Stop that innovation

July 22, 2011

While reading the news on Apple and MS’s results, one whacky thought came to my mind.

If these two IT companies along with IBM, HP are close to $100Billion in annual revenue each, then top 25 IT companies put together would be making $1000 billion annual revenue. There is a great race going on to growing these revenue faster. And there is a greater race for bringing ‘innovation’.

The other side of this revenue is consumers and enterprises are spending at least $1000 billion in buying these stuff made by these companies. Every year we are spending more money on these stuff. What is the primary reason for fast growing sale of Apple like products? Primarily we are buying new stuff every year. We are getting lured by so called innovation or new features.

The thought that came to my mind, if Apple, for example, does not come out with iPad3 or iPhone5 or Microsoft does not bring newer version of Windows or Oracle, IBM , CISCO all decide not bring any new features for next 2 years, what would happen?

My feeling is that they would stop growing but they would still collect $1000billion between them, but may be extra $100Billion (10% of $1000 billion) that consumers and enterprises would have spent to buy ‘innovation’ would not be spent on these products. If you take this logic further and apply to consumer electronics field, I guess we could help consumers in saving upto $500 billion from spending.

And then we create a system of channelizing this money into projects that are meant to save people’s life, make food available to each and every human being on the earth and help create more equitable place, we would be right thing.

If companies do not bring out these so called innovation in consumer IT and consumer electronics, world would not be poorer. My mobile phone, 6 years back, had made as happy as iPhone made me. So if there was no iPhone, I would still have been happy and talking to people. But today me and people like me are eagerly looking for newer version of iPhone and iPads with wallets in hand. Does it make sense? Does it make any world any better?

Please stop this innovation.

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What would Singapore gain through OSS

January 6, 2011

One of the key issues why open source software has not taken roots in Singapore is the mismatch in messaging and perception in what open source offers. Though innovation is the key message as the benefit of open source software, the more dominant message that persist in the country regarding OSS is cost saving. In the society and nation like Singapore where there is abundance of economic wealth and which is more interested in banking on the big brands, why should they care about saving cost and working with smaller companies? The common perception related with cost savings is not positive aspect but of compromise with quality or functionality. Why would a nation which can afford to spend money adopt the products with such messaging.

Though open source software is not just meant for cost saving and it has more positive messages and benefits associated with it, it needs to be communicated.

So what are those key benefits that nations and societies like Singapore should look for in open source software.

Lets us first look at the reasons and benefits the biggest economy of the world – America derived from adopting open source. America and some developed economies adopted open source software to address many challenges that these nations have to address. Even if you have economic wealth the key engine for growth and leadership lies in innovation, pace of development and giving tools in the hands of people to drive growth. As a leader, it is not enough to be in sync with developments, but it is important to set the pace and create tool-kits for innovation.

With the traditional model of software development you can’t do this, in general.

Open source software development model presented America and all those who are aspiring to address various challenges of society and nation with the model that allowed them to drive innovation in a ubiquitous manner. Open source software has enabled collaborative development leading to faster pace. It enabled the enterprises to remove vendor lock-in and set its own (often faster) pace leading to more business. Open source software has fueled the competitive environment challenging the inefficient monopolies which are impediments.

In the same way Singapore should embrace open source software development model to inculcate the habit of innovation, to help drive competitive environment and remove the inefficiencies caused due to proprietary development models in software industry.


Open source Database market gets boost in ASEAN

September 21, 2010

Recently, Ashnik tied-up with EnterpriseDB as its Master partner for ASEAN region. This is exciting for customers, partners as well as developers in the region, as they have Ashnik  to approach for their PostgreSQL needs, closer home. ( For those who are not aware of EnterpriseDB, it is a commercial vendor behind PostgreSQL – the leading open source RDBMS )

Having worked for 9 years in OS layer of open source, it is personally a very important step for me and Ashnik to bring more value to the customers in the form of leading open source database. Through Red Hat Enterprise Linux Ashnik continues to bring open source OS, virtualization and Cloud services for its customers. But the database market is far bigger than OS market.

Total database market is estimated to be around $21Billion for 2010 and growing at 6-8% per annum. To me, this shows that enterprises continue to pay a huge amount of license fees to the proprietary databases – as the numbers show that top 3 vendors Oracle, IBM, Microsoft garner almost 3/4th of the market share. In my discussions with enterprises almost every time I have heard that CIOs are not happy with the returns they get from the license fee they pay for these proprietary database vendors. Most CIOs have been voicing a need for strong alternatives.

While open source databases have been around for many years – PostgreSQL and MySQL being the leading names, with recent acquisition of Sun (and in turn MySQL) by Oracle, there have been doubts in the minds of enterprises about MySQL’s ability to remain independent and thriving open source organisations. On the other hand I found that EnterpriseDB has been silently strengthening its commitment to make PostgreSQL commercially successful. Even industry has responded very positively not just by adopting PostgreSQL but by investing in EnterpriseDB. The big names such as NTT, Kore Telecom, Intel, Red Hat, IBM have invested and are partnering. The $50 million that EnterpriseDB has been able to raise so far signifies the importance industry is attaching to the success of EnterpriseDB.

On the technology front PostgreSQL was always considered as true relational database and with EntepriseDB’s involvement it has been able to offer good user acceptance, ease of installation etc. EnterpriseDB has successfully positioned it as replacement for Oracle Database in the enterprises.

At Ashnik we see this as an opportunity to bring more value to customers, partners and ISVs in the region. Ashnik would be working with EnterpriseDB to develop the customer base and partner eco system to grow this market collectively.


Towards the victory for collaborative forces against mighty one?

May 19, 2010

Android Shakes Up U.S. Smartphone Market

First quarter 2010 information from The NPD Group’s Mobile Phone Track reveals a shift in the smartphone market, as Android OS edged out Apple’s OS for the number-two position behind RIM.

This news caught my attention more than anything.

Apple, which has been making great news through its iPad launch and ‘lost-found-sold-returned’  iPhone 4 , has given a new dimension to the smart phone market. Till Google launched Android platform and Nexus One phone, there was no real competition to iPhone in consumer segment.

When Google launched Android there were many sceptics, not many were convinced that it would be able to take on Apple’s iPhone. After all, Apple has millions of die-hard fans and it had taken a big lead in establishing the apps market. However in my January post I had argued that Google’s approach of getting more players to launch Android based phone has far more chances of winning against mighty Apple, than Google taking on Apple on its own.

Though the above news is based on one quarter data only, it is very encouraging. It says that more Andorid based phones have been sold than iPhone in the last quarter in USA This would give further boost and encourage more players to adopt Android platform.

For me, this brings hopes of having open platforms and more collaborative environment. This would mean faster innovation and transparency.


Any app, anywhere on any mobile phone?

March 2, 2010

The recent announcement by the global telecom operators, if operationalised, has interesting ramifications.

Twenty-four telecom operators have formed an alliance to build an open platform that will deliver applications to all mobile phone users in an effort to compete with Apple’s successful apps store.

Analysts have already voiced the doubts if this would happen in reality. But if this happens and I wish that this should happen, it would mean a lot to the mobile subscribers and a lot to the technology industry.

This is what I, as a user, would like to see coming out of it :

  • Ability to access applications irrespective of any instrument
  • Ability to access applications while international roaming – likes of geo specific apps : ATMs, local restaurants, local address etc.
  • Very low tariffs for accessing these applications in international roaming mode

From the technology point of view, if this becomes reality, this would mean example of “mobile apps on clouds” at never seen before size. Imagine 3 billion subscribers accessing thousands of apps.

This would also mean need for massive standisation. No longer would developers have to worry about mobile device or carrier issues. This is a not easy to achieve given that it is on such a massive scale. But we have seen in case of open source software industry, that if collaboration starts working in right earnest, it brings massive gains for the industry, it brings openness, it brings standardisation.

Then the question for operators would be, how to differentiate their offerings. and how to compete. I guess the answer would be on service quality and innovation.


Singapore, consider the open source way to achieve “quantum leap in productivity through pervasive innovation”.

February 12, 2010

Recently, the leadership in Singapore has stated its intent to grow the productivity by 3% and it has also identified, rightly so, that if it wants to make this happen it has to encourage the innovation. Very true. Gone are the days when you could through more cheap labour to manufacture some thing or you could push same labour to do more things in given time. This is an era of services industry and knowledge economy and not the 19th century manufacturing practices.

Productivity through innovation is the right way to do. But the question is, can innovation happen if you tell bunch of people to go out and innovate? Does it happen if you just throw money after it? Answer is no. Though it needs money and bright brains, it does not happen in isolation and silos.

Consider the examples where innovation happened to solve the real problems :

TED – open translation project :

When the prestigious platform wanted to make knowledge available (through the talks) to millions of people who do not speak English wanted to translate the work in 40 international languages, what did it do. It turned to its users – gave the tools in the hands of the users to translate the work. And the result? Job done in very short span of time, with such a low cost.

Goldcorp

Few years back, a Toranto based gold minning company was struggling with debts, strikes and bad market conditions. Prospects were not looking good for survival. How the CEO turned to mass collaboration and not just saved the company but took it from $100 Million to $ 9 billion company is an interesting case.

GE Plastics

When GE plastic wanted to grow it business even when it has 90% of the market share, how it turned to its customer with “toolkit” concept and not only increased its Total Addressable Market, but retained its lead in the market share.

Wikipedia

How the world’s largest encyclopaedia was created through user contributions in short span of time with little or no money.

The common theme in these disparate examples has been use of “mass collaboration and user driven innovation”

Now these are famous and well documented case studies. There are many more that have innovated through “mass collaboration”. If you notice there has been so much written about it in recent years and so many case studies are available. What Singapore can embrace from these solutions is processes, methodology and environment creation to address the problems through mass collaboration.

Open source software is one the earliest success stories of how collaboration, sharing and standardisation can help you do more with less and democratize innovation. Talking about standardisation, if you want to turn innovation into mass innovation, you need to create standardisation. In the recent presentation at Plug in conference in July 2008 Andy Grove, former chief of Intel, urged the American Automobile industry to learn from open source towards standardisation in regards to creating “ Green energy automobiles”

Creating a culture of adopting open source software in Singapore would help in many ways :

  1. Help create understanding of mass collaboration
  2. Help companies to deploy its capex and opex more efficiently there by improving the productivity
  3. Contributing to open source software would create necessary mindset toward innovation.
  4. Standardization, which comes with the use of open source software would lead towards mass innovation

When Thomas Goetz said the following, in 2003, it was prophetic, today is it is the reality.

“Software is just the beginning … open source is doing for mass innovation what the assembly line did for mass production. Get ready for the era when collaboration replaces the corporation. “

Gong Xi Fa Cai (Wish you very prosperous Chinese New Year )



Adopting open source for the enterprises – Your guide in ASEAN and India

January 26, 2010

Question is not “should we adopt open source software”, question today in Singapore is “how should we go about adopting”. “What are the best practices, what are the learnings from the global enterprises, where to start from, how to select vendors” etc.

It is important to prepare for these questions, before you embark upon your journey of exploration.

Let me tell you from my own experience of selling open source solution for over 9 years, this journey is quite exciting. It unfolds many more benefits than what you would have anticipated, it debunks many myths that you would have heard from market, it also is a revelation of different software development practices that you would not have seen, but are immensely useful. This journey also lets you understand the limitations and practical usage of open source solutions. Getting to know the services providers is very interesting. You realise the talent and expertise available with the local vendors.

When you want to embark upon such a journey, you need a trusted advisor, who could work with you keeping your interest in mind.

Ashnik, the company that we started, aims to be your such guide. Ashnik provides these consulting services and brings you a network of partners to provide best solutions and services. Ashnik tied up with Xebia recently to bring services around Enterprise Collaboration solutions through Enterprise Java and Web 2.0 technologies to Singapore market. This business model itself is based on the collaboration principal. It aims to put your business on fast track by helping you adopt open source solutions.


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