The mental step change we need to occur

I had a conversation yesterday with our CIO function about collaboration tools. It was an epiphany to him, and a stark reminder of the step change in thinking that many companies need to go through if Cloud computing services are to become more widely adopted.

 Here is a bit an abbreviated overview of the converstation.

Me: "my team want some collaboration tools"

Him: "Not going to happen, you don't have any CAPX"

Me: " I don't need any, i'll be putting it on my credit card"

him:"who the hell is going to sign off that, thats breaking DFA rules..yada yada"

Me: " errr [name] these options are cloud services, we're talking $5 per user per month"

Him: " stunned silence"

Therein lies the rub. My employer is in the cloud computing game, we offer them to our clients!!!. But we still haven't fully appreciated the disruptive impact this change is going to have on our own consumption, let alone our clients.

I was  reminded of a throwaway line my peer got from the last Interop converence… "in cloud computing, we are 2 minutes into the 1st quarter of the game"…. we've got a really long way to go 

 

technology must complement human behaviour

I like reading Bob Warfield’s smoothspan blog, some of his postings really get my neuron’s firing, today’s more than most. Paraphrasing, Bob was talks about how good search (and recommendation) technology was overcoming the strength of brands. In itself quite insightful, but to me the more interesting theme was human behavioural elements outlined in the post.

It got me thinking. With all the advances and uses of technology we see today, are the only successful ones those that complement existing human traits. In Bob’s post the he mentions two.

First, the traditional behaviour of his kids was to go to brand restaurants. They did this because they knew what they were getting (what the brand stands for), and they got a some brand transference (what they thought they got from being seen in those places).

In the second example, Bob talks about Yelp and its rating engine. I would hazard a guess (and only Bob can answer this) but search, even with the geo-awareness, would have been meaningless without the rating feature. Why? Well the majority (not all) of people don’t like being first…it’s a security thing. In general the unknown unnerves us. Luckily some people are natural first movers, and the rest of us (the thundering herd) need them to show us its safe. I see Yelp as a technology that complements (actually addresses an issue with) human behaviour.  Its kind of surreal in a way. Basically some people you don’t know, have been down this path before and taken the time to do a rating, and that is good enough.

(As an aside, Imagine a system where people you did know and trust did this. How powerful would that be? Interesting.  )

Other examples, mobile phones. Sounds weird, but the change from fixed to mobile telephony was at one point in time, an epiphany. Suddenly folks could call you, no matter where you were…. and we liked that.

Cisco Telepresence is another. Because the experience is so realistic, you get all the nuisance of conversation that is so innately human that it renders travel obsolete. And in this context, getting up early, queuing to check in, herding through security and then being penned in a vehicle for hours on end without moving around….isn’t naturally human.

Instant messenger, was next on my list but that is incorrect. Presence based communication is. Apparently humans like to know that the person they are communicating with is… well there.

SMS is different, I think it fills two requirements. If fills a gap that voicemail doesn’t address.  You open a message and you get the content. Most vmail solutions just tell you you have a vmail, and then you have to do something else  to get the message!  SMS also allows for clandestine type communications, your phone becomes a substitute for other tools of communications… like email and IM.

Unfortunately there are some flaws with this thought. In fact IT is littered with them. The fact that I’m typing right now is a dramatic case in point.  In my life I’ve learned to communicate in three ways… I learned to speak, then write, then type. The absurdity of that is boggling. Speech recognition surely isn’t that difficult? Using writing to text conversion isn't a brilliant system yet either and its the second best alternative! The process of adding a Contact  in outlook is farcical. Why should I have too? You telling me this can’t somehow be automated?

Therein lies the rub. We normalise these absurdities, become desensitised to it everyday.  

So, this post finishes then with a challenge and a hypothesis. Look at the technology you use everyday, if it isn’t human centric, why are you using it ( if you are reading this you are human). I would also suggest to you that making this process or the application of the technology more human centric is an opportunity. We tend to pay for things that we deem valuable.

 

 

Is attitude more important than technology?

I’ve been thinking for quite some time about what you have to do to be successful in cloud computing and SaaS. The more I think about it, the more I think that the attitude of the company is this defining characteristic.

The technology, while no small feat to get right, just seems inconsequential when compared to the attitude of a company.

The attitude defines how the company behaves, it gives it focus and unity. It gives clarity about what that company will and won’t do, and how it does it.

I personally think that the {mosimage} logo Salesforce.com used defined SaaS, especially as they strived to make the market. By taking on the entrenched software model they gave their staff a clarity of vision the majority of vendors lack, their sales channels knew who and what they were selling against, their clients knew what they were offering.

{mosimage} ProWorkFlow,   while also being SaaS, are different. The small amount of dealings I’ve had with them struck me by their clarity of purpose. They are proud of their lean model, they were crystalline about their direction and what they would and would not do technically. 

When you compare this to the clumsy attempts of Microsoft, Google or SAP you have to wonder what is holding them back. It’s not for want of clever people, or money, or mindshare. 

I believe its their attitude, they're either trying to do this ‘cloud stuff’ on the side, or their hearts aren’t really in it.  

Thoughts?

A cup of coffee

That's the price of entry to business consultancy, that's how my network operates.

 

I'm not fond of formal business networking, I detest sycophants, I kind of do business on my own terms. Because of this I don't have hundreds of folks in my network, more a small number of trusted advisers. 

I form strong working relationships with people over time. I subconsciously choose these people, and I seem to do this based on their intellect, integrity and knowledge.

To these folks i'm always willing to help, forward a request of do what ever I can to get things done.   Doing things this way i've built some great relationships, beyond just work too.

Interestingly enough, working this way, these folks love to reciprocate. The cost, a cup of coffee.

In the last week I've got A grade consultancy on web design, sales remuneration and collaboration tools. Total cost $9.00 NZ.

Riddle that through the next time you sign off a cheque for some advice…

 

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