Archive for the ‘The Global Business of Technology’ Category

18
Feb

Europe is suffering a big crisis and also Europe has been losing competitiveness with respect to other regions. This is worst in business sectors like in high-tech industries and technology. European companies are also falling in order to be more productive and efficient in managing its business processes and information and providing innovative products and services.
Nowadays, Everyone agrees that technologies play an important role in all these aspects. However most of the Top European Business schools don’t include as a core of their MBA technology management! Theoretically, a MBA program should provide knowledge and skills to allow business managers to run a business. But most of the European top business schools MBA core skills focus in accounting, finance or marketing. And with all this effort, European economy is doing badly…

Is the core of the MBA program really preparing Business managers to run a business? According to the definition of business, “A business (also known as enterprise or firm) is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers”. So it seems that a business is not only about accounting,finance and marketing….Most of the Top European business schools use teaching cases related to companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon or Apple to talk about these companies mainly in terms of strategy or marketing, can we really discuss the business strategy of these companies without understanding the changes in information society and technology evolution? I doubt it.

Strangely, most of the Top European Business schools don’t include a course related to technology/information management or how to educate business managers in leading technology management to improve their businesses, foster business process improvement, e-commerce, business integration, information quality, customer experience, business synergies, innovation and competitiveness. Most Business managers and companies invest huge amounts of money in ERP systems, CRM, or business intelligence applications and they don’t have a clue about them.
Understanding technology management is more than showing that Youtube or Facebook can be useful for your marketing campaigns or that Apple is earning a Fortune, or studying Facebook market valuation without understanding the world of social media and social networks.

22
Sep

The fifth power and us

Written on September 22, 2011 by Marta Domínguez in The Global Business of Technology

These days every country in Europe is dreaming – despite the depressing winds of economy – of becoming a digital country in a digital Europe, i.e. to bring the digital transformation to all citizen lives and businesses.

In this shared aim smartphones and tablets are playing a central role. Its impact to the Internet and digital industries is such that Telefonica CEO Julio Linares has dubbed it The Fifth Power. It was at a recent annual gathering with the big heads of the industry hold in the north of Spain. The question is how does that affect us customers and what can we expect from the companies that sell smartphones and tablets to us?

Facts are impressive. Compared to the pale six minutes of average usage a day of simple mobile phones, smartphones and tablets yield a much higher usage (on average per day): smartphones are used 90 minutes whilst tablets get it up three hours a day. Smartphones and tablets have become a second brain to customers since they are the place that store all that is needed in our personal and social life as well as professionally.

Given that, it seems still futile that customers have to choose between a personal and a corporate device.

The tilting balance as for what falls into the personal and corporate plates has been adapting over a few years now. Rim in Motion pioneered the strategy of ‘bring your corporate mobile home’ that become so popular for blackberry and then also taking direct steps into pushing it to the young through its free messaging service Whatsapp.

Now, other firms including Apple are pushing the reverse: ‘bring your own devices to the office’. If what is reported by Good Technology – a leading provider that sells to the Fortune 500 – can be just but a significant sample, there are tangible signs that tablets/iPads are making it into the corporate accounts. According to the firm 27% of sold devices in Q2 were tablets and 95 % of those were iPads.

This means that corporate and personal segments do not longer differentiate in the type of device because smartphones and tablets/iPads are in a sense uni-segment (suitable any customer segment).

The big difference is now in the software that determines the features and content in one or another device.

Take this interesting trend on the matter. IT investment by corporations is not longer an act of buying new corporate devices. Instead new devices are taken as IT for doing the job – At last! That is, including devices and their own operation systems (either Apple/IOS or Google/Android) as substitutes to traditional PCs that are able to perform the features – usually two or three – that provide the required good performances of any employee.

The bottom line here is that we (customers) will peel the same fruit at home and in the work place. But the inner side will taste strongly of different apps.

14
Jul

Getting old

Written on July 14, 2011 by Marta Domínguez in The Global Business of Technology

This week I heard some big heads from the IT industry worry about two “-ism” tendencies: consumerism and commoditization. Nothing but the result of cheap and broadly available services and technologies that we all know. This ia a change of guard that every company in any industry must be prepared for. For example to change their businss models, adopt a new technology…

But to technology firms it indeed looks worst because of the urgency sentiment that steams from it. Go and ask Microsoft, Dell or HP what they think of the blurr way that the (old) PC-based industry looks like today with their margins squeezing down because of much cheaper Asian competitors.

As Seth Godin puts it there is a point when organizations and people start talking about themselves like they’re old. It never happens at the same time for everyone -contrary to what so many companies may believe.

I doubt they all know the answer to this (apparently) simple question: When did we get old?

If you´re a technology or IT company odds are that you should get oldy before your counterparts in government, FMCG, banking, and professional services do.

The problem is when you are fully ignorant about your ageing till your customers tell you. Sure SAP is regretting being displaced by ‘young’ salesforce.com in the enterprise software arena as much as Nokia is scourging herself for letting others into the smartphone poddium.

26
May

What happens when French President plans preliminary sessions on Internet economy prior to an economic G8 Summit can be best described with two images. In the first picture you can see a world map where the reactions of people as number of tweets have been marked. The redder your country appears in the graph the hottest the reactions from the citizenship.

Capture: www.synthesio.com

Let´s take one of the hottest tweets to introduce the second of the images. After reading a tweet: “Innovation round table with a professor, a minister (Besson)… and 4 billionaires” Eric Besson, France’s Minister for Industry, Energy and Digital Economy said: “Is the game to find which one doesn’t belong?”.

One of those billionaires was Mark Zuckerberg who dressed on a jacket and jeans to meet President Sarkozy and host to the G8. And apparently the answer to the game is that politics and the internet big heads belong together. Especially after political changes in Egypt and Tunisia as a consequence of the advent of social demonstrations that were quickly ignited through the use of social networks and other web pages.

Photo: www.g8-g20.com

It’s sad to hear how the message was polarized with regards to the implications of Internet in the global economy. Politicians think Internet as a new territory that must be conquered. And the big guys of Internet are scared of the consequences of legislation – you can check the most popular bits of their speeches in this infographic. As Google boss Eric Schmidt put it: “Technology will move faster than governments, so don’t legislate before you understand the consequences”.

US journalist professional Jeff Jarvis represented the side of the activists that want a free Internet. And Sean Parker, Managing Partner Founders Fund played the argument of innovation and said: “True entrepreneurs think there is something wrong in the world and want to fix it”.

Should states legislate to protect industries with companies that have been complacent with each other whilst reaping off the margins in mutual agreement for years? That would not get my signature on. Incumbent companies in media and telecom industries must look for changes elsewhere within their own businesses.

But I concede a different treatment to the discussions about IP. I heard that Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig a specialist in copyright was also an invitee to the eG8 forum. In a country where the French Hadopi censorship has achieved what it seems poor results it makes sheer sense to build a sound debate about what does help and what doen´t in building a future around IP protection.

23
Mar

What was it about convergence?

Written on March 23, 2011 by Marta Domínguez in The Global Business of Technology

So much that we heard about choice of consumption of content regardless of the device and platforms in 2005 and following years, what has eventually been the benefit of it all? Don´t know? What did convergence meant in the first place?

Well, let´s do a quick recall. The promise of truly converge was to add value to traditional revenue streams. In any of these ways:

  • Choice of devices and personal screens. Ie. for TV watching, gaming, connecting, etc.
  • Pipes that support ever growing bandwidth services
  • Platforms that connect different devices. i.e. for entertainment, home security and monitoring.
  • TV on-demand viewing experiences in the living room where customers can navigate the content.

At Olswang they´ve been tracking the trends in technology, media and telecoms by analysing the effects in executives and consumers. Their last 2011 report provides interesting food for thought. My key headlines are these:

  • “All you can eat” service of digital music with no clear future for the music industry.
  • Digital publishing of books and news enthused by the opportunities of tablet devices (the iPad in particular).
  • Games accessible to more casual gamers through digital social networks and smartphones.

However, most consumers still prefer watching linear TV as opposed to video-on-demand (premium). And the war for personal screens as single or companion for content consumption is still in its infancy.

In summary, not much of adding up to traditional business. Or perhaps, it´s just to early to draw conclusions.

Digital Devices Convergence Report 2011//

11
Feb

To succeed in the content business you need a set of powerful platforms and websites that distillates its ‘own mojo’ outside the crass commercial imperatives. This explains the success of high profile blogging sites such as TechCrunch and news and opinions websites such as Huffington Post. The role of the personality of the leader and a distinctive culture are the most important ingredients of such websites.

TechCrunch has built its distinctiveness around the image of Michael Arrington and his exclusives about first-of-the-class start-ups. Arianna Huffington and her politicking –in the liberal wing- have attracted to her Huffington Post a network of high-profile 6.000 bloggers who post their journalism pieces for no money and feel rewarded by a sort of brand association.

When a big on-line company but weak competitor like US media business AOL shakes the media market with the buyout of TechCrunch  in November 2010 and Huffington Post this very week of February of 2011, one can not but wonder what is really that they are valuing for the price tag, a powerful platform or a powerful culture?  The buyout of Huffington Post by AOL for $315m is especially interesting as the venture initiated by Arianna Huffington is one of the favourite examples in the future of journalism and content in the Internet 2.0 era.

For a content business like AOL the priority is to produce content with scale that is besides commercial. That is very much platform-centred. The problem of this is that their ‘mojo’ seems to be missing. In fact it has been missing for a long time. And the story of AOL in pursuit of it is a dramatic and soaring one: web browser Netscape in the early 2000´s, Time Warner news channels and magazines (finally sold in 2009), and vibrant social network Bebo (also sold in 2010 after two years).

On the upside of AOL is their current CEO Tim Armstrong who joined the company from Google being himself a piece of vibrant culture to the out-of-date corporation of the firm. The problem is that unless platforms, cultures are far more difficult to integrate.

Often the commercial interests rule…

16
Dec

Clouds, shoulders and Wikileaks

Written on December 16, 2010 by Marta Domínguez in The Global Business of Technology

Wikileaks case has proved that Internet is instrumental to run a business wherever your boss is (country, office or jail). A fast internet connection to keep their business, that of making information from the governments public to selected journalists, is sufficient. This is because the internet website is on the big shoulders of a group of interconnected servers, a diffuse concept which is being dubbed “the cloud”. Events and prosecution of Wikileaks CEO Assange by Swedish courts on a charge non-related to his enterprise endeavour did have an effect on the well functioning of Wikileaks when on December 1 Amazon turned the servers hosting Wikileaks material off their cloud (following a previous time of ongoing threats against major sites by pro-Wikileak activists)

Most companies and enterprises are not Wikileaks and then should be pretty safe that their correspondent clouds are doing their job safely and efficiently no matter what. Or should they worry?

Strikingly IT professionals seem to be unsure of all cloud services that their firms have. That is, if a crisis breaks they will be in hard trouble to put up together a plan about which services are affected and, most importantly, what the impact is in customer care, production of services, distribution, human operation or, even, employee daily activities.

Larger companies Amazon, Google or IBM, have made of security of data and availability high standards so that many firms in different sectors not necessarily technological can trust the piece of cloud they use from them. But it is the same in every part of the world? Are companies to expect the same level of service in other geographies outside US and Europe? When should multiple cloud protection be required?

The problem with this is sometimes the nebulose of the cloud may just hind other issues in the operation of that companies. For example which are the shoulders a business sits on.

10
Nov

Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2011
Cloud Computing
Mobile Applications and Media Tablets
Next Generation Analytics
Social Analytics
Social Communications and Collaboration
Video
Context-Aware Computing
Ubiquitous Computing
Storage Class Memory
Fabric-Based Infrastructure and Computers

Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2010
Cloud computing
Advanced analytics
Client computing
Green IT
CPD redesign
Social computing
Security
Flash Memory
Virtualization
Mobile applications

Gartner has listed the top 10 strategic technologies for 2011. This list changes significantly the previous projection for 2010 as shown on Computer.es. Four of the ten technologies that appeared in 2010`s list have been dropped, and replaced by another four which are new to the list. The remaining six have seen modifications and do not even appear with the name and definition of previous year.

Setting forecasts on the industry trends looks like a rapid contest chart. So, how should companies use this list?

Gartner gave some clues during its press release.

“Companies should factor these top 10 technologies in their strategic planning process by asking key questions and making deliberate decisions about them during the next two years,” says David Cearley, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
“Sometimes the decision will be to do nothing with a particular technology,” says Carl Claunch, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “In other cases, it will be to continue investing in the technology at the current rate. In still other cases, the decision may be to test or more aggressively deploy the technology.”
Whilst this is all right, the main problem is companies may yet feel this as a technology race. Just another element that adds to their business pressures!  Of course, companies will have to decide to do nothing with a number of technologies. But the starting point for a company should be identifying its opportunities in market trends instead of ticking off this or that technology from a top 10 list.

29
Sep

Will the new winds breathe life into Nokia?

Written on September 29, 2010 by Marta Domínguez in The Global Business of Technology

It´s certainly weird that a company which has a thousand million customers around the world would encounter problems driving demand in its business market. But this is case with Nokia mobile phones. One out of three mobile phones in the hands of people is Nokia, and there are roughly 3,000 million worldwide. Now there are also 93 million of iPhones and an important (haven´t found a total yet) number of Android phones.

A succinct summary of the problem is that these, let´s say small, competitors are setting up the pace in the mobile phone business (at least in theory). In two ways: iPhone is by large the phone most people would love to have, although not everyone is eager to purchase it (usually at a higher price in the shelves). And second, It´s Android that owns the top 10 selling list.

And so analysts have had Nokia in the eye for a radical change with regards to its strategy. New appointed CEO Stephen Elop will have to sail Nokia´s ship in such challenging seas. He comes with a background in software as Microsoft Business Director that will be highly valuable. For a start, he should have to decide whether to continue investing in the existing two-fold approach of operating systems on Nokia devices, Symbian and MeeGo.

For me, there is a most critical issue to resolve. How to breathe life and grow an established brand? Elop´s predecessor stayed for 30 years in which he lived a stream of innovations and changes to the industry and eventually put Nokia as the biggest handset maker. Now Morgan Stanley predicts that more users will access Internet from mobile than PC´s in 5 years. It tells of a glossy future for phone makers, software providers and the whole mobile industry. My guess is that perhaps Nokia new customers are no longer in western world, but in growing countries such as India and China. So this “old” handset maker has still room to re-invent a new Nokia, with a lower focus on design and a grower reach to services and utilities.

6
Jul

I was talking to Russel E. Perry, CEO of 123people, a successful Austrian-based start-up firm in the online people search market, about several topics: the advertising model, Internet and social network markets and technology as an asset. 123people has gone a long way in its short life. What is perhaps more impressive is this: they are making money out of searches and advertising. The business pitch of this company is that the emergence of social networks have made one out of three online searches people based. This is a video that explains their product. This is good for a starting point but when most of social networks are struggling to talk revenues, it makes sense to me to learn a bit about the how-to.

“Our competitors in the US raised more than 10mln USD in total, but could not prove the business case yet. The business there is strongly driven by ideas and Venture Capital. At this other side of the Atlantic, people and a strong business case are what matters”, Russell told me. He gave the example of 123people and how they reached positive cash flow in six months after foundation in 2008. Though the firm is offering it’s service in  US and Canada, it´s Europe where they´re making their bigger footprint. According to Russell, more than 40 million unique visitors use their page per month. This figure aggregates the statistics of its 12 local markets across Europe where 123people is present (Poland was the last market they´ve added).

The initial funding was led by Austrian VC Gamma Capital Partners under the hospice of the business incubator i5Invest.

An interesting fact about the growth of 123people is the focus on the local markets. To Russell, “technology (like our search engine) provides the instant outreach to internationalization”, but “our company reflects the markets and to us that means thinking of product and services”.

Russell is also very much focused on the audience. I´ve being hearing too many arguments on how valuable social networks are (and still see little money) that Russell explained how they see it. First, they attract people outside the teen-sites. Most of their users are over 20 years old, have high education and income and a strong online purchasing affinity. Secondly, they work with global, but also local partners on innovative display advertising.

I believe this firm has something in common with Yahoo who have motioned to a growth by local flavours in the last years. Although, the Yahoo story has its ups and downs. At least for 123people the outcome has been very positive. Last March 2010 the French Yellow Pages, PagesJaunes, made their acquisition. Being part of an established corporation will give Russell and their team financial muscle so that they can continue focusing on their plans for growth. Where is the pressure on now? Russell told me about the new rollouts of new features for their search engine and the extension of their freemium services for partners. I have the impression the advertising model is far from dead to them.

Finally I went on to talk on the privacy issue. I was surprised to hear 123people understands how the privacy issue is important for the whole internet industry. He told me other companies in the people search market use profiles, but they work with information which is already available through other networks. Not to mislead users is important especially when more of that information is being made public.

So, this is just the first episode for search technology as it will get more personalised and accurate in the future. We all have to be prepared for the new reality where control and managing our digital footprint will be key.