too Good To Last?<br /></em><br />Companies all over the world have been seeing bumper profits over the last year. <a href="http://www.economist.com">The Economist </a>reports that corporate profits have been outpacing GDP growth on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as in the Asia-Pacific. <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/@@T2z3CYcQtIciLA0A/magazine/content/05_09/b3922162_mz029.htm">Business Week informs us </a>that companies all over have surpassed profit growth expectations, and are flush with over a trillion dollars in cash. Technology companies are especially doing well - Microsoft, Dell, Intel, Oracle alone <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jun2005/tc20050620_6166_tc120.htm">have amassed large surpluses</a>.<br /><br /><em>What factors have led to this?</em> Outsourcing to cheaper destinations is producing savings that go straight to the bottomline. Low-cost goods and services from China and India are keeping inflation low, freeing up spending money in consumers' hands which shows up as increased demand for all types of products that companies sell. Better use of technology is helping too, as companies have got smarter and more finicky about how well they use technology.<br /><br />Meanwhile, the China-India effect* is helping produce some related, and largely pleasant, macroeconomic developments:<br />- the low inflation, caused by these countries "exporting deflation", is also <a href="http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=3219537">keeping interest rates low worldwide </a><br />- thanks to more money in consumers' hands and low interest rates, people are investing in asset-building with renewed vigor - particularly in stocks and houses<br />- this in turn is leading to steep rises in asset prices and, most economists agree, asset price bubbles in most countries<br />- the resulting 'wealth effect' (people feel richer as their stock portfolios and real estate values shoot up) is further spurring consumer spending, as people spend more when they feel wealthier!<br /><br /><em>Can this last, and what can go wrong?</em> This is admittedly a happy state of affairs. But while profits and asset prices are soaring, some worries are rising too.<br /><br />- the asset price bubble can burst (or at least deflate)<br />- continued sluggishness and job growth stagnation in the EU countries can drag down world GDP growth<br />- economic policy responses from Governments need to be right (low-cost products can keep inflation low only in the short term - in the long term, only macroeconomic policy matters)<br />- consumer spending may slowdown in the US, the current engine of growth<br />- resistance to outsourcing can build up (on grounds of job losses, security concerns,...)<br />- worrisome or cataclysmic geopolitical events can happen (such as energy supply volatility, terrorism, nuclear arsenal buildup etc.)<br />- imbalances have been accumulating in the world economy, setting up stresses which may get released in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. (China's recent devaluation of the Yuan, although widely criticized as too little and too late, is a welcome step towards reducing one such imbalance). However even Alan Greenspan, that doyen of economic prophets, has admitted that there are forces at work in the world economy that we do not fully understand. Indian Finance Minister P Chidambaram said last week that he would be "worried" if the Bombay Stock Exchange's key Sensex did not stop its rampaging rise soon (the market duly lost some of its ardor).<br /><br />If anything, all of this shows the world of business and economics has been changing - and so far, the positive effects outnumber the negatives. In general, history teaches that happy positive cycles such as the above tend to be fragile (and often too good to be true). This one looks robust, but how long it can last, only time will tell. Meanwhile, let us hope that we do all the right things to prolong the boom as long as possible, and cushion the fall when it comes.<br />_______________________________________________________________________________<br />* <span style="font-size:85%;">The China-India buzz has been getting hotter. Business Week ran a cover story on the two countries recently. <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/economicsunbound/archives/2005/08/should_we_like.html">Business Week's Mike Mandel</a> is also addressing the question of how the US should perceive the two countries' ascendant R&amp prowess.</span><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://webquarters.blogspot.com/2005/08/surging-profits-booming-markets.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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An Informed Technology Consumer Be

What is the li...

by kochikvp In reply to The Webquarters

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<span style="font-size:130%;">
<span style="font-size:100%;">An Informed Technology Consumer Be</span>
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<em>What is the link between Information Technology and productivity?</em>
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<br />Information Technology's beneficial effects on business are myriad. It has not only enabled mightily successful businesses such as <a href="http://ebay.com/">ebay</a>, <a href="http://amazon.com/">Amazon</a> and <a href="http://yahoo.com/">Yahoo!</a>, but has allowed us to discover and take advantage of amazing phenomena such as the "<em>Long Tail</em>", first posited by <a href="http://longtail.typepad.com/the_long_tail/2005/08/is_the_tail_mor.html">Chris Andersen</a> of <em>Wired </em>magazine.<br />
<br />However, let's focus on a pointed question: how much, if at all, has information technology (IT) contributed to the productivity of businesses? Productivity is the efficiency with which output is produced by a given set of inputs - so, for example, if the productivity of a bus factory is increasing, it means the factory is able to crank out more buses per worker (or per hour or per dollar). IT's effect on productivity has been a matter of considerable debate, both academic and popular.<br />
<br />Before answering this question, let us ask, <em>What is technology?</em>* The <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology">most general definition </a>is, "<em>the sum total of knowledge, skills, techniques and tools available to humankind</em>". Defined in this way, it is hardly surprising that technology should boost productivity - that is merely another way of saying that better knowledge, skill and so forth improves our ability to squeeze more output from whatever we put in. In fact, this has been true since the stone age (if not earlier)!<br />
<br />Of course, here we are restricting ourselves to Information Technology, which we may define (specializing the above) as, "<em>the application of knowledge, skills, techniques and tools to create, store and use information</em>". By common understanding, IT includes computing, networking and communication technologies. Let's examine some evidence.<br />
<br />A paper by the Research and Market Analysis group of the New York Federal Reserve finds that productivity did increase across US industries during 1995-99** in comparison to the previous 5 years, and while the entire gain in productivity could not be attributed to techology, there was a "robust link" between the two <span style="font-size:85%;"<span style="font-size:78%;">these US Fed folks have a wonderful penchant for using the right word - I am a great admirer of the language they use!</span&gt</span>.<br />
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<em>Business Week</em>'s <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/economicsunbound/archives/2005/08/the_unnoticed_s.html%20too">Michael Mandel </a>sees the unmistakable hand of technology in the strong growth of US multifactor productivity in the last two years. A study by the McKinsey Global Institute is more circumspect, concluding that IT boosts productivity, but only when tailored to an organization's business processes. It also discovers that innovation is a strong driver of productivity growth, and IT boosts productivity to the extent that it enables this innovation. <a href="http://ebusiness.mit.edu/erik/Optimize/pr_roi.html">MIT Sloan School's Professor Erik Brynjolfsson </a>finds that the amount of IT used in a company correlates well with it's overall productivity, and notes an emerging agreement among economists that "IT has been the biggest single factor driving the productivity resurgence, although debate continues about the exact magnitude of its contribution". He cautions that IT helps only when combined with judicious, complementary investments. Christopher Koch of <a href="http://www.cio.com">CIO magazine</a> <a href="http://www.cio.com/blog_view.html?CID=4749">echoes</a> this cautious sentiment.<br />
<br />Taking another tack, outsourcing, which has enabled companies to achieve the same output with fewer inputs (of labor, primarily), is itself strongly facilitated by IT - both because automated business processes are more amenable to being done remotely, and because the outsourcing itself is carried out using networking and communication technologies. Here too, the experience is replete with admonitions to the effect that outsourcing realises its avowed benefits only when done judiciously, with a strategic perspective.<br />
<br />So, the answer to our question is: IT has certainly been a strong (if not the strongest) driver of productivity growth in business. However (and such conclusions usually include a 'however'!), IT really delivers benefits only when integrated well into the organization's business context and processes. As with anything else, it helps to be an informed buyer.<br />
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<span style="font-size:78%;">* In keeping with the "horse sense" tradition, we revisit the basics. </span>
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<span style="font-size:78%;" />
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<span style="font-size:78%;">** Given the amount of data such studies need to ferret out and crunch, detailed analyses of productivity gains tend to come only with a lag of a few years. </span>
</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://webquarters.blogspot.com/2005/09/informed-technology-consumer-be-what.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Apple of our iPods

I am not normally inclined to ...

by kochikvp In reply to The Webquarters

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<span style="font-size:130%;">Apple of our iPods<br />
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<br />I am not normally inclined to write about the achievements of individuals - less so in eulogizing terms, and even less so when they are alive. Neither am I particularly enamoured of the Apple breed of computers or the iPod, having hardly used either.<br />
<br />However, there comes a time when exceptions to general rules must be made, and this is such a time. Beyond a doubt, one of the most amazing - and inspiring - tales in the annals of the technology industry is that of Steve Jobs. Let me hasten to add that I know almost nothing of him as a person - for all I know, he may be cold, aloof and unfriendly (and perhaps he even snores!). However, I do not care about those things - based on the public record of his achievements alone, he is clearly one of the most incredible role models for anyone with more than a passing interest in technology.<br />
<br />Let's count the ways. He pioneered an entire industry (Personal Computers), started a very successful company (Apple), actually managed to get thrown out of the very company he started (surely a feat achieved by the rarest few!), and then started another pioneering company (Pixar). He then proceeded to make a comeback to Apple more than a decade later, battled and defeated cancer, and then refashioned Apple, which many had written off, all over again into a powerhouse of innovation. <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/sep2005/tc2005096_1655_tc210.htm">
<em>Busi</em>
<em>ness Week </em>reports </a>that today, "Apple makes wildly imaginative products with a consistency few companies rival".<br />
<br />My favorite part of this story is of course, the history of how Apple started. Steve Wozniak and Jobs's garage-to-riches story is now the stuff of legend. These guys had, between them, the foresight to realize that there would indeed be a market for low-cost personal computers (virtually unknown at the time), the technical wizardry to create a working PC, and the business acumen to build an industry. Along the way, they pioneered some of the most well-known concepts in personal computing.<br />
<br />A window into his life which is both poignant and revealing is this year's commencement address he gave at Stanford University - <a href="http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html">Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish</a>. Reading the transcript, we realize why getting evicted from the company he founded didn't faze him one bit, as none other than his own mother had rejected him (and even before he was born, to boot!). We see the beginnings of his business acumen, in that he managed to survive with virtually no income after dropping out of college. We note his incredible ability to live the hard life - he used to get one good meal a week, and only by walking 7 miles to the Hare Krishna temple. He even talks about the lessons that getting fired from his own company taught him! His near-death brush with cancer is recounted.<br />
<br />As with many other people who were legends in their lifetime, we see an ability to compress many lifetimes into one.</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://webquarters.blogspot.com/2005/09/apple-of-our-ipods-i-am-not-normally.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Oracle's Strategy: Shrink-SAPped Software?

Oracle...

by kochikvp In reply to The Webquarters

<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
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<span style="font-size:130%;">Oracle's Strategy: Shrink-SAPped Software?</span>
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<br />
<br />
<em>Oracle's acquisition binge sets up a two-horse race in the packaged software business</em>
<br /> <br />As I noted in an earlier <a href="http://webquarters.blogspot.com/2005/08/excitement-in-ether-intriguing.html">post</a>, mergers are happening at a breakneck pace, particularly in the technology space, where the <a href="http://webquarters.blogspot.com/2005/08/surging-profits-booming-markets.html">coffers are overflowing</a>. Oracle's Siebel buyout is the latest big-ticket deal. As with the PeopleSoft buy, this deal marks a home-coming of sorts (both PeopleSoft and Siebel were started by ex-Oracle execs).<br />
<br />With this string of acquisitions, Oracle has emerged as a behemoth in the business, and is increasingly positioned to combat Germany's SAP, the industry leader. This business is thus increasingly turning into a two-horse race (IBM does not play in this space, while Microsoft appears content to be a bit player (although it considered acquiring SAP at one time).<br />
<br />For its part, SAP appears unruffled for now. SAP CEO Henning Kagermann says in <a href="http://businessweek.com">
<em>Business Week</em>
</a> that this as a desperate (and futile) catch-up strategy by Larry Ellison. And he mayhave a point. Oracle has just bought up a complex set of offerings, with conflicting and overlapping features and technologies. It has a big challenge on its hands figuring out how to integrate them, and may not necessarily get them all to work well together. In the meanwhile, unless Oracle provides clarity on what its future porfolio is going to look like (something it hasn't yet done), existing and potential customers are going to be jittery, wondering if what they have bought, or are planning to buy, will be discontinued. Strategically too, Oracle will be preoccupied for a while with its internal integration issues. SAP, on the other hand, has a better chance of being seen as consistent and coherent in its strategy.<br />
<br />Consolidation in the enterprise packaged software business has been driven primarily by - apart from overflowing money bins - the fact that customers are tiring of the "best of breed" (often euphemism for a mongrel!) approach, and expect a single vendor to take full responsibility for their entire IT applications portfolio. Another driver is the big players' hunger for revenue growth. A notable irony is that during the 1990s the packaged enterprise software business (then called ERP), was widely expected to replace custom, or bespoke application development. The acquisitions suggest the opposite - they seem to bear out Peter Drucker's classic observation that acquisitions are a sign of an industry in search of growth.<br />
<br />The IT landscape thus continues to churn, and not just with acquisitions. China is making its presence felt (the IBM - Lenovo deal), and so is India, with its offshore powerhouses. Neither are all the acquisitions blockbusters - there are smaller, less noticed ones too, such as <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/techbeat/archives/2005/09/seagates_mirra.html">Seagate's buyout of Mirra</a>.<br />
<br />There may be a pattern to all the churn. The entire IT industry appears headed towards what <em>
<a href="http://economist.com">The Economist</a>
</em> referred to sometime back as the platform wars. As customers increasingly look for vendors who can take responsibility for the entire IT portfolio, they choose to rally round big players ? interestingly, this seems a bit like a return to the old days of proprietary, closed computing platforms, albeit with a different reason - the need for fewer integration headaches.<br />
<br />In this great end-game, four big industry players - IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP - seem destined to be the stars, with everyone else assigned bit roles. Will it really pan out this way, and who will win?</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://webquarters.blogspot.com/2005/09/oracles-strategy-shrink-sapped.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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