Tag Archives: cloud

SaaS as Standard

Cloud hosting is now the norm for digital media applications
Cloud hosting is now the norm for digital media applications

Four and a half years ago, Endava took over the Digital Media arm of IMG. We looked at the service IMG were offering our customers at the time, and remarked that we were providing a Digital Media PaaS (Platform as a Service), or more specifically, SaaS (Software as a Service) way ahead of the rest of the market.

We were ahead of the curve and spent the next couple of years educating organisations and suppliers about PaaS, SaaS and cloud hosted Digital Media products. Various organisations joined our platform.

Some didn’t agree with this approach and continue to buy licences, servers and host internally, until usually something goes wrong or the key resource who holds everything together leaves the organisation.

There have been three key tipping points in the industry which has helped promote SaaS offerings over traditional licensing and hosting internally:

  1. Salesforce.com has become almost ubiquitous for CRM systems. In the commercial world, Salesforce.com has become a household name, and organisations accept that Salesforce.com is a cloud  based platform. Salesforce.com holds sales leads and invoicing – really confidential stuff, which has made IT organisations accept that not all systems need to be inside the corporate firewall.
  2. Organisations are moving their email systems to cloud hosted servers such as Google Apps or Office 365, again relinquishing control of their data to a third-party.
  3. Adobe Marketing Cloud. Adobe bought Day Software in 2010 and have spent a huge amount of money marketing it, not only in the industry press but in the mainstream media too. Together with the power of the Adobe brand, a cloud based marketing solution became acceptable.

These tipping points sold the IT organisation and marketing organisations the benefits of SaaS.

My recent visit to New York confirmed that SaaS is now a standard requirement when companies asked us to confirm “And you’ll be hosting this, yes?” and “Do you have your own cloud hosting, or will you be using a public cloud?

The concept of asking the client how they’ll host the solution themselves is as alien now, as asking about SaaS four years ago.

Using your bank for Single Sign On

Where do you store your important documents?
Where do you store your important documents?

I’ve been writing about the need for a trusted Single Sign On system across the web for some time now and I think I’ve seen it start to emerge.

My concept of the Single Sign On solution is similar to Facebook Connect, but from a trusted, strong, long term brand. Facebook still needs to prove its credibility in the trust arena. I only use Facebook Connect for some personal sites where I want to reduce, or even avoid, the time it takes to register.

Would I use Facebook Connect for tax returns, or my road tax, or my company’s payroll system? Nope.

I do a fair amount of travel and seem to need my passport number (and sometimes other passport details) from time to time. I once scanned my passport and I keep it as a digital image on some secure digital storage where I know I can access it everywhere (interestingly the UK Government also recommends to store it online using a secure data storage site). The same goes for my National Insurance card, photos of my bikes’ frame numbers and stuff like that. When I speak to other people about this, they have similar solutions, and I know some people who keep these solely as photos on their phone. We all have different levels of security that we’re comfortable with, but I really wouldn’t advise the phone method.

Last week I heard about a new service from Barclays Bank called Cloud It. Cloud It enables, well actually it encourages, users to upload important documents. It then adds additional functionality such as alerts for expiring documents, or regular renewals (e.g. MOT certificates and insurance).

I have no proof whether Barclays Cloud It is any more or less secure than say, BT, Google, Microsoft or Dropbox, but the fact that a bank is storing your document ‘feels’ more secure.

The next step of Cloud It really should be Single Sign On. I would trust my bank to authenticate me into other services.

Trust a bank?

I spoke about this concept of a bank offering Single Sign On at a conference earlier this year. Over lunch afterwards I was asked whether people really trust banks after the recession, and the bad press that bankers often receive. One person on the table categorically stated that he wouldn’t trust his bank.

My answer to this is simple: people still keep their money, one of our most valuable day to day assets, in banks once they’ve been paid and they still go to banks to borrow money for their houses and cars. Conversely, if people didn’t trust banks, we’d be hearing a lot more about mass withdrawals after being paid. But people don’t withdraw their money based on lack of trust (except Cyprus), and this proves that people do trust them, and in the future we’ll be trusting them to log in to all sorts of systems across the Internet.

How IT reinvents technologies

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Continuing my theme about naming conventions in the IT world, I think our industry is better at branding and marketing than branding and marketing professionals!

I mentioned that I took part on a Big Data/ BI (Business Intelligence) workshop recently. My first job after university – in 1994 (no gasps at the back please – I know I don’t look old enough) was as a developer providing an EIS (Enterprise Information System) for NHS clients.

We took large amount of data from Patient Administration Systems (PAS – again, no sniggering at the back if you work for Endava please (private joke)) and provided graphical dashboards which often exposed ‘intelligence’ in the data which would have taken much longer to process in standard databases. And the data was too large to import into Excel.

There are many off the shelf products, many of which are open source, which makes implementations far quicker to implement today than fifteen years ago.

Another great piece of re-branding is thin-clients. In the late 1990s, moving to a thin-client model (i.e. most of the processing was done by a server) was fashionable. We then moved back to thick-clients – where the processing is mainly done by the desktop. Then the Internet age was born, and we never heard about thin or thick clients, because they were rebranded as ‘browser-based’ and apps. Exactly the same model, just rebranded.

Infrastructure has gone through some great rebranding. The term ‘hosting’ was left untouched for 10 years, before virtualisation – which wasn’t really a new concept. Citrix have been doing it for ages in the desktop industry. But suddenly every CIO felt compelled to virtualise virtually everything (pun intended).

And then… “Cloud”. I remember speaking to clients early on about Amazon Web Services, and within three years every hosting company rebranded their virtual environments as Cloud. Nothing more than rebranding. My personal website is stored “in the Cloud”. When I first took out the contract it was a Shared server, then a virtual server… now a Cloud server. It’s just the IP address has never changed!

My final example of brilliant branding is Enterprise social media. Lotus were doing Enterprise Collaboration in the 1990s – boasting shared documents with workflow and permissions.

 

I’m looking forward to future rebranding – green screens becoming “eco-screens”, dot matrix printers becoming “banner printers”, email becoming “enterprise messaging”, word processors becoming “information asset collation”… the list goes on.

Photo from Blake Paterson on Flickr

If you can migrate email to Google Apps you deserve a medal

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I’ve finally done it. I’ve moved a domain over to Google Apps for business. Google should give users a certificate, in fact a medal, for such an accomplishment.

I’ve been saying for a while that if I was to setup a new company tomorrow, the last thing I’d do would be to buy an email server. You can’t just buy an email server – you also need to think about archiving, backing up, and anti-virus. And pay for someone to run those four servers.

Google and Microsoft offer similar email applications that include variations of office productivity tools and then like. They also provide various levels of collaboration.

My current ISP who hosts this domain wanted to start charging for email services, but the webmail client is just awful. I chose to move my email account to Google Apps (for Business) because I’ve always like Gmail, and reading the how-to-migrate documentation made it look simple.

That was six weeks ago.

The first hurdle was that my domain name was already in use by Google Apps. The error message would have been funny if it weren’t so frustrating:

There are [0] users at bradbox.com using Google Apps.

If you don’t see the funny side, please read it again.

And this is where I hit the major issue with Google. There’s no one to call when things go wrong. There’s not even a premium rate phone number. Or an email address.

You need to rely on friendly users trawling through the Google forums helping people like me out.

So I posted my message, and a few days later someone answered. He asked me to wait a little longer, and I did. He then said he’d spoken to someone at Google who said I need to wait a little longer.

Fast forward a four weeks, and alas, I could register!

The Google interface is still very technical. I know that I’m unlikely to break anything too seriously (no sniggering at the back please), so I played around with a few settings to get Mail up and working. It’s really not for the feint-harded though. You can see they’ve tried making it relatively simple with some help bubbles and wizards, but I doubt many people continued their migration at this point.

One of the first things you need to do is prove that you own the domain (by adding a subdomain to the domain that was CNAMEd with a crazy, crazy long address). So I went through the wizard, and followed the wizard but I received an error. Again, a really big hurdle. I searched for the problem on the web, and many users reported the same problem – that long address was too long.

I contacted my ISP, but they couldn’t help, or rather than didn’t want to. And I don’t really blame them – try walking into Tesco and asking them how to cook the stuff you just bought at Asda. Or walk into a Ford dealer and ask how the radio in your VW works.

Hidden away was another method of verifying the domain by uploading a file to the web server. I went for that, and lo and behold, I had a verified domain.

I now wanted to move my existing emails over to the new account. So I clicked on help. But after a couple of clicks, I was seeing 404 broken links.

Two hours later, I decided to do it the old fashioned way and download the email from the previous ISP into Outlook, and then upload it again into Google. Actually, I still haven’t done it, because I’m in denial and don’t really want to see hundreds of email in my personal account – it’s bad enough at work!

And that’s my story about moving to Google Apps. It’s far, far too complex.

Now do you see why I deserve a medal?

Either Google needs to start offering real end user support (a phone number), or enable other companies to offer IT support for the home, or start handing out medals.

Why Enterprises need to move to the Cloud

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I went to a Microsoft hosted seminar this week on “Azure (Microsoft’s public cloud offering) in the Enterprise”. Microsoft have hired David Chappell for a worldwide tour. David is a fantastic speaker, and the truth is that I wanted to see David more than hear about Azure!

If there’s something consistent about Microsoft events, it’s the fact they know how to choose their venues. Their campus in Reading is impressive, if a little sterile. This time it was in the Royal Mint Court opposite the Tower of London.

David started the talk by defining the term ‘Cloud’.

I have been vocal about the difference between virtualisation and Cloud. To me there’s a huge difference, but the problem is that so many competitors in the market call their virtualised stack a Cloud, that it’s easy to look uncompetitive if you don’t join in the buzzword marketing bingo game.

David’s definition of Cloud is:

A self-service portal on top of pooled hardware.

If either of those don’t exist, you’ve got a virtualised infrastructure, not a Cloud. Sounds fair to me.

His definition continued:

If this Cloud environment is hosted on your own hardware, it’s a Private Cloud. If the hardware and self-service portal is available from an external provider, it’s a Public Cloud.

Again, sounds fair.

On David’s tour across the US and Europe so far, apparently the feedback he’s been receiving is that the UK are among the most advanced Cloud users. We (in the UK) believe that the Cloud is the future, and enterprises are already starting the migration. Geography is important with the Cloud, because so many different countries and industries have different compliance measures that it can become difficult for some enterprises to move right now.

We also discussed the main reason most organisations think they want to move to the Cloud… cost. However most organisations don’t know the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of a web app, let alone the monthly or even hourly cost, so it’s impossible to compare. Adding in the elasticity of the Cloud makes the TCO argument much more difficult and I took this away as a “You need to start working out these time based TCO costs soon”.

The whole session, much to David’s credit, was highly interactive, with good questions and companies discussing their own case studies.

One company claimed they now didn’t own any infrastructure at all. I’ve been saying for a while now, that if I were to start a company tomorrow, I wouldn’t own any infrastructure either. Why does anyone buy a mail server any more? A mail server needs an ant-virus server and an archiving server. Or you can get an Office 365/ Google Apps service on a per user cost that has these services bundled together, without the support costs.

We’re now seeing companies without any infrastructure at all – their workforce have laptops connecting them to all their remote services, from email to file storage, CRM, accounting, and the list goes on.

Big Data also came up in conversation. Companies can either create their own Hadoop clusters, or use a public Cloud (Amazon, Google and Microsoft all offer similar services). Why would you want your own Hadoop cluster, which requires skill to setup, additional servers (tin) and maintenance, when you can quickly spin up new clusters when you need them?

I asked the group whether they have ported third party software into the Cloud. From my experience software companies are behind on the commercial models that Cloud environments require. Typically you buy software licenses and then pay annual maintenance. But what happens if you shut down a server for a month, or a week, or an hour? You still need to pay for the license. What happens if you need extra servers for a few hours a week? You need annual licenses for this.

The group said that they either had to buy additional licenses or were just given bulk licenses from the software vendor for the same cost they were already paying. David’s answer is that because enterprises are only starting to move to the Cloud now, software companies aren’t under any pressure to change their models. This will change as enterprises do move to the Cloud.

One software vendor at the event said they offer their software as a PaaS (Platform as a Service) for the same cost as their software licences.

David asked him why he wasn’t charging a premium for a hosted platform, and the vendor answered that it costs him less to host than the people required to support customers installing it themselves, and he’d prefer to move his customers over to the PaaS offering. Time will tell if this model is adopted more widely. The fact is that software vendors will need to change their models whatever happens.

And now on to comparing Azure against the other two big Public Clouds from Amazon and Google. The prices are all very similar and lowering to beat each other, so it’s not price.

Microsoft’s USP is very simple – Microsoft partners have experienced Microsoft support for several years. You can speak to a Relationship Manager and a support desk. Have you ever tried getting support for the others?

I’m trying to move an email domain from an Exchange server on to Google Apps at the moment for my personal email. However there’s a problem with my Google account because I once registered for a Google product that is now discontinued. And that problem is blocking the Google Apps migration. There’s no phone number to call, not even an email address. I have to ask a volunteer on Google Groups to help me. It’s taken two weeks and I’m still getting the error message.

So, Microsoft are using the superior support argument as the reason to move to Azure, and I agree with the logic. David explained that we trust Microsoft as the Operating System, which is the easiest point of entry to break into; far easier than trying to break into a Microsoft Data Centre – so data security shouldn’t be a blocker to move to the Cloud.

Enterprises moving their services to the Cloud is already happening, at least in the US and UK. There are models we need to deal with – time based, TCO is a difficult measurement before we can hope to measure any ROI (Return On Investment).

PaaS and Cloud go hand in hand, and if Enterprise IT departments don’t understand this yet, I suggest they speak to David soon.

Photo courtesy of Waleed Alzuhair on Flickr

Office 2013 review

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When Windows 8 is launched later this year, Office 2013, the very latest version, will be launched around the same time. I’ve been using the preview version of Office 2013 for the last few weeks and it’s a good upgrade.

Most of the changes appear superficial. Windows 8, ironically, doesn’t seem to have Windows – applications are back to full screens, and Office 2013 has been designed in this way. All the Windows borders are white (no more transparent borders), giving a minimalist feel to the applications. The first time PowerPoint loaded I thought it had crashed – it was a plain white window until I started clicking around.

The biggest, and in fact the only, change with Word is the ability to open PDF files for editing. I don’t know how whether the technology is licensed from Adobe, but I can’t see any reason to buy Acrobat any more, if Office opens, edits and saves PDF files. And more to the point, I now can’t see the point of a PDF file at all.

The key difference with PowerPoint is that the default slides are 16:9. This is great for my large home monitor which is 16:9, but most of the projectors I use at client offices are still 4:3. And 16:9 was available in Office 2010, although it wasn’t obvious how to find it.

On both Word and PowerPoint there are some very subtle updates to provide nice shadows to SmartArt (I never understood why shadows for pictures differed from SmartArt in 2010). Most of the upgrades are very subtle – such as a non-blinking cursor in Word which seems to glide across the page (if you can type fast enough) rather than blink erratically.

The focussed cell in Excel is similar – it seems to transition from one cell to the next.

I’ve been using Office 2013 in parallel with 2010. There are some quirks when running them on the same PC, but I can live with those. I’m far too afraid to open Outlook 2013 though, for fear of losing emails, or upgrading my various offline archives, so I haven’t reviewed Outlook yet.

All the applications have SkyDrive as a file location higher than My Computer – Microsoft definitely making that move to the Cloud. SkyDrive is good, but it’s just not as good as Dropbox. Dropbox cleanly extrapolates Cloud storage for the end user. SkyDrive still shows temporary directories when you save files there – it just isn’t as clean.

However if you open SkyDrive from a browser, you can edit the documents inside the browser – just like Google Docs. Like so many Microsoft products, it’s 90% of the way there, it just needs some finessing.

Is Office 2013 worth upgrading to? Sure, it looks much, much nicer. If you think this sounds too vain, you’re right. I can’t find any new features of the type which Office 2010 gave us over its predecessor such as SmartArt, and the auto correction.

Do you need to upgrade to 2013? No. When you get Windows 8 though, you may well want a cleaner interface though.

 

Windows 8 first review

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It’s funny how the ‘computer busy’ state is shown on PCs. 15 years ago we all got frustrated when we kept seeing an hourglass that prevented us from doing some work. So Microsoft rebranded the egg timer/ hourglass, probably because some psychologist recommended taking our mind off of ‘time’ being wasted. And so we ended up with a circle. Well in Windows 8, even the circle has been replaced (perhaps Google trademarked ‘the circle’ as part of Google+?) – this time it’s dots flying around the screen, usually in some oddly attractive patterns.

The ‘please wait’ icon isn’t the only change to Windows 8. It’s very, very different throughout. I’ve been using Windows 8 for a couple of weeks now.

WIMP 

I remember the acronym “WIMP” when Windows 3.1 was launched. It stood for Windows, Icons, [dropdown] Menus and Pointer. It was the move away from black and white text terminals into graphical interfaces so that humans could start using computers without a Computer Science degree.

In Windows 8, the only part of WIMP that is left is the ‘I’. Windows have been replaced by full screen, errrr, Windows. It’s a bit like using a tablet on your PC – more of that later. You can switch back to a desktop that looks like the current Windows XP or Windows 7 desktop, and I guess that users will spend most of their time in this view.

Where to start 

One of the most obvious missing features in the desktop view is the start menu. ‘Start’ has been totally overhauled into a separate interface. If you’ve used an Xbox before, it will look very familiar. And if you haven’t used an Xbox before, well, Start is like a games console.

Start is the default screen, not the desktop. In ‘Start’, you see a link to the commonly used apps, and some of the icons contain extra information. For example, the email icon contains some of the subject lines of your emails. The first time I saw this it was really disconcerting because I’d just installed Windows 8, and I was looking at the icons, when a personal message caught my eye and I thought “How does the computer know about that???” – only to realise soon afterwards that it was an email subject line from my wife.

And disconcerting is a recurring theme. It’s only natural to use a different interface and wonder where certain familiar features have been moved to.

Then, by luck, you realise that if you right click on various areas of the screen, you get a simple, context menu appear at the bottom or sometimes the side of the screen and have a Eureka moment.

Right click back

I remember going to the launch of Windows Vista when Microsoft announced that their usability strategy was to remove right clicks from as many operations as possible because it’s just not obvious to end users. I get the feeling that guy left Microsoft before Windows 8 was created, because right click is everywhere.

As well as using your mouse’s right button more, you’re also going to be using the Windows key on your keyboard more during Windows 8. I already use shortcuts like Windows +E (to get a new File Explorer window), Windows+M (to minimise everything) and Windows+L (to lock my PC), however in reality I hardly need any of those commands over a working day. To use Windows 8, you’re constantly pressing Windows+C to get the context menu working. I can’t remember how I heard about it, but before you know about Windows+C, it is almost impossible to use Windows 8 because you can’t ‘get to’ any other installed programs.

Similar to when you use any Google product where you use your Google account to sign in, Windows has the same feature with its Live ID. In fact, you sign into Windows 8 with your Live ID. Anyone with a Hotmail account will have a Live ID already.

Like all new Operating Systems, half the previous functionality feels like it’s playing hide and seek. Doing Windows Update for example, I had to go to desktop view, open IE, press the Alt button to get the old drop down menus back, and then select Windows Update.

New apps

Some of the apps aren’t quite finished. Windows 8 comes with SkyDrive, which is a bit like Dropbox – a file system ‘in the Cloud’. Skydrive shows all the files you’ve uploaded, but when you want to edit say, a Word document, the interface to use Office Live is quite clunky and doesn’t even start to compete with say, Google Docs. Also, because the Windows 8 SkyDrive and Windows 8 Internet Explorer are all full screen experiences, you start getting a bit lost after opening a couple of documents.

Fast

Finally, the performance: I’m running Windows 8 in a virtual machine (perversely it only runs inOracle’s VirtualBox, not Microsoft’s Virtual PC) and it’s very, very fast. It’s faster than running Windows XP in Virtual PC, and just as responsive as my native Windows 7 installation. Bearing in mind the virtual machines only uses 2Mb RAM (half my laptop), I’ve been very impressed.

Summary

In summary, Windows 8 is very different. It’s clearly targeted at consumers more than corporates, and just as much a tablet Operating System as a desktop. It will take a lot of getting used to, and with the refined start menu, although using ‘classic’ apps such as Word or Excel it will feel the same as Windows 7. Perhaps that’s Microsoft’s strategy – it’s like releasing two Operating Systems at the same time for its different sets of users.

The one thing that will drive you annoy you within a couple of hours are those dots! Bring back the egg timer.

 

Amazon removing more cost centres

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It’s quite rare in most industries for a market innovator to become the strongest company in the sector. Usually the market creator is overtaken by a more efficient competitor, who has more time to see what not to do. This has been the case with most industries, not just IT.

One of the first ecommerce web sites I remember using was Amazon. It reduced the cost of books by a huge factor and its recommendation engine is still seen as one of the best in any website. The fact that it launched in 1994 and is still one of the most profitable companies in the World is impressive.

In terms of financial scale, for UK readers, Tesco has a market capitalisation of £31bn and Amazon has a market capitalisation of $89bn. For US readers, Target has a market capitalisation of $35bn.

Turning costs into profits

One of the business initiatives that most people admire Amazon for is how they turn their costly IT organisation from a cost-centre to a profit centre – called AWS (Amazon Web Services). Essentially, running Amazon.com and all the international sites requires a massive amount of servers in data centres all around the world. When I visited one of our US data centres a few years ago we had an area (called a cage, because it is one) and our next door neighbour was a cage several times larger for Amazon.

Anyway, Amazon realised it had a huge IT infrastructure and converted the spare capacity into a facility enabling anyone else to use their infrastructure. Companies can rent this capacity on an hourly charge. And many companies do use it.

Amazon won’t release revenue figures directly, however some reports have estimated its more than $500m annually.

Marketplace

Another innovation that Amazon had to implement, this time by force was their Marketplace. eBay started taking some revenue away from Amazon, so Amazon started allowing third party sellers to sell products on Amazon.com. Fast forward to the present time, and it’s quite often that a consumer will buy something on Amazon, which is actually another merchant – whether it’s a sole proprietor or a multi-national organisation.

If a consumer currently buys something from Amazon, if it’s actually Amazon who sell the product, it will come from an Amazon warehouse and be delivered directly. If it’s a third party seller, Amazon have a clever interface (and contractual terms) which notify the seller to deliver the goods within a set time period.

Removing more cost centres

However the latest area that Amazon is moving into is fulfilment.

Amazon is encouraging merchants who use its platform to send their stock directly to Amazon’s warehouse and Amazon will take care of the rest. They’ll fulfil (pick and package) the order and deliver it to the customer. So if you sold glass vases, you would instruct your supplier to deliver a pallet of vases to an Amazon warehouse and spend all your time and energy making the Amazon pages look as good as possible.

This is ingenious for a number of reasons:

  1. It turns Amazon from a traditional retailer who needs to buy a certain commitment of goods for x and sell at x + y% markup – into a risk free business because it doesn’t need to buy the goods up front
  2. To compete against this model becomes ever more expensive, because the sheer capital infrastructure costs are now prohibitive
  3. Amazon will increase its economy of scale for delivery costs
  4. It encourages merchants to use Amazon as the primary channel, because Amazon performing merchant’s fulfilment requires less overheads and easier.

The fulfilment model is an interesting concept, because it turns retail and distribution into a service and it moves a lot of the risk (of buying the items up front) up the supply chain from the retailer (Amazon) to the distributor.

 

How I would Yahoo!

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So, apparently Yahoo! is up for sale, and even better, Google are willing to help fund it’s resurgence. This sounds so familiar – in 1997, Apple were having serious problems and Microsoft, their once main competitor, invested $150 million in the company, and now Apple is worth more than Microsoft!

Back to Yahoo!, it’s amazing how many people are so dismissive of Yahoo!’s (that’s a lot of punctuation) value.

Here are the high level stats:

Yahoo has over 500 million unique visitors each month, around the World, in over 30 languages.

In the UK alone, adults spend over 3 hours a month just on Yahoo! Mail.

To build that audience of 500 million would cost a HUGE amount of money (and time), so in my opinion there’s never been a better time to Yahoo! Stock is set at a very reasonable price, and Google are willing to invest a significant amount of money.

Here’s what I would do if I took over Yahoo! tomorrow:

Focus

  • An Internet content portal above all else. In terms of competition, Google provide mail to compete with Yahoo! Mail however there is no one with similar a traffic size which provides the level of content as Yahoo!
  • Generate a cost/revenue model for services such as Yahoo! Mail and Flickr to see if it’s worth selling these on or keeping them and reinvesting.
  • Create a cloud development service model to compete with the likes of Amazon and Microsoft – turning a cost centre into a profit centre

Analytics

 Work out where my users are coming from – is it mainly from PC manufacturer-set-browser-homepages which haven’t been updated for 5 years? In fact, I’d probably do most of my initial work on the analysis of who uses the individual Yahoo! services to ascertain the users’ value, or even try to derive an ARPU (Average Revenue Per User).

Innovation

Yahoo! strikes me as a company which is struggling to innovate. How many new services of note have their launched recently? I would look at why this has happened – have they all left to go to competitors? Internet companies need to have innovation at the centre of their philosophy, vision and corporate structure in order to keep users returning. I would reignite this passion for innovation immediately.

And finally, I think I’d rebrand Yahoo! to drop the exclamation mark! (Pun intended).

 

The web world map

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Thanks to Richard Watson for noticing this excellent new map from Tim O’Reilly via Ross Dawson.

I’ve seen a similar map before, concentrating on social networking. This new one however shows how different industries including payments, platforms and so on, all inter-relate.

 

Personally I’m not sure I would put payments & cashflow next to content (yet) – and I would put payments closer to the ‘Land of Identity’. I guess the issue here is that everything actually inter-relates to everything else anyway.

Either way, at least the map gets the thought process going.