Monday, March 30, 2015

Cloud Computing (1) From Knowledge to Customers

click to watch the video

I imagine that for some CEOs, cloud computing remains too nebulous (pun intended, that is, in the form of a cloud or haze) to have practical impact and business value.  A few years ago, cloud computing sounded more like a centralized data storage, such as that provided by Dropbox, Drive and iCloud. So instead of relying on our personal (local) hard drive, we can draw on a far greater space for whatever document, image or video we want to store.  But these days, cloud computing provides far more: It is an online access to a wide range of computer services and resources.  So the definition of what cloud computing is, in a nutshell, has evolved.   

That said, I wondered what mechanisms more specifically does cloud computing offer or enable for engaging more effectively with customers.

Here is my take: At a fundamental level, cloud computing allows colleagues and managers to share their knowledge, for example, from files stored in a place that they can access.  Of course, for true learning to take place, they would have to (a) reflect on and talk  through whatever is contained in those files, (b) make sense of it and draw conclusions, then (c) take better informed, coordinated action on issues.  I suspect that T-Mobile, the case example that Tim Minihan from SAP spoke to, drew on this cloud-enabled learning to gather critical data on customer churn and employed cloud-based analytic tools to identify factors that directly impacted churn.  In this case, then, cloud computing helped T-Mobile better engage customers who were at risk for leaving.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Freedom (3) The Right to be Forgotten

I find this question to be a terribly complex one.  On the one hand, if one has paid his or her dues, and by law a past transgression is no longer a matter of consideration, for example, for getting a job, buying a house, or obtaining a credit card, then why should it remain available?  On the other hand, I personally appreciate having any old information available on any person or topic of interest to me.  This is how I learn about the background of actors, for example, and how I probe more deeply into their filmography.  So the question comes down (a) morally to the freedom to move on with a clean slate and (b) pragmatically to the means with which to determine how ought to be, and ought not be, removed. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Freedom (2) Cyberbullying and its Consequences

The answer in this situation is easy:  No.  What is difficult, though, is finding answers on to how to stop cyberbullying.  It requires patience and fortitude to do so, that is, in our working to get a better grip on the problem and what underlies it and on the perpetrators and what drives them.  It requires empathic understanding:  not to be confused with sympathy or compassion, but with the ability and willingness to probe into emotional, psychological layers.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Freedom (1) Artistic Expression Online

At first I took umbrage at the idea of anyone petitioning to get artistic work taken offline.  But perhaps in this case, it makes sense, especially as we don't quite know who might be viewing sensitive (albeit artistic) photos online and having whatever unsavory, obnoxious thoughts about them.   


Friday, March 6, 2015

BlackBerry (lol)

Ah, the wonders of social media. During the BlackBerry outage, tweets were flying like bats in the belfry! Twitter was (is) like Punch Line City or BlackBerry Whiners’ One-Liners.

In The 10 Funniest Tweets About the BlackBerry Outage Mashable gathers up their favorites, in a well-deserved set of potshots at the hapless RIM. Honestly, too, I found it a welcome respite from all the grieving around Steve Jobs’ death. In fact, one funny bit was thanking BlackBerry for honoring him with a 3-day silence. People, you now can stop passing around this joke. I’ve heard it so much that it’s not funny anymore.

Still, my favorite goes, Dear BlackBerry, Too bad, iWork. Sincerely, iPhone.

Here are more favorites:

This reminds me of a video on YouTube, where the girl is having a Skype video call with her boyfriend, from her bedroom. Some other guy passes behind her, having just gotten out of the shower and wrapped only in a towel. The boyfriend asks, who’s that guy? She goes, what guy? There’s no one here!

Hmm, imagine that.

Yep, tried that 100 times. Uh, uh, nothing doing. Didn’t work, dude. 

Um, where can I download that app?

Last year, as I contemplated switching from my Samsung slide mobile to a BlackBerry, a friend showed me her cool iPhone and tried to persuade me to buy one, instead. I stuck to my guns. I said I had quite a few friends already asking for my BBM PIN, and I didn’t know what that was. Embarrassing, so I had to get a BlackBerry.

Now look at all the funny stuff I would’ve missed, if I had fallen into the iPhone fad. So, in a strange irony, I am thankful to RIM (and Twitter) and I am thankful I have a BB (lol).

Note: I wrote this article on October 13th 2011 for an old Media & Tech blog.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

BlackBerry (sigh)

(image credit)

One time a friend and I chatted to each other on Messenger:  Our BlackBerrys do so many strange things, it’s like Paranormal Activity! To wit, I take a photo and save it, but it’s nowhere to be found in my album. Sometimes old or recent SMSs will just disappear. The phone number of the sender or receiver stays, but BlackBerry apparently deletes their messages. Also, on occasion, I’ll read or delete an e-mail, but it’ll pop back up as unread two or three times.

I learned a trick from another friend on how to solve some of these quirks: Shut if off, flip its battery out a few seconds, slip it back in, and turn the thing back on. I know, it's real archaic solution, but it works most of the time. Photos appear in my album, and e-mails behave normally again.

Then, recently, I realized that I hadn’t been getting alerts for e-mails, and I was inadvertently signed off on Google Talk. I tried my little trick, and it didn’t seem to work. But a few minutes later, I’d hear that familiar e-mail alert. But over the past day or two, my BlackBerry became flat out disconnected from the internet. No access to Facebook, CNN etc on my browser. Somehow though I was still connected to Twitter via its ‘app.’ Thankfully I could still make and receive calls, and send and receive SMSs.

I find out there is a worldwide outage, from a Fox News report BlackBerry Services Come Slowly Sputtering Back (sigh). Tell me, how can this happen? A major mobile device, used by millions of people around the world, and we can’t connect or browse! In BlackBerry Service Hiccups Spread; Five Continents Affected* The New York Times reports that RIM has identified the problem:
Earlier this week, Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry, attributed the problems to equipment failures and backup systems, blaming a faulty switch that links its internal network to the Internet as a whole.
RIM is already on a downward spiral with its sales, and this is the last thing it needs. The Times acknowledges this:
The latest blackout comes at a precarious time for the company, which is struggling to battle against sluggish sales and a tablet that landed with a thud. Dozens of sleek new Android devices are arriving on store shelves in time for the holiday season and Apple is releasing the latest version of the iPhone this Friday.
This faulty switch is, unfortunately, just one problem in what is appearing more and more as flaws in its systems, operations and-or strategy. As a symptom, declining sales hits the company. But service outages like the one now is a knock upside the heads of its customers. The Times ends with,
On CrackBerry, a popular online forum that caters to BlackBerry owners, a thread called “Enough is Enough” had attracted thousands of views and hundreds of comments by Wednesday afternoon. “This is it. This is the boiling point. Someone has to go over to Waterloo and slap those in charge at RIM,” wrote a user going by the name BlackLion15.”
Note: I wrote this article on October 12th 2011 for an old Media & Tech blog.  *The New York Times revised the article I had originally read, so the quotes I pulled no longer quite match the article.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Above All Do Good

(image credit)

I admit to simplifying a very sensitive, complex issue in our increasingly internet-driven world. I am doing so, because I believe it gives us a measure of calm, control and resolution on this. What is the issue? The Wall Street Journal reports in Secret Order Targets E-mails that as part of the WikiLeaks criminal investigation, the US government requires (required) companies like Google, Sonic and Twitter to release information about a certain volunteer and his activities online, especially e-mails.

We can insist on strict policy adherence and demand sophisticated security tools, and I argue that privacy will remain an essentially elusive, maybe even illusory thing. 

If you’ve watched The Matrix trilogy, you know that you always have someone or something that knows what you’re doing. Your shipmates aboard the Nebuchadnezzar may not know, but the Oracle, the Maker, sentinels and agents do. Google+ has cool circles to segment your friends and colleagues, so one circle isn’t privy to personal information that another circle has access to. Regardless, Google tracks what you’re putting on its site, and it captures what you’re sending and receiving via e-mail if you’re part of this system, too.

Regulators, lawmakers, politicians et al. can hardly keep up with the warp speed of media and technology. 

They’re keen to establish privacy (and access) rules, policies and penalties in this brave new world. While I believe these are all crucial for a civilization such as ours to protect its citizens, I also believe they miss a central point. They often neglect to emphasize a lesson, that is, above all do good, talk good, and BE good! Be as critical, incisive or disagreeable as you want, but keep it constructive, discreet and ethical. Avoid acting criminally. Avoid doing anything that might humiliate you down the road or land you in ‘hot water.’

No one is perfect, of course. 

We all make mistakes, and end up doing something bad. But if we keep these downside things to a minimum and follow my guidance above on this, then privacy isn’t as much of an issue. We can write as many e-mails as we want, upload photos to our heart’s content, tweet from our smart phones etc every minute, and we ought not have any problems. Should the government order the Googles of the world to cough up our information, then we’re clean as a whistle.

Note: I wrote this article on October 13th 2011 for an old Media & Tech blog.