>Information-Free Is Invaluable

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Tree-of-knowledge

At first I admit it, I didn’t really get Google; I mean what is this G-o-o-g-l-e and the shtick about “doing search”?

But the writing was on the wall all along with their incredible mission statement of: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

So search is the just the beginning of a long list of now amazingly valuable Google properties and services (now valued with a market capitalization of almost $169 Billion):

– Search (Google Search, Google Search Appliance, Google Desktop)
– Cloud Computing (Google Apps Engine, Google Storage for Developers, Chrome Notebooks)
– Advertising Technology (Adwords, AdSense, DoubleClick)
– Website Analytics (Google Analytics)
– Operating Systems (Chrome OS, Android, Honeycomb)
– Web Browser (Google Chrome)
– Productivity Software (Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Apps Suite)
– Social Computing (Google Wave, Google Talk, Orkut, Buzz)
– News Aggregator (Google News, Google Reader)
– Translation (Google Translate)
– Telecommunication (Google Voice)
– Clean Energy (Google Energy)
– Geospatial (Google Maps, Google Earth)
– Video (YouTube)
– Photos (Picassa)
– Electronic Books (Google Books)
– Blogs (Blogger)

What Google seems to intuitively get is that their free powerful web services creates invaluable consumer market share and mind share–like a honey pot. Once the consumer comes on board–like good little bees, they are ripe for companies to reach out to via advertising for all and every sort of product and service under the sun. And according to 1998 revenue breakdown, as much as 99% of Google’s revenue is associated with advertising!

Google is brilliant and successful for a number of reasons:

1) Google is consumer-oriented and knows how to attract the crowd with free services, and they let others (the advertisers) concern themselves with monetizing them.
2) Google is incredibly innovative and provides the breath and depth of technology services (from cloud to productivity to search to video) that consumers need and that are easy for them to use.
3) Google is information rich, but they share this broadly and freely with everyone. While some have complained about the privacy implications of this information bounty; so far, Google seems to have managed to maintain a healthy balance of information privacy and publicity.
4) Google values their people, as their “owners manual” reads: “our employees…are everything. We will reward them and treat them well.” And to help retain their talent, Google just gave their employees a 10% raise in January.
5) Google wants to be a force for good–their creed is “Don’t be evil.” They state in their manual: “We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served- as shareholders and in all other ways–by a company that does good things for the world, even if we forgo some short-term gains.”

Do not underestimate Google–as the Wall Street Journal, 23-24 April, 2011 summarizes today, they are not a conventional company.

At the end of the day, if Google is successful in their business of making information universally accessible and useful, then we are talking about making an invaluable difference in the lives of humanity–where information builds on itself, and knowledge–like the Tree of Knowledge in the Book of Genesis–is alive and constantly growing for all to benefit from in our Garden of Eden, we call Earth.

(Source Picture: Honeybird)

>An Apple Turnover and Enterprise Architecture

>CIO Magazine, 15 July 2008, has an interesting article called “A Tangled Paths for Macs in the Enterprise.”

The question posed: is it time to switch our enterprise from PCs to Macs?

“Apple—a synonym for awe-inspiring design and coolness—the antithesis to stodgy old corporate technology…the iPhone’s favorable reception portends something more: Some believe it could usher in the era of a more enterprise-friendly Apple.”

Macs have come a long way…

Macs have increasingly become the consumers’ brand of choice. Apple shipped 2.3 million Macs in the second quarter of 2008, which represents a 51 percent growth for the product.”

Will Weider, the CIO of the Ministry of Health Care and Affinity Health System compares “Macs to luxury cars in a PC world of Chevy Impalas.”

Aside from the design wow factor and their innovativeness, historically, Macs are safer from viruses and have lower maintenance costs. All good reasons to consider an enterprise roll-over to Macs.

From a User-centric perspective, Apple understands how people use technology and their products seem to be the choice many would like to make!

What is holding Apple back in the enterprise?

Consumer-orientation: “Business adoption of Macs and Apple software has been sluggish, perhaps, in part, because this is a low priority for Apple. While Apple, of course, deals with businesses, it remains a consumer-oriented company, by the numbers.”

Technology refresh schedule: “Apple does not provide technology roadmaps…what’s worse they make their hardware incompatible with the previous version of the operating system, and their schedule is impossible to keep up with.”

So what is an advantage to Apple in the consumer marketplace—catering to consumer needs and rapid innovation—is a boondoggle in the business environment. Ah, a double edged sword indeed.

Further, a wholesale switch-out to Apple in a Windows shop typically involves desktops, servers, operating systems, and reworking oodles of legacy systems; this is quite a costly endeavor that is not easy to justify in resource constrained organizations.

Further, one of the core principles of enterprise architecture is standardization in order to reduce complexity and achieve cost-efficiencies, so introducing new platforms or a mixed environment is frowned upon.

In the future, as more and more applications become commoditized and moved to the Internet, thereby reducing the cost of transition to Apple, perhaps Apple will have a better chance to challenge Microsoft on the business playing field.

>Apple and Enterprise Architecture

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In Fortune Magazine, 17 March 2008, Apple was rated in Fortune the #1 most admired companies in America and in the world and it won the highest mark for innovation too.

“In an industry that changes every nanosecond, the 32-yer old company has time and again innovated its way out of the doldrums. Rivals always seem to be playing catch-up.”

And Apple certainly knows innovation and mass appeal. “Invention is the creation of something new. [But] innovation is the creation of something new that makes money; it finds a pathway to the consumer.” Apple is great at creating consumer hits–just think iPod, iPhone, and MacBook.

“The iPod is to music what Kleenex is to tissue or Xerox is to copiers.”

“Almost everything Apple makes transcends gender, geography, and race.”

In the last five years, “sales tripled to $24 billion and profits surged to $3.5 billion.”

What is Apple’s enterprise architecture (business and IT strategy)?

  • Thinking big—with Apple, the sky’s the limit or there really isn’t any limit at all; “every endeavor is a moon shot. Sometimes the company misses, but the successes are huge.”
  • Excellence—Apple has become “a symbol of innovation” and there is a huge “degree of perfectionism. Apple hires people that are never satisfied.”
  • Passion—“Emotive is a big word here. The passion is what provides the push to overcome design and engineering obstacles, to bring projects in on time.”
  • Focus—Apple is anti-diversification. They believe that when companies make too many products, they get “mired in the mediocre. Apple’s approach is to put every resource it has behind just a few products and make them exceedingly well.”
  • Consumer orientation—“We figure out what people want…we do no market research. We just want to make great products” for the masses. At Apple, they look at everyday consumer products and ask themselves what’s awful about them and how can they make them better.
  • Democratize technology—“Apple’s approach has always been to democratize technology in the belief that if you make something ‘really great’ then everybody will want to use it.”
  • Technology synthesis—“Apple’s the only company that has everything under one roof…not only do we control the hardware, but we control the operating system.” Apple does hardware and software and operating systems and “can tweed it all together and make it work seamlessly.”
  • Design genius—As a company, Apple is the master of consumer electronics design. “This is not just engineering and science. This is art too.” At Apple, they understand that function is enhanced by form, and that the consumer wants a good-looking gadget.

One of the biggest lessons for me from Apple is to never give up. For years, Apple trailed the computer market with the Mac holding only a 4% to 5% market share. But they kept innovating, developing and designing the best working and looking products. Now they’ve captured 70% market share with the iPod and are targeting sales this year of 10 million iPhones. Apple is a super company with business and technology planning that others can only look at in sheer awe with their mouths hanging open.