Tuesday, June 9, 2009

SaaS Asia 2009 Conference

Last month, I was invited to the SaaS Asia Conference organized by Springboard Research. It was a very fruitful event with lots of insight to take away. This is also the 2nd time that I heard Michael Barnes (VP of Software Research). I am impressed by his coverage on the state of SaaS.

The short video clip from Salesforce provides a good explanation on the benefits of SaaS (Software as a Service).

After this conference, I am more convinced that SaaS model will be here to stay. It will be especially useful for SMEs:

  • For applications that the data is not sensitive to be hosted outside the company’s premises
  • For business applications that are generic enough without the need for customization
  • For needs that are not critical to the operations of the company
  • For organizations that are unable/unwilling to commit to a huge investment upfront with the traditional licensing model
  • For a small number of users which is difficult to justify for the purchase

At the same time, the management from the bigger companies may want to consider these factors to see whether SaaS is suitable for them. I believe the SaaS vendors will also have to think about these issues to make their offering more attractive.
  • Scalability – what happens if there is more usage? Which model will be more cost effective
  • Network response time – Web applications requires a high response time to be effective and user friendly. It is more challenging when it is housed outside the intranet.
  • Crisis Management – In time of crisis, will the service provider be able to react in time to all their customers? Try to imagine one big raincloud with multiple locations on fire. Is it possible to put out all the fire? Sometimes the bit of slack is required to handle unplanned emergencies.
  • Exit strategy – What is the cost to migrate to another application? Can the data be exported out?

Here are the other related articles from the event for your reading interests

Monday, June 8, 2009

Can Twitter Serve as a Personal Knowledge Management Tool?

I came across Bill's blog post on whether Twitter can serve as a personal knowledge management tool. Here's the comments about it.

I think you have raised a valid point that Twitter reminds you of de.licio.us

While Twitter is definitely good in dissemination of information, I doubt it will be useful for long term personal knowledge management.

As the amount of information increases, it will be harder to retrieve what you want. There is a limit on the amount of information that can be stored with 160 characters. There is a scientific word for this - entropy

There are a lot of meta-information that is required for a feasible large-scale knowledge base. One good way is to use emails to see what Twitter is currently lacking.

  • Who - source or participants of the information
  • When - When was this information created
  • Context - as in previous emails discussion. Can we link up all the threads on twitter?
  • organization structure - as in email folders or tags

p.s: I decided to keep this in my own knowledge base :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Can ads continue to fund the boom of Web 2.0?

One of the key reasons for the boom in the Web 2.0 is the power of free. With just an Internet connection, anyone can have access to useful applications like Google, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or Flickr without having to pay a single cent. So how do they get the money to buy the hardware, recruit the development team and pay for the utilities? Some of them probably got a group of rich investors, otherwise the companies are earning the money through web advertisements.

The ads model has been very effective so far, and it also attracted countless bloggers to publish content on the internet. Even I myself has signed up on Google Adsense to link with this blog (though I have yet to see any returns).

But the question is whether there are sufficient ads to go around and can ads generate enough revenue for the company or not? Will the investors continue to pump money into the company when they cannot see any profits in future? (Will you deposit your money in a bank that does not pay you interest?)

I also noticed the trend that there are some services to scrap off the ads from the actual site with addons like GreaseMonkey and Jetback. And if you access facebook from mobile devices like Apple Iphone, only the key content is presented (without the ads).

Even if you do not scrap the ads, how often do you click on the advertisement on the webpage? Yes, the amount of revenue is determined by how many people clicked at the advertisement on their sites.

So the big question here is sustainability. If you run a cafe, how long can you continue to offer free drinks before you get paying customers who are willling to pay for your drinks? Likewise, if people is unwilling to pay for the usage of web services and also unwilling to help that company to earn the revenue, then what will be likely consequences? Can you imagine what happens one day if you cannot access your Gmail or Facebook? Will there be a "Web 2.0 crisis" after the current financial crisis?

Will you start considering to pay for this services? Or what are your thoughts on it. I am interested to know.

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's Time to Get Serious About Enterprise 2.0

Robert Mahowald, Research Director, IDC, discusses how organizations today are using innovative Enterprise 2.0 tools for more efficient business operations across the extended enterprise.