$50,000 up for grabs in the IT Invention Test

If you’re an individual or small-to-medium businesses based in Australia and have a project that is an idea, concept or prototype that has generated not more than $150,000 in sales you may be eligible to go into the running for the $50,000 IT Invention Test. Organised by ICT Geelong to provide a pathway for people with IT ideas to commercialise their dreams, last year’s inaugural competition received and overwhelming response. Submissions close at 5:00pm Friday 9th September 2011.

Mobile Awards launch this week

This year will see the inaugural national awards dedicated to the mobile industry, the Mobile AwardsDesigned to recognise and celebrate outstanding achievement across all aspects of the Australian mobile landscape, the Melbourne launch event takes place on June 1, with the Sydney event taking place the next day. If you’re interested in attending the launch click here.

Live from #cloudforce 2011, Sydney

I’m currently in the audience at Salesforce.com’s cloud computing event #Cloudforce 2011. Part of an international roadshow, it’s an opportunity for Salesforce.com to promote both its services and the overall cloud computing model. The keynote for the morning was given by Polly Sumner, Salesforce.com’s chief adoption officer. After some initial definitions of the cloud and its benefits, she then moved on to discussing what the company is calling cloud 2, which is inherently more social and mobile. The new model means building cloud applications that look and feel much more like Amazon.com and Facebook have conditioned consumers to accept. There is also the notion of location -awareness, where location knowledge enables a far more tailored experience to be delivered to users.

Her presentation then moved on to discussing Salesforce.com’s social collaboration tool Chatter.  The idea behind Chatter  is to take the power of social networking tools and bring it into an enterprise context, with appropriate limitations and security. Chatter was first unveiled by Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff 18 months ago, but has taken some time to find its way into the hands of users. Chatter is also discussed by Benioff in A Faster Future.

Interestingly Salesforce.com has realised the importance of social media for its service offering, given that most discussions around service levels amongst consumers happen through social media. Hence the company has enabled its service tools to integrate with social media tools.

Overall, the presentation was clearly geared towards relative newcomers to cloud computing and many of the concepts discussed, and no doubt reflects the organisation’s belief that there is still, after ten years, a lot of education that needs to take place. Given the company is now turning over US$1.8 billion and has targets to break US$2 billion in 12 months, that’s not a bad problem to have. The heavy push on the service component probably tells more about the future direction of the company, and particularly its desire to weave what is happening in consumer social media into its enterprise platform for the benefit of clients.

Live blog at #V21 Melbourne – Robbee Minicola from Hybrid TV

The second presentation for the day was delivered by Robbee Minicola, the chief executive of Hybrid TV, the company behind the introduction of TiVo into Australia. Minicola started by talking about the evolution of YouTube into professional activities – longer form content, live streaming, professionally-produced content, and so on, and encouraged the audience to learn more about the professional side.

“YouTube is embedded in tens of millions of devices,” Minicola said. “LG have a suite of 140 devices – YouTube is embedded in those, YouTube is embedded in the iPhone. I’m talking ubiquity.”

She also talked about how 90 percent of televisions sold this coming Christmas will feature Internet connectivity, and you can be sure that YouTube will be a featured app. The big message was that people need to be thinking about the implications now – before they get squished by the elephants of the industry. She also talked about the great capacity for contextual advertising through new formats with advertising becoming more bespoke.

“You have to coalesce – the big brands are the ones that survive,” Minicola said. “Create a consortium – a consortium is going to make it work for you. You need to unite and fight. Come together and create a brand. If it is just you on your own it won’t work.”

Live blog at #V21 Melbourne – Geof Heydon from Alcatel-Lucent

Am currently at the V21 conference, an initiatve of AIMIA being held today in Melbourne. After a brief welcome from organiser Debra Allanson the opening address was given by AIMIA national president and managing director of PortableSimon Goodrich, who talked about the evolution of AIMIA and of people’s awareness of digital media generally.

The first presentation was given by Geof Heydon, the vice president for the digital economy at Alcatel-Lucent in Australia (and also quoted in A Faster Future). He talked about how it is the digital content innovation that needs to occur to take initiatives like the National Broadband Network, because a lot of the technology of the networks themselves have already been developed. He also talked about the power of faster networks and compression, using the example of how our ability to download a movie that has come down from 800,000 hours to an expected 30 seconds by 2012. He also pointed to how less money is being spent on advertising as digital media allows the spend to be more targeted – we can stop s[ending the half of the advertising budget that is traditionally wasted.

He also talked about the future of applications will be all about hiding the complexity that lies behind them. For instance, the browser will become less important, and phone numbers will become irrelevant – we will just connect as people to other people. He also suggested that the operating systems that are on phones will become the operating systems that will run on televisions. He also talked about the possibility for new business models that are barely being thought of today (one of the main themes of A Faster Future) and the need for people to be thinking about these possibilities in the future. He also talked about how there will be no one big killer application – instead there will be a killer environment made up with many smaller important applications.

Finally, he talked about the architecture of the NBN and its importance in terms of underpinning the development of the digital economy. Industries must learn to deal with many business models, and the devices and applications will hide the complexity. He also stressed that these changes will creep across every sector (another theme that we explore in A Faster Future in great depth) – indeed, everywhere apart from the telecommunications technology sector.

“The technology is advancing quicker than the consumers can consume it from a network infrastructure point of view,” Heydon said. “Every major department and industry sector must find ways to innovate. And we have done a lousy job of teaching people what megabits per second means … and see the excitement on how it’s being used.”



Live from Cisco Live Melbourne 2011 #clmel11

Am currently attending Cisco Live, a gathering of 2600 partners and customers being hosted by the giant network equipment maker Cisco. The event kicked off today with a keynote presentation from Padmasree Warrior,

Warrior talked about a number of technology trends, focusing on collaboration and use of video on the Internet, along with the architectural shift that we are seeing technology models brought on by virtualisation and cloud computing. Many of her comments echoed themes that are discussed in A Faster Future, particularly in how we work.

“In the future, people will not be going to work, they will simply do work,” Warrior said.

She also talked about the merger of the Internet and mobile technology. She said the network is no longer about data transport, it is about enabling compelling experiences, and hence requires a lot of technological transformation as it moves from being a messaging platform to a real-time collaboration platform. Amongst the areas that Cisco is focusing on are enabling connectivity between data centres and other infrastructure resources, providing awareness of the context of end users, driving resource awareness within networks and better providing and managing service level agreements. Much of this supports the drive to cloud computing and is designed to help organisations innovate at the top layer rather than worrying about the infrastructure.

There was also a demonstration of the Cius, Cisco’s entry into the tablet computing marketplace. including a demonstration of how the device might be used in a hospital situation.

The most interesting comments however related to Cisco’s evolution from a products companny to an ‘architecture’ company focused on delivering complete outcomes for companies. It’s a big shift for an organisation whose considerations used to be about building faster and more powerful devices. Now it is more focued on how customers use these devices, lookingless  at the outcome of the device’s implementation and more at what the business was trying to achieve in the first place. She said the company is experiencing strong growth for this concept in the small business arena, where businesses don’t want to worry about architectures themselves, but just want to get on with the job.


SmartCompany – Brave new tech: the next 10 trends for SMEs

While researching A Faster Future Janelle and I uncovered a great number of technology-driven trends that are sure to impact business in the coming years. Some are obvious, such as the rise of collaboration tools and video, others are more subtle, such as the increasing desire of consumers for instant gratification.

In this article for SmartCompany I highlighted ten of the trends that business needs to be thinking about, illustrated with quotes from some of the many speakers in the book.