Friday, January 21, 2011

What might Google 3.0 look like?

Google announced yesterday that they would be making some changes to their executive team and I covered one angle on that here. Even more interesting than the pace of change over the last 10 years is what Google 3.0 might look like. I wrote my MBA Strategy thesis on a future Google business model, but that was two years ago and it seems woefully out of date now. Looking back on it now, it was very focused on moving into new ways to collect information (mobile, social, etc.), enhancing the core advertising business.

If I look at where Google is now, and why they might been considering some leadership changes, a few things jump out at me.
  1. Back in 2000, the way that Google changed search on the Internet was incredible. It was as if they opened a completely new (and large and fast) door to the world of information. But over time, we've become accustomed to that information always being available to us. Information is now expected. It's still a cash cow, but it's no longer a "wow" factor. [Bring Sexy Back]
  2. The Internet is exploding into a social medium. And while there are tons of engineers figuring out new algorithms for unlocking information from social interactions, "social" is an unpredictable area. Who knew that we'd love to send 140 characters, or tell the world that we're checking into the gas station, or buy virtual farmland. Predicting the social internet is like predicting the next fashion craze for 13-14yr old teenage girls. It doesn't always make sense, it's not predictable. And Google is all about data and things making sense. They believe they can predict your next search and potentially the future. There is a disconnect here. [OK Fine, You're a Valley Girl]
  3. After the Internet bubble burst, Google became the "Internet IPO market" for many start-ups. But other than YouTube and Android, they generally didn't treat those acquisition very well. So not only did they develop a reputation as a less desirable end-state for start-ups, but they increased the competitiveness of other funding sources (secondary markets, VC funding, etc..). [Another One Bites the Dust]
  4. As we've seen with examples like NetFlix's use of Amazon AWS, the cost to get large-scale new services out the door is significantly less than it was in the past. This means that start-ups don't necessarily need Google's scale to reach a mass audience, so they aren't as willing to sell out to the Googleplex. [Start Me Up]
So how might they address some of these issues and find new areas of business and revenues? Here's a few thoughts:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Apps Stores coming to your Enterprise - "iTunes IT" - Part II

Following up on my initial post, it seems that one of the areas that resonated with readers was the idea of "app store" like functionality coming to their businesses, internally. In doing some more research, it appears that this concept is already starting to gain some traction from very large players in the market, such as - Restricted Enterprise App Store (Apple patent via FastCompany), VMware Project Horizon, and Citrix OpenAccess

Now by no means is this is a new idea, as other have written about it and companies like Google and have been delivering this concept via SaaS offerings for a couple years. But businesses are often slow to adopt change, so seeing major vendors adopting a model that is closer to Enterprises (and mid-market), giving them a greater level of control of certain elements, is a step in the right direction to affect this type of change. It allows end-users and lines-of-business to leverage new services (internal or external), while continuing to allow a level of control/trust/security for the IT organization.

This brings up some interesting questions for makers of Enterprise software.
  • Who is your customer now and over the next few years if this trend gains traction? 
  • Do you know how to target the end-users and ISVs that will be the consumers and suppliers of these Enterprise App Stores?
  • Are you learning anything from consumer marketing or social media to better target or influence you future customers?
  • Are you ready for communities of user-feedback to potentially have greater influence over future sales than licensing lock-in?
  • Are you continuing to shift your user-experience to work seamlessly with the new types of devices that expect to gain productivity via Enterprise App Stores?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Do'ers vs. Did'ers

Following up on my post about Cloud's impact on tech jobs, I had some people ask me what areas might be good for learning new skills or new technologies. Despite my crude attempt at predictions, I don't fancy myself as a prognosticator and try to avoid forecasting the future. Instead, I've started giving a slightly different brand of advice. It goes something like this...

"Start following the do'ers instead of the did'ers"

It's a fairly simple concept...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Is iTunes the next generation of the IT Department?

In business school we spent a good bit of time talking about corporate strategy and looking at where disruptive competition might come from. The simple thing to do is look at existing competitors or a start-up within the industry. But the real challenge is to consider that the next big competition might come from a completely different industry. A classic example is to look at the airline industry and consider how collaborations tools (Skype, WebEx, Cisco Telepresence) have allowed businesses to consider alternative ways to hold meetings and client interactions.

A recent post by Chuck Hollis got me thinking about competition for IT departments. My response was partially inspired by a tweet from Twitter/Square founder @jack, where he mentioned that he now does about 90% of is daily work activities on his iPad. It got me thinking about how little I expect from my IT department on a daily basis, beyond basic network connectivity. So I stated doing some math and came up with a number of ~ $150/month in costs for my expectations of the "perfect IT environment" for me.

Is your IT Department serving too many meals?

One of my favorite ways to get insight into sports analysis is via ESPN's "The B.S. Report" podcast. This week's episode (around the 8:00 minute mark) featured a great analogy by Mike Lombardi where he talks about how great restaurants only serve a few meals (or types of food), while average ones attempt to serve a little bit of everything.

It got me thinking about the evolution that we're seeing within Data Centers. Not only are some of the forward-looking companies trying to consolidate the number of systems they have to manage, but their people are starting to consider if they need to evolve their skills. It's an interesting dilemma in that a reduction in the number or complexity of the systems should reduce costs. But will the expanded skill sets of people drive greater efficiency (less silos to make decisions or coordinate actions) or more mediocre implementations? Will the system consolidation happen faster than the skill-set expansion, or cross-pollination?