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Impact - A Blog by INM

Archive for '2009'

    INM Presenting at Webcom Montréal

    Next Thursday October 22 at 2:10 pm, I will be speaking at Webcom 2009 on the topic of "Repairing the Broken Shopping Cart" in collaboration with Stephane Lesieur from Adobe Canada. I will illustrate my point with a highly demanding consumer application, show an elegant solution using Adobe technologies such as Flex, Air and LiveCycle DS, and discuss best practices to implement such a solution.

    Full details at: http://www.webcom-montreal.com

    My colleague Benoit David and myself will spend most of the day at Webcom and will be delighted to meet you there. Please let me know if you plan on attending too.

    20th Anniversary of a Non-Serial Entrepreneur

    Last Thursday we celebrated INM’s 20th anniversary around some fine cheese and equally fine wine. I was delighted to see our good friends, clients, staff members and former staff members join us.

    Surviving 20 years in this hectic industry is an achievement in itself. But I feel particularly proud that we did so while remaining true to our core values, thus avoiding the latest technological hype, financing fad, and other medicine-man gobbledygook.

    While tools and technology changed over the years, we remained focused on the same goal: to design robust and finely engineered software that perfectly align with business needs, as well as human needs.

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    The RIA Battle is On Despite the Economy (and Other Overwhelming News)

    I was on under the impression that nothing on planet Earth was happening besides Michael J's death (last name withheld to protect anonymity), but it looks like there is a lot of action in our industry.

    Last week, Microsoft released Silverlight 3.0, a very promising RIA (Rich Internet Application) development platform. Thus far, Silverlight 1.0 was too limited to allow for any kind of serious interactions, and Silverlight 2.0 was just a Windows-centric platform.

    Silverlight 3.0 features better media support (3D, graphics acceleration, higher quality video) and richer interactivity (richer user interfaces, ability to run outside the browser, ability to interact with other applications). It is an impressive platform for Windows but little is known so far on its prowesses on MacOS and Linux.

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    A Historic Battle of Operating Systems

    There is an interesting and, in my opinion, historic battle unfolding around Operating Systems these days.

    At one end, Microsoft is readying the next version of their OS: Windows 7. Windows 7 is nothing more than Windows Vista done right: more stable and polished. At the other end, Google announced Chrome OS, a Linux-based minimal operating system meant to run a web browser on a computer without any further sophistication.

    Our position at INM clearly leans towards the latter side, not because we prefer Google's logo to Microsoft's but mainly because we had predicted that Operating Systems were becoming irrelevant commodities (see conclusion of "All aboard! The new Intel-based Mac is leaving the station; here's how to switch platforms") and that real challenges were moving away from the metal and closer to the mental. Our key argument is that, thanks to RIAs and technologies such asAdobe FlexMS Silverlight and HTML 5, it is nowadays possible to deliver rich content and interactivity without the cost and hassle of desktop applications.

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    The Business Case for Cloud Computing

    McKinsey's recent "discussion document" on Cloud Computing has triggered an activity stream of Google Alerts, Tweets and Re-Tweets from all over the Interwebs.

    Similar to the Twitter phenomenon, the conversations regarding an evolution to a Cloud Computing infrastructure are disruptive to our traditional ways of thinking about IT. To make things worse, the noise level that is generated from these types of reports doesn't help us better understand or make the right choices.

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    Time or Money spent? Which do consumers value most?

    Time or Money spent? Which do consumers value most?

    Alice LaPlante asks that question following a study conducted by researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

    So what about time saved? Is it as satisfactory? Do consumers value being able to do something fast so they can then quickly do something else? Or even do more of the same thing?

    This is what Rich Internet Applications are all about: making the user experience as best as it can be, whether you are searching, learning or shopping. Good examples are RIAs built for eCommerce, to help consumers easily and quickly get what they want. The return is more conversions and loyalty, and less drop-off. 

    Adobe Flash takes to the big(ger) screen

    To keep up with the convergence of media devices occurring at rapid-fire speed, Adobe has secured a deal to embed its Flash software within televisions, Blu-ray players and set top boxes to allow for developers and content providers to create and deploy web content such as news, weather and stock charts. The applications are set to deploy on televisions early in 2010 and will allow users to engage in the all of activities they are used to performing on the web.

    There are a few televisions on the market that are using Yahoo’s widgets to provide a rich media experience for viewers but this deal will allow for the creation of a single standard for a media application that can be re-used for numerous other devices.

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    More Rumors of a New Apple Tablet Device

    We've been eagerly awaiting Apple's next move in the Tablet or Netbook space. The product category doesn't yet exist, or have a name to go by, but it will most likely not be called Ultra-Mobile or Tablet or Netbook or Personal Digital Anything. It would primarily meet the needs of audiences who need mobility and a larger display than smart phones, and who will mainly use the device for Read-Only tasks (eBooks, eLibraries, educational material, etc.) and occasional note taking or communication.

    The rumors are back: it seems that Steve Jobs and team are working on a reincarnation of the Newton based on a 10-inch touchscreen.

    There is an artist's rendition of what the device might look like at the Appleinsider website.

    You may also want to take a look at the patent Apple filed in relation to input devices: it is pretty creative and extremely smart from a product line management perspective

    The Ongoing Debate on Who Owns Multi-Touch

    In a previous post, we noted that it is likely for RIAs to begin to “propagate to mobile devices” as the next natural step in their evolution. We believe that having a highly natural and organic user interface is primary to the success of any technology to ensure adoption, repeated use and success.

    There’s much debate going on these days on who is the rightful owner of ‘multi-touch’ – a technology that has moved into many areas of our day to day life and become a pervasive part of our experiences. On this note, T-Mobile has just announced that they are planning to offer Google Android beyond mobile phones to extend to both the home phone as well as tablet computer.

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    RIAs hit Hollywood

    Universal Pictures have launched an Adobe AIR widget to allow film-goers to get all the information they’ll need in order to keep up to date on the upcoming movie ‘Fast and Furious’. The application offers breaking news related to the film, exclusive content, a countdown timer to the launch date, easy access to view trailers and video clips, wallpaper images, polls, and a chat feature to allow users to connect with other fans.

    The widget is a solid piece of marketing and is a must-have for anyone who is passionate about this film. It is one of the first examples of the use of an RIA by Hollywood in the promotion of a film and demonstrates a creative execution which enables fans to connect with each other and discover the information they are seeking all from one desktop-based application. Universal Pictures was able to repurpose existing content and package it within a high-octane looking package, ensuring that they are creating a dynamic user experience with materials already on hand. It’ll be interesting to see the results of how many users downloaded the application as well as if this has any impact on the box-office receipts. Click here to download the ‘Fast and Furious’ RIA.

    Why Web 3.0 should never come to be

    In essence, the web is a self-structuring and evolving entity. Unlike most industries that matured in the last couple of hundred years, it’s not controlled by one central entity, or a "boy's club" of key players (like that of the telecommunications or airline industries). No one’s in charge (nor should anyone be in charge) of clustering a bunch of "blessed" features under a simplistic label and marketing them as a package to the rest of the world.

    I don't mean to criticize Tim O'Reilly for having coined the term "Web 2.0" because he did precisely what I am advocating. He observed the hotbed of ideas, identified trends and brought forward emerging patterns of successes and labeled them “Web 2.0”.

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    A discussion of “Game-Changing Technologies”

    During the panel discussion on “Game-Changing Technologies” at the recent Photo Marketing Association, Tradeshow and Conference, I brought up the point that Web 2.0, in fact, doesn’t really change any game after all. My position was that most theories in marketing developed in the last fifty years studied only one sample audience: the baby boomers. Gen-Xers are the forgotten generation, hardly paid attention to and always assumed to follow in the steps of the baby boomers. With the emergence of Generation Y, the economic balance of the world is shifting and what is considered to be “new technologies” are in fact “everyday technologies”.

    Many believe that the game is changing but in fact, our old assumptions and initial theories were indeed flawed to begin with.

    Deep down, humans haven’t changed. We all have the same needs, desires and anxieties as before. Whether we are participating in Web 3.0, Web 2.0, or Web 1.0, it’s important to address these needs as opposed to just jumping on the same bandwagon as the Jones’s.

    In my next posting, I will argue that the term “Web 3.0” should never come to be. Stay tuned.

    INM’s President Participates in Panel Discussion at PMA’09

    INM President and Co-Founder, Vahe Kassardjian was in attendance at the recent Photo Marketing Association Tradeshow and Conference held in Las Vegas from March 1st to 5th and spoke on a panel discussion on “Game-Changing Web 2.0 Technology” as it relates specifically to the photo imaging industry.

    The panel comprised of Paul Worthington from Future Image Inc., Yuval Koren, founder and Chief Product Officer at Eye Fi and Greg Downing from xRez Studio Inc, covered how development platforms such as Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Air are allowing new imaging technologies to flourish.

    Virtual Panel on "The Current and Future State of RIA"

    Info Q has just conducted a Virtual Panel on “The Current and Future State of RIA” featuring the thoughts of many individuals from well-known and well-respected companies in the space such as: Mozilla, Curl, Java, Microsoft and Adobe. Each spokesperson was provided with a series of questions relating to whether RIA technologies have “made it”, what the optimal user experience of the RIA should be, what other applications will be driving RIA technology adoption, as well as an overview of the various RIA frameworks and languages.

    This virtual panel provides an examination of how each company views where RIAs are headed and the advances made by each as of this point. The predictions point towards greater use of RIAs within the enterprise, integration with audio and video and applications that harness the power of real-time collaboration.

    Small is In: :Where is the small devices trend headed?

    The move towards smaller and less commercially dependent computing systems demonstrates the interconnected nature of market conditions as financially strapped consumers are opting for these new breeds of mini-systems causing fears for the PC manufacturers who are growing more concerned with the economic impact of this trend.

    In an article in the New York Times Technology section titled “Smaller PC’s Cause worry for Industry”, Matt Richtel wrote about how these smaller technologies are reducing the profit margins of the old kids on the block such as Microsoft, HP, and Intel.

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    Small is In: Where is the 'small netbooks' trend coming from?

    Smaller netbooks are preferred by the ‘digital nomads’ in our society. Best seen in the backpacks of travelers, wayfarers and students who appreciate the freedom and flexibility that these mini-computers provide, today’s tribe is traveling more and has an ‘always-on’ mentality. So much of our user experience is on-the-go computing in which we are empowered to find and share information as we find it, rather than wait until we are at our desk to blog, tweet or add photos to our profile. In this mobile age, it holds true that for many of us, the first thing we ask is ‘Is there Wi-Fi available?”. We appreciate instant access to this information and feel lost without a connection.

    The cost of netbooks is quite low and provides an easy point of entry for students and those who are budget conscious. This can be attributed to the cost of existing hardware, components and monitors now being much cheaper than they were in the golden age of personal computing.

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    Over 100 Million Installations of Adobe AIR!

    Adobe has recently announced that AIR has been installed over 100 million times and credit applications such as: Adobe Media Player, AOL Top 100, eBay Desktop, TweetDeck and Twirhl in helping to generate this number.

    You can read more about this announcement and find details as to how this figure was calculated on the Adobe AIR Blog.

    “Small is In" - Economic Woes Trigger Push toward Smaller Devices

    In these tough economic times, budgets, incomes and staff levels aren’t the only things shrinking. Tower computing systems, super-sized 17-inch laptops and brick sized mobile phones are all being replaced by sleek, tiny devices and peripherals which pack high-level performance into their small form factors.

    We’re seeing innovation at a reduced size via the launch of some notable products like the miniscule 7”, 9” and 12” Inspiron Mini laptops offered by Dell (at a sub $500 price range) as well as the EEEPC line from Asus. Not only do these computers speak to the budget conscious, but they are a worthy selection for any student, business traveler, or executive looking for a decent portable solution without breaking the bank.

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    Building Your Business Case for Your eLibrary: Preparing your content

    Proper planning is essential in the preparation of content for your eLibrary initiative. While this can seem daunting due to the large volume of content you may need to manage, breaking your materials into workable units and dividing your tasks into small steps will help you to take control and effectively prepare for the launch of your eLibrary. Examine your existing content: Make a list of the type of resources you have and the formats they currently exist in. For example, you may have a combination of physical printed books, eBooks, print and digital magazines, self-produced documents in PDF format, and more. By making this list, you can see how many different formats and file types you may need to support. It is also important to consider non-print resources, such as audio books, eLearning materials, webinar content, and podcasts if these are part of your current collection. If your content is primarily available electronically, it’s important to look at how it’s presented, and what types of file formats it is in. If you have a mix or formats, it will be important to either choose a solution that can support this variety of file types, or to choose a common format that most files can be converted to easily, such as PDF. Respect Copyright: Today, there are large volumes of content already digitized and significant initiatives in place by groups such as Google to digitize millions of books. However, it is still highly unlikely that the authors and publishers of these works will allow the free distribution of their content over the web. Digital Rights Management (DRM) limits the ability for users to spread content without the expressed permission of the publisher or author. There may also be additional limitations on what may be done with digital materials based on the number of concurrent viewers able to access documents at one time or a cap placed on the number of licenses shared within an organization. If your list contains many resources that are currently in print format, you will need to contact the publisher to see if you can either obtain permission to digitize the assets for inclusion in an eLibrary, or if you will need to re-purchase the materials in a digital format. In the case of industry journals, it may be within your rights to make electronic copies of the journal articles available to your employees, but not permissible for you to make these same documents available to partners or customers. Convert Your Materials: If your content is primarily available in print format, it may be necessary to digitize it before building your eLibrary.If your print collection is large, don’t let the conversion process put your entire project on-hold. It may be possible to convert your print materials in batches and add them to your eLibrary. In the meantime, a hybrid solution may be available to include abstracts of the print documents in your search results and a reference to their physical locations. You could also evaluate your existing content and develop a conversion strategy prioritizing the most searched for materials at a higher level of importance than more obscure topics and publications. Once you have your complete list of all that exists within your collection, you will best see any existing trends that may help you in evaluating how best to proceed. Organize and Index Your Content: Once you’ve established the list of content, you’ll need to examine how this content is organized and indexed. With many eLibrary technologies, it is possible to index content in many different ways, including full-text indexing, Boolean or keyword search, as well as using either standard categorization such as Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress classification systems. You will need to decide which model works best for your organization, but keep in mind that the more search categories you make available, the more likely it will be that results will be retrieved.You will also need to also consider what indexing data you have access to from the documents. Are the documents already tagged with metadata, or do you need to account for adding in the right information to support your chosen indexing model? What’s Your Long Term Content Strategy?: The next step in this process is to evaluate your long-term content strategy. If your library is a living collection, it will have new additions on a regular basis. How will you ensure that any new items to your collection are added and indexed within your eLibrary? Who will be responsible for this task? It is also important at this stage to look at what other sorts of content may be added in the future. If you believe that in the future, you may need to add-in multimedia content (audio, video, eLearning, etc…) to your eLibrary, you will want to be sure that this is on your list of future content requirements. The efforts dedicated to the creation or rework of an existing corporate eLibrary are certain to guarantee benefits for any business or organization provided a comprehensive content strategy is in place in advance of the digitization of existing content. By taking the time to define and index your current materials as well to as give consideration to any future content that may be added, you will not only save time and costs, but have an eLibrary solution which meets your needs for years to come.

    Building Your Business Case for Your eLibrary

    The most important take-away when preparing your business case is that the document doesn't need to be lengthy in order to be effective and successful. Below is a short review of the steps you'll need to undertake in developing a well-defined business case for your eLibrary initiative.

    Create an Executive Summary: This is where you list the most important points of the business case and describe the situation, what the proposed solution will accomplish, how best to proceed, who and what will be involved, benefits, costs as well as start and end dates for implementation. It's best to write this section once you've formulated all of your points and worked through each element of your plan. List the Objectives: Describe why a need is present. What is the current situation? / Who is being impacted? Provide background information on how things are and give an understanding of the current situation. Describe what your proposed solution seek to change? Describe the various eLibrary Alternatives: List details of the alternatives you considered along with the costs, benefits and drawbacks for each. Examine financial considerations, space and personnel requirements and any qualitative items such as best practices or employee perception. Look at solutions that speak to the user experience within your library environment. Provide details on your selected option: Describe the chosen option and give points on why it is the best one. Reinforce the costs and benefits. If you have suggestions re: funding or partnerships then list these ideas. State the start and completion time as well as the individuals required to participate in this solution. How will this solution fit within the current library structure? Define the budget: To allow for accuracy, start with listing the project costs. Include costs for software solutions, developer costs, communication hours, etc. For some people, it’s easier to list everything out in hours required and then translate this figure into dollar amounts. Keep in mind that you are creating an estimate which serves as a guide for decision making. Examine your internal costs as well as external ones. Also keep in mind such items as maintenance and support costs, vendor fees, licensing fees, costs to digitize documents based on the volume of materials you have as well as quality assurance time. Plan the implementation of your eLibrary solution: Provide some approximation as to how the solution will be put into effect. What is the ‘action plan’? Define the strategy and milestones for delivery. Describe who will work on this project. What is required of these individuals? Who will manage the resources dedicated to this initiative as well as monitor the timelines? Do you require any additional external resources? What is the project schedule? How will you respond to any changes? What risks are involved and how will you address them? How will you measure success? Create an appendix: Add all supporting information in this section including charts, research materials and calculations.

    Building a Business Case for Your eLibrary: 3 Part Series

    Stay tuned to this blog for an upcoming series of 3 blog posts relating to how to build a business case for your eLibrary. Our mission is to provide you with some guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to prepare all of the information you'll need to gather in order to develop a well-defined business case for your eLibrary initiative.

    By spending time to build an effective business case, effective decision making can be achieved and in turn both cost and time savings will result. It will also help to ensure your solution meets its initial scope, provides results, stays within budget and is on time.

    The 3 topics we will explore in this series are: - Building Your Business Case - Preparing Your Content - Comparing eLibrary Technologies

    We're hoping you'll find this series useful. Look for a series of webinars and white papers on these subjects as well.

    nycgo: A Geolocal RIA powered by Google Maps

    Oftentimes, it’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel when developing a Rich Internet Application (RIA). A perfect example of leveraging an existing solution to construct a useful application is the latest initiative from NYC & Company which provides visitors and residents of New York City with an immersive website that provides recommendations for local hotspots, cool hangouts and tasty eateries.

    nycgo, uses Google Maps API for Flash to provide directions for recommended locations throughout the city. A map of the location is available in the sidebar of each feature story allowing for quick information within the same page, saving the user a trip to an additional page to secure this information. It’s details like this that show the potential of geolocalization-specific RIA’s.

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    The Xbox 360 Experience

    It’s amazing to think of how far products have come in our digital generation. Before, consumers would purchase a piece of equipment with a sole purpose in mind, knowing that their experience of this product would be the same as the day they sent in their warranty card.

    Oh how things have changed. We’ve moved into an era where via a software push, our user experience of a hardware solution can completely change and a product purchased with a set of expectations gets a re-vamp within seconds.

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    Adobe Announces LiveCycle ES via Amazon Web Services

    Adobe Systems Incorporated has announced “the immediate availability of Adobe® LiveCycle® ES Developer Express software,a full version of Adobe LiveCycle ES hosted in the Amazon Web Services cloud computing environment. Using the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) technologies, Adobe’s offering provides a virtual, self-contained development environment where enterprise developers can prototype, develop, and test Adobe LiveCycle ES applications without needing to install and configure Adobe LiveCycle ES themselves.”

    By combining Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF), Adobe Reader®, Flex® and Flash® technologies with the Amazon Web Services (AWS), developers now have an instant, ready-built sandbox to work in. The upfront costs, installation fees and maintenance hassles that traditionally follow when development teams begin work with a software package are eliminated with this offering.

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    Amazon reaps the benefits of increased online shopping

    While experts predicted a decline in eCommerce sales this holiday season due to the current global economic downturn, Read Write Web recently reported, that Amazon’s 14th holiday season was its ‘best ever’ with the online retailer processing over 6.3 million orders worldwide (for one day - December 15th). Why was Amazon so successful where others weren’t? Well, it may be partly due to the company’s open adoption of new technologies to improve the shopping experience. Amazon was among the first to incorporate RIA elements into its site and today it continues this innovation with the recent addition of its Windowshop.com platform.

    The market was fruitful for many retailers this year, with ComScore reporting that U.S. consumers spent almost twice as much online during the final weekend before Christmas as they did last year. However the question is will this continue?

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    INM President Judges MBA Case Competition

    INM President and Co-Founder, Vahe Kassardjian, will once again serve as a judge for the annual John Molson MBA International Case Competition.

    The 28th annual competition will bring together 30 teams of MBA students from the world’s top business schools, including groups from Canada, France, China and India. This event provides these students with a unique opportunity to perfect their presentation skills and strategic thinking, while formulating recommendations for real-world business cases. The theme of this year’s competition is “United in a Changing World” and focuses on the challenges and opportunities presented by the reality of globalization.

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