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Monthly Archives: October 2008

Earlier today I posted about someone posting about somebody else’s post on jobs that are “recession proof” ( gotta love the internets :)

That post spawned a request from Jeremy Geelan over at Sys-Con to give my two cents on yet another “recession” related technology topic: 10 Tips for Riding Out the Recession as a Software Vendor.  

The post was crafted from 10 technology execs that had tips to hunker down and see this thing through :

  1. Prioritize Harvesting Existing Assets and Opportunities (Jeremy Chone @ Nexaweb)
  2. Plan For The Worst (Mitchell Kertzman, Hummer Winblad VC)
  3. Focus on Helping Your Customers’ Bottom Line (Jnan Dash, Curl)
  4. Get Revenue Control (Chris Keene, WaveMaker)
  5. Buckle Down, Conserve Your Cash (Jeff Haynie, Appcelerator)
  6. Push Agility and Speed (John Crupi, JackBe)
  7. Grow the Talent You Have (Jason Calacanis, Mahalo.com)
  8. Make Your Top Ten 10% Better (Jason Calacanis, Mahalo.com)
  9. Build Market-share (Jason Calacanis, Mahalo.com)
  10. Adopt Cloud Computing (Michael Sheehan, GoGrid & ServePath)
Good post – the “2 cents” I shared with them - 

I think everyone of these tips are excellent for any business, but aren’t all of them things we should be doing anyhow? Recession or no recession? When we look to expand our business at EffectiveUI, we look for ways our clients can save big money or really grow revenue (or both). Why else would anyone hire us? Recession proofing your company is about making your company excellent. That way, during down times you will do more than just survive, and in bullish times you will thrive.

Our focus continues to be on attracting awesome talent and fostering a culture of teamwork, entrepreneurship and execution excellence. And then, most importantly, getting out of our own way. I’ve been astounded how successful it is when you empower everyone in a company to make a difference. What does empowerment actually mean? Giving permission to fail, as long as they fail forward. It means trusting your team has done their homework and has more context than you when making important  decisions. I’m not talking about anarchy – we all collaborate on a direction, provide insight based on our experience & education, and sometimes (but very rarely) managers have to make unpopular decisions for the benefit of the entire company. However, we’ve come to realize that success does not look like a bunch of “heroes” at the top make miraculously insightful decisions that pull the company ahead – rather success looks like a bunch of small failures where managers provide support, encouragement, some structure, and above all else – foster a great team culture.

What I meant by my comments: To recession proof your business: Focus On Quality People! They are the best chance to ride through any downturn.  

Then, as an ironic coincidence, Guy Kawasaki from AllTop just twittered an old post he wrote over 2 years ago: “The Art Of Bootstrapping” … The “list”:

  1. Focus on cash flow, not profitability.
  2. Forecast from the bottom up.
  3. Ship, then test
  4. Forget the ”proven“ team.
  5. Start as a service business.
  6. Focus on function, not form.
  7. Pick your battles.
  8. Understaff.
  9. Go direct.
  10. Position against the leader.
  11. Take the “red pill.”
Guy’s post is a worth-while read for sure (you need to read it to dig into the meaning of each item) .
I would humbly argue the “proven” team item just a bit – He states that you should start with hiring young guys and gals that are really smart over experienced people from billion dollar companies. He’s forgetting about those people that come from mid-size companies that have experience under their belt and can get you where you need to go with less risk and much faster than if you hired a bunch of new college grads that have never actually put a UI on top of an SOA (or worse, they don’t know how to spell API or SOA). Even better – find a partner that has experience building enterprise applications for those billion dollar companies ;)  They can get you rolling quickly without the weight of a “corporate” structure – Best of both worlds!

 

RIAs Can Provide Complex Functionality on the Desktop
Adobe AIR, Curl, Google Gears and Mozilla Prism all offer off-line desktop like functionality combined with RIA technology. Do these technologies represent a new kind of client platform?

 

Removing the Noise: How to eliminate unnecessary distractions from projects
– The EffectiveUI Project Management Team
The EffectiveUI team of project managers compiled this list of quick ideas that will help any team increase its productivity.

 

Easy Lookup is the Secret Sauce for Large-Scale Database App
Learn how Nitobi’s ComboBox allowed users to quickly search thousands of records in Counterpoint Systems’ online database.

 

How Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) Increase Brand Value
–Me :)
Your corporate brand is more than just your logo or your jingle. Your brand is also the emotion raised when someone thinks about your company. In this article from Business Trends Quarterly, Franco explains how a well-designed RIA entices people do your brand.

 

RIA Penetration in the Enterprise
Ron Rogowski from Forrester Research, and Richard Monson-Haefel and Richard Treadway from Curl, discuss RIA technology such as AJAX, Flex, Silverlight and Curl and their level of penetration in the enterprise.

James Hamilton wrote a piece for SysCon titled “Gartner’s Top 10 List is Incorrect and Stupid“. 

Actually, I should start with a little background:

InfoWorld posted this article by Lisa Schmeiser. She talks about recession proof jobs. Good read. My only argument would be to the point that companies should try to do everything in-house. Sometimes you need help from the outside to get you started down the right track – if you spend a million to save 2, good ROI right?

One of the jobs had to do with “web 2.0″ technologies – for some reason, this really set James off. In his post he wrote:

I can’t imagine a single company today having a spare team of programmers sitting bored in a room with nothing better to do than implement a “social computing” module to their corporate website, or my favorite, “enterprise mashups” for their management team.

Web 2.0 became a mute subject overnight as it relates to software as a business.

Bloggers do not need hundreds of Web 2.0 software companies to help them.

Why would K-Mart need social computing features on its website during the recession of 2009? Why would IBM need social computing elements on its website? Why would Sony need an enterprise mashup? Well, Zillow is a hit. Do we need to change every website on earth to mini Zillows?

I thought I’d repost my comments here:

Sorry James, I think you have this one wrong. First, I’ve been lucky enough to meet many of the gartner analysts, and everyone I’ve met has been very bright – most of their opinions are based on actual data and research. It is arrogant to assume that you know better.

Question – if you were a bank, and your customer service organization cost you 100 million dollars a year, what would you spend to cut that cost in half? Many “Web 2.0″ portals are used to push customers to self-service. Additionally, according to another research firm forester (who also base their opinions on data and research), those customers who use highly usable self service portals perceive a higher service quality.

So, imagine you are that bank CEO – would you spend 25 million on an IT effort that saved you 50 million this year, and every year going forward? Now add in that your customers’ perception of your bank significantly improves. How attractive is that 25 million spend now?

To use your example – K-Mart’s IT department could create a dashboard to track weather, truck-maintenance schedules, employee vacation time and traffic conditions to more accurately predict truck deliveries -

All “Web 2.0″ really does is give us a broader set of tools to create better software, and there is almost always an ROI in that!

Cut to early June, Intelligence Gaming sat in our “fishbowl” conference room, and Jim Cheng, one of our senior ui developers, is wearing a headset listening to an amazing audio clip that includes technology called “binaural audio” – Jim spins around in his chair, as though something loud happened behind him – he screamed out a “WHOOP!, This is awesome!”. As he was listening to the audio, Maikel Sibbald, Jim’s development cohort, was watching a video clip shot with a 360 degree camera. Steve, one of the incredibly smart people behind the RealityV concept from Intelligence Gaming, pulled out a head mounted, LCD display unit and asked “Can you guys combine these experiences into this piece of hardware?” – I told him ” You had me at hello!”

Since then, our team has been pulling crazy hours to combine super high-resolution video, 8 channels of audio into an immersive training experience for the US Army:

The situational awareness training will be delivered to the ARMY in “episodes” this year and is just the tip of the iceberg for the platform. What is really innovate about all of this is that we are using “off the shelf” hardware, including an interactive USB glove that allows participants to interact  with the content while wearing the headset.

If you are lucky enough to be at MAX 2008 this year, we are showcasing the application (you will actually get to put this thing on and test drive it yourself) – Hope to see you there!!

 

you can also read a little more about the application here on TechCrunch: http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/10/14/realityv-revolutionary-virtual-reality-training/

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