Predictions and Disruptions

September 7, 2015

2maIn my role as an analyst, it is amazing to have access to brilliant people and huge amounts of information. On this blog, I’ve always liked to share some of the books and other sources that have a profound impact on what I’m working on. Through Wikibon research (now on a new website and live video program theCUBE, I’ve had a front row seat to dig into the disruptive forces of cloud computing, big data and new infrastructure. I get to attend a number of technology conferences, my favorite event this year was with the MIT Sloan School in London that included sharing of research from the book, The Second Machine Age (book website, theCUBE content). Professors and co-authors Andy McAfee and Erik Brynjofsson (interview below) examine how information technology will have an even larger impact on how we live and work than the Industrial Revolution; the first machine age based on machines replacing physical tasks, in the second, machines take over more cognitive tasks.


As discussed in the interview, this new era does not mean an end to jobs; there will be a shift away from repetitive tasks and successful in this new economy will require significant shifts to organizations, training and education. Technologies like IBM’s Watson and Google’s self-driving car sit at the intersection of these trends. IBM’s Watson can not only play Jeopardy, but is being focused on real-world activities such as health care where vast analytics can help doctors make decisions faster and provide basic diagnosis to global audiences thought mobile applications. Andy and Erik say that the first few minutes riding in a self-driving car are a bit scary, but soon becomes easy to accept and that within only a few years we are likely to trust the machines to do a better job than most of the drivers around us. For those of us that have lived through the birth and growth of the World Wide Web, it can be a bit tough to put into perspective some of the amazing things that are now commonplace today. the-innovators-9781476708690_hrIn Walter Isaacson’s book The Innovators, which gives a great longitudinal look at the development of the computer and Internet over the last 200 years, he discusses a seminal article by Vannevar Bush published in 1945 after World War II. In As We May Think in The Atlantic Monthly, Bush looks forward to see what the world’s scientists can create with photography and computer technology if they all work together. The ideas for hypertext, the Internet, browser and even Google Glass are all here; even seventy years later, there are some great ideas in the article (it’s only 19 pages, give it a full read).

In 1945, much of what Bush wrote must have sounded like science fiction. Incremental changes are a lot easier to imagine than the 100x or 1000x advances that he discussed. The instant photo of a Polaroid was fun, but taking a picture anytime on a phone and being able to share it globally is vastly different. The power of cloud computing and big data can be seen when we can do things that either could not be done before or would take huge amounts of resources and time. One of the challenges with disruptive markets is that we tend to dismiss breadth and depth of the impacts. For some of Wikibon’s thoughts on some disruptive trends, see analysis and video about public cloud and Server SAN (storage/hyperconverged infrastructure).

Another topic that I found interesting from The Innovators was a discussion of how the Internet has long fought between two modes of sharing: a one-way posting of information (a low barrier including everything from early research postings to the various media firehoses today) and a platform for collaboration and community. Community and collaboration is a lot harder and requires lots of care and feeding. Blogging is part of the collaboration and community effort; while there are still plenty of blogs, many of us do more writing for our day jobs, and participation has dispersed into the real-time streams of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other areas. I’ve written over the years that we need more engagement, deeper analysis, and curation of ideas. One corner of the IT community digging into the opportunity of curating and sharing information is TechReckoning, led by John Troyer; check out the newsletter and upcoming Silicon Valley event. The event raises the question, what job will you have in 10 years? When it comes to disruption, if you don’t set the menu, you may be on it.




It has been more than a year lapsed since my last post on this site, if anything, I’ve been concerned of overexposure after so much time in front of the camera on theCUBE.

Since I have yet to write an article about my thoughts on being an analyst five years into that role, here’s a good replacement thanks to my friends from The Geek Whisperers podcast who interviewed me at VMworld 2014: Episode 60 Research Analyst.

At a VMworld 2015 party, I got to briefly meet the Woz and thank him – my first computer was an Apple IIc. A younger attendee at VMworld thought that it was a picture of Howard Marks with me (it made Howard’s week, even if it’s disappointing that an attendee at a tech conference doesn’t recognize one of the founders of Apple).

The Woz and me

The Woz and me

Stu Miniman

Leveraging Social Media with Community and Influencers

May 26, 2014

The Internet gave us broad access to an endless supply of information (even if it might distract us and prevent us from deeply understanding topics). Mobile technology increasingly allows us to be constantly connected to the Internet, plus communities and connections. Social media, formerly known as Web 2.0, rode on the waves of new Internet and mobile technology, promising to transform business and communication. At EMC World 2014, I hosted a lively segment on theCUBE with two friends – John Troyer and Amy Lewis (2/3 of the Geek Whisperers podcast) – about social media, community and influencers. John recently ended his 9 years of running communities at VMware to launch a new venture, TechReckoning, a new place for the IT community to figure things out together. Amy manages Influencer Marketing for Cisco. When asked if we are now in a “post-social” phase, both John and Amy agreed that social media is a toolkit that can help with broader efforts such as marketing and community building, rather than a discipline that should be managed separately. We discussed that contributing to the community can come in many forms including coding, blogging or participating in online or in-person events. John proposed that people should dial things back a bit – creating less content with higher value such as long-form posts. Amy also noted that it is also important to have people who can curate information, boiling down the volume of noise into a consumable signal. Check out the full conversation below for great insights on community:





On a personal note, it was my 12th year attending EMC World and it was by far the busiest. It’s been a busy season for theCUBE – in addition to EMC World, I was a primary host at the Open Networking Summit, Red Hat Summit and OpenStack Summit broadcasts. On the research side, Wikibon’s definition and market forecast of Server SAN (a scale-out compute+storage architecture including solutions such as Nutanix and VMware VSAN) has received a lot of attention. The week after having Geek Whisperers on theCUBE, I interviewed Brian Gracely and Aaron Delp of The Cloudcast at OpenStack Summit – summary is that blah blah cloud still has a lot of challenges. It’s been an exciting time talking with some top industry influencers, company founders and executives across enterprise IT. As always, feedback is always welcome and thanks to everyone who shares online and in person.

UPDATE: Below is the Engineers Unplugged session: How to Introduce New Tech Topics – hosted by Amy Lewis with John Troyer and me on the whiteboard and featuring the mystical Wookiecorn!


Stu Miniman

Tipping Point for the Collaboration Economy

September 18, 2013
Chief Catalyst Saul Kaplan kicks off BIF-9

Chief Catalyst Saul Kaplan kicks off BIF-9

It is my third time attending the Business Innovation Factory conference (see my BIF-9 preview post) – while some of the themes are similar year-to-year, there are always new items and trends that bubble to the forefront. After the first day of amazing speakers, the thread that ran through many of the stories that I heard was how the promise of the collaborative (or sharing) economy is poised to take off. Malcolm Gladwell states that a tipping point is where an idea, product or message spread like a virus. The proof points included 3D printing, Kickstarter projects and a many other cases where individuals or small groups could leverage communities to deliver results that are often greater than what large organizations could.

3D Printing

While 3D printing is not new or even a new topic at BIF, the price and availability of the technology are poised to allow people to take the maker revolution to the next step. Seventeen-year-old Easton Lachapelle is an inventor of a 3D printed brain powered robot arm. His current 2nd generation arm (here’s a Vine of him showing it off) costs $400 to produce, weighs under 10 pounds, and it is activated by brainwaves. His 3rd generation will be lighter, stronger (carbon fiber) and faster. On the other end of the experience spectrum, Ping Fu (amazing story – forced out of China, hired Marc Andreesen as a student research, worked on early web and much more) is proving that 3D printing could be “as big as the Internet” for transforming business. Check out Ping’s Twitter page to see her 3D printed shoes – she jokes that she’ll never need to pack shoes again, just print them at her destination. Customization, the sharing of templates and the access to rapid results and iteration can bring people into the design process or completely change the purchasing process. The co-founder of StockTwits, Howard Lindzon pointed to Stratasys ($SSYS) – the company acquired Makerbot – as a hot stock of the 3D printing wave.


There were so many examples of engagement models changing with the help communities and low-cost methods. Doug Ulman of Livestrong explained how the $1 yellow wristband provided such a low barrier to participate; and the primary goal of the organization was to build community for sharing experiences. Food geek Scott Heimendinger used Kickstarter to launch an inexpensive sous vide immersion circulator (high-tech food gear) – raising hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the original plan. And Bruce Nussbaum spoke about how startups like Zipcar and Uber are capitalizing on new business models that existing companies can’t or won’t. Bruce said that companies should allow newer generations to help usher in this change. Collaboration is a big part of my day job doing community-focused research for IT with Wikibon and we see huge opportunities for data (yes – big data too) to transform industries. There are also the companies like Airbnb that are looking to taking sharing and new business models to a new level (see Jeremiah Owyang’s announcement today for more on this topic).

Connect. Inspire. Transform.

I love a good quote as much as the next person and BIF provides some great ones. I would caution that sometimes it’s too easy to boil things down to a headline or tweet (hi, I’m @stu and I tweet a lot), but we need to dig deeper (read more, write more, connect more). So please check out some of the story tellers, the BIF site and I’m always happy to answer questions or connect people with my network. To quote Whitney Johnson, “Showing up doesn’t always equate to winning…You can never give up without dreaming. But you can’t dream if you don’t show up.”

Disclaimer: I am attending BIF-9 on a free blogger pass, which gives me free admission (conference includes meals).

Stu Miniman

Finding time for innovation at BIF-9

September 15, 2013

In the technology world, discussions of innovation are usually focused on invention – the creation of new technologies. I grew up in NJ where Bell Labs was an inspiration for me to study engineering and a proud legacy to discuss during my time in sales with Lucent Technologies. Innovation encompasses much more than the ideation moment or even the delivery of new ideas to the market place.

Visualization of SK's BMI talk

If we look at some of the big societal challenges such as healthcare and education, there isn’t a silver bullet to be found through technology or finance. Change for any existing process or business is not easy and requires a different approach such as business model innovations, a technique promoted by Saul Kaplan in his book, his team and his conference (BIF-9 is this week).

At VMworld a few weeks ago (see all of SiliconANGLE and Wikibon’s coverage), over 22,000 people gathered to talk about the latest in cloud computing and virtualization. It is a great ecosystem and my favorite tech show of the year. In many ways however, even with great debate over the direction of some technologies, everyone is talking about the same general topics. As I wrote two years ago (Hyper-connected network or Echo-Chamber), as the social media space has become more crowded, most people will tend to converse and connect with people of similar backgrounds and interests. When it comes to innovation, the best ideas often come through the synthesis of unrelated concepts. One of the best perks that I’ve received through blogging has been passes to some amazing conferences over the years. BIF9The innovation conferences that I have attended have connected me with concepts and people that have greatly broadened my perspective. As Deb Mills-Schofield wrote about the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) conference, it provides us with the amazing opportunity to have Random Collision of Unusual Suspects (#RCUS). While you can definitely gather information at a huge conference, what I relish about the BIF event is that it is designed to blur the line between the speakers and the attendees with lots of networking and deep conversations. The speaking style at BIF is similar to TED events (TED founder Richard Saul Wurman is an advisor and speaker at the event). With only a few hundred people and lots of breaks, it is a great way for innovation junkies to be more than just inspired, but to find connections and ideas that are applicable to your needs. There is a free livestream available for those that aren’t signed up for this sold-out event. While it is always difficult to find time for new perspectives, I’m fond of this saying from Life’s Little Instruction Book:

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to… Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.

For 2 days this week, I’ll be taking a break from the very busy world of cloud computing, software-defined data center and big data while I immerse with fellow innovation enthusiasts.   I’ll be tweeting and writing about BIF-9 this week. See my articles from BIF-6 and BIF-7.

Disclaimer: I am attending BIF-9 on a free blogger pass, which gives me free admission (conference includes meals).

Stuart Miniman

For an update on my activities with Wikibon, check out our software-led infrastructure page. I will be at Oracle Open World and Amazon re:Invent later this year.

A Walk in the Fog – Fitbit up Mt Washington

July 12, 2013

I’m not a fitness nut, but I have been trying to keep in better shape. My general philosophy on weight loss comes from a college roommate who stated, “get off your fat a@@ and stop eating so much” – not to make light of an issue that is serious for many people. A few years back, I dropped 30 pounds in a year by taking a daily 30-45 minute walk and more sensible lunches (more salad, less entrees at the cafeteria). When I moved from a large corporate office where I could easily walk the halls and campus to a small office, my daily walking declined. I’ve seen a bunch of friends through social media trying out the various fitness gadgets and my wife got me an early birthday present of a Fitbit One (find my profile here) so that I could track my daily activity.

What’s great about the Fitbit (and others) is that it doesn’t require much to use – just clip it on (the One is a small clip-on which I preferred to a wristband) and it can sync with a smartphone or computer. It tracks steps taken, floors climbed, distance/miles traveled, time very active and calories burned. I was especially interested in using the Fitbit to track how much walking I actually do when in Las Vegas (it seems like you walk forever) and also for a hike up Mt Washington in NH. In Las Vegas, it was relatively easy to walk 5-10 miles in a day – my current record of 26k steps was at a recent trip where I walked much of the Strip and a lot inside the convention center and between hotels.

Fitbit Mt Washington

Mt Washington is the tallest mountain in the northeast US with the summit at 6228 feet. I was inspired to do the hike after reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods a few years back. Two of my college fraternity brothers, Frank and Gil, agreed to do the hike with me. We did a lot of research and got plenty of excellent advice from people – even on a relatively warm summer day, bring plenty of water (I went through 1 gallon on the way up), layers of clothing (the moisture wicking hiking clothes are highly recommended and don’t forget a winter hat), and good shoes (we all wore hiking boots). We took the Jewell Trail which is the “easiest” up – 3900 ft ascent over 5.1 miles. As soon as we got out of the car, it poured rain on us for the first couple of miles, but luckily stopped before we reached the tree line. A nice thing about the Fitbit is that it is fully water and sweat-proof, so even in foul weather, it worked great. The trail directions had details about which way the trail turned at certain mileage, so having the Fitbit tracker was very useful. It took us about 5 hours to reach the summit – and while it was only about 15k steps, it was over 350 flights of stairs (and the Fitbit badge for 300 flights says that this is higher than any building in the world). Gil and I took the Cog Railway back down while Frank hiked the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail which took him 3 hours (a much steeper 4.5 miles for 3800 ft of descent). The summit and most of the mountain was socked in with fog. At the information booth, they told us that this is typical for the summer months, they even sell a postcard of “Mt Washington in the Fog”. While we didn’t get to see much scenery on the climb up or at the summit, we did get to see some of the Presidential Mountain Range on the train ride down.

Mt Washington Summit Group

I’ll leave discussion of wearable computing like Google Glass for another day; my Fitbit has been a fun, simple and useful tool for me. Thanks to Frank and Gil for helping me cross off this goal from my bucket list.

Blogging is dead, how can there be a new place to blog?

January 23, 2013

(my take on Quora's new blogging feature)

Post by Stuart Miniman:

Blogging is dead, how can there be a new place to blog?

View Post on Quora

Passion, Scale and VMworld 2012

September 3, 2012

A theme that I’ve heard many times at business and innovation conferences is that the large organizations kill passion and stifle innovation. At last year’s BIF-7 conference, I asked Dan Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind, if large companies can innovate and he said, “No”. At the World Business Forum last year, Jack Welch said that the argument of companies innovating is a red herring; he said that it is people who innovate. At the recent Dell Wyse CIO Summit 2012, Paul Maritz stated that one of the biggest challenges of a public CEO is keeping the passionate, high-performing employees from leaving. Paul Maritz ran a 10,000 person division of Microsoft, was founder and CEO of a small startup (Pi Corporation) that was acquired by EMC, became CEO of VMware (which has grown to over 11,000 employees) and now moves back into EMC to become chief strategist. He said that the goal of a company is to help people feel that they are doing important work as part of a shared effort and that the structure of the company is helping rather than hindering progress. Size of a company is an obstacle and Maritz states that companies over 20,000 employees are never perfect.

I’ve worked at companies large and small and the balance of process and productivity is a tough balance regardless of size. Some thought leaders and authors have written that the industrial era reporting structure should be abolished. While it sounds promising overhaul management, it is the lack of management oversight and checks and balances that led to the Enron scandal. Paul Martiz stated that the number of people where dysfunction (my word) starts outweighing productivity is 20,000; others have stated that anything larger than a military battalion (around 1000) cannot all be motivated towards the same goal efficiently.

Passionate communities are tough to maintain. Early adopters move on to the next great thing, events lose steam over time and love of brands has a short half-life. The VMworld conference is my favorite show of the year, mostly because it brings together such a passionate community. The bloggers, entrepreneurs, engineers and thought leaders are so diverse and engaging that for the third year in a row, I left the show with my brain full, feet aching and voice shot from non-stop talking. This was the first VMworld that was over 20,000 attendees. While no event of this size is going to keep everyone happy, I have been hearing some rumblings from a number of constituents that the event organizers need to watch out for. First of all, I heard from a number of end-users that there were many sessions that did not meet expectations. A number of the sessions were reported as being too basic, too marketing/product focused or just too boring. I know many passionate vExperts and bloggers that have been calling for a VMworld unconference for the last 2 years to deliver proposed sessions that for one reason or another don’t make the cut. While VMware has to keep its sponsors happy, there’s usually a big gap in passion and delivery between a vendor-assigned presentation and one from a volunteer that shares what excites them. One of VMware’s greatest assets is the halo that the company gets due to the passion of the various communities (VMUGs, VCPs, vExperts, etc); this must be upheld to win the battle against Microsoft and other challengers.

Brent Spiner was the big geek draw at the VMworld 2012 booths, proving that Data was at the center of everything ;)
Thanks to @geekazine for the photo

Whether you were at VMworld or not, check out the full coverage of videos and articles from SiliconANGLE and Wikibon on our curated VMworld 2012 page. Networking had huge buzz at the show due to the Nicira acquisition and theCUBE got an exclusive interview with co-founder Marin Casado, see my article here. I also did videos with EMC TV (watch here – interviewed by Matthew Brender) and TechTarget (watch here – interviewed by Colin Steele).

Thanks everyone for the conversations and interviews at the show! As always, feedback and questions welcome.

Stuart Miniman, vExpert 2011, 2012


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