Mass Adoption and the 1% of Social Media

March 17, 2012

Internet participation inequality from useit.com

When I first jumped into social media activity almost five years ago (back when we just called it Web 2.0), I was looking for tools that could help collaboration and innovation as part of my job in an enterprise environment (what Andy McAfee dubbed Enterprise 2.0). A Jive community space, Blogs, Facebook, and Twitter turned out to be great tools not only to collaborate internally, but helped to connect me to a small, but growing community of technology enthusiasts. While the general rule for Internet participation is the 90-9-1 rule where 90% lurk, 9% participate some and the 1% are heavy contributors (the Occupy movement now brings a different 1% to mind) that create over 90% of the content. Bloggers are almost always in the top 10% of participation and they made up a lot of the early Twitter community. Over the last five years, we’ve watched social media go from the early adopter crowd to more of the general population and it is also impacting traditional media.

While having discussions through social media is great, it’s even better when you can meet those people in real life (IRL) at events or when travelling. For comparison at how fast the communities are growing, compare Stephen Foskett’s list of storage people on Twitter in 2008 with the 2011 VMworld Las Vegas Twitter list. With the expansion of Twitter users (and slow decline in blogging), it seems to me that Tweetups have lost some of the excitement that they had a couple of years ago. As I wrote back in 2009, I prefer gatherings where I have already started the connections online. As traditional media and brands increase the usage of social media, more users simply consume the streams rather than engage and create new content and conversation. This week I had some fun participating chatting with the Run! podcast (follow link or click play below, total length is 33 minutes) where we discussed the interaction and differences between mass media and social media. I had fun with the discussion and there is a good mix of viewpoints between Marc Farley, Matt Brender, Roger Strukoff and me.


Like many bloggers, I’m a little concerned that as mass media and mass adoption of social media picks up, there may actually be less active and constructive conversation and more polarizing rhetoric controlled by too few people. Social media holds the promise of democratizing communication and most traditional media usage falls back to a one-way broadcast of information (as Roger pointed out on the podcast, reading questions or comments off of Twitter doesn’t count as being engaging).

Be part of the active Internet 1% and don’t let the media (controlled by the other 1%) rule the social webs.

Thanks Marc, Matt and Roger for having me on the podcast. Also, thanks to those who read and engage in the conversation on this blog, Twitter and everywhere else.

 


Ron Lloyd: Song, Science and Humor

February 25, 2012

Today I attended the an amazing memorial for a friend and former coworker, Ron Lloyd. I had the pleasure of working with Ron for a decade at EMC. When I started at the company in Product Management, Ron was my most valuable resource for understanding the technology and culture of the storage industry. While I would regularly call on his knowledge and connections for many projects, it was his unfailing positive outlook and wicked sense of humor that made him a great friend. His passions of music, science and sports made for great lunchtime conversations. Ron showed me that it was possible to have a good work/life balance. He was active singing in the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and with the Boston Pops. I saw a beautiful Brahms performance (see Nanie, Opus 82 below) at Tanglewood and went to the Pops holiday concert a couple of times. His memorial service fit Ron, a mix of humor (a George Carlin reading and stories from friends and family) and music (amazing live singing from the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Assabet Valley Mastersingers). Despite having a serious heart condition for the last 25+ years of his life, Ron was fearless. A story that I shared at his memorial was that a few years ago, Ron and I were at Universal Studios for EMC World. We went on The Hulk, one of the fastest and best steel coasters. Before we went on, I asked Ron if his heart would be OK and he just laughed. While many riders come staggering off the coaster a bit wobbly, Ron just turned to me and said “the restraint was a little tight against my pacemaker, but let’s go again”.

Ron was a great friend who I shared some great times with (we went to the Superbowl together) and introduced me to some great music. I was so impressed that in his retirement over the last two years, in addition to spending time with his grandsons, he volunteered teaching science and math (with the Boston RE-SEED Center). He lived life to the fullest and those who spent time with him would always be more knowledgeable and happier.


Distilling how to get an edge in business

October 5, 2011

The World Business Forum brings over 5000 business leaders together to hear from thought leaders and luminaries. Some of the big themes across many of the speakers are: people (not companies) leading innovation, digging deeper and looking outside of our own view of the world. As conductor and author Ben Zander said, it’s not about motivational speeches, but looking for transformations that can stay with you the rest of your life. Here are a few quotes and thoughts from Day 1:

Entrepreneur and NBA owner Mark Cuban talked about how there are inefficiencies in the marketplace; if you can give yourself an edge in knowledge or out hustle people, you can succeed. Real estate mogul, Barbara Corcoran said that the first thing that she looks for in hiring is passion, which can not be taught. Bill George (former CEO of Medtronic and author) said that most people only give 30% effort in what they do; only delivering what they are told to do since they are not engaged and working on things that excite themselves. George also said that the size of an organization is inversely proportionate to the propensity to take risk. 21st century leadership isn’t about titles, but rather helping people find the sweet spots where strengths and passions can connect.

 

Photo by PhotographybyDov.com

Malcolm Gladwell said that taking risks is at the core of leadership; need people to innovate and be creative. The problem he points out is that as humans, we are hardwired to seek the approval of our peers. It is much easier to take massive operational risks but not social risk. We see this in teenagers and it was a major component of the recent failures on Wall Street. Leaders can withstand the ridicule of peers. [BTW - Gladwell is working on a new book, he discussed it with a small group of attendees and Dan Rockwell captured some good notes]

There were similar themes at the BIF-7 conference last month. Whitney Johnson, co-founder of Clay Christensen’s investment firm and writer for Harvard Business Review called on people to disrupt themselves. She told her story of the challenges that she faced leaving a Wall Street analyst firm to go to a start-up focused on disruptive innovations. She summed lessons from her personal path to disruption:

  1. If it feels scary and lonely, you are probably on the right track
  2. Be assured that you have no idea what will come next
  3. Throw out the performance metrics you’ve always relied on
  4. Your odds of success will improve when you pursue a disruptive course; targeting a new market vs existing will deliver 6x more success and 20x greater revenue
Process and creativity/innovation are opposing forces at companies. Companies need to create spaces for people to try, fail and iterate.

Stu’s VMworld 2011 roundup

September 27, 2011

When I joined Wikibon, I expected that activity on my personal blog would drop; I hoped to put up about 1 post a month. While I did OK for the first 12 months (15 posts), it’s been 4 months since my last entry. The main reason that I haven’t posted here is that my day job includes lots of content creation (in my first year, I wrote 59 blog posts and was primary author on 27 wiki articles). In addition to writing for Wikibon, I’ve always been an active member in technology and social media conversations online and in person. While there are lots of good conferences to attend throughout the year (some with amazing entertainment), VMworld was once again my favorite tech show due to the very active ecosystem of partners and enthusiastic virtualization community.

Here’s a collection of my activity from VMworld [photo on the right is of my badge, I'm an analyst, a blogger and vExpert - thanks VMware!]:

VMworld was one of the busiest work weeks that I’ve ever had; getting to discuss topics with other vExperts and speak to lots of C-level executives and customers. I received great feedback at the show on Wikibon’s VMware storage integration research. The conversations at the conference also provided some data points towards some networking research that I am working on.

Next week, I’ll be at two conferences at the Javits Center in NYC:

For the tech crowd, Interop is October 3-7 and I will be debating with Stephen Foskett on iSCSI vs. FC, Thursday Oct 6 at 3:15pm – details here.

For a dose of innovation and business leadership, I’ll be in the Blogger’s Hub for the World Business Forum, hearing from a lineup that includes Malcolm Gladwell, Jack Welch, Seth Godin and Bill Clinton.

Comments, questions and feedback are always welcome. Find me on Twitter and Google+.

Cheers,

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com


Get a Dose of Innovation

May 29, 2011

I have had the great pleasure of attending the World Innovation Forum (WIF) in New York City the last two years. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the event this year (be sure to watch #wif11 on Twitter and follow the bloggers on June 7-8), as I will be in Las Vegas for HP Discover. At the HP event, I’m expecting a good dose of tech, good interaction with bloggers and I am very excited that Paul McCartney is the musical guest. HP’s history is tightly tied to innovation and they have also brought in Don Tapscott as one of the keynote speakers (I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Don twice before: at the first EMC Innovation Conference and also at BIF-6). Most companies list being innovative as a top goal, but after listening to thought leaders at previous World Innovation Forum and World Business Forum conferences, the question that arose was can large corporations innovate?

Two of WIF’s speakers that I have seen before give good insight into this question. Clay Christensen is one of the foremost experts on business innovation, and his books are a must-read for anyone in tech. Christensen’s material shows how companies can fail to take advantage of new innovations and find themselves disrupted by startups. Even when companies are aware of the new waves that are coming, the commitment to existing customers and inertia of legacy processes will cause most companies to fail to change as needed as the market demands. One of the most powerful weapons that a company can leverage is the passion of its people; this is the message that WIF participants can expect to hear from Tony Hsieh of Zappos. Tony has a powerful message (and excellent book) of how companies can deliver happiness to customers and employees. I tend to agree with a note that I saw on Twitter recently that said: companies can’t innovate, but they can get out of the way of employees who can.

My friend and former colleague, Steve Todd’s second book, Innovate with Global Influence, continues the discussion of how to be a corporate intrapreneur (see my write-up of his first book). Steve draws on teachings of Vijay Govindarajan, Gary Hamel and Daniel Pink (Steve and I saw Vijay and Gary at previous HSM events, Daniel Pink is at WIF11) to give a framework as to how employees can innovate, delivering results and working with teams around the globe. Steve readily admits that there is strong pressure by management to stay in Vijay’s Box 1 (Managing the Present, which is incremental improvements). Steve encourages employees to deliver on their commitments so that they can move to the journey of innovation in Box 2 (Selectively Abandon the Past) and Box 3 (Create the Future). One of my favorite parts of Steve’s approach is that he recommends indoctrinating new employees immediately in the innovation process. Employees who feel empowered to be innovative and who can be connected with a broad community with similar passions are more likely to be excited and happy with their work. I recommend Steve’s book to anyone who wants to grab some of the power of innovation and help make sure that your company doesn’t stop the passion of its workers.

There are plenty of ways to get a dose of innovation, whether it is hearing an inspiring speaker at a conference, reading a book or blog that makes you think or watching a video; the TED website and iPad app alone can keep you busy for a long time. What have you read or watched that has inspired you?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Innovate with Global Influence, but am under no obligation to write about it.

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com


iPad at Home and on the Road

April 17, 2011

Last month I was lucky enough to make it to my local Best Buy in time to buy a new iPad 2 on launch day. After a month of using it at home and on the road, I am very happy with the purchase and thought I’d share my findings. Last year, when the original iPad came out,  I already had a Mac Book Pro and iPhone 4, so as Louis Gray wrote last year, I had picked my two. I had the opportunity to play with a few iPads and was getting iPad-envy reading articles about families using the new device. I was even seeing the iPad discussion come up at work as more business applications came out for the platform; the iPad was named one of the top two infrastructure innovations of 2010 by Wikibon’s CTO. I was still struggling a bit with justifying the purchase; was it just an expensive toy and would I need to carry yet another device and charger? The clincher for me was that I have a lot of travel to conferences and analyst events this year. The light weight, small form factor and long battery life (listed at 10 hours) would allow for more productivity on planes and less back strain walking around events.

Above is a screen shot that shows my iPad with most of the apps that I have.

Business Travel

I am very happy traveling with the iPad. The battery life is awesome, I have yet to have a day that a full charge hasn’t lasted for my usage. On planes, it’s a fully functional iPod (good for movies too), eReader, notepad (I use Evernote), and game player. Of course WiFi helps since you can’t utilize 3G on planes. At conferences and meetings, I can take notes, use social media, or surf the web. While the OS for the iPad is the same as an iPhone (see some good tips that work on both devices here), there are a few differences worth noting. On the positive side, browsing the web and multimedia apps are generally much better. Apps like Flipbook or even websites like WordPress (including this blog) that are optimized for the iPad are immersive with the touch interface. On the negative side, I’ve found apps crashing much more on the iPad than there are not a lot of free apps that are optimized for the larger screen. For Twitter, I use TweetDeck on my desktop and phone, but it has been too unstable for the iPad, so I’m using the native Twitter app (note that I’ve put it in the home bar for easy access). The knock on the iPad has been that it is a consumption, not creation device; I have found that it’s adequate for drafting blog posts, creating emails, using Google Docs or even giving a presentation. Back at the office, my laptop is still the primary device for all creation activity. There are a few other limitations that I’ve run into: lack of Flash does limit some web activity and opening zip files requires an app and jumping through some hoops. I use email and Dropbox to get files on and off the device – creation of presentations and reports are somewhat limited by not having the usual archive of information that is typical on a desktop/laptop. While I find that the iPad is sufficient for a day of meetings/trade shows, I have still been using my laptop in the evenings.

Home Use

At the office, I rarely touch the iPad, defaulting back to the laptop which I can type faster and don’t have any of the limitations mentioned above. At home, I’m still sorting out when I use the iPad instead of the laptop or phone. My kids (5 & 7) love the iPad and I feel more comfortable letting them play with it than I do the iPhone. They are both adept at playing games (and have caught my Angry Birds addiction), using some of the educational and art apps – the touch interface is so intuitive. The iPad is ideal for taking on errands, giving a parent or child something to do while waiting. I have the 3G version (I have the $15 250MB plan from AT&T and was under 200MB my first month), and just make sure that I’m not doing lots of video when not in a WiFi area. The 3G version makes a decent GPS device for a passenger to help navigate. While lack of Flash does limit video from some sites, YouTube and other apps (like TED) are great for watching video. Facetime is a nice idea on both the iPhone, iPad and even on the Mac, but I’ve used Skype video works well. In testing Facetime with Stephen Foskett, we find that it looks better on the small screen of the iPhone and angling the forward facing camera on the iPad is difficult. The quality of the cameras seem to be the same as the iPhone 4, not great, but fine for 4×6 prints or posting videos to Facebook or YouTube. I do recommend the “smart cover” (I got polyurethane), it helps save battery life by shutting off when closed and makes a good stand for typing or watching video. I also recommend a neoprene case (I got one designed for a netbook) to provide some extra protection, is easy to carry or throw in a laptop backpack. Overall, the iPad provides a much more immersive and enjoyable experience than a smartphone and is much more portable and fast to use than a laptop. While I do think that the iPad is a big step towards moving to a post-PC world, we’re still in the early days of the era of tablets, so hopefully there will be a lot of new uses and innovations that will allow us to do things that we never imagined of for the previous devices.

What cool things have you done with an iPad that you couldn’t do with a smartphone or laptop? I’m sure there are thousands of cool apps that I should be checking out, let me know what I’m missing.

Cheers,

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com


Incredible Times in the IT Industry

March 13, 2011

Hi, thanks for stopping by and obligatory apologies for not having posted in almost 3 months. I’ve still been quite active on Twitter, sharing on Google Reader (also goes to my other Twitter account), and writing about IT for work. Here’s a quick update on some of the things I’ve been involved with lately.

Incredible Beings by Hugh Macleod (shared via CC)

Earlier this month, I was interviewed by Countdown to Storage Expo (a UK-based marketing group), here’s the link: Storage Networking & Social Media Maven: Q&A with @Stu Miniman, Principal Research Contributor at Wikibon. After doing the interview, I found out that I will be attending my first SNW next month.

It’s an exciting time in the IT industry and I’m lucky to be able to cover a lot of different topics as an analyst. Here are some links to some of my favorite articles that I’ve written lately:

Big Data is a nascent trend which is at the intersection of analytics, mashups, cloud computing and some really smart data scientists. After watching the O’Reilly Strata, I wrote a blog post explaining some of the basics of this trend.

Cloud computing is a huge portion of the IT landscape. My angle has traditionally been from the enterprise perspective, since I was working on “private cloud” solutions back when we simply called them next-generation or virtual data center solutions. As with most technologies, enterprises must balance existing legacy equipment an processes with the desire to take advantage of newer cost and operational models. I wrote a piece on hybrid clouds discussing solutions that look at bridging private and public clouds.

Server virtualization has seen strong adoption from companies of all sizes and desktop virtualization is seen as one of the next significant areas of growth for virtualization. While there are plenty of success stories across many verticals that are adopting virtualization, the overall solution set is still fragmented. I posted a research piece discussing the journey that the ecosystem needs to undertake to mature VDI.

Of course, I still keep a close eye on the networking space, especially storage networking technologies like iSCSI and FCoE. My most recent article on the topic discusses unified/flex ports which have the capability of switching between Ethernet or FC, giving customers flexibility and investment protection.

In addition to SNW, I will also be attending EMC World in May and likely a few other conferences in the upcoming months. If you’ll be at one of the shows, I’m always happy to chat about the various technology spaces or social media. Conferences usually give me lots of ideas and plane time to write, so I hope to update this blog more often in the coming months.

Cheers,

Stuart Miniman

http://blogstu.wordpress.com

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