The Social Web

The Social Web is build on openness, human interaction and involvement. This is very different of most software, including web based applications, available today. Working at a research department requires me to have a vision and give direction to these new trends. Convincing others that the world is changing is not a simple task, because being open is not very easy... most people are afraid to loose control.

I therefor appreciate the 'Social Media Frequently Asked Questions' series by Jeremiah Owyang. It answers in the first 2 episodes already 2 of the key questions I've to answer frequently.

Cloud computing

Like so many in our industry I'm also following what is happening with MicroHoo. In general I see lots of challenges when integrating the companies... and this possibly leads to reduced focus in other areas.... very likely many will be happy about this... ;-)
Today I run into an interesting blog post on the subject: Microsoft's Colossal Strategic Mistake: "We Need to Be in Advertising". The part about the transition to cloud computing is the most interesting... this is something that is definitely playing in many other companies too.

Microsoft's Misconception: "Cloud Computing" = Software Supported By Advertising

The problem is the way Microsoft has always framed the "cloud computing" transition:

  • paid desktop software licenses giving way to
  • free web-based software supported by advertising.

This framing is wrong. It has also led Microsoft to believe it has no choice but to compete with Google in search and to buy Yahoo, aQuantive, et al, to beef up its advertising platform.

A better way of thinking about the "cloud computing" transition, in our opinion, is:

  • paid desktop licenses giving way to
  • paid web-based licenses

In this framework, today's stark differentiation between the "Corporate" and "Consumer" markets doesn't change. "Advertising," moreover, has nothing to do with it--except on the Consumer side, which is far less important a market to Microsoft than it is to Google and Yahoo.

Microsoft is not the only one making this mistake. I already got confronted with the same issue, people asking me about the required number of users necessary to make equal advertisement revenue as today on software licenses. It's understandable, because there is more attention for the growing online advertisement market and companies successfully exploiting this than there is attention for companies with a successful business model on pay cloud services.
Still the question doesn't make sense, because the current software license market is much larger than the online advertisement market. The online advertisement market is growing faster, but won't pass he market value for software licenses in the next decade..

We just need to be aware of this.... and let Microsoft make this mistake....

Kick Off 2008

It's already a week in February and finally the first post of the year. I've already been 3 weeks on the road this year.. and for a strange reason I'm not able to write from a hotel room. Travel on the other hand is also a good inspiration source.... a new environment helps to see things differently.. and travel often involves a lot of waiting... what are good moments to put your thoughts in order.

Many of the things I've been working on are related to community and social computing in a business environment. The success of Social networking in the consumer space is evident, but many, me inclusive, are still searching how this can be beneficial in business software.
Lets put it like this... Social Networking makes the web more social... and thus a better place... Business Software will transform to Business Services, preferably hosted in the social and better web...

... I will more regularly update on the topic..