Thursday, October 05, 2006
As I talk to people working in and around the Enterprise 2.0 space, I am struck by how "the more things change, the more they stay the same." The collaboration aspects of E2.0 are getting a lot of play - basically, wikis and blogs being used to let people communicate better within the organization. While I do not belittle these new technologies and the possibilities they offer, business was, is, and will always be about providing a product or service to customers with the "best" price/value. Providing that product or service in the most efficient way possible has always been a challenge. With the increasing deluge of information that people have to deal with (customers, suppliers, inventory, service records, etc.), this is becoming more and more complicated, particulary with the shift towards information-intensive service industries. It seems to me that the real challenge of Enterprise 2.0 is providing a user experience to employees and clients that makes them more efficient in their jobs, not only more efficient at communicating with their peers.
In my opinion, one of the people who gets "it," is Bill Raduchel, former CTO for AOL/Time Warner and CIO at Sun, who recently spoke at the Longworth Ventures Annual Conference. According to Innovation Creators , Raduchel identified "navigation" (and not "collaboration") as the killer app for Enterprise 2.0. If that means connecting knowledge workers with the information they need to do their jobs, then I think Raduchel is on to something. More on this later.
In continuation of my saga to find the appropriate graphic design firm, I contacted another few local agencies. Two firms declined my corporate concept design (and associated materials) project because it was not broad enough and they are being "very selective in the projects they take on these days." Another was willing to schedule a meeting several weeks out, but couldn't be bothered to trek out to our corporate offices (about 15 miles away).
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Halleluya! The bubble is back. Need proof? Take a look at Dogster (www.dogster.com). The company recently raised $1M in VC money. Dogster, for those who haven't seen it, is a social networking site for dogs. The banner reads, "Where every dog has a webpage." Why, do you ask would a dog need a webpage? I dunno, maybe to download cool doggie widgets? Collaborate on a bark-a-thon with their peers? Build a grass-roots movement to outlaw leashes not made from biodegradeable material? If there is any clear sign that the insanity of the late nineties is coming back, this has got to be it. All we need is the sock puppet and you can hang out the ol' shingle.
This morning I spoke with a graphic designer in order to set up a meeting to discuss a project I am starting. Almost the first words out of his mouth were, "How much are you willing to pay?" He doesn't want to waste his time with potential clients who aren't going to fork over the big pesos to pay for his valuable services. A bunch of years ago, a PR agency returned my call with voice mail message telling me that if I didn't have brand name investors, a hot market, and well-known founders, I shouldn't bother calling them back… As Yogi Berra said, "It's de ja vu all over again."
Other signs of the times…
- PR pricing seems to be following oil prices. There has been a stead rise in monthly retainers since last year. Every few months, the "PR pump price" goes up a few notches.
- Local restaurants (in high tech areas) are reducing the distance they are willing to deliver lunches. Two years ago, they would have delivered to Alaska if someone was willing to order. Today, if I am across the street, "you can come over and get it yourself."
- Job candidates are becoming increasingly brazen. It isn't 1999, but it is getting close. Back then, I had a college student demand to see the company business plan during an interview. Another candidate told me he was limited his search to a 5 mile radius, because "he couldn't be bothered."
Don't get me wrong; I am not complaining. This sure beats the depressing market of the last several years. I am just curious whether we learned anything from the last bubble. Many companies that solved real business problems were able to survive the last crash. Most that sold "buzz" did not. There seems to be a lot of "buzz" out there again.
If you are experiencing the same absurdities, feel free to chime in.