The way I have envisioned displaying device capability of the different “use case” areas (mobility, productivity, gaming, audio/video, networking, processing…) and “application case” compatibilities (for specific environments like Microsoft online services (Office 365 or DymanicsCRM), SAP…) is on a ‘radar chart‘ so that a device and a user pattern can be established to match the functionality of the device with the needs of the user. Here is an example from Wikipedia:

Example of a Radar or Star Diagram

A Radar diagram shows multiple variables on different scales

I am yet to establish what the scales would be (because they would have to both be fixed to show improvements over time, and be scalable so the device pattern does not grow increasingly larger over time with improvements in device capability. The way that is commonly used is with log scales, but log scales greatly decrease the visual impact of patterns on a radar chart… Right now I am inclined to just have a fixed scale and worry about the improvement issue over time at a later date…

Anyway, the ability to map ‘use cases’ and manipulate the order of the variables (put them in priority order) is a powerful, graphical tool (snapshot) for an organization to ‘see’ the difference between devices (like the example of laptops and tablets for productivity functions), and to match the device functionality to a user profile. I think this would be very helpful for organizations to both assess the viability of different platforms *and* to justify specific solutions for support (one of the greatest challenges in today’s organization is to limit the number and diversity of the devices that are supported)…

I am quite sure that the visual impact of radar charts for the difference in ‘use cases’ between between platforms (‘what is the best platform for our users?’ …smartphone, tablet, notebook, netbook…) would be excellent for general technology publication… and that charting the functionality for ‘application cases’ would be an excellent tool for specific organizations with the need to select devices from among the many alternatives within one specific platform (‘what are the best tablets for my IT environment?’).

What do you think?  J

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After years as a business student, businessman and business professor, I cannot remember one instance or case where litigation was a strategy (the top level of R. N. Anthony’s pyramid of strategic, tactical and operational planning and management). Litigation as a tactic? Absolutely… Litigation in operations? Sure… But, suing to shut other competitors down is quite a stretch.

Michael Porter suggested and taught that there we only two true business strategies: price and product differentiation… Now, it seems, Apple has elevated suing your competitors to a whole new level. This strategy is aptly summarized in the Reuter’s graphic here:

Mobile Patent Suits

Mobile Patent Suits

This type of litigious action did happen during the 1990s when Texas Instruments sued numerous PC manufacturers [disclosure: I worked for Dell at the time] over intellectual property in the innards of personal computers. But that was an attempt to shore up TI’s sagging bottom line with additional IP license revenues, not protect TI’s all but dead PC business (you do remember TI’s PC don’t you?).

It is almost painful to think what will happen to technological advance if litigation becomes the popular new strategy. Someone at some point will assess the total cost of all the suits and counter suits… and quickly do the math to determine how much this litigious episode cost each handset owner. But the real cost may be in the defensive posturing of the companies and their assessment that nobody can innovate unless you have lots of patents or very deep pockets…

For no other reason other than the unintended consequences caused from a litigation strategy, I hope that Apple’s litigation proves fruitless so that no other company attempts this for the next 20 years.

Recently a client asked me if the venerable ‘desktop’ was going away… and if/where the new tablet devices fit into their business model? Here are some of my thoughts…

Two thoughts on ‘desktop’ PCs and ‘tablet’ PCs that continue what you discuss…

  1. A ‘desktop’ is ‘general general function’ machine. In the early days of computing, computers came in two categories, dedicated function and general function. The best example of dedicated function early on were ‘database machines’ that were optimized for database functions and were stripped of everything else… they would not do graphics or word processing… just fast, efficient database. On the other end of the continuum were ‘general function’ machines that would do pretty much anything you could put into software and hardware, but were not optimized for anything in particular. Your desktop will play your CDs & DVDs, play games, do your word processing, spreadsheet, retrieve and answer your email, access the internet and much much more… but it comes (for the sake of expandability and flexibility) in this big old box. Additionally, for the sake of low price, everything it does is farless than optimal (especially those cheap speakers that render even the finest music into noise). I refer to the desktop as a ‘general general function’ machine because markets have moved into specialization among ‘general function’ machines in areas like: gaming, graphics, home theater, entertainment, connectivity, portability… and many more. These still do almost all the functions, but the prioritize some at the expense of others (so a tablet can still do word processing, but the lack of a physical keyboard will make it challenging)… so now we have ‘specialty general function’ machines that compete with ‘general general function’ machines for certain functionality… and as you point out, desktops are not going away, but if someone wants to watch a movie on a long flight, one of the options is *not* a desktop. So, for some functionality, the desktop functionality is being extended/expanded by other devices or replaced by other ‘specialty’ devices… My transportation metaphor for the ‘desktop’ is the ubiquitous ‘minivan’… but that is another discussion…

    tablet target and function

    tablet target and function

  2. Among multiple ‘specialty general function’ devices, which cover the most functionality and provide the most utility (and have an efficient footprint)? Demand for functionality (computing services) is what drives platforms… for years I have struggled with my personal ‘mobile office’ devices. This was because I kept on wanting additional functionality but did not want to add more and more to the number of devices and the size and weight of the devices and support equipment.
  • First it was a cellphone (a dedicated function machine) and a big clunky laptop (a portable general function machine
  • second was a cellphone (dedicated), a PDA (dedicated) and a laptop (portable general)
  • more recently the cellphone (dedicated- multi purpose) expanded to do the functionality of the PDA (dedicated), but for any real input/output I still needed a notebook (portable general)
  • now, I have graduated to an Android smartphone (Gingerbread- very portable general function) and find that there are times when I do not need to pack the notebook (portable general)
  • the question now becomes: will a tablet (more portable general function) squeeze out the notebook (portable general)? …and the answer today is ‘no, not yet’ because there are processes where I need a real keyboard, some specific attachments and some substantial processing power which have been optimized out of the tablet for size and weight and power conservation… but that does not suggest that those features might be available with some creative/innovative tablet in the near future

I was really struck with a discussion between Charlie Rose and Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn)  (probably this interview, but I am not positive)… where Charlie asks Reid: how many cellphones do you carry? Reid said “three” and Charlie said “me too.” Both carried phones for just regular phone calls (dedicated), one for PDA functionality (dedicated-probably Blackberrys) and one for surfing the web (dedicated use although general in design -iPhones)… This strongly suggested a portable device space that was definitely “in transition” and probably “in consolidation.” I think the recent explosive growth of iPhones and Android phone (now about 3/4 of recent smartphone sales) is evidence of this consolidation. Just how that transition/consolidation ends nobody can say for sure… there is no precedent in history that we can learn from… and you cannot really ask the users because ‘they don’t know what they don’t know.’ All that I do know is that users will continue to pull functionality off the ‘desktop’ platform onto other, more user friendly and functionality optimized platforms. Will that cause people to slow down their purchase of ‘general general function’ machines? Probably. At what rate? I don’t know, but that market and segment uncertainty (plus the hiring of a software CEO) has HP bailing out of the mobile device market (wasn’t that a shocker)…

Sooooo, when you only had one compute device, it needed to be a ‘general general function’ machine and it was (until about 2009) a desktop. Since then notebooks have been the larger seller because it offered portability. As less expensive and smaller devices work to expand their functionality and services, the buying public has platform coverage choices. Sure ‘desktops’ will have a smaller slice of the ‘general function’ market… Now as for tablets, how, exactly they will fit either into the space between smartphones and netbooks and notebooks is largely unpredictable… the one phenomenon that we have seen with tablets is the boom of entertainment (movies, video, magazines, music…) on the tablet platform. Whether that will last or will be captured by other devices only time will tell… How big a screen will I be willing to carry on my phone (the move from 2.6″ to 4.3″ was just fine)? Will larger netbooks be popular (my Rotary Club just purchased 16 that I specified for grade school student awards)? One thing is for sure the push to expand the power, the scope and the functionality (turf) of existing platforms (specialty general function machines) will persist… Let the battles begin!

 

Someone in my past suggested that there were two types of people:

  1. those people who, when their neighbor gets a fancy new car, dedicate themselves to working harder to buy an even fancier new car [the old addage of “keeping up with the Joneses”], and
  2. those people, when their neighbor gets a fancy new car, quip “I hope your garage burns down.”
     It is this second group that troubles me.
     In my lifetime there have been a number of incidents where a mob has reverted to wholesale destruction of property: Detroit during the 60’s, LA after the Rodney King beating, and now London.
     What makes someone think that destroying someone else’s property is any solution worth considering? If they could just channel that energy//rage into something constructive. As it stands now, it is just a domestic form of terrorism. How is it any different than the bombings that happen almost daily in the middle east?
     It seems that some people would be content to burn their way back to the middle ages… or maybe even the stone ages…
     As in the line from the operetta “Mikado,” maybe we should “let the punishment fit the crime,” and have those anarchists spend their sentence cobbling their existence from a burned out building. And as they complete a harvest or a building that they are proud of… make them burn it down.
     Anger and hate should have consequences. We, as a community, should demand that our citizens be the ‘constructive’ type, not the ‘destructive’ type. Let’s build not burn.

Personally, I believe that the interest difference between AAA and AA+… is due to Congress’ malfeasance. I suggest we take the difference out of their pay for as long as it takes [let’s see… $100 billion / (535 Congressmen/women * $200K/year) = 935 years]… that means we will have a volunteer congress til almost the 31st century… Maybe we should ‘clawback’ their pensions too… that’s a good start. Let’s let them feel the pain resulting from their fiddling.

Posturing and rhetoric no longer have a place at the legislative budget negotiations. The time has come where our representatives’ personal pain of no agreement needs to be greater than their pain of pissing some people off.

I suggest jail time, say 30 days in stripes for all of our representatives, including the President, for ‘economic malfeasance’ or, more generally ‘legislative malfeasance’ if there is no agreement by 11:59pm Sunday, July 24th, 90 days if no agreement by the end of the 26th, 180 days for failure by the 27th… you get my drift… Let them spend their campaign and vacation time behind bars for the next few years hobnobbing with people who cannot vote (felons). They wanted this job, let them perform or face hard time. The message needs to be “find a timely agreement or go to prison.” There is a point where brinkmanship is distinctly unpatriotic. Now is that point.

The question is how to trigger such a painful measure to get to a solution, and for what reasons. I would suggest that there needs to be some judgement about what would constitute a critical legislative event and a critical timetable. Federal Government has known for months about the debt ceiling and about August 2, 2011. I would suggest that the Federal Reserve could select the topic and trigger the countdown. Another option would be that the President could initiate the action, and a third option would be the Judicial Branch could arbitrate the solution. We have ‘checks a balances…’ let’s use them.

As much as there are pockets of representatives holding specific ideological perspectives, everybody needs to be ‘encouraged’ to come to the middle. I profess some rather unpopular opinions about government and its role, but there are times when all ideology must take a back seat to the welfare of the whole… the greater good. This ‘back seat’ is called compromise. Not moving toward the middle is a legislative form of blackmail… and right now there is no place for this legislative blackmail.

There is precedent for this kind of action. In the working world, if Labor and Management cannot come to an agreement where a strike would cripple the Nation, then the President can call for a “90 day cooling off period.” Well, this suggestion places those 90 days for cooling off be *after* the crisis solution, not before. We need the belligerents at the negotiating table, working toward a solution. We need the clock to be their worst enemy… more than a block of ‘no compromise’ caucus members. We need cooperation to have a chance to prevail over our adversarial form of government.

Our legislative process has succeeded in finding solutions to difficult issues in the past, but it has also failed (slavery comes to mind… and more recently both immigration and energy policy). I want to take ‘failure’ off the table.

I am reminded of a old business saying: “The beatings will continue until moral improves…” OK, you suggest something better to ‘get to Yes’ on difficult legislation.

Citizens, it is time to let the belligerents know that there is one thing worse than compromise… and that is not to compromise… and to that end we will lock your sorry ass up with real criminals if you do not get the message. What is it about ‘come to an agreement in a timely manner’ that you don’t understand?

My great friend and mentor (and supervising Professor) Lawrence Schkade (Scotty to the community) asked me:

“Why did you choose to buy android instead of an iphone?”

…and here’s what I replied:

  • I will never buy a ‘proprietary’ system when a good ‘open source’ option is available…
    • they charge too much
    • they give you fits if you ever consider integrating with somebody else’s brand/technology
    • they have a general arrogance that borders on rude
    • their owners think that every body else is a fool

…in all truth, I did buy an iPhone 3GS on the day that they came out for $200 (with a 2-year contract extension… two years ago), then promptly put it on ebay and sold it for $630, bought my Nokia N85 for $280 and put the $150 difference in my pocket [thanks ATT]… I knew at that time that I wanted an android phone, but not just then (July of 2009) because Android was not a real player in the market and I thought that Nokia’s Symbian OS (which they had just made Symbian OS open source) was the only other major player that was NOT Apple or Microsoft or Blackberry… Since then Nokia has done very poorly in the smartphone space… and I can tell you why!

  • I really like HTC… they have been flying under the radar for 4-5 years making great OEM phones for ATT, Google and others… great quality/durability/functionality…
  • sooooo, when the newer versions of Android came out (2.2 and 2.3: read: stable and powerful with lots of apps that are targeted at business) and
  • higher bandwidth 4G was a reality, and [iPhone won’t do that]
  • bigger, high-resolution screens, and [same as iPhone]
  • faster processors along with all the functionality I can imagine (at least til Android 4.0 gets here) [same as iPhone]
  • I can read books, listen to classical music (and a little jazz) [same as an iPhone… but I don’t have to mess with proprietary iTunes or Apple Books …or Kindle for that matter]
  • I can swap out batteries if one gets low… I went out to ebay and bought four additional batteries that I carry in shaving kit when I travel, in briefcase when I am around town… and just do a quick swap (four additional batteries cost me $13 delivered to my door!!)… [iPhone won’t do that]
  • I can swap out up to 32Gig microSD cards [iPhone won’t do that] if I ever run out of the 8Gig already in place
  • $0 with 2 year renewal of my contract  ($200-300 less than a new iPhone4)… I jumped on it
  • …and lastly… it ain’t an iPhone (just look at me Scotty… do I look like an iPhone type of guy???)

In the vernacular of today’s student who really cannot explain why he/she does what he/she does… “It was a no-brainer!!”  J

PS I never really even considered an iPhone… it was between Sprint and ATT for service and between HTC, Samsung and Motorola for the Android handset. I really wanted to go with Sprint but they would not let me test a phone to see what kind of signal I would get at my home office… and I am kinda on the outskirts of Sprint’s 4G footprint. Sooooo, now you know…. Are you happy you asked?

Best regards,  J

On 7/20/2011 3:30 PM, Lawrence Schkade wrote:

Why did you choose to buy android instead of an iphone?


The Debt Ceiling resolution is being poorly handled… If the public would just demand a ‘conclave’ (yep, like the Catholic Church does to select a new Pope), the Country would have a solution to our budget crisis in hours! Lock them in an un-airconditioned closet with no rest rooms, a couple of cots and feed them old dry sandwiches and water. Instruct them that they will be released only when they slide a bill with all their signatures at the bottom that can be presented to both House and Senate. Give them their freedom til an affirmative vote is taken and the President signs the damn thing… If that doesn’t happen, then lock them up again and continue the process til they get it right. I’m guessing that if the sandwiches don’t get to them, the lack of press attention will.

I like this ‘conclave’ idea for two reasons:

  1. It keeps all the players from talking to the press while the negotiations are in process
  2. It forces all the players to stop talking to their constituencies and start the process of compromise
One of my favorite questions in the political realm is: ‘How can you tell when a politician is lying? …His/Her lips are moving.’  This ‘conclave’ concept would keep the press and the constituents from hearing what those politicians are actually saying during the actual ‘sausage making’ process… after all, that is the way the Senate used to conduct business for our Country’s first two hundred years. Now we have an open Senate that gets nothing done. Yes, it is transparent, but I would rather have an opaque and silent process while my representatives are working toward a compromise that will get us past this crisis and this logjam… Heck, it might even set a precedent for getting past other big issues where our elected legislators spend more time with the press than actually addressing the issue. Boy, am I sick of that. Let’s just lock them in a closet.

Give every business and individual the ability to depreciate every capital asset purchased 100% for the rest of calendar 2011 and 2012…

That is it…

Before you just blow me off as some crank, have a quick listen:

  • One of the big issues is getting the ‘velocity of money’ back up (or in the press: how to pry businesses’ and individuals’ tightly wrapped fingers from around the trillions of $$ in cash that they have sitting on their balance sheets). This tempts them to make purchases now especially if they have lots of profits they can write down.
  • This is not a give away… if you take all your depreciation on, let’s say, a car… then next year you *don’t* get to take the normal 20% you would normally take, because it is already fully depreciated… So, the IRS loses the revenue in 2011 but makes it back starting in 2012 for the appreciable life of the asset. Eventually, the IRS will become whole.
  • This will cause a surge in demand for assets which are, arguably, the best in breed. Will this surge be uniform across all products? No, why would you want it to be? It will reward those products that are meritorious in their segments.
  • This surge in demand will spark companies to increase supply… to rethink their projections and employ people to the point fleshing out their ‘slack’ (read: factories that have more capacity)… thus creating more goods. I really like this because our governments’ programs are working on projects that have little or no ‘output’ which is inherently inflationary (more dollars chasing the same amount of goods)… [Ask me why this is such a good idea]
  • Increases in supply will put our manufacturers into a better profit position enabling them to make more business expansion decisions (read: more productive jobs), be more aggressive on pricing, and be rewarded for creative and innovative products.
  • Increased demand will hopefully put upward pressure on pricing (including the housing market) especially if employment increases.
  • Increases in asset demand and supply will have a strong secondary effect on the services markets.
Sooooo, let’s look at the stakeholders for an example. Let’s pick one that is a major contributor to our economy: automotive (I know something about automotive):
  • Vehicle Manufacturers: They would be ecstatic. They are currently spending about $4,000 per vehicle in incentives to help move cars off of dealers’ lots. Volume would increase. Inventories would decrease.
  • Automotive Dealers: More customers… what is not to like?
  • Fleet purchasers: For companies that are profitable, it gives me the option of marking down their profits by the added depreciation.
  • Individual purchasers: pay less tax this year… but more next year and the year after… it may be something I want to do… or not.
  • Banks: should love the new auto loans that are coming from healthy buyers
I have been tossing this idea around for about 2-3 years, thinking that I would eventually discover some fatal flaw. Well, I have found none on my own [this is where you help me…]. The best pair of issues that I can think of are:
  • It rewards the better products and more profitable companies and people (in economic terms: it is asymmetrical). But I really like that. It will show the economy what works and reward products are the best and what job related skills are really needed. We live in a meritocracy and meritocracies reward those who perform… it also expands the parts of our economy that are successful. If we build a better car at Ford or Chevy then those will be the ones that capture the greatest benefit. If not. then people will buy Hondas of Toyotas …that are made here in the US by US labor. How bad is that?
  • It is hard to model and forecast the impact. How many additional cars will Ford and Chevy and Honda and Toyota schedule for production? Which particular models will be most popular? How will they get their suppliers on board with more, say, tires? How many taxpayers will take advantage of the increased depreciation option? How much less revenue will the IRS receive? I do not know of one economist that has a model to estimate the impact short of an uneducated guess. [you econometricians please let me know if you *do* have a model… won’t you?]
But neither of these reasons is sufficient to derail the concept of boosting demand in a soft economy by deferring taxes. The balance sheet of the US Treasury (read: the US taxpayer) changes $0 over the life of the asset, if somebody flips the asset, then they pay tax on 100% of the sale price… Where is the hole in this policy? Most of all, I like this because it is a Demand-Pull policy rather than a Supply-Push policy. Right now our economy is acting strangely like a string and is not doing well being pushed… We, the taxpayers and citizens of these United States, need a ‘real’ reason to release the trillions of $$ that have come out of our economy and push ‘velocity’ back to where it will support a healthier economy. MV=PQ to my economic buddies…. ©Copyright John H. Lundin, PhD, 2011 — All rights reserved

The press makes hay when technology products or services have problems… currently big businesses that are smeared all over the headlines are Sony’s PlayStation compromise and temporary closure, and Amazon’s (AWS) services outage. All businesses large and small need to assess “technology risk” of any application/service whether they are developing,  hosting and managing their own applications or whether they are procuring their applications by licensing software or renting services in a public cloud. There are five categories of IT risk that should be assessed in the decision about applications/services:

  1. Can our organization select application/service solutions that will meet our needs and fit into the enterprise plans both today and into the future?
  2. Can we implement that solution?
  3. Can we keep that solution running?
  4. Can we fix it when it breaks?
  5. What is the downside if the systems is compromised?

I am surprised at how many organizations take this lightly. There are penalties and losses whenever your organization fails to prepare for any of the categories of IT risk. One of my favorite examples is the popular DVD service NetFlix. All too frequently their servers go offline for days, during which time the company virtually stops. The IT risk of keeping it running (3) or fixing it when it breaks (4) has not been fully addressed. With smaller businesses, the ability to develop applications like NetFlix is not an option. They must select applications/services from among many alternatives, but they still must assess the IT risk like big companies.

Most smaller businesses do not have the luxury of big IT departments or have IT experts on staff. Most smaller businesses have little idea what their demands are… and are quickly willing to select some unproven solution based solely on the least cost model. The chances for an effective solution with a low IT risk is just about 0%.

Every business should have both a IT plan and an IT risk assessment. These are not big documents. They are, in fact, just a roadmap and a feasibility assessment of the events that could possibly happen along the way. I work with lots of businesses on IT issues. I can tell within five minutes if they have a plan (and not having any IT plan strongly suggests that they have no clue about IT risk)…

So where do you start? Ask your selves the questions:

  • How can we work to fulfill our objectives by using information technology?
  • What is the plan to make it work?
  • What can possibly go wrong?
  • What do we do then?
If you don’t have any idea how to proceed, then it would be appropriate to find someone to step you through the process…  J

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