Monday, October 5, 2009

Testing Google Wave

Google wave is one of the top innovations of 2009.
I have been organizing Google wave meetup from June , 09 and have been witnessing it's amazing growth. If you are interested in building wave applications and like to watch some exclusive google wave development/demos check out the meetup website.

Y'day I was playing with jWave ( JQuery plugin) to embed some test wave in my Blog. Not yet successful, will attempt it again.
However , I could develop my first Wave Robot at the Hands on workshop -

Thanks to Lawrence Wong and to Solomon Wu , who helped me out.

Could deploy the Robot to Google App Engine and make it running.
It is good that App Engine is ready for J2EE apps. Python would have been a pain.
Looking forward to PHP support as well.

I saw Google wave demos on Healthcare apps and on Wiki improvements which are good Use cases.

A very interesting article on how enterprises like SAP , Salesforce are building
Google wave apps . Check out here

Excerpt below on SAP's Google Wave Business Process Modelling Tool.

"Alex, Kathrin Fleischmann (SAP Research) and Soeren Balko (SAP NetWeaver BPM development) built a demo that highlights the power of the Google Wave platform to make complex tools live and collaborative. In the video, many team members collaborate in real time to build a model. Each piece of the model is colored based on the person that added it. The team discusses the model. Someone adds another participant midway through the development. That person uses playback to catch up on what they missed. And there is even a robot that checks and fixes semantic errors. In the end, a manager checks the work on her iPhone."

More common Use Cases:
-Ribbit's gadget for telephone conferences.
-Lonely Planet's trip planning tool.

Excited to explore more Usecases and applications for GoogleWave.
As a Product Manager, I am inclined to explore the possibility of using Google Wave
as a good collaboration tool and maybe build a Wave server with neat XMPP services for small enterprises.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Will HTML 5 Break Apple’s Stranglehold on Apps?

GigaOm's article on HTML 5 being a threat to Apple apps.

"But HTML 5, the next big standard for the web, will dramatically reduce this (apple's)control by creating a new generation of web sites that look and feel like they’re iPhone apps."

I cannot agree with this view. It seems to be a poor researched stuff and jumping to early conclusions.

Just realize that , out of the 2 main HTML 5 editors, one is from Apple and the man is David Hyatt.Check out.

David had made significant contributions to safari, webkit and co-created firefox as per wikipedia. If HTML5 expert is from Apple , will Apple's offerings be lagging ?

Usually standards/specifications progress is slow with different vendors having different view points. Example is the web services specification being battled still by IBM, MS, SAP,Oracle(earlier sun, bea were in the game ).

Apple will ensure that it’s technology or rather it’s offering is delivered through a good ecosystem and will be miles ahead of a pure technical progress such as HTML5.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Top 4 lessons from Solar Products @ Solarcity

Interesting points from Ben Tarbell, Director of Products, Solarcity, at Silicon Valley Product Management Association .

A quick and dirty post in 15 mins due to a commitment of 'Blog it, while it's hot'. Iterate and improve later.

Have a virtual portfolio of Solar stocks and all are down by 75 % , the Chinese companies had created massive production capacities and overestimated the demand for '08 to '10.
So on a personal level , it was interesting to check if this Solar market will be back, does it make sense to invest in them and as how these solar products are marketed and developed.

SolarCity 's core Offering is a turnkey Solar Power system.

Key points culled and summarized by Tags.

1 - Get a buy-in
Community based Programs to educate customers and government about a new product/technology concept.
( Tags - New prod development, customer education, influencing key decision makers)

2 - Innovate in extended User engagement
Innovative financial options to customers by introducing Solarlease to reduce ownership cost and to move the risk to the company. Solarcity formed a new financial structure or organization to fund this. Side effect was to create a Lease calculator to demonstrate energy savings.

( Tags - Low Barrier for customer, Going full speed to setup the echo system, Minimised risk for customer and created a win-win, copied by competitors, financial demo, understanding user's decision making process and helping him )

3 - Create Systems and track Metrics to deliver benefits.

Launched SolarGuard™, a graphical, Web-based energy monitoring system ,Monitoring is done through a wiressplatform.

( Tags - Efficient Monitoring system to help customers with enbergy savings, to track metrics and to optimize distribution and performance, provide proactive customer support, wireless is a smart leverage of tech, great dashboard not only for admin but for end user)

4- Identify the customer's cost components and Go beyond your own product's benefits.
Reducing ownership cost is a mantra and is a cliche by marketers without diving deep into the
cost components incurred by customer.
Solarcity suggests users to go for a mix of both conventional utility and solar so that the customer can be in lower tier and incur lower rates .

( tags : honest about product's offerings in reducing TCO and building a solution with other complimentary products)

Ben's experience in reputed product design firm IDEO is certainly reflected in these innovative solutions and ideas. But as he acknowledged too, Solarcity's competitors are catching up and moving ahead with social media . It would be interesting to see the next moves by this company.

Friday, June 5, 2009 on My Yahoo - Go Mint !! on My Yahoo..
This is one of those events , which wakes me up and inspires me to write a blog.

I have been using for some time as a user and also tracking it as a Product Manager.
As a user , I find it awesome . Fell in love with it's aggregation and budgeting features 1 year ago.
Bank of America and Wells Fargo had these features ( thanks to Yodlee's aggregation engine) , but the usability and the promotions were lacking .
I was introduced to Mint by founder Aaron Patzer's at a SVPMA, Silicon Valley Product Management meeting.

As a Product Manager , I find that these folks define and redefine the concepts of elegance and usability. Can't stop admiring the light weight , non-invasive and the guided features. It' application's improvements are a steady stream of tutorials for any Product Manager. It's exponentially growing user base and growing repeat usage are testimonies of Mint's excellent idea generation and flawless execution. on My Yahoo

It's a delight to know that is now available on My Yahoo. More users can benefit in this recession by tracking expenses on all credit/debit/trading/retirement accounts and by increasing the savings with mint's budgeting and spending analysis tools.

My Yahoo deal is another great accomplishment by Mint folks and I must say, a smart move by Yahoo. It seems Yahoo is at last making the right moves and trying out new stuff !!

So here is my visual appreciation and cheering for

Mint on Yahoo Finance .. why not ?

It would be more better for Mint and Yahoo if Mint's application is made available on Yahoo Finance or integrated in some manner.
Be visible at right place, right time.

Not many use My Yahoo , I am a google addict , but cannot live without Yahoo Finance. As Techcrunch captured it right "Google Finance, still can't touch Yahoo Finance after 3 years"

Mint's recommendations feature - a lot to improve still !!

Aaron mentioned about forthcoming datawarehousing and analytical tools that will yield amazing benefits to end users by providing smart recommendations on cost savings.

It seems the datawarehouse engine is still being used for their internal analysis .
I am yet to experience an 'aha' kind of engagement while checking the recommendation features of cost savings . In fact, I even stopped looking at the recommendation page .

How many new cards can one apply even if says that it can reduce my current costs by 5 %. How many times can I look at Discover's credit card features and APRs ? Hope they are working on it. Aggregation and budgeting are the best features meanwhile.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Innovation Game - " Buy a Feature ", Product Manager's Tool

Got a chance to attend SDForum event after a loooong time . Came across the session
on 'Buy a Feature ' game and attended the talk about emerging technology behind the game.

After listening to one of the fundoo techie Gurus, David Pollak, I am prompted to over come my inertia ( dust my blogs) and capture at least few points before they disappear from my small cache forever.

'Buy a Feature ' might prove a useful tool for Product Managers to manage priorities.
The technique used is collaborative prioritization. In simple words, the Prod Mgr requests the customers to play a small online game among themselves and prioritize the features they are looking for . Example , each customer is given 100 points and 5 features. The customers have to allocate the 100 points to the given features . Hence the customer will act judiciously and prioritize the features. This game could go iteratively and in the end all customers would come to see the group's priority on different features . They could discuss over chat , debate , collaborate etc in the process.

Not a bad idea . In fact the offline version of the Game was used by many reputed companies such as Qualcomm to drive their product road map. Now whether , this online version of the game will be accepted by serious customers is definitely a question ?

Takeaway is that this concept works - voting by a group , conducting elections , conducting referendums, students bidding for courses in univs. The same principle can be extended to business situations , but has to be applied with more discretion . Some businesses like Borland have even incorporated this online game into their development tools.

More such innovative games are from the stable of Luke Hohmann.

Coming to the technical side of the game, one feels there is hope as new open source projects spring up to solve current/emerging issues.
This game was developed using Scala (Language based on Functional and Oops concepts) and Lift ( web framework). Scala is used by Twitter now to solve performance issues esp the huge stateless concurrency headaches. Lift and Scala both leverage java libraries.

David Pollak was one of the developers of buyafeature game and is also one of the Lead developers for open source project Lift. Some of the Computer Science principles that he
he discussed ( Optimal keep-alive , long held web requests ) pertaining to
Nginx, Jetty and pertaining to Lift (state management machine) are mind boggling.
Instead of theoretical discussion, he could explain the concurrency improvements he gained in buyafeature game , esp in collaborative chat discussions.

Scala might come across as complex, elitist R & D language project and totally geek . But there's hope as the main stream is screaming for simplicity and I am sure the future versions will be geared towards simple syntax and programming constructs suitable for enterprise application developers
But for few developers now ( of Twitter etc ) struggling with scalability issues , the learning curve is worth the effort esp if one wishes to leverage the Lift framework for rapid development and high performance applications. Lift does most of the concurrency, state management plumbing, cross browser compatibility and integration with comet applications.

From wikipedia's definition of Comet. Comet is an umbrella term for technologies that attempt to eliminate both the limitations of the page-by-page model and traditional polling. Comet-like applications offer real-time interaction by relying on a persistent HTTP connection (or where not possible a long lasting HTTP connection) to provide the browser with updates as designated by the web application.

Some of the pending , nagging issues of Java, Spring, AJAX frameworks, Javascript libraries (dojo, prototype etc ) are taken up in Lift and solved elegantly . I feel both Scala and Lift have great potential only if they are refined for the masses.

I would encourage developers in Bay Area to check out Lift workshop on Nov 22, 08. The workshop will have a hands- on session on "Adding Real-time Chat " illustrating Lift and Comet concepts. All other developers, join the Lift community and check it out.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Can Web 2.0 help United Airlines to reduce flight delays ?

Can Web 2.0 help United Airlines save millions by tackling flight delay issues?

Cost of Flight delays to Airlines
Fact :
The congressional Joint Economic Committee, in a report released Thursday, found that the total cost of domestic air traffic delays to the American economy in 2007 was almost $41 billion.

That included $19 billion in extra operating costs for the airlines, $12 billion in costs to passengers from reduced productivity and lost business and leisure opportunities and almost $10 billion in indirect costs, particularly to food and lodging industries that rely on air traffic.

Is Web 2.0 for real ?

Josh Bernoff has made some valid points on "Why Web 2.0 Is No Bubble: Corporations Are Willing to Pay for It". Interesting article and his book "Groundswell" will be a new lighthouse for corporate strategy.

One of the simple Web 2.0 solutions for United Airlines
Here's my 2 cents on how Web 2.0 could potentially help a common man and United airlines to tackle flight delays.
Travelers who are stuck up at airports due to flight delays and usually stuck up in long queues of customer service have now started voicing their opinion using Twitter to communicate about flight delays.

Check out 'Summize' that captures real time twitter tweets. Search for United Flight delays to get a picture of the sorry state of United Airlines travelers.

United Airlines Customer service department could subscribe to RSS feed for this search . and keep a tab on customer dissatisfaction caused due to flight delays and improve their customer service programs to reach out , to hear , to regain trust and to build relationships with customers .

This could improve customer satisfaction and major reduction in McKinsey expenses on customer service consulting.

I advocate that all enterprises esp from employees from Customer service and Marketing read "
The Whuffie Factor" by Tara Hunt . It presents new opportunities and new trends of getting in touch with customers rather than just having a FAQ like "How can I contact United?"
Check out Tara's Interview here.

I see so many bright IT folks working at United ( source : LinkedIn), wish they could influence the Strategy grey heads there.

Hope some smart guy starts off Photo Tweets to capture the long Queues at United Terminals..( without getting into Legal troubles ..) .More power to customers..

Needless to say .. was a victim and now a problem solver :)
Btw , United Airlines could subscribe to my Blog and pay me a fraction of cost savings and share a tiny fraction of their Marketing/Consulting budget ..

Waiting for the day of " monetization of user generated solutions " :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Enterprise 2.0 , 2008 - Oracle

So here's another 2.0 - Enterprise 2.0
I had the opportunity to witness the Enterprise 2.0 event and to attend one of the Oracle' sessions on Enterprise 2.0.

Before that I met an Analyst who was of the opinion that web 2.0 was Marketing hype or BS whereas enterprise 2.0 had some substance . He couldn't get the ROI of web 2.0 and had a point .."web 2.0 has mashups, ajax, blogs, wikis what ..people write more , talk more , so .." I too had the same questions and similar skepticism on 2.0 series which is leashed upon us every alternate month.

So how did Oracle's team convince such skeptics ?

I should say Steve Diamond, Oracle did a pretty good job in demonstrating the what , why and how of e20.

He quoted Ray Lane's seven rules of software innovation
I have provided some examples of Steve and of mine in parenthesis.

1. Serves an individual need - (
2. virally adopted - (facebook applications)
3. contextualized personal info - (
4. no data entry /training required - ( )
5. delivers instant value - (
6. utilizes community and social relationships ( invites from google contacts)
7. minimal footprint (

I found the "why ?" part of the e2o talk interesting . Below are some takeaways.
For any 'why' in enterprise , decision makers have the fundamental equation

Increase in Revenue and/or Decrease in Cost = ' Must Have '

Critical Driving factors are as below
  1. Productivity
  2. Innovation
  3. Effectiveness
For any person involved in developing/selling any product/solution, the above equation
and driving factors are crisp guidelines .

The other remaining parts of talk were - what, how .
What - was ok , as there are various opinions on this as e20 is still evolving.
How - As per Oracle folks , right now it was Social CRM which has features like SalesProspector helpful to Salespeople. And another offering HCM , human capital management.

CRM seems a smart move. Some thoughts below.

CRM is one such enterprise application where ROI could be easily demonstrated . Increase in number of Leads, Prospects, Revenue correlation could be demonstrated easily. Check out the features of Social CRM.

Other web 2.0 features like discussion, tags, wiki, blog, groups , RSS, mashups have value . When applied to any other enterprise application like Finance,HR or for functions like Engineering/Prod Mgt etc will yield value but to correlate the benefits will be difficult.

Example :
Tagging/Discussion/wiki/blogs help classifying, generating, validating, information but to actually say that the blogs resulted in reducing cost, reducing defects, implementing more use cases , improved product features would be difficult esp when the ROI has to be quantifiable, measurable and should be correlated.

Unless ROI is not in numbers, the number/finance people will not put substantial money.
They might be fine for wiki/tagging/blogs/mashups etc . But again they will be open for only open source free solutions . To get any money from the enterprise guys , the value or ROI has to be clear and this is where a social twist to CRM will help Oracle to penetrate e20 market.

Talk was good. Plan is good . Product ??
But right now the products don't seem to be there yet. They seem to be work in progress are still evolving with web 2.0 features like discussions, community calendar, groups, tagging, rss etc scattered all over.

Seems someone sprinkled web 2.0 elements across different applications/pages.

The demo of the web pages was audible but not visible.Instead of displaying a web page with small icons , they could have given a flash demo.

I discussed with Peter Heller, Oracle on the differences between Oracle offering and of others like Opentext and Social text.

He had some interesting insights as below.

1. Web 2.0 in Enterprise
Features - Blogs, Social Networking, Tagging, RSS, Wikis, AJAX , RIA etc etc
Oracle Products - Webcentre, Aqua logic etc

2. Enterprise 2.0 Apps
- Contextual HCM, Finance, etc embedded with new apps .

  • Management of Security and other systems
  • Single Metdata repository
  • Embedded Business Intelligence
My take below..

Security :
Security is one key concern for any enterprise . One quick example,
Enterprises will definitely be concerned about state of the art ' tagging application' to be available on their existing enterprise applications /data .

Say , even if enterprises are proactive to adopt these plethora of web 2.0 apps, but then buying so many applications from different vendors and then to worry about single sign on does not make any sense .

Embedded Business Intelligence:
If LinkedIn could demonstrate value to us by giving us updates on our contacts , imagine
what can a huge CRM/HRM Database is capable of doing.

My analogies for e20
Facebook minifeed says.. " Your friend has taken a movie quiz "
LinkedIn says " Your friend has added new friends from XYZ college/company "

Now e20 could be as below ..
CRM Feed to Sales person " Your colleague in some remote country has closed a new deal in this emerging space ..go talk to him and get more money .."

HRM feed to Hiring Manager ..." You placed a requisition for some unknown untested skill..good news of the enterprising developer in some other project has worked on this .. he is free now .. he has posted 3 blogs , 2 forum posts on this skill..go get him ..lest he might post 2 more blogs and get hired somewhere else "

Finance Feed .." Your peer in some xyz dept has reduced has achieved 10 % reduction in cost..seems he has learnt it atlast his blog, check which vendor he has added to his contacts and add your peer to your group..u need a support group .tag this as cost cutting tip ...act fast "

As you see e20 does add value :-)

e20 Vendors

One would think that ERP vendors have a good chance to build e20 applications on the existing enterprise apps or for that matter all Platform vendors like MS, IBM, Oracle have easy access
to enterprises than small vendors have . So they will try to build something on existing platforms and offer (bundle/free) in market and they will attempt it with a credible ROI story.
For now , SAP seems to be sleeping and is letting e20 pass by ..either it will come with e30 or acquire some companies and do a mashup of all of them.

It will be good to see customer acquisition data of niche players like Opentext and Socialtext .
My current company, Pramati has product offerings in web 2.0 and will soon launch a e20 product out for the social twist on the enterprise .