Exact Partner Conference

Today at the Exact Partner Conference I gave a presentation fairly similar as I did a few days ago for the Rabobank. This version however is also in English and thus a good reason to share. Enjoy...

If the presentation isn't visible you can also see it here.

Brainstorm - Out of the Bank

In the winter months I go on most thursdays to the gym and meet there with a regular group of people. It's a special group, because it's outside the regular hours and everybody knows each other personally. First we work on our fitness and afterwards enjoy a drink. The majority of the group works in banking business and likes to make fun of my 'social computing' activities.

However the remark: Just Google me... did start the following process. One of the guys searched for me and was surprised about the amount of information I was sharing. He found some of my presentation material and actually asked if he could use some for his own purposes. He used it successfully and this resulted into a question if I could deliver a short presentation during an employee brainstorm at the bank he is working. I delivered the presentation 4 times over the last weeks and now it's here for you to enjoy (It's in Dutch however).

Your feedback on the presentation is appreciated... and feel free to embed it in your own publications.

Gordon Ramsay should develop Software

I've tweeted a few times about the fact that Gordon Ramsay is a source of inspiration. The other day one of my coworkers asked how can all the shouting and swearing be inspirational. I explained that the shouting and swearing is just a gimmick around the message.

Image: drinksmachine  

I'm talking about 'Kitchen Nightmares' where Gordon tries to help hopelessly looking restaurants. The pattern back to profitable business is very simple.
1. Tell people without any fluff the current status. If something is crap, tell that it's crap!
2. Reduce the number of items on the menu card, keep it simple! Often the restaurant owners have over ambitious ideas and over extensive menu cards creating over complexity that is very hard to manage.
3. Go back to honest, fresh and quality food. Simple, well prepared fresh food makes the customer want more and makes them visit again.

I like to apply the same rules to making software. Just image the following:
1. How often not all facts of progress or current status are shared among the team? Always be honest to yourself, your team and your manager. We al are running businesses, not making friends.
2. How many feature lists and product plans are over ambitious and the root cause for shipping late? I like 'Getting Real', especially the part about very patient paper resulting in too many requirements. Just keep it simple and focus on the most important feature.
3. How often are corners cut just to make sure the software can be shipped? Always, always make sure quality comes first. Always choose quality over feature! Always choose quality over shipping date!

Gordon, if you are reading this... come and make software with me one day..

... btw, go and read the coworkers blog: Evolution of Work 

Customer Experience Brainstorm

About 3 weeks ago I published a short impression about the Exact GLC in Munich. It showed a few pictures of the leaders brainstorming about customer experience improvements. Everybody returned back to work and it's business as usual.... or isn't it... the lessons learned during the GLC need to put into action.

Today about 40 professionals of the Exact product organization at the headquarters in Delft, Netherlands set out to do the same brainstorm as the leaders did about 3 weeks ago. Here again you find some pictures showing them in action.... read further below..

One of the Teams

Another team

Again a team


.... and the results

The Results

I was impressed, the contribution was high, and these guys and gals are really creative! Some excellent new ideas came out. Now on to transferring ideas into actions!

Location based applications - Why are they so hot?

Earlier I already wrote about my usage of location based services. In the meantime a lot has changed. Google launched 'latitude' and Fire Eagle is also on the move. Location is going to be the next hot thing and it's a lot more than the New Black!

Image credit: Jared Tarbell

Why do I believe it's going to be so important to be aware of some ones location?

I earlier wrote about the true value of SaaS solutions being improved collaboration capabilities. People start to work, communicate and collaborate more and more in a virtual world. We all blog, tweet our whereabouts and create a feeling of knowing complete strangers. This is all great and very helpful, but we should not forget 2 important aspects when working together in a virtual world
1. Time zones, although the world runs 24 hours a day, most people in most areas in the world do sleep sometimes. Real-Time communication needs to take location and time zones into consideration.
2. Face to Face meetings, yes this might sound old fashioned, but I do still value them. Location awareness can greatly enhance the chances for meeting people.

We have come a long way, all mobile devices now have GPS chips and we have location at our finger tips. However, it's still not very convenient. GPS doesn't work indoors, but who is 'checking-in' before entering a building. At least I notice that I'm not disciplined enough to update my location at a regular basis... a clear indication it's still too complex...

RSS - A How To Guide

I've written a few times about RSS. First that RSS is cool for non geeks and later again about the evolution of my RSS usage. I received feedback on both posts and learned that RSS is still a mystery for many people. Today I found this nice presentation that might explain it better than I do. Enjoy!

If the presentation isn't visible you can also find it here.

Increase participation on your Social Media platform

Today I was preparing an internal brainstorm on enhancements for the 'Ondernemen, Juist nu!' (Sorry in Dutch only) platform. The platform provides information to Small and Medium Business Entrepreneurs on various aspects of their business. I introduced the platform already earlier, it's up and running for a while now and has a steady stream of visitors, a good reason to start working on ideas for further enhancements.

By absolute coincidence, I ran during the preparations also into another great visual presentation by Telezent describing: 7 Ways To Get Users To Participate On Your Social Media Platform. You also find the presentation embedded below.

See there is no such thing as coincidence... I had good stuff to work with in the brainstorm...

Getting Real - My experiences

Today I read 'Getting Real - how to do it' by Oscar Berg. It reminded my how I felt when I read the book for the first time.

Image credit: The Marmot 

During my whole product development career I always tried to focus on the most important aspect, feature, what ever... and get that done first. I usually didn't work based on a very well defined plan, but anticipated change based on the showed results. This for me worked fine, I just took small steps to reach a goal. In case of software it should always work and feedback or reviews were always done on the 'real' product in development. Of course I was also expected to give delivery dates of the 'final' product, but constantly showing progress helped to create confidence around timely delivery.

However many people around me considered, and still consider, this as a chaotic way. This of course caused many discussions on much better defined requirements, designs and a complete planning. I often tried to explain that my way of working was not chaotic, but just more iterative. The first signals that I wasn't crazy became visible when agile development processes became in fashion and for many showed that iterative methods do work.

For me personally it was sort of a victory to read 'Getting Real', by 37 Signals, because they managed to describe very clearly my thoughts:
1. Paper is very patient, leading to exploding number of requirements
2. Focus on the most important feature and in the beginning ignore all details
3. Get something working as soon as possible
4. Accept the limitations of your environment, don't use workarounds
5. Deliver feature by feature, one at a time
6. Anticipate change, constantly review and rework

For everybody involved in product development I can recommend to read Getting Real by 37 Signals. I lost my paperback copy. I probably lent it to someone that wants to hold on to it or ripped it to pieces in absolute disagreement... May be one day it will resurface and you can borrow my copy.

Lifeblob's Social Timeline

I've written about my life stream before, but sofar they are always textual. Lifeblob takes the life stream to a whole new level, it makes it graphical and puts the events on a social time line. It allows you to visualize your (and that of others) on the web. It nicely picks up your tags and this allows for interesting intersections of information.

Not too many services are supported, making it less useful. However the nice embedding feature makes it still worth the have a look. If the embedding doesn't work, check it out here!

If you are interested to give it a try, let me know so I can send you an invite.

The Revolution of Social Software

A while back I wrote about the Evolution of Software. It was about the evolution of the PC era into the community web era.  Lately I've been working on a revision of this model. It's no longer a evolution, but a revolution of Social software.

Image: Blakes 7 

The revised model uses only 3 time frames, each with their own characteristics, describing the transformation from Transactions thru Processes to Social.

85-95 - Transactions95-05 - Processes05-?? - Social
Automation of paper formsOptimizing the business
e.g. Accountinge.g. CRM
Initiated by Tier-1 companiesInitiated by Consumers
Internal focusExternal focused
Generation XGeneration Y
Efficiency & ProductivityEmotional

The model now clearly shows the big change that is happening when adopting Social Software. It's a new generation that requires an external focus and needs to deal with emotion instead of practical to measure efficiency and productivity.