Saturday, September 28, 2002

Information drives revolutions..

Information drives revolutions..

We are currently in a lull for the software industry with few new ideas and few successful companies emerging. This has been a topic of discussion recently, some of the blame has been on the economy, some on VC's reluctant to fund new companies. I do not believe either are the root cause. A down economy is a good time to start a company with a new business concept, entrepreneurs and VC's know this. It is all about timing, build the company in the downturn when resources are cheap and available, you are then positioned well to take advantage of the upswing.

The truth is that revolutions require new information flows, to be stimulate the revolution.Today we are moving around the same information and trying to manipulate it in new ideas. (This is part of the recent hangover, so much money was poured into the Internet that we pretty much exhausted most good and bad approaches). It is very hard to extract new value by moving around existing information and trying to create new value. Therefore when looking at new ideas the key metric should be does this release new information or combine existing information in an innovate manner.


What are the criteria that would indicate a technology is going to be transformational, rather than just another twist on an existing approach.When looking at a new idea, it is useful to run it against a few indicators that will help judge whether it will be revolutionary or just mediocre.

  1. Does the technology allow existing information to be collected and assembled in new ways at a lower price point?

  2. Are there new sources of information being created, or does the technology allow new information to be created easily?

  3. Are large amounts of unstructured information being moved into structured data and made accessible through new interfaces?

  4. Is there a new way of distributing the information that will empower a new group of information consumers?

  5. Does new information get delivered to audiences that were unable to receive it before at a price that is appropriate?


Well I think the barriers are caused by propriety information formats and the construction of isolated information silos that cannot interact with other sources of information. The problem still exists of asking the wrong question which is how do I integrate the information silos rather than how do I eliminate the information silos to enable easy access to information. Once information is easily accessible the ability to create/modify applications becomes dramatically simpler and the above indicators become active.

So what is the next thing....

I believe there are two potential revolutions either underway or the foundational pressures are being created to start the revolution:

  • Connecting organizations across firewall boundaries, this satisfies the requirement for new relationships between existing data and in some cases I have seen this is moving unstructured data to structured, unleashing the ability to automate the decision making process

  • Moving to loosely coupled structured data in the same way the web moved us to loosely coupled unstructured data

Friday, September 27, 2002

Ideas are free but execution is key

Ideas are free but execution is key

Over time I think we all begin to understand that while ideas flow like wine, execution is key. How many of us have espoused revolutionary ideas, but have not followed up and several years later seen them born to a different mother and grow into well formed companies. So take your ideas and nurture them and fulfill the vision - do not leave it to others,,,,,,

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Is Workflow natural - if so why is it hard?

Is Workflow natural - if so why is it hard?

After posting last night I sat and thought of some interesting ways to organize the flow of information in my life. It was a workflow problem but installing and learning a workflow product does not really excite me - assuming there is a good open source one. Considering other problems they too were workflow problems, is workflow something we all need? Is the ideal desktop metaphor, save, create context, organize,flow, publish,browse? How about we make the information self describing and separate the content from the description...So I have OpenOffice, Mozilla, XML Schema, etc, I just need an organizing tool (Lucene?)and a flow tool and all my information will be managed, or am I talking about the semantic web, and it already exists?

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Are VC's and Entrepreneurs the next crash?

Are VC's and Entrepreneurs the next crash?

Well we are almost over the .bomb era, we have all taken our lumps and are ready to get on to the next new new thing, but is it there? Does the cleanup have a few more steps to take before we can say we are ready to start again. The number of VC companies with large amounts of cash ready to spend and the large number of professional entrepreneurs seem to be out of balance with the true amount of innovation we can create. Is the last phase of the .bomb a massive shrinking of the number of VC's and entrepreneurs?