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Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

Focus, Passion and Protecting Your Brand

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If you know us, or you’ve read this blog before – or, heck, even read our tagline – you know we’re big into three things:

  1. Focus
  2. Passion
  3. Doing what’s right, even when it’s hard

We’ve grown MIPRO by relentlessly following these guiding principles, and it’s been incredibly rewarding. Challenging at times, but nonetheless very rewarding.

Because sometimes, to achieve a culture that actually reflects your values and doesnt just end up cute marketing copy, you have to make some tough decisions.

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Dropbox Users: Protect Your Account with Two-Factor Authentication

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Dropbox is easily one of my absolutely essential apps. I use it every day, and increasingly it’s home to personal information like travel plans, photos and draft blog posts/articles. What used to be a little service I used to store a PDF or two has become a cornerstone of my daily workflow.

Like every other important technology asset (email, critical websites, web apps), security shouldn’t be taken lightly with Dropbox. To that end, if you are a Dropbox user, I strongly recommend enabling two-factor authentication for your account. What is two-factor authentication?

Two-factor authentication combines your password with an additional one-time-use security code—typically sent to your cellphone via a text message—that you need to enter in order to log in. This makes it more difficult for someone to break into your account if they get ahold of your username and password.

Do what I did: login to your Dropbox account, select your username in the upper right corner, then hit Settings. From there, hit the Security tab, and under Account sign in, look for Two-step verification. Click Enable. Boom. Done.

Do this. You won’t be sorry.

 

Job Applicants: Vegas Doesn’t Exist Anymore

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An astonishing 37% of hiring managers are using social networking sites to research applicants, with over 65% of the group using Facebook as their primary source.

The days of doing a routine background check on your criminal past or even credit history have been widened to include voyeurism into your daily life and lifestyle. People complain that it’s wrong; they say it’s an invasion of their privacy. Right, wrong, invasive not invasive – companies are doing it. I’m not talking about companies who ask you to supply your username and password and so they can look at your profile. I am talking about them going out on the internet and viewing whatever information you have made available to millions of others to see.

Remember the saying “whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”? Well that isn’t the case when you share the ins-and-outs of your life via social media for the world to see.

Knowing that any future employer may be looking at what you have posted on the internet, why not use a little common sense, a little bit of good judgment, in what you share? Why not share things that are near and dear to you and that would be worth not getting a job over?

Example: my faith is important to me. I would gladly miss out on an opportunity to work for a company who didn’t like something I posted about my religious beliefs. That company would probably not be a good fit for me and I would most likely not be happy working there.

That belly button piercing I got on the way to the Bon Jovi concert with friends – not important to me, not near and dear to my heart – maybe I don’t need to share that sordid tale accompanied by an even more sordid picture on Facebook.

People are rethinking what they have posted; almost 90% of internet users admit to changing information in their profiles to become more suitable to outside employers and friends. This is probably smart thinking considering 69% of recruiters said they’d rejected a potential employee because of what they saw on a social networking site. I know lot of you out there will disagree but, to me, once you put your “private” life on the internet, it’s not private anymore.

And the kicker: you are opting-in to all of this. Nobody is extracting information from you.

The smart applicant thinks about how to use social media sites. Like an unfortunate tatoo, social media indiscrimination can have long-ranging consequences.

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Dear Mark Zuckerberg

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Dalton Caldwell:

Mark, I don’t believe that the humans working at Facebook or Twitter want to do the wrong thing. The problem is, employees at Facebook and Twitter are watching your stock price fall, and that is causing them to freak out. Your company, and Twitter, have demonstrably proven that they are willing to screw with users and 3rd-party developer ecosystems, all in the name of ad-revenue. Once you start down the slippery-slope of messing with developers and users, I don’t have any confidence you will stop.

The entire thing is worth a read, as it highlights the new mission of the post-IPO Facebook: to generate ad revenue to support a stock price, even if it means entering into antagonistic relationships with developers of the ‘platform.’

This isn’t how Facebook started. It was originally a ‘social utility,’ not something that behaves like a media company.

The final sentence in Caldwell’s letter is spot-on: Zuckerberg is indeed in a very challenging position right now.

Who — or what — is Facebook going to be?

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The Maintenance Summit and Travel Tips: There’s an App for That

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(Editor’s Note: As we close in on the beginning of the 6th Annual Oracle Maintenance Summit in Nashville, TN (March 26-29th), I thought it would be a good idea to introduce you to our own Tina Thames.  Besides being an outstanding PeopleSoft consultant, Tina is gained fame in MIPRO for knowing “there’s an app for that”.  While all MIPRO Consulting consultants are travel savvy, I asked Tina to share some of her travel favorite travel-related smartphone apps that might make your journey to Nashville a little easier. )

Have a smartphone? Your travel is about to get easier.

Does this sound familiar?

It’s Monday morning.  You’re running late for the airport and you’re sitting in your office going through emails trying to find and print various flight, car and hotel reservation confirmations.  You stick them in your briefcase and make a mad dash for the airport.  As you board your plane, you find out that your window seat – has no window, AND the seat doesn’t recline.  Fast forward to the end of the day and you find yourself standing outside the client office, in the pouring rain, without a cab in sight!

Well frazzled road warrior, there’s a better way!  Check out some of these mobile phone applications and websites to make your life on the road much easier:

TripIt! 

This mobile phone application allows you to consolidate all of your travel reservations/confirmation by trip for easy access.  All you do is forward your email confirmations to the TripIt application (to an email address it creates for you) and it builds them into itineraries based on dates — including maps and directions from the airport to your hotel!  Upgrade to the proversion and track all of your membership rewards in one place. This is a go-to app for me.

SeatGuru.com 

This isn’t an app, per se, but you should check out SeatGuru.com for a review of every seat, on every plane by airline.  Does a seat require frequent flyer status?  Is there a power outlet near your seat?  A quick stop on this website and you’ll easily find what you need to know to pick that optimum seat.

TaxiMagic 

This application takes the hassle out of finding a cab in a new city.  Simply select your city and a list of taxi companies appear.  In larger cities,  the app lets you directly integrate to the company’s dispatch system to book your cab, track the arrival of your taxi, charge the ride to your credit card  — and it even emails you a receipt.  In smaller cities it will connect you directly to the cab company to make a reservation over the phone. If you’re not renting a car or surrendering yourself to mass transit, this app is a lifesaver.

These are three on which I rely heavily when I’m about to hit the road. There are tons of travel apps, some more useful than others. What are your favorites?

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Looking Forward: Why Enterprise Software Is Changing

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It’s clear that 2011 was the year of the cloud, with many traditional enterprise vendors accepting that the cloud is something they can no longer denigrate or ignore. The ‘cloud’ buzzword has been (sometimes annoyingly) tossed around for upwards of two years, but last year is when it hit critical mass in terms of action, not just marketing and positioning.

Chris Kanaracus, writing for IDG News, highlights a few enterprise trends we’re seeing and hearing in everyday conversations. These give real heft to the notion that the cloud is something everyone should be thinking about and/or planning around. It might not be happening right now, and it might not be top priority for you, but ignore this medium- to long-term direction at your peril.

Here’s one that struck us:

SAP buys SuccessFactors, Oracle buys RightNow, both accept cloud reality

Collectively, SAP and Oracle spent nearly US$5 billion this year to acquire software vendors based in the cloud.

Each sought different types of technologies, with SAP’s purchase of SuccessFactors boosting its human-resources software offerings as well as general cloud know-how, and Oracle’s RightNow buy giving it an array of customer-support capabilities.

But the deals have a common thread, marking a sea change for the traditional on-premise software world, said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. “[It] signals the realization that cloud deployment will be the predominant approach.”

We do a massive amount of Oracle work, and what we’re hearing from Oracle and our customers is very real and perfectly synchonized: the cloud is real, it’s mature, and it’s time to start figuring out how it can help enterprise IT. It’s not just for early adopters or skunkwork labs anymore.

Along similar lines, you can’t ignore perhaps the biggest story out of Oracle, one that’s sure to mold future IT decisions for a long, long time:

Oracle delivers Fusion Applications

It took a while, but Oracle finally managed to deliver the first wave of its next-generation Fusion Applications, and its launch strategy also showed how cloud computing has influenced the enterprise software market.

The company has taken pains to stress that Fusion Applications can be deployed in a highly modular fashion, with no need to remove existing systems, and at a time of customers’ choosing. Users will also be able to run the software both on-premises and in cloud form, although some of the details of the latter remain to be made public.

Oracle’s strategy is partly a nod to reality, since few customers will rush to rip and replace their core ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems with new software, and Oracle also wants to ensure early users are successful. But its message of easier, more flexible consumption for Fusion is straight from the cloud-vendor playbook.

Now more than ever we are being asked by our clients to come in and help them simply assess: put executive/organizational expectations on a piece of paper somewhere (harder than it sounds, trust us), inventory current systems and capabilities, and plan roadmaps. Such basic blocking and tackling, but given the churn and change in what ‘enterprise IT’ will mean in three years, so important. We offer clients two very powerful planning workshops: our BluePrint Project Services and PeopleSoft Architecture Assessment, both of which are popular. Lately, we’ve been doing a lot of our BluePrint workshops, largely because of the reasons discussed a few hundred words ago: things are changing, and smart planning has never been more important.

Questions? Don’t be afraid to drop us a line. Always happy to have conversations.

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More Thinking About Oracle, Endeca, Unstructured Text and Social Media

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On October 18, 2011, Oracle announced it had entered into an agreement to acquire Endeca, a leading provider of unstructured data management, web commerce and business intelligence solutions (see our original blog post here). The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close before the end of t his year.  Here’s the original press release.

Our Thoughts

Most everyone is familiar with structured data consisting of data that is well organized and comes from ERP systems, custom solutions etc. and generally is organized in a manner which allows that data to be analyzed and reported from.  Lesser known, but of increasing importance, is unstructured data.  Unstructured data consists of social media information from platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc. where users or consumers can post commentary using freeform text.  Comments are not necessarily organized.  This unstructured text can extend to consumer commentary on product websites, blogs or emails.   The rise of social media and the real-time web is making unstructured text more and more critical for companies to be able to analyze.

For example, through the various social media mechanisms mentioned, using powerful unstructured text BI tools such as Endeca, companies can quickly evaluate the unstructured text and begin to make business decisions or combine the unstructured text with structured data and have actionable information.  A quick example: if customers comment on a website regarding their experience with a particular product, it normally would take an employee or employees to read the responses and evaluate the consumer sentiment.  It may take a significant amount of time to evaluate the sentiment negating the potential value of that data.  In today’s ever changing, quick-paced social media environment, it’s more important than ever to stay on top and have the ability to react quickly to fixing a negative experience or promoting a positive one.  Understanding whether a consumer had a positive or negative experience proves invaluable for marketing, sales and corrective actions to be made in a very short timeframe.

Take all of this a step farther, when Oracle can combine unstructured data and structured data under the OBIEE platform, companies will have exceptional tools to help make truly informed business decisions based upon quickly changing data.

Fantasy? So far, maybe a bit. In the short term, smart companies will be investing in ways to do exactly this.

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Is This the Future of Reading on the Web?

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As a guy who spends 90% of his work life on the web, I’ve noticed long ago that reading content — really reading, not just clicking and scanning — has become nearly impossible. The prevalence of content spread across a dozen pages, ads, social sharing buttons, and unrequested pre-content videos has turned some major websites into cluttered junkheaps. What’s the future of all this?  Will it get better? Probably not, says Rian van der Merwe:

I’m worried that the wells of attention are being drilled to depletion by linkbait headlines, ad-infested pages, “jumps” and random pagination, and content that is engineered to be “consumed” in 1 minute or less of quick scanning – just enough time to capture those almighty eyeballs.

I see some efforts to offset this — Safari’s ‘Reader’ function (which strips away everything except body content) and extensions like ‘Readability’ for Chrome and Firefox — but I don’t think they’ll stem the tide.

So what we have is a sacrificing of content in the name of advertising and eyeball analytics. Does this also happen to be one of the plagues of modern journalism as well? I think so.

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The Great Tech War of 2012

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Utterly fantastic article in Fast Company by Farhad Manjoo about the greatest tech showdown of our time, all likely going fully thermonuclear next year. With players like Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon in the mix, this isn’t the minor leagues. Who winds up on top here controls the innovation economy moving forward, and there are sane arguments for each as the winner. The following excerpt sums up the vast power and influence these companies have over our technological lives:

To state this as clearly as possible: The four American companies that have come to define 21st-century information technology and entertainment are on the verge of war. Over the next two years, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will increasingly collide in the markets for mobile phones and tablets, mobile apps, social networking, and more. This competition will be intense. Each of the four has shown competitive excellence, strategic genius, and superb execution that have left the rest of the world in the dust. HP, for example, tried to take a run at Apple head-on, with its TouchPad, the product of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm. HP bailed out after an embarrassingly short 49-day run, and it cost CEO Léo Apotheker his job. Microsoft’s every move must be viewed as a reaction to the initiatives of these smarter, nimbler, and now, in the case of Apple, richer companies.

And:

According to Nielsen, Android now powers about 40% of smartphones; 28% run Apple’s iOS. But here’s the twist: Android could command even 70% of the smartphone business without having a meaningful impact on Apple’s finances. Why? Because Apple makes a profit on iOS devices, while Google and many Android handset makers do not. This is part of a major strategic difference between Apple and the other members of the Fab Four. Apple doesn’t need a dominant market share to win. Everyone else does.

If you asked me to list the four biggest players in the tech space, this is the list I’d jot down.  And the scary thing? I’m a customer of each.  In Google and Facebook’s case, I am the product itself.

2012 will be anything but dull.

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RightNow Opens Oracle’s SaaS Play; Puts Salesforce.com on Alert

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Two days ago, Oracle acquired RightNow for $1.5B, and many analysts immediately said the purchase was, for all intents and purposes, missiles aimed at Salesforce.com.

But  how? What does this mean? How to decipher this? What does the acquisition do for Oracle? Won’t Oracle’s ‘Public Cloud’ be comprised of technologies already in Oracle’s stack?

Not exactly. According to ZDNet’s Phil Wainewright (and Larry Dignan), Oracle’s purchase of SaaS pioneer RightNow basically signals Oracle’s intent to go cloud shopping and pick up a slew of tier 2 SaaS players.

With the acquisition of early SaaS pioneer RightNow Technologies, Oracle has signalled its intention to build out its Public Cloud offering with what will likely become a string of acquisitions of second-tier SaaS vendors. I’m in total agreement with my ZDNet colleague Larry Dignan that the official press statement was “basically shorthand for ‘Oracle is going cloud shopping’.”

So who might be on the list?

I’d expect the shopping list to include public companies including Taleo and several others in the talent management sphere, along with ServiceNow.com in the IT service management space and various less well known names from other sectors.

Things are going to get interesting in the next few months. The most interesting part of all of is is the ideological shift that’s taking place: Oracle might not be building out its Public Cloud with primarily in-house technology; it plans on creating it via acquisition. And we all know Oracle’s extremely good at identifying smart acquisition targets.

Popcorn, anyone?

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