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Apr 30

Cutter Summit 2007 – Stowe Boyd on Web 2.0

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Apr 30

April 30, 2007

Stowe Boyd is taking the stage on Web 2.0. He describes it as a very important revolution in the space of social apps that is itself transformative. He says that taking up blogging towers over everything else he has ever done in his career. It trumps his getting a degree in computer science, or all the years of working for large corporations. Being part of a large global network has been personally transformative for him.

Stowe talks about social applications as being one of the most important things in industry.

Innovation as iteration is the subject now. Innovation isn’t always something you plan in advance, and sometimes you don’t know where you’re going. I take it that he describes Web 2.0 as a place that is inherently innovative.

Web 2.0 – He says there’s a lot of controversy around whether the term itself fits. He says yes, and that Web 2.0 is also viewed as a collection of metaphors, like “Web as Platform;” “Social Web;” “Open;” “Bottom-up;” “Simple; Focused Apps;” and “Open Source Technologies.” All these apply.

It is also a collection of technologies, like LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP); RSS (Really Simple Syndication), XML, AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML), Ruby on Rails, etc. [This is indeed another universe with a language all its own. I’m wondering how I might explain some of this to my mom…]

With the surging proliferation of Web 2.0 companies, some of which already don’t exist since Stowe made the slide, he says that people are asking if this is another dot-com bubble. Stowe says, no, because the economics, technologies, players, and their goals, are different than the late 1990s.

So far I’m still trying to capture the specific business economics. He’s talking about Web 2.0 technologies being very inexpensive, and in some cases, are free. Revenue is mostly through advertising. Then there’s the notion of the term, “Freemium,” whereby there is a limited amount of access to content and functionality for free, and above that, the user pays a premium. I’m stunned that Stowe is describing a recent Web 2.0 conference that was attended by 3,000 people, with another 4,000 going through the expo. Observation: It’s becoming mainstream.

Social networking means … me first. The individual is the new group: my passions, my people, my markets. Stowe is saying that in this new world, he learns about tech trends for example, by his social network connections, through the internet, and not through large media outlets.

Next is the notion of the “Buddylist” being the Center of the Universe. “I am made greater by the sum of my connections, and so are my connections.” (I am reminded of an adage I once heard from Prof. Rick Jarow of Vasser College, where he said (on creating community) that another word for a “community” is – a “market.”)

Web 2.0 is the world that blogs built; also, the blogosphere is doubling every 5 or 6 months, and that it is a worldwide phenomenon. Stowe says regardless of the number of readers that a given blog has (number of readers), that it still has value simply because of the [social aspect of its existence.]

Blogs and craigslist represents a 1-2 knockout punch to conventional media. Example: has been “credited” with knocking 37 percent off of classified advertising in the San Fransisco – Bay area.

Conversation flows through networks; media holds the pieces but not the content, and to understand what is going on, you have to be “in the flow.” [I am reminded of an article that I once wrote entitled “A Global Digital Nervous System.” I referred to some of Peter Russell’s ideas on Gaia theory originally advanced by NASA’s James Lovelock. For the complete text – click here.]

I’m really looking forward to the panel discussion to follow. Much about Web 2.0 is sure to come from this impressive list of experts, including Sylvia Marino (, Andrew McAfee (Harvard Business School), JP Rangaswami (BT Global Services) and the inimitable Ed Yourdon. For Ed’s observations and keynotes etc. on Web 2.0, go to his blog here.

Posted by Mike at 3:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cutter Summit 2007 – Rob Austin on Learning from Expert Innovators

“The future belongs to those who know how to create new things.”

– Rob Austin, Harvard Business School.

At the opening keynote for the Cutter Summit 2007 conference, this tag line is what caught my eye in Rob Austin’s assertion for a Cutter Council Opinion entitled, “The Future of IT Value Creation in a Global Economy.”

Rob’s is taking the stage right now, and his keynote is on “Learning from Expert Innovators.” I always have loved Rob’s engaging style; it’s a great way to launch the Cutter Summit. Innovation is the theme of this year’s conference.

He starts by saying “Why IT needs a new (business value creation) trick.” I get the sense that he’s going to build upon the Cutter Council report assertion that says the following:

“In developed economies, creating business value with information technology will soon be less about reducing costs and improving efficiency (the traditional cost-side value creation objectives) and more about supporting activities that leads to new markets, products, services, and strategies (revenue-side value creation objectives); many IT managers have cost-and efficiency based management reflexes that prepare them poorly for this shift”.

I am amused and bemused by Rob’s opening slide: he’s showing pictures of the latest hot rage in Denmark as a way to make his point about value creation in IT: He’s showing us – (I’m not kidding here) a designer trash bin: the Vipp. A really cool sexy (yes) trash bin. How has design and innovation managed to create a product (pedagogically interesting?) that is now marketed as a fashion item? It is, unbelievably, hot because of it’s appeal as an ART OBJECT!

A Trash Can as an Art Object. And here’s the punch line. It sells for more than 500 euros. Add about 36% to convert to dollars. “Expert assembly by European craftsmen.” So it’s not even made by low-cost factories in China.

Rob’s point: The action [in this game] is on the REVENUE SIDE of the income statement.

This is about as far as you can get from competing on cost – It’s not about selling well because it’s cheaper, (it’s about selling even though it costs more), because IT’S BETTER. Rob is saying that this exemplifies the change on how we function in the world.

This company has figured out how [creativity and] INNOVATION has made it possible for people to be willing to pay 500 euros or more – for a trash bin.

We (IT) have already done the cost-side trick; now it’s time to do the revenue-side trick – THAT is the future of IT. The problem – as Rob says in the Assertion (above), that most managers have reflexes that prepare them poorly for this.

Posted by Mike at 9:30 AM | Comments (0)

Cutter Summit 2007 – Day 1

Well, here I am at the Cutter Summit once again, which promises to be a fantastic program on Innovation. The event is being held at the Royal Sonesta hotel in downtown Cambridge overlooking the Charles River with the Boston skyline in all its splendor. I can’t believe how this area has evolved over the years. I remember being a student here over 25 years ago, and it was a run down warehouse district. Like Hoboken and Jersey City across from lower Manhattan, this has become a hip place after all these years. Here’s a view from the hotel.

Summit07 004 small.jpg

I also clipped a conference description off the Cutter website:

Innovation has become the new business-IT obsession. But really, what is “innovation”? And what does it mean for your enterprise? At Cutter, we believe innovation is a reliably repeatable process — one that is required to develop novel markets, product, services, and strategies that provide real economic value to the organization. At the 11th annual Cutter Consortium Summit conference, you’ll discover:

* How you can nurture an innovative culture in your organization
* How you can be a Risk Entrepreneur and use risk as a catalyst to innovation
* How one company has been able to make its enterprise architecture investment pay huge innovation dividends
* How to become a leader who not only has passion, but who can make a lasting impact
* How you can put the headline-making Web 2.0 technology and social trends to work for your enterprise, and
* How CIOs can balance cost-cutting pressures with the need to innovate.

The annual Cutter Consortium Summit is unlike any other conference you’ve ever attended. It provides a live venue for IT and business professionals to meet and debate with one another and noted experts in the IT field. The intellectual give-and-take is second to none. Discover why business and technology professionals return each year — and why you should join them!

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