Saturday, May 16, 2009

Virtual Conference

I work for SAP, the business software company. The annual customer conference is called SAPPHIRE. This is year, along with the regular conference, in Orlando, Florida, we also had a virtual conference using a service provided by

It was a good way to provide access to all the presentations, keynotes and demos to people who could not travel to the event. We also had virtual product booths manned by experts from SAP to answer questions. It worked out pretty well. More than 3500 people showed up and saw the demos and keynotes.

The virtual conference mimicked a regular conference. Participants came in, registered, listened to keynotes and presentations. They then went to the show floor and walked around from booth to booth to see the product demos there. They then chatted with experts at the booth.

Interesting thing was, unlike the regular conference the virtual conference was open 24 hours and product experts from around the world were available 24 hours to answer product questions.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I discovered, where you can create your own music station.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Five eras in Social Media by Jeremiah Owyang

Jeremiah Owyang talks about the five eras in Social Media. We are at the end of era 1 and in the beginning of Era 2.

1. Era of social relationship
Building network 

2. Era of social functionality
Applications on social networking platforms

3. Era of Social colonization
Take your followers and connections everywhere you go. 

4. Era of social context
Individuals will expose personal information in exchange for benefits from companies.

5. Era of social commerce
Communities will decide what products should be built. Social buying and social product designing,

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Did Twitter misinform people about the Swine Flu?

I read the post by Evgeny Morozov which argues twitter misinformed people about the swine flu. I have a different take on it.

The Internet empowers people with information instantly. This has eroded the power of governments and corporations to control the flow of information to their advantage. If you remember, in 1991 Saudi Arabia did not tell it's citizens that Iraq had invaded Kuwait for almost a week. [Farid Zakaria spoke about this]. They could do it then and get way with it. Today they cannot do that.

In the case of swine flu, people were talking and sharing information, about what they were hearing and reading, on twitter.  We can safetly assume that all those people who read the tweets took precautions, washed their hands more and were careful when they travelled. 

I believe Twitter creates a more informed and intelligent society. None of my colleagues actually cancelled their travel plans because of this. But they did take disinfecting napkins with them to wipe down the plane seats, which is a good idea any day.

The next arguments is that people stopped eating pork. No. The special in our canteen last week was pulled pork sandwich and I saw several people eating it while CNN was going on and on in the big screen about the Swine Flu. Hat's off to Bon Appetit Management Company, our caterer, for keeping a cool head.

Second argument is that hog futures fell and business were affected unnecessarily. This WSJ article covers that. I studied capital markets and I can tell you the the people who buy and sell commodities futures are far more intelligent than that.  While they may use Twitter to assess the sentiment of people, they will consider multiple sources and make very informed decisions.

In any case, effects on the futures market if any will be very limited. According to current estimates it will last for a few weeks and cause about $250 M in damage. I don't think anyone can argue that Russia and China stopped pork imports from the US because of Twitter.  

Third argument is that cyber terrorists will get smart about social media and use the power of social media to plan attacks. That might be true. The same argument holds good for cell phones and conference calling. Governments and corporations embraced mobile technology, reaped the benefits and developed ways to track and monitor the misuse of cell phones by miscreants.

Corporations and goverments need to do the same thing with social media. They need to invest and embrace social media rather than saying Twitter misinforms. Twitter has no power to misinform. Twitter just broadcasts what the people are saying, reading and thinking...instantly.

Let us not blame a new technology that empowers people. 

Corporations are paying the price everyday for lack of transparency in their actions, decisions and plans. So are governments. When in doubt err on the side on transparency of information and decisions. It may have some temporary negative effects. But the positives outweigh the negatives.

Let them cheat. They are Learning

I am the product manager of a enterprise learning system that is used by hundreds of companies around the world. Like any other product manager, I get requests for features and functions of the product.

Managers from companies sometimes tell me that their employees are cheating while taking tests and so they want to make the tests as secure as possible. So they ask us to make the tests complicated, the questions randomized and disable right click. We build some of those features. Obviously, these features complicate the test process, add to the stress level of the learner and make the whole learning process unpleasant.

I sometimes think that managers are missing the point. The main goal of a manager is to make his team members learn the subject matter so that that they are ready to do their job. By 'Cheating' during or just before the test, the learner is actually learning the answers to the all questions in the test subconsciously. Let them do that.

Fool them into thinking that they are cheating while they are actually learning.

There may  some exceptions where these complex features are required.  But for a vast majority of companies, the approach I specified will  work very well.

No No. I agree with you

"No No. I agree with you". I hear this phrase during meetings and telephone conversations all the time. I could not help but wonder why on earth would people start a sentence with 'NO' especially when they have a chance to start the sentence in a positive note. Why not say 'Yes. I agree with you'.

These small things matter when you work with a team of people over the phone and web meetings. They matter very much if you have not seen the other person face to face. The Dean of Pixar University speaks eloquently about the value of collaboration and the need for each other to build on what the other person says and not try to correct the other person.

This is not a cultural thing. This is just plain common sense. Start paying attention to such things and follow them diligently if you want to build credibility with your distributed colleagues.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Trying to tell a story with pictures

I have been trying tools that help me tell a story to my colleagues and customers. I tried out ToonDoo, which is pretty good for short comic strips. Tried a new tool called Pixton today. None of these tools have a clean layout for embedding process.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...