I am spending a lot of time over this break learning about SharePoint.
So far, I have to say I am very impressed. Microsoft has put together an application that will allow individuals with some data modeling and high-level software design skills the ability to build applications that are web-based with very little effort. This application, to me, just makes sense.
My company set up SharePoint 2003 and I just didn't get it. It seemed like a file-system, but with less usability and multiple annoyances, such as IT departments having drank the Microsoft marketing kool-aid to push it on us. I didn't see what value it really added.
Now I see where Microsoft has been investing in R&D in the last 4 years. The 2007 version is very powerful. I have researched SalesForce.com as well as other application configurator tools. MOSS incorporates many of the features, as well as integrating with Active Directory and Office on the Desktop. Offline capabilities are available. Much of the configuration capabilities are handled through the web browser.
The integration with Outlook 2007 is awesome. Some of the prebuilt workflows include document approvals, with integration as a Task in Outlook, and even notifications using email with workflow integration.
"...Houston is an utterly optimistic place. The surveys, he said, repeatedly show "that area residents remain stubbornly optimistic about their own and the region's future, despite deepening anxieties about the direction in which the country as a whole is heading."
"Hurricane Ike left more than 5.6 million cubic yards of fallen trees, broken branches and dead greenery in Houston, and Mayor Bill White today awarded a $2,500 cash prize to a Rice University employee who suggested founding Houston Farm Corps, a youth-oriented volunteer gardening initiative that would both get rid of the debris and teach kids the value of growing their own food."
all gave very interesting talks with good information.
Jeff spoke about "how we got where we are" in terms of the financial crisis. Here are some bullets from my notes of his talk:
The current crisis is caused by greed, in the negative sense of the word
It is a crisis of conscience
Spoke about "TheFunded.com"... there will be more openness in investing
Businesses will be transformed by the social networking phenomenon
His new company, Dachis corporation, is focused on bringing this to the enterprise
Beyond "buddies", currently we are in the "buddy" phenomenon, facebook, linkedIn ("who are my "buddies")
magnified communication; who should I be working with? how do they do business? business ecosystem of Your Business with Competitors, Customers, Partners, Suppliers, Employees, Stakeholders...
Technology will enable the strengthening of "weak ties"
How many of you have had a long-distant friend find you in the last few months, that you had forgot about? This is the strengthening of "weak ties"
The "Burn rate" mentality needs to go away, people should start companies that meet a market's needs and do it profitably... "basic business model"
Jaime spoke about the "connected generation", or those who are 18-24 right now, and their trends:
Always knowing a computer
Always knowing cell phones
Text messaging and other technologies that are used heavily
Are you considering these people in your strategy?
Have you used any of these sites?
netlog (I had never heard of it, but apparently 30 million in Europe have)
Jones Soda - this is scaring Coke and Pepsi
Bruce's talk was a lot about Benchmark... very interesting, here are a few brief points
Getting money will be harder
Benchmark turned down eBay 2 times before funding, then they gave it only on a 3-2 vote
Benchmark turned down Google on a 1-4 vote
They make money by being "lucky"
The success stories like eBay fund the "unsuccessful" businesses
Overall, I would recommend this event for anyone interested in early stage companies. If you want to learn how this works, and see the people who are risking it all to be the next eBay or Google, this event is for you.
If you haven't heard of rudder, I highly recommend you check it out. This is a local Houston startup that has a unique approach to helping you manage your finances. I saw their presentation at the Rice Alliance event last Thursday and it was impressive. I met some of their team and they were passionate about what they do.
I signed up for an account myself and set up all of my accounts. It took about 5 minutes to do.
In case you are worried about security, they are a full Verisign-verified / https based service. They use your email as an approach to helping you stay up to date with what is going on. If you spend a little more time telling it about your recurring expenses, it will do forward-looking analysis to help you see where your money is going.
There is a lot this site can do to help people... I am bullish on these guys.
If you are looking for a fun book, but with some good computer technology (UNIX :)), and a lot of suspense, you should pick up a copy of The Cuckoo's Egg, by Clifford Stoll. This book is an easy read, comes in paperback, and is loads of fun.
The premise of the book is an everyday I.T. guy tracks an international computer criminal. I won't ruin the end for you...
One last thing, the story is true. This isn't fiction.
Using the cycles of the computer hard drive industry, this book deals with the difficulties many companies face with innovation. Innovation is necessary to survive. However, innovation threatens the internal existing products of a company and its culture, especially innovative companies.
This book is a must read for anyone in technology-related fields. The book is very timely, with the impending bailout of the automobile industry, while silicon valley is still running strong. Will we see any bailouts for Microsoft? Why is Microsoft able to continue to innovate?
The book suggests several strategies for dealing with disruptive technologies, such as the internet was to retailing. Christensen does a great job of setting up a hypothesis and proving it with multiple examples. There is hope for entrenched cultures, but you must act before the little guy, with the "bad product", down the street beats you to the punch.