strategy

Making sense of reorgs

Many technology industry executives are surprisingly inept when it comes to planning and executing reorganizations effectively.

One of the most evident signs of dysfunctional executive management is reorg-du-jour (reorganization of the day, for those who didn't take French in high school). Nothing is more disruptive or counterproductive to the effectiveness of an organization than frequent reorganizations.

Not to pick on Yahoo, but the frequency, if not the execution, of its notorious reorgs has almost certainly contributed to its talent exodus and loss of productivity at a time when it can scarcely afford it.

That said, reorganizations go hand-in-hand with changes in corporate and product objectives and strategy that are often implemented to meet an ever-changing competitive landscape. To that extent, they can be critical to business success, if done correctly.

When do reorganizations make sense and when are they frivolous and disruptive? How can they be executed to minimize productivity disruption and worker frustration? Here's an insider's perspective on organizational change in two parts. First we deal with "how," then we deal with "when" and "why."… Read more

The alternative-energy bubble

What do you get when you mix Al Gore, global warming, whacky environmentalists, skyrocketing oil prices, lots of venture funding, and irrational exuberance? An alternative-energy bubble.

What, you don't believe that there's an alternative-energy bubble? Then you're just not paying attention. It may not be the biggest bubble in the history of technology--yet. And it may not be ready to burst--yet. But it's a bubble, all right. All the signs are there.

In solar energy alone, hundreds of millions of dollars of venture funds have been poured into the likes of Nanosolar, SoloPower, OptiSolar, HelioVolt, eSolar, SolFocus, Solel, Miasole, GreenVolts, Hydro Green, Infinia, Sopogy, Cyrium, SkyFuel, BrightSource Energy--the list goes on and on.

All the usual suspects are in the game: big-name venture capital firms, investment banks, private-equity firms, energy companies, technology companies, individual investors, a new batch of investment companies focused primarily on energy, and even a hedge fund or two.

There are lots of recognizable names, as well, including Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Microsoft founder Paul Allen, and Sun Microsystems founder and ex-Kleiner Perkins partner Vinod Khosla.… Read more

Money is tight. Buy more open source

CIO.com addresses the souring economy with this counsel for CIOs:

When IT directors take the time to build a business case demonstrating the ROI for these kinds of projects [training, etc.], they tend to get funded. Businesses aren't really interested in cutting costs for the sake of doing it, they just want to eliminate waste and get the most from every dollar spent on IT services. It falls to the CIO to demonstrate the value of IT initiatives to the business in real economic terms, and to counter the image of IT as a cost center.

Given that … Read more

Yahoo plans Groups improvements

Update 12:41 p.m. PDT: I corrected a reference that should have been to Yahoo.

Yahoo has begun sharing some future plans it has for Groups, its service where people with shared interests can get together online through mailing lists, calendars, polls, and other features.

In the "coming year," Yahoo plans to add many attributes that expand the scope of groups, according to the Yahoo Groups blog on Tuesday. Those features include tools for product reviews, service directories, wanted boards, address books, and event planners.

And upgrades to existing features include: a better system for hosting photos … Read more

Open source for your next CRM deployment

SugarCRM and other open-source CRM vendors have a slick value proposition for the CIO: Save money, boost innovation, and improve internal adoption. What's not to love?

According to a CIO.com article, it depends on the type of organization you're helming. For some, it's possible that open-source CRM won't be a good fit. But these will be the exception, not the rule:

Since most of the code is open, the applications tend to be very customizable, run on any platform, and have a good, if not all-encompassing, feature set. Indeed, SugarCRM, the largest player in the … Read more

Recognizing the clueless CIO

I like this CIO.com list of nine ways application developers can determine whether their CIO is "clueless" (and nine ways for CIOs to not be such). Given the rising importance of the CIO, it's critical that CIOs earn and keep the respect of their developers.

My two favorites intersect with open source, the first being that the "CIO is a technical dinosaur." PHP? MySQL? Ruby? Spring? These are the future - just look at what leading web companies deploy. If you're still gobbling down the latest bloatware from your "enterprise" vendor, … Read more

Opening up enterprise innovation through open-source SOA

CIO.com's Esther Schindler has an excellent take on the role that open-source service-oriented-architectures have in enabling enterprise innovation. Sometimes we think of open source as purely a development phenomenon, but it turns out that the licensing behind the code/development is powerful, as well:

The Swedish railroad SJ had a bright idea: Integrate its ticket sales with online auctions. Any seat that hadn't sold by 48 hours before the train was due to leave the station could be placed on the Nordic version of eBay called Tradera.com. Even if the seat was auctioned for a lower-than-retail … Read more

Yahoo opens address book interface

Fulfilling a second major part of its promise to make the internal workings of its Web site more extroverted, Yahoo is opening the interface for its address book for outside use.

The move could mean that Yahoo, struggling under business pressures but still a stronghold of Web activity, could become more tightly tied to others' Web services. For example, a programmer starting up a social networking site could use the interface to send invitations to a member's list of contacts stored at Yahoo.

"Our address book has for a long time been one of the top things developers … Read more

Kevin Johnson's letter on Microsoft's updated online strategy

As Microsoft returns to the table with Yahoo for a deal that might include Yahoo's search business, Windows and Windows Live chief Kevin Johnson sent this letter updating his team on an updated online and advertising strategy. CNET News.com's Ina Fried had an exclusive report on May 7 regarding Microsoft's online search and advertising strategy.

From: Kevin Johnson Sent: Sunday, May 18, 2008 1:30 PM To: Platforms & Services Division; APSP FTE - Adv & Pub Solutions Platform; Employees.all.corp.adf@main.corp; Employees.all.adf@main.corp Subject: Online Services Strategy Update

We … Read more

A time to reap, a time to sow: A phased approach for open-source businesses

During my morning reading, I happened upon this verse from Ecclesiastes:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven...a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.

It made me think of the ongoing debate around open-source business models (illustrated well in a recent post by Savio and perhaps more so in the comments section to that post), kicked up by MySQL's recent decision to offer closed extensions to its core (100 percent open source) database, but one that has been simmering for a long time. MySQL is essentially saying, "We've spent a decade planting. We'd like to reap a little of what we've sown now."

MySQL is doing this right. It has focused on adoption first, and has committed to keeping the source of that adoption open source. But in its next phase, perhaps it demonstrates an ideal open source-based business model. Or rather, a phased approach to growing an open-source business...?… Read more