Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bad News for RIMM

As if the collapse of their stock price over the last 6 months wasn't enough, a market research from EMA earlier this week indicates that about 30% of large enterprises (firms with 10,000+ employees) are planning on abandoning the Blackberry platform next year... This hot on the heels of the massive outages in their network, and the release of the iPhone 4S and announcement of the Droid RAZR...

Jason Hiner's article at TechRepublic thinks that the only future for RIMM is as a niche player in the enterprise market, and that's only if they can avoid more downtime, convince developers to create more software for the platform, and become a leaner, more focused company... That's a lot of if...

I like my Blackberry, but I'm already shopping around for my next phone, and they have nothing in the marketplace that competes with their Silicon Valley rivals...

It's all a bit sad really...

The Untimely Death of Google Health

This past summer Google announced that it would be retiring Google Health. This happened at a time when the healthcare industry is struggling with issues of interoperability and creating Electronic Health Records (EHR). Many medical centers, individual hospitals and ambulatory care centers are well on their way to implementing their own Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and meeting “Meaningful Use” criteria as established by the HITECH Act. Without Google, who is going to create an EHR?

First, let’s take a step back and clarify the difference between an EHR and an EMR. While the acronyms are often used interchangeable, there is a technical difference. An EMR is a digital version of clinical care data. It is a patient record generated by information collected at the point of care, either given by the patient (i.e. current medications, subjective complaints) or by diagnosis and treatments (i.e. radiologic tests, doctors’ observations). An EHR focuses on the total health of a patient, going outside of the treating healthcare organization. An EHR can be managed by clinicians and staff at more than one healthcare organization. Better yet, an EHR can be accessed and managed by the patient.

Having a comprehensive EHR would be very beneficial for patient care. Suppose you are a patient at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. You have a record there, so they know your medical history. You get in a car wreck in downtown Boston and are rushed to the nearest ER. Luckily it is Mass General. Like Newton-Wellesley, they are part of Partners Healthcare, so your EMR can be accessed. Now supposed you get in a car wreck in New York and are rushed to the nearest ER. They don’t know anything about you and because of HIPAA, Newton-Wellesley is very limited in the information they can tell the ER in New York. An EHR would solve this problem.

But who is going to create an EHR? Individual medical providers don’t have the incentive as they each as well on their way with their own EMR. Companies that design and sell EMRs don’t have the incentive to make their products interoperable because that allows competitors in. Regulators are unlikely to mandate a standard in our capitalist economy. Google was headed the right direction, but was unsuccessful. This is a two-sided network problem that is up for grabs now.

Personally, I don’t think we will ever have a completely interoperable EHR. We will have better transmission of data between EMRs in the next five years. I also think that many more people will carry around some sort of card/ bracelet/USB that allows their medical data to be uploaded into anyone’s EMR. While this is not reaching a status of EHR, it will increase probabilities of successful medical care for those who are specifically concerned or invested in their health. I think only a small portion of Americans would take an active step to carry their data with them, but for those who do, we will be able to increase quality and quantity of life.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple in search business...Dawn of web 3.0 ?

Maybe, this is stale news for many. The initial reason for my search was to find why the name "Siri". I was curious mainly because Siri is a word which means wealth in a few Indian languages. I was also curious to know more about the speech recognition technology used in the Siri application. There were many stories about Siri. While one said Steve Jobs was from Syrian decent and so the name Siri, there was also some pun of the word because of the Japanese meaning of a similar sounding word. Eventually, I hit upon this post which not only revealed the real story of Siri acquisition but also the fact this was Apple's entry into the search business. This led me to my little knowledge about web 3.0 (Semantic Web and personalization). Siri seems to be Apples way of redefining search through web 3.0. So what will Google's response to this be ? Could we see an acquisition of Yap, Vlingo or Nuance to significantly improve its voice commands capabilities ? Google already has all data it needs for personalization (It decides what you want as you start typing..doesn't it ?). It also probably has enough capabilities for building language heuristics. Disruption in search could be something to watch out for in the near future. We have already seen the technology. We need to wait for the widespread adoption of the technology.

Google has replaced the word search in Internet jargon today...Will Siri be the new word for voice based search ("Siri it" sounds funny at least for now) ? I guess only time will tell..

As I try to get answers to more technical questions behind Siri, I thought this was some information worth sharing.

KPCB Internet Trends 2011

Mary Meeker is at it again.
For an update to the top 10 mobile trends slideshow that we read prior to beginning this semester, please see this slide show! Also you can watch a youtube video of Mary present the slides if you have 20 minutes to spare...

For Healthcare: Mary's analysis on dismal the US Income statement looks if it were a company, with medicare and medicaid entitlement spending threatening to bankrupt our economy.

Financial Services: Mobile payments and revenue collections is skyrocketing

Gaming: Slide 39: reveals an inflection point where last just last quarter time spent on social media sites surpassed search engines.

KPCB Internet Trends (2011)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Tech Family

After the class discussions on Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Facebook, it was great to see an infographic on how interconnected these tech companies are.

Maybe it was all about the patents after all

There was a short article today in the Wall Street Journal that touches on Google's use of Android to compete with both Apple (in terms of Music and Media and a new pricing structure) and Facebook (better integration with Google+) with their latest Android phone offering improvements through their new Ice Cream Sandwich software.

What I thought was interesting was near the end of the article, where Andy Rubin, Google's chief of mobile technology, reiterates that Motorola would continue to be run as a separate entity, and they would not give special treatment to Motorola phones over Samsung or others. So it looks like this acquisition was all about the patents after all, while giving Google an in house R&D facility with Motorola to test out their products without unveiling and leaking what is in their pipeline.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

As we compared Google and Facebook today...

(in class), so were the Google Co-Founder and VP of Social Business. And as we discussed, Google’s game plan is to play a different game from Facebook:

- - With circles

- - With less emphasis on tools to make data public

- - With support for pseudonyms, aka users with a non-real identity

But, what sounds similar to Facebook’s latest monetizing game is what was said by Google’s Sr. VP of Engineering, “’brand pages’ are also imminent… when they come there will be some clever surprises.” Besides the advantages from Google Apps (online calendaring, word processing, etc) and Hangout (video conferencing), it'll be interesting to see how this plays out - and if it has a larger impact on small to medium businesses, which some articles state as benefiting most from Facebook.;topStories;txt

WikiLeaks, Google, and the U.S. Government

In a recent twist in the WikiLeaks investigation Google and were required to give over information on a user, including the email addresses of those contacted within the last 2 years and were prevented from informing the customer - all without a warrant or showing probable cause. Under the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act the government can obtain emails, cellphone-location records, and other digital documents, but does not have to obtain a search warrant and only show "reasonable grounds" that the information is "relevant and material" to the investigation.

A coalition of companies including Microsoft and AT&T are lobbying to get the law changed, but if the government uses this strategy in more cases it may change how likely some customers are to use services related to the types of information listed above.

As part of it's transparency efforts Google actually tracks and publishes the requests, as well as the percentage of requests that it complies with.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lesson from MSFT

The story of Microsoft's evolution brings excitement and anticipation to new companies and ever changing industries. Microsoft started with a vision of supplying products, made its fortune on it's Windows platform and has now also offers services. It dominated the OS, tools, application and networking layers, and then used it's clout and partnerships to further vertically integrate.

Facebook is following a similar path in that it has dominated social media and along the way has become an expert on cloud services and infrastructure management to manage the massive amounts of data they have. There is much speculation that Facebook will begin to offer enterprise software, creating a solution for a new layer where a need already exists.

Establishing expertise in one layer often leads a company to develop "side effects" or unique strengths that are applicable and needed in an advancing industry.

Lessons From Apple

I think what attracted me to talk about Steve Jobs is his pattern of leadership. I see the guy as an eminent leader. People actually believed in what he was doing to the extent that he was chosen as the most powerful person in business by Fortune magazine in 2007. This is a link to a very short, but insightful, article about his leadership behavior

In many cases, Jobs did not meet the expectations or did not offer the required technical superiority. Yet, people buy his products. An example for this is the release of the IPHONE 4S. Everybody was waiting the IPHONE 5. People were talking for about 6 months about the expected date of release of Apple’s new model and how it was going to compete with some superior models offered by different producers. However, he did not come up with a, really, new product “IPHONE 5”. He Just introduced a modification of the latest version “IPHONE 4S”. Some other phones are better than apple’s new phone like Samsung Galaxy S2 and you can see the comparison if you follow this link,Apple-iPhone-4S/phones/5639,5257. This cellular is superior to Apple considering its processor, screen size, additional camera, memory options, weight and many other things. In addition many other producers are releasing new smart phones with higher technical specifications especially those related to the camera.

Everybody was disappointed. Yet can you imagine those sales ???. People beleive in Apple and part of this is the role played by the iconic leader Jobs.

Another question, how this guy was manipulating the media? Professor Mastermind was convincing everybody that he was going to do something and then he did something else. In both cases we buy his products.

I do not know what Apple will look under Tim Cook but I know that Jobs passed away taking his secrets with him.

Your Resume-- Represented Infograph Style!

I am sure you are in the midst of polishing, refining and refining your resume continually.  Here are new ways to visualize your resume and you may be able to discern key points that you may wish to highlight as you refine and sharpen your resume.
Have fun.. One of those four examples is visualize (with a demo graphic below).

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Impact of Apple and Microsoft on payment processing sector

Payments are an essential part in all transactions where value is exchanged. Typically, the payments are done through either cash, or check or credit/debit cards. Technology is changing how the payments are processed through each of these modes. In this post, we are focussing on the credit card payment and processing sector. Both Apple and Microsoft are already taking steps that are influencing the strategies of existing players in this sector.

When you pay through credit card, 5 or more parties are involved behind the scene to make the payment work and they share the value. These parties include the merchant, payment gateway, merchant's bank, credit card network, issuer bank and the customer. Mode of interaction between each of these parties is affected by software and technology.

A major strategy shift is happening in customers' interaction with merchant for payment through credit cards. Contactless payments has been been attempted by all major credit card networks. Visa piloted Paywave which is similar to MasterCard's PayPass and Amex's ExpressPay. But the dominance of smartphones and especially iPhone has compelled these networks to change their strategies for contactless payment adoption. Visa recently launched payWave for iPhone which is essentially a protective phone case with secure memory card that enables you to just wave your iphone at the terminal to make payment. Mastercard partnered with Google to launch Google Wallet, a digital wallet that eliminates the need for a physical wireless credit card. Like Google, Apple and Microsoft could make NFC technology part of their dominant phones/platforms and thus extract additional value away from credit card industry.

In fact the shift that is taking place towards digital wallets has the potential to give rise to a new platform for payment and can create alternate stacks in this sector. For example, Google's digital wallet has Sprint, a telecom company as another partner. Telecom companies have been working on their own innovations in mobile payment. Apple and Microsoft, through their existing strong partnerships with telecom companies can enable and speed up the creation of new layers in the payment sector at the expense of incumbent layers.

We can imagine a scenario where Apple could essentially shut out credit cards from all purchasing activities. Users could pay through their iTunes account and pay their iTunes account directly through their checking account. Going further, some day it might enable merchants to use an app on their iPhones/iPads to take payment from a customer who is also using an iPhone. The whole need of having a hardware for merchant (the payment machine) and software to integrate it, could be eliminated.

Similar strategy shifts and innovation can also occur in interaction between other players in the credit card payment processing. Microsoft can bundle payment gateway and payment processing in its business software offering,thus eliminating another existing layer in the industry. In its ERP offering called Dynamics NAV, Microsoft has partnered with a company called ChargeLogic, which offers a platform for handling payment processing directly inside of Dynamics NAV without needing any external hardware or software. This allows companies using Dynamics NAV to authorize a payment right when an order is placed, all in one integrated system.

Staying on the topic of value creation by Apple and Microsoft in the payment processing sector, we venture to think that the whole payment processing sector itself could be eliminated one day if Microsoft and Apple's current strategies succeed. Credit card networks are essentially a platform that enable transaction between customers and merchants. Credit card networks created this platform by reaching to customers and merchants to adopt this platform. Apple's dominant platform already has a terrific consumer reach and its move to consumer cloud will extend it further. Microsoft's cloud strategy for its business application software may enable it achieve similar reach on the business/merchant. Some day, perhaps Microsoft and Apple could partner to create a cloud based consumer and merchant platform that can eliminate the need for all credit card network itself.

Thus strategies and value creation in payment processing sector could be fundamentally disrupted by Microsoft and Apple.

( Post contributed by Akshaya, Burke, Joe, Manoj, Monica and Sid - The Financial Services Team )