Tag: information technologies

“Here’s to the Crazy Ones” with Steve Jobs’ voiceover

My little homage to Steve Jobs.

The “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” commercial was a great success but the version that was aired in 1997 was with Richard Dreyfuss’s voiceover. There was a version, never made public then, in which Steve Jobs did the voiceover. That version was recovered and is the one included here. The “Think Different” campaign, devised by TBWA\Chiat\Day, was a huge success for Apple, reveling in the company’s outsider status and laying the groundwork for what is was going to become Apple in the future and how differentiated it has become from its competitors.

Here is a transcription of the ad:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things.

They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

The interesting part of the Skype acquisition is not who bought it but who didn’t

Over the last few years we all have witnessed the convergence of three industries. Nowadays voice, data (mostly for internet service) and TV services are all provided by a limited number of companies.The days of ATT as phone provider, COX, ComCast or Charter as cable providers and AOL as internet service provider (ISP) are long gone. Traditional telephone companies now offer voice, Internet and TV. In the same way, traditional cable companies sell also phone and internet services. The traditional internet services providers as we knew them in the late 90s and early 00s have basically disappeared.

In the last years we are also noticing a migration from traditional services such as voice and cable TV to internet based services. It is not uncommon the people who do no longer have the traditional phone service and it is becoming more popular those who, together with a cell phone or not, use services such as Vonage or Skype. Regarding TV services, we are more and more migrating to services such as Hulu, Amazon, Netflix or iTunes which also use internet as the main distribution channel. The traditional pre-scheduled run of TV shows or movies is being replaced more and more by a model of TV a-la-carte or on-demand.

With that in mind it is not a surprise that the consolidation of services’ movement that we saw in the early 00s seems to have been reached its peak and new steps are being taken to move forward.

We watch TV and movies more frequently in the non traditional way, we watch what we want, when we want and where we want. We also talk and communciate with friends and colleagues with services that are also new, such as Twitter and Facebook. In that regard we can mention that Europe has seen in the last 18 months a drop in the number of SMS messages sent and received, which had become a great source of revenue for the phone industry in the last few years. People communicate more than before but thru new tools and some of what had had become cash cow services are on the decline.

How are these companies reacting to this new challenge? The wrong way, late and negatively:

a) The traditional unlimited data plans that we grew up used to are disappearing
b) The network neutrality principles we thought were embedded in the industry are vanishing

Those reactions represent obstacles to the new ways of, for example, watching TV and movies. Streaming movies using Netflix or Amazon services will get us into trouble with internet plans that have a limited amount of data transfer included. Also, providers could slow down access to sites or protocols that affect some way or another their interests and partnerships.

Despite all of that, and surprisingly enough, Skype hasn’t been bought by any major telephone conglomerate (AT&T, Telefonica, Deutch telecom, etc). All of them could have easily afforded that expense. Their strategy seems to go more to fight these threats rather than embrace them and transform them in opportunities: “There is nothing better than owning the pipes and what goes thru them”. Providing internet access and also VoIP provides them with economies of scale in regard to their current technology investments.

Microsoft can keep running Skype as now but that it will only provide marginal income. Integrating a service like Skype in Windows and Office applications can make those products attractive and prevent customers for trying alternatives (OS X, Linux based-systems,….). Windows and Office are cash cow products for Microsoft. Whatever it takes to keep those two products that way can make the investment worthwhile. Another thing to see in the near future if if they are able to take advantage of it.

IT Rapid Deployment Kit White Paper

A few months ago I wrote the attached white paper (480 Kb. PDF file) based on my experience in deployments around the world. Usually these deployments are in places where conditions might be difficult and usually are associated with events such as natural disasters, health related emergencies or even political transitions. Hard to reach, unreliable or non-existent utilities, and absence of reliable communication facilities are common in these places and situations.

International donors and non-governmental organizations make efforts to reach these places and assist people on multiple arenas, ranging from basic health assistance and food programs, elections monitoring. It is common to see deployments of experts on particular areas but often they lack the equipment, and in many cases, the basic skills that today are needed for day-to-day communications activities such as creating and establishing an internet connection, setting-up a wireless network, set-up and configuration of email accounts, printers, etc. These are real needs that must be covered in order to streamline the work of these staff as well as for safety reasons. There is no longer the option of calling the IT guy to come up and fix these issues. Many of these skills are today as basic as learning to drive. No matter what position you are in it is needed.

In this white paper, I attempted to provide an explanation and a hands-on checklist of the basic equipment needed for these situations. The emphasis is on the ability to “hit the ground running” meaning that the need to be fully functional from the information technology perspective and be able to communicate starts immediately, often as soon as the plane lands. Because of that, all the examples, images and illustrations explained here are related to equipment that people can carry with them in addition to whatever other luggage they might travel with. It is based on my own experience in activities all over the world

Download the 480 Kb. PDF file

CIO vs. IT Manager. Much more than just a title.

These days, very few organizations can operate without the use of information technologies and systems. If these technologies and systems are used as a support tool rather than as a strategic tool, the organization is likely missing a lot of strategic opportunities (to increase demand, reduce costs, gather better information for customers, optimize stocks, etc.)

Often times, employees tend to perceive the staff that works on information technologies and systems as a “computer guy”, a “web guy” or a “techie”. This perception shows a lack of understanding of current organizational developments and frameworks and, more importantly, is a reflection of how they handle these matters within whatever organization they work (public or private, large or small, for-profit or not). Consequently, this perception is a reflection of how a modern organization is understood (not very well) and how it is run (most likely, poorly).

A Chief Information Officer (CIO) and an IT Manager are not the same. Of course, in medium or small size organizations you might find a single individual playing both the CIO and the IT Manager role and understanding very well the differences between each position. Unfortunately, it is not enough for the person filling this role to know what each role entails. What really matters is how the CEO and other senior staff members perceive this person, if they know which “hat” she or he is wearing at any particular moment and, most important, if her or his comments and contributions are part of the strategic decisions being taken by the organization.

When playing the CIO role, either full or part time, the focus should be on how information technologies and systems can help the business strategy and to make sure that there is alignment with that strategy. The IT manager, on the other hand, should make sure that all systems are up and running properly and that the different IT staff members are doing what they are supposed to.

It is true that you cannot be an admiral without a fleet and if you are just managing a handful of Help Desk guys you are not a CIO. CIO is a leadership position and an IT manager is a managerial position.

As we have seen in multiple business books, leaders inspire while managers measure; leaders guide and managers navigate; leaders envision and managers maintain; leaders talk and managers listen; leaders support and managers teach; leaders hope and managers direct; leaders expect and managers demand, etc. Obviously, success requires both.

If your business card says CIO but you do not sit at the senior staff meetings with CEO, CFO, Vice-Presidents, etc. you are not a real CIO. Obviously, organization size, type of business, etc. are key factors, but by no means are they founded excuses to not allow the CIO to sit in the key strategic meetings.

A real CIO is supposed to take a strategic view of the organization, understand the business requirements and facilitate interaction with the other departments. He will have to set the agenda for strategic projects and technologies. For this agenda to work, the IT managers have to make sure that the basic and support technologies are running smoothly.

Organizations that do not have anyone performing CIO activities, even if it is just part time, show a lack of vision and a lack of understanding about the role that information technologies and systems can play today. Information technologies and systems have the capacity to transform the way organizations do business. They are not just solution providers but, even more important, they are enablers. They solve problems but also create value.

Published at the front cover of Infonomia on May 8-11, 2009.

EVERNOTE. Una idea sencilla pero bien implementada.

Como muchos, siempre estoy tratando de encontrar la herramienta perfecta que me permita capturar y tener al alcance de la mano la información que necesito y cuando la necesito (páginas web, grabaciones de audio, fotografias, texto, etc.). Lo más cercano que he visto a esta realidad se llama Evernote. Evernote permite capturar información desde cualquier entorno y utilizando, básicamente, cualquier plataforma. Además permite que esta información este accesible e indexada (incluyendo reconocimiento óptico de caracteres) desde cualquier lugar.

Soy usuario de Evernote desde hace sólo unos días y la verdad es que es una herramienta excelente (los más de 520,000 usuarios registrados también lo avalan). La herramienta está disponible para Windows, Mac pero también como plug-in para Firefox así como una excelentísima aplicación para iPhone así como para otras plataformas móviles.

La información, independientemente de la plataforma utilizada, se está sincronizando constantemente por lo que si utilizas varios ordenadores y el teléfono móvil (muy común en nuestro días) siempre tienes la misma información en cualquiera de ellos. Ademas, por ejemplo, permite tomar fotografías con la cámara del teléfono móvil o en el ordernador y prácticar a posteriori un reconocimiento de caracteres (en el servidor) que permite hacer búsquedas. Un ejemplo de esto que yo utilizo es el de las tarjetas de visita y los libros: con mi iPhone tomo fotografías de tarjetas de visita que me dan o de portadas de libros que me interesan. En el servidor de Evernote, además de sincronizar las fotografías en todas mis plataformas, hacen un reconocimiento de caracteres por lo que si hago una búsqueda de parte del texto de la tarjeta o del libro me aparece la referencia y la imagen) de forma instantánea. Además, si lo deseas, puedes compartir con el resto del mundo aquellas notas (clasificadas por cuadernos) que desees.

El software y la utilización de todo el servicio es gratuito con unos límites de vólumen que son más que suficientes para el usuario normal. Si eres un usuario que maneja enormes cantidades de datos y notas puedes optar por la versión de pago (que sólo cuesta $5 dólares al mes o $45 al año).

Los usuarios de iPhone son incluso los más beneficiados de este servicio ya que la aplicación específica para éste es excelente. La aplicación de iPhone la utilizan el 57% de los usuarios de Evernote, seguida por el web (51%), la aplicación para PCs (32%) y la de los Macs (28%) aunque, como yo, muchos usuarios acceden al servicio desde más de una plataforma.

Por mucho que trate de explicar esta aplicación/servicio aquí no le estoy haciendo justicia por lo que lo más recomendable es que visites su website y lo pruebes por tí mismo. A continuación hay un par de videos que te pueden ayudar un poco más a conocer Evernote.

Introducción a Evernote

Rápido discurso de venta (lo que tarda en subir el ascensor)

Publicado en Infonomia el 1 de Diciembre de 2008

Google y la Gripe. Usos innovadores de la información existente.

Sería interesante poder saber el número diario de nuevos enfermos de gripe, también sería muy interesante poder saber en qué ciudades y hacía dónde se va expandiendo cada día. Esta información, hasta ahora, le costaba al Centro de Control y Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC, siglas en inglés para el Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) de los Estados Unidos no sólamente mucho dinero sino además el hecho de que la información no era inmediata. Siempre se iba con unos días de retraso. La información es recogida en los miles de centros sanitarios, agregada periódicamente y entonces enviada a Atlanta, sede del CDC, donde aún hay que realizar trabajos de análisis y evaluación de datos. 

Google (si, otra vez ellos) está proporcionando toda esta información y una nueva forma de seguir la expansión de la gripe en los Estados Unidos. Además permite hacerlo de forma instantánea. Google Flu Trends analiza las búsquedas que las personas hacen de temas relacionados con la gripe y localiza la posición geográfica de estas búsquedas en un mapa.

Esta ya demostrado que en lugares donde el acceso a Internet está muy extendido existe una gran correlación entre los casos de gripe y las búsquedas en Google acerca de temas relacionados con la misma. Si bien el modelo no es perfecto podemos ver en el gráfico anexo que la información proporcionada es de muchísima calidad.

La doctora Lyn Finelli (Jefa de Seguimiento de la Gripe para el Centro de Control y Prevención de Enfermedades) afirma que “[…] la información que nos está llegando es prácticamente en tiempo real. Nos proporciona, día por día, toda la información relativa a la gripe para un área determinada”. Del mismo modo afirma “El año pasado, cuando validamos este modelo, nos permitió predecir los casos, ubicación y tendencias de la gripe con una semana de antelación. Esto puede ser utilizado como una herramienta de aviso y control, en este caso para la gripe”.

Esta información puede ayudar a que los hospitales y centros de salud se preparen con antelación y tomar medidas en caso de una posible pandemia. El acceso a esta herramienta es gratis y Google afirma que sólo se proporciona información agregada mientras que los datos individuales se mantienen de forma confidencial.

Una vez más hablamos de innovación, innovación en los usos de información que ya existe. Gracias al comportamiento de las personas la tecnología nos permite obtener información muy últil para la sociedad. Obviamente, el debate acerca de la privacidad, de Google como Gran Hermano, etc. continúa y no pretendo entrar en él ahora, pero el hecho de que esta información es tremendamente útil no es cuestionable.

Innovar, entre otras cosas, es encontrar usos nuevos a cosas que ya tenemos, proporcionando un valor añadido que pasaba desapercibido. El uso de la información para analizar comportamientos está muy estudiado y el llamado data mining se ha convertido en toda una industria, dedicada a saber más de nuestro hábitos de consumo y comportamiento pero con el fin de vendernos más cosas. Si conseguimos que, además, haga aportaciones positivas como la mencionada, vamos mejorando en tono positivo.

Publicado en Infonomia la semana del 24 de Noviembre de 2008.