Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nike+ Interview

In addition to being into tech, one of my other passions is running. One of the things that has helped to keep me motivated in is my Nike+ Sport Band. For $60 I can track my routes, pace, and mileage. The thing I love about it is that it is totally easy to use and has a great user interface.

Nike has built in some basic social networking features but has yet to realize the full potential of the platform. With their powerful brand and full line of athletic products they have the ability to be a dominant player in the online fitness space. Currently, the Nike+ site doesn't have many features beyond just tracking runs. I'd love to see them add things like shoe tracking, a gear wishlist, 3rd party race results, etc. These features would let them learn more about me as a customer and drive my purchases through targeted incentives.

Check out this BusinessWeek article and video on Nike+ as well as some commentary from MarketingProfs Daily Fix.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

BU Tech Strategy Presentation

I'm finally getting around to posting some of my work to Slideshare. Below is my team's winning presentation from the 2007 Boston University Tech Strategy Case Competition. Each team had 24 hours to address the subject, “What is the best way for Motorola to win in seamless delivery of media and entertainment?” We recommended that Motorola leverage their position in the set-top box market to enable a P2P media delivery system. Check out the presentation. I'd love to hear your comments.

Harrah's Innovation

Last year I had the opportunity to be part of Harrah's newly formed Innovation Team. We were working on some cool projects including the Microsoft Surface, location based services, and mobile applications.
"The best way to fast-track a promising innovation, he says, is to operate it as an independent venture, separate from the tethers of everyday business processes. That often means running an innovation project on separate IT systems to avoid mingling experimental data with business operations." Tim Stanley, CIO & Chief Innovation Officer

Check out this InformationWeek article on the innovation process at Harrah's.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mobile Start-Up Presentation

Slideshare is a great site for all kinds of useful information (once you sort through the junk). Check out the mobile presentation I recently found. Also, you can find a number of my presentations there.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

2nd Annual Open Web Awards

Check out the 2nd Annual Open Web Awards and vote for Rearden Commerce and all your other favorite companies. You can nominate and vote for companies in 26 different categories.

Update: The 2008 winners have been announced and can be found here. Some of my personal favorites from the list include Gyminee, Evernote, and Doodle. Be sure to check out all the rest of the winners and finalists.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tech and the financial crisis

Check out this presentation by Mary Meeker from the Web 2.0 Summit. She talks about some of the causes of the financial crisis and the outlook for tech. The video of the presentation is available on TechCrunch.

Mary Meeker Web 2.0 Presentation
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: web 2.0)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ready For Any Weather

It seems that this week everyone is talking about how an economic downturn will effect Silicon Valley. Case in point, today's NY Times article titled, "Credit Crisis Spreads a Pall Over Silicon Valley." I'll leave the financial health of Apple or Google up to the experts and say that Rearden Commerce is still growing like crazy. With a $100 million in fundraising this year, Rearden was recently cited by TechCrunch as one of the firms ready to weather a downturn.

Even more important than Rearden's $100 million is a business model with multiple revenue streams and a product that gives companies a platform to capture and reduce their business expenses. In tough economic times the impetus to manage employee spending only gets stronger. The dramatic growth of Rearden's customer and supplier base is a perfect testament to this. Additionally, Rearden's upcoming entry into the consumer market through a partnership with Chase (pdf) will further solidify the company's position as one of the tech companies ready to weather and even thrive in this tough economic climate.

Update 1/30/09: Despite Rearden's war chest and strong customer growth the comapny hasn't been imune to significant layoffs. In November the company had to layoff over 10% of their employees, including the majority of the marketing department, in an effort to reduce costs. Oddly, the compay is now reporting that they are hiring aggressivly including increasing R&D spending by 20%.

Monday, May 19, 2008

An Open Platform for Mobile Application Development

As my MBA experience comes to an end it seems like a good time to post some of the project work I've done over the last two years. One of my main areas of focus has been mobile technology. This semester I took a class called Winning in Technology Markets which used System Dynamics as a framework for tech strategy. My team project was an evaluation of an open platform strategy for the Japanese cell phone company NTT DoCoMo. Here is our presentation deck. If I get the chance I will also post the full analysis.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Yahoo's New Fire Eagle

Tom Coates of Yahoo's Brickhouse announcing Fire Eagle, their new location sharing service. The promise of location based services take one more step forward.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Future of Mobile

The BU Tech Strategy Case competition is now a few weeks past but I haven't been able to stop thinking about my team's proposal. We proposed a new platform based business model for Vodafone with Ericsson (competition sponsor) as a strategic partner. Unfortunately, we didn't make it beyond the first round (more details later).

I sat in on the presentations of the four finalists. For the most part these presentations were high level type consulting reports that advocated moving to a mobile broadband world. It was disappointing to realize that the competition sponsors just weren't ready for an innovative idea like ours. On the upside I'm starting to realize that I'm not alone in feeling this way. Check out this great blog post and discussion from one of my favorite blogs, Telco 2.o. To quote from that post:

Then you have to ask: “Don’t we need a new business model here, in parallel with the 4G technical developments?” The answer is of course, yes, and we explained why to in detail over a year ago on this blog. But, of course, we’ve had a deafening silence from the tecchies about this (“Not
our problem!”).

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sloan First Round Presentation

After an hour of sleep we were the first team of the day to present to the judges. We got off to a slow start but warmed up as we went through the presentation.

Monday, March 17, 2008

BU Tech Strategy Case Competition

It is just about time for Boston University's annual tech strategy case competition. This year 16 teams from around the world will be competing for the top prize of $25,000 sponsored by Ericsson. Last year I participated in the competition and was fortunate enough to be on the winning MIT Sloan team. As the only first-year student on that team I had the opportunity to put this year's team together. We've got a great team and will hopefully come home with enough money to hold me over until I find a job.

The competition goes from March 27 - 29th and you follow the action on the official competition blog. Check back here to see if Sloan was able to pull off a repeat victory.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Pandora at Sloan

I want to say thanks to Tim Westergren, Co-founder of Pandora for speaking at Sloan this past Wednesday. Tim gave a great talk on the founding of Pandora, the future of the music industry, and the Music Genome project.

One of the most interesting aspects of Tim's talk was his explanation of Pandora as part of the music discovery process. Because Pandora uses over 400 objective criteria to rate each song, the music discovery process is not driven by the latest fad or ratings that trend toward the mean. Pandora spends between 15 - 45 min rating each song. In addition over 70% of their music is not on a major label. For my money Pandora clearly has nailed one piece of music discovery on the internet. Ultimately they still need to dramatically improve the ease of purchase. Tim mentioned that many of their artists are not on iTunes or Amazon.

For the first three weeks of Pandora's life the company attempted a subscription model. When this was a dismal failure they moved to a free service. Currently, Pandora is supported by ads and a revenue sharing agreement with merchants like Next time you want to buy a CD (or other item), help Pandora out by clicking through their site.

Pandora recently sent me an email with some tips for improving my station:
Want to create a station with a very specific sound? Consider giving a thumbs up to a song only when you like (almost) every aspect of a song, because each thumbs up will add more songs to your station, perhaps in a range that is wider than you had hoped.
Thumbs down has a less dramatic impact than thumbs up – it simply bans that song from that station, so consider using it liberally for any song you don’t like, or for a song that just doesn’t ‘fit’ on that station.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

MIT Sloan Books

During my time I Sloan I have had the opportunity to work with some great professors and researchers. I just wanted to highlight some of the books they have written.

My CISR Research Advisor, George Westerman, recently released a new book called IT Risk. One reviewer put it nicely when he said it is the first IT risk book that didn't put him to sleep. George and his CISR colleagues do great work. Please check out his new book.

I am also working as a teaching assistant for Professor Tom Malone. His book, The Future of Work, has some great insights on the organizational changes that are happening due to the reduction in communication costs.

Outsourcing and Innovation

The CISR research project I have been working on for the last year, "Building an Environment for Innovation," is in the process of finishing up. My last case study for the project is focused on vendor innovation. Our research has found the vendor innovation and outsourcing should not be lumped together. Managed right vendor driven innovation can be an important piece of an innovation portfolio. This research will be available to CISR sponsors this spring. Until then the quotes from a recent CIO Magazine article do a good job of summing things up:

Indeed, most outsourcing SLAs and pricing models deter innovation. Take data center management. It’s the outsourcer’s responsibility to ensure 99.99 percent uptime or provide backup services. “The value add would be when the service provider looks at the environment and says, Now I understand how you support your business and I see that by leveraging this new technology or different hardware, we can improve the quality of the service or your costs,” says Taylor of Fluor, which is on its fourth major outsourcing contract since the mid-1990s. “But you’re paying the vendor X dollars per server so there’s no motivation for them to reduce that number.”

Fluor signed a new contract with IBM last year. “The lesson we learned was that we needed to put a more generic umbrella agreement in place for future innovation,” says Taylor. “There are specific towers of service in the scope of work that are commoditized. But there is also a separate agreement that will enable IBM to provide innovation in all kinds of areas, like virtualization.” The contract includes prenegotiated terms for future innovation around issues of indemnity, risk and intellectual property protection. “If we want to have IBM explore virtual desktops, there’s already a fabric in place. We don’t have to call the lawyers and go through a full negotiation each time,” explains Taylor. “And it’s separate from the rest of the outsourcing, so IBM doesn’t need to get reimbursed through the fees we pay for the commodity activity.” Now Fluor can increase and decrease services from IBM without penalty. “It’s important not to lock yourself in because you don’t get the benefit of innovations that present themselves every day,” Taylor says.

Grand Central Problems

I've been using Google's voicemail service Grand Central since September. The service lets you aggregate all your phone numbers (home, work, cell, etc) under one master number. When somebody calls you the service routes the call (or screens it) based on your preferences. It is a great concept that has a few bugs.

First, in an age where everyone has caller ID on their cell phones or at work, people get very confused when you call them back on a different number. Then the next time they call you they call back the other number and not your Grand Central number. For whatever reason, people just can't deal with the concept of a number with no home (i.e. the Grand Central number).

Second, all of the call routing preferences are based on your phonebook. However, Grand Central's importing tool is very clumsy and does not de dupe.

Finally, as of late Grand Central is unreliable. Now I know this is only a beta product but you just can't mess with people's messages. On Feb 4th Grand Central lost stored contacts and voicemails. Today is Feb 14th and the voicemails still haven't been restored. Unfortunately for me, I'm in the middle of search for a job and I can't listen to any of the messages that were left for me in the last 10 days. Needless to say I'm not very happy about this.
Grand Central has had a few other high profile problems. Check out this post from Tech Crunch.