Business is social - gather a group of good people for a purpose. Let information flow uninterrupted amongst the participants wherever and whoever they are, that is the requirement for the most efficient creation and delivery of value.
Enter Social Software - perfectly aligned for that quest, efficient distribution of information in the format we currently keep it:
Narrative and post-event format (aka forms and documents), manipulated facts still posing as "information" for good or bad. Manipulated facts, dubious information.
In other words:
Social Media is Dubious Information Distribution - DID
We need Precise Information Distribution - PID
Distribute the facts separate from the logic, then slap logic to the facts - your own or that of others if found viable.
Note that "Distribution" is the same, that is not the crux, it's the information format. Facts and logic are two separate parts - keep them that way. Then manipulate when needed.
Clarification: Do not think the very structured and "precise" methods and systems are any better at it - accounting is DID as well. Somebody applied personal logic when deciding what account an item was assigned to.
James Governor spurred a 140 char restricted discussion by mentioning some (preposterous?) claims by JBoss about their future marketshare for Enterprise Middleware. Ric picked up the ball and I piped in.
aqualung: @monkchips in 2015 there will be a crapload of middleware workload ... 50% could be a staggering number - beyond JBoss scale?
sig @aqualung Or there will be little middleware... that depends on keeping or not the "workshoppish" nature of the app based architecture..
aqualung @sig I lean the other way - I think it will ALL be "middleware" ... but connecting people rather than apps
sig @aqualung think we say the same - but that would be a new definition for "middle", like that
sig @aqualung If you saw my last post, I'm into "social software" - connecting people, organising the connections... same as you say I suspect
sig @aqualung Thus the middleware of the future will be entirely something different and today's players not the future ones, or what?
aqualung @sig Yes - I see "middleware" as what carries the connections and enables the relationships (WWW as the ultimate "middleware"?)
aqualung @sig and I think the future middleware, although different, will be recognisable; but the players? Open season has begun!
sig @aqualung Add the purpose of the organisation (social) you need to add "workflow" to the "relationships" and you have "enterprise"
sig @aqualung The definition of "social software" is wide enough, the current understanding of what it can be is too narrow though
aqualung @sig it could be argued that our current understanding of anything will be proved too narrow ;-0
I think we're onto something there - social software is what it's all about - in particular in the BRP space where knowledge workers are all dependent on fast and efficient connections with their fellow knowledge workers, obviously in such a way that the ongoing is captured for future use.
Now when I bring up the need for a framework for such creative work I get frowns - we've found after all that letting the brain loose is conductive for creative work. While restrictions are counterproductive in a wholesale fashion.
Yes and no I say. The moment the social group has a purpose (like delivering a service or a product or a value), limits and flows have been introduced. And with the slightest set of limits or need for flows a framework is required. Then from the purpose comes a strategy, from the strategy comes goals - each steps that could make good use of a process framework without messing with the creative freedom.
That day social software will be truly enterprisey and the non-social apps oriented enterprise software a thing of the past.
When using the term "enterprise software" about thingamy I am met with much blank stares and urges to change theme - enterprise is boring...
As said earlier - "boring is good" as it attract much less fluff as in money-willing-to-be-lost and fifteen competitors a week after you've launched a new service.
Looking at VC portfolios I cannot but shake my head - "how on earth do they think me-too products can yield the highest reward-to-risk ratio?". A mystery no less. Or a different economics professor than the ones I've listened to.
Add the size of the market being bigger by a double digit factor - and enterprise software seems to be a good place to be even when it never gets any "oohs or ahhs".
Quite a few started-in-consumer software firms have found out and are hard at making an effort to enter the enterprise market, typically among the "social software" crowd. And who can blame them? Not much willingness to pay for services coupled with a online advertising market about 1/20th of what banks alone will spend on IT this year, and where Google have like 77% of the market - that is tough. While at the same time, enterprise is social per definition.
Social software is thus interesting, so allow me throw out a few traits often used to define it:
Allow users to interact and share data with other users.
Social technologies or Conversational technologies used in organisations.
Knowledge creation and storage that is carried out through collaborative writing.
Conversational technologies seen as tools to support work units and the individual knowledge worker.
They create actual communities.
One particular paragraph that interests me in the Wikipedia entry is:
"Communities formed by "bottom-up" processes are often contrasted to the less vibrant collectivities formed by "top-down" software, in which users' roles are determined by an external authority and circumscribed by rigidly conceived software mechanisms (such as access rights). Given small differences in policies, very similar software can produce radically different social outcomes."
That's almost like defining the difference between ERP and BRP - where the last actually requires less rigid policies, the typical situation for the knowledge worker. Every step in a Barely Repeatable process has to be "free" in the sense of having a waste number of choices leaving the operator freedom to judge earlier results and choose next step from there. Passing the bucket kind of process; "Hmm, no sign of fracture in this Xray, time for a blood test." - but within limits of course, the MD would not suggest "...time to change mufflers". As enterprises have a purpose they will have some underlying structure, obviously.
This is precisely what the thingamy is good at, all of the above, including adding a snippet of structure - as little or as much as you want - tweak those policies to have radically better results.
Hmm, thingamy is in fact "Social software"... and solidly so.
It needs no hierarchy nor any rules or policies (but you can have them if you must).
It connects people when things needs to be done.
It goes beyond sharing of data, it moves the data you want to have moved to the people you want at the time you want.
It allows any kind of transparency.
It captures all that happens and increases knowledge by every thing done. Nothing is lost.
It automates the boring stuff like reports - that can be generated automagically from real activities.
Web-based, check. Tweakable and changeable at any time, check. Social, yah.
Wonder if my focus is too narrow on the enterprise space, perhaps there is a consumer play hidden therein as well? Could it even enhance my social interactions with non-enterprisey folks? Time for some reverse idea-engineering for the fun of it? (Don't think there's any money in it though - but could be fun, good for learning, straddle the divide, sneak in backdoors, etc.)
But on the other hand, conceptually, better to be the enterprise Social software with the by far deepest well of features than being the simple (on the surface) Enterprise software that still have not produced a chocolate bar ever, not to talk about a million per hour that some of my bigger competitors can brag about.
Food for thought on a Tuesday morning... ah well, back to reality and testing semantic process engines and other radical goodies!
22 years ago I met Lars for the first time. He's big, solid and Swedish - and if you've ever read Pippi Longstocking he would definitely remind you of (a young version of) Pippi's father, the seafarer and cannibal king. Although I don't think neither Ephraim nor Lars were into cannibalism.
Pippi's father, eh, Lars, left, owner hanging from boom like a monkey on the right, assorted deckhands in the middle
Lars and his at that time girlfriend, Robbie, were hired as crew on my boat, a Swan 59, build number 8 (current Thingamy build is 2.2.12 I think...) a white beauty named "Sassy" built up north in Finland (my third Swan no less).
For three years Lars ran the boat with deft professionalism and Robbie ruled the galley while Lars' nephew Lennart inhabited the forepeak and oiled winches when he was not making the best piña colada ever (a dash of bananas I think it was).
Antigua race week, 21 cases of Heineken consumed on first race day, owner sitting in shade
We even had our "own" chauffeur in English Harbour in Antigua, Jim, who normally ran one of the taxis. His son was a member of the local soccer team where Lars and Lennart joined in during the winter charter season. Myself I was limited to sponsoring the team uniform, numbered garments that were collected after each game to avoid too much wear and tear during the rest of the week.
Our team in baby blue sponsored team suits
Good times indeed. But every phase in life has an end so in 1988 I sold the yacht and Lars and I opened a yacht brokerage in Antibes, the yacht centre in Europe, and the world for that matter.
Since then Lars has run and built that business with the same diligence and professionalism as he ran the boat - I was merely the passenger and intermittent supporter as before. [The Fenderkicker blog is here by the way.]
One year ago time was ripe for yet another change as Lars moved on to New Zealand (his wife is Kiwi) but still keeping a keen eye on the operations up here.
And with that we felt an increased interest in our business among potential acquirers. Not only has the business been profitable for almost twenty years, it has a very good reputation and extremely capable people while being one of the few, if not the only mid sized yacht broker in this area not yet gobbled up by the big operators. In other word a perfect target.
The combination of having an interesting asset on our hands, a decision to move on and a need to shore up my wine budget (already under undue pressure from thingamy development) simply made us open the doors.
So now we're in multiple discussions, and if none of the current crop pans out we'll allow others to enter the fringe - we're sellers now. Just mail me if you want to enter the yacht business... ;)
A very good time it has been, but life goes on, and our co-workers deserve owners/partners with a more forward-looking yacht focus as I have shifted my focus ever so slightly to less salty business areas.