Thursday, December 29, 2005

Cisco brings 7 to the top 10 | 12/26/2005 | Top 10 tech trends for 2006

As I see it, Cisco plays in 7 of the top 10 tech trends listed here. The basic trend is that these 7 put greater load on the network and makes people more reliant on the network as their core operating "platform." We've often talked about our vision that soon people will access the Internet or their corporate network from any location, using any device, at any time. Most of the predictions made here would support that vision.

How do I figure? Well, here goes:

1. WiFi busts city limits
This one’s a no-brainer. WiFi covers a city and soon people are access the Internet (and VPN’ing into their corporate network) from anywhere in the city at any time using their labtop or PDA.

2. Cell phones do everything:
Cisco doesn’t do cell phone technology I hear you say! Well, yes, that is true, but if you are going to be watching the widescreen director’s cut version of the entire “Lord of the Rings” trilogy on your cell phone, you better believe that there is an IP network back there somewhere transporting all of that hobbit hilarity to you 2x2 inch screen. After that you can use your cell phone to look up a local optometrist to deal with your eye-strain problem.

3. Internet phone calls zoom:
And heck, maybe even one day voice will be free… sounds like anyone you know?

4. The office moves to the Web:
Again, more load on the network, good for Cisco. Pretty easy one there as well. This prediction is one that I’m a little more skeptical about. I’d love to see it happen but I’m not sure it will. If it does, however, where I see the most exciting implementation of an on-line office is in developing countries. Imagine people in emerging markets around the world accessing a word processor on-line using a $100 computer? I’ll admit, you’d get a pretty sore arm hand-cranking the thing through a 300-page PhD dissertation, but for basic productivity functions I think on-line office + $100 computer (or something similar) = great change.

7. Even small start-ups go global:
Internet helps companies go global. Cisco = the Internet.

8. Video comes to the blog:
Video, thy sweet user of bandwidth; thy precious driver of network demand. Come oh darling one to a blog soon. Come that all may demand bandwidth and SP’s may shell out for a CRS-1 to meet the demand. Oh precious friend, hasten thy sweet sweet arrival (I bought BBC’s Pride and Prejudice for my wife for Christmas and we sat through all 6+ hours of it on Christmas Day… it is starting to mess with my mind methinks.)

9. On-demand video everywhere:
(See above… I’m too burnt out to spare another P&P moment.)

Savings billions of dollars through crisis communications.

A compatible emergency radio system would be invaluable to helping first responders better coordinate in time of crisis. Too often during major disasters we heard of emergency crews being unable to communicate because they were all using different communications protocols (cell phones, walkie-talkies, push-to-talk technologies etc.).

But apparently implementing a compatible emergency radio systems would cost billions of dollars.

Um, no it wouldn't.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Baby Penguin Is Stolen From Zoo - Yahoo! News


If you have any information about the whereabouts of Toga, call your local authorities IMMEDIATELY!!!

Toga, a three-month old jackass penguin, was stolen from Amazon World on the Isle of Wight in southern England on Saturday.

Zoo manager Kath Bright said the bird, who was taken from a compound where he lived with his parents and four other penguins, would probably die of malnutrition if not urgently returned

BTW: the politically correct term for "Jackass" penguin is "African" penguin.

Baby Penguin Is Stolen From Zoo - Yahoo! News

The Internet vs. Web 2.0

We've all read all the hype around "Web 2.0." Personally I think it is a lot of wanker 2.0 hype, but hey, I'm editorializing here. (Sorry, I’m in PR so I’m immediately hostile to any pithy catch-phrase which I myself did not invent)

But love it or lump it, what is interesting is that Cisco and Web 2.0 pundits essentially focus on the same imperatives when it comes to computing. In both instances, Cisco and Web 2.0ers focus more on things like architectures, interactions, self-service and information convergence. Concepts that are relegated to the past are proprietary architectures, one-way communication, information hierarchy and centralized control.

The key difference between Cisco and the Web 2.0ers is where all of this resides. Cisco, obviously, is focused more on the Internet (i.e. the network) itself as the platform for this new wave of “Web 2.0” functionality.

Web 2.0ers look one layer higher to the web itself, and the find that the web applications themselves-- from Google to blogs to web services to wikis—in aggregate constitute the real Web 2.0 platform.

So who’s right? Actually I think that the more interesting question is who is wrong! Not between Cisco and Web 2.0ers, we agree on essentially the same thing, we just differ on what is really fuelling the change. But the real interesting questions is who is left out of this entire Internet/Web-as-the-platform debate altogether.

Interesting articles on Web 2.0

What Is Web 2.0

The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005

Web Sites Let Users Send E-Mail to Future - Yahoo! News

I'm forwarding all the "herbal v1agra" spam to myself in the future.... I figure they'll be of more use to me then.

Web Sites Let Users Send E-Mail to Future - Yahoo! News

Monday, December 19, 2005

Triple Pundit: The Downside of the $100 Laptop

Although there is a lot of excitement around the $100 computer,
Triple Pundit highlights a potential problem around disposal. I would look to the manufacturer for details on this issue. Whether or not they have thought of making the machines with disposal in mind-- i.e., made with parts easy to disassemble and recycle; made with lox-toxic materials and more degradable plastics.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Valley is back, people are happy

Two years ago, all we would get would be foreign journalists inquiring if the Valley was ever going to come back.

But now it seems that some feel that with the return of the BBC, the Valley has been vindicated and it's return has been validated.


(and to answer your question... he was happy to see me)

Online Extra: Can Technology Eliminate Poverty?

Looks like BusinessWeek had the same thought....

Online Extra: Can Technology Eliminate Poverty?

Micro Development

Muhammad Yunus: Microcredit Missionary

It is hard not to love the genius behind the Grameen Project. Just $27 started one of the most influential and successful development projects around. And it was a bottom-up approach, not top-down involving massive meetings, huge ceremonies and that resulted in grad visions that could never be implemented.

Grameen is microcredit where the most desperately poor in the world can borrow money to start their own businesses. The genius is that it doesn’t pretend to have all the answers and tell people how to be saved from poverty, it just gives them a couple of dollars and lets them figure it out for themselves. Genius.

Why do I bring this up here? I guess it is related to my earlier post that a few clever clever ideas and a couple of innovative business models have potential to alleviate some of the suffering in the world.

And the IT industry is good at coming up with clever ideas and innovative business models, right?

Om Malik on Broadband : � Can Broadband Predict Economic Shifts?

Great discussion on the relation between broadband and economic shifts. Om asks if broadband may predict them, some in the comments however say that it it a lagging indicator.

Me? I don't think it is a lagging indicator but I think "predict" is too strong a word. Catalyst would be the word I would use, I suppose.

It would also depend on the developed nature of your country. Small, less developed countries, with the right reforms, can grow at enormous rates off of a small base in a short period of time, with or without broadband.

But would India be where it is today in the services market were it not for huge connections to the US and the outside world?

Om Malik on Broadband : � Can Broadband Predict Economic Shifts?

I'll stop trying to save the world...

OK... i just noticed that I've published two posts, in rapid succession, with the headline being something about saving the world. I'll cut it out and stop trying to pretend I'm Bono.....

A $100 to save the world?

Far be it for me to question the likes of Craig Barrett, but I have to say I don’t think he is right on this one. This hand-cranked $100 computer sounds to me exactly what the developing world needs. I don’t think they want a full-function PC because they are too clunky, have too many unnecessary features and are far, far too difficult to maintain. A simple machine, with simple connectivity, able to do simple e-business or e-government-types of transactions pertaining to births, deaths, land ownership, market prices, payments to be easily, and most critically IMHO, transparently, is a huge step forward.

That level of easy and transparency, avoiding any sort of corrupt middle-man, would make an enormous positive impact to the lives of people.

The new kid from the bloc

Here is a look at two former Soviet bloc countries and what the very different ways they are handling the IT industry says about their overall economy. One on hand, you have Belarus, which has made the very odd decision of limiting internet dating. Now the argument is that this is to prevent human trafficking, which is a very real concern in that part of the world. But rather than curbing trafficking, this reeks of more authoritarianism and government control. Cut to Estonia, (or “E-stonia” as it is trendily, and sadly, being referred as) which is on the leading edge of e-business and e-government in the region. I’ve already seen quite a few articles on the high-tech trend in this country, which is poised to become a poster-child for the successful former Soviet-bloc countries.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Belarus Moves to Limit Online Dating

Sucks to be single with an Internet connection in Belarus....

Belarus Moves to Limit Online Dating

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The herd moves east

Two stories does not a trend make, unless the two appear in the alpha male publication Economist and BusinessWeek. Both have recently focused key coverage on Eastern Europe, and where they trod, the rest of the pack is sure to follow. Both look at different aspects of Eastern Europe but their presence begins to make me wonder if the whole China/India story has run it course and now the media is looking for other geographies to obsessively fixate upon.

Not that China/India stories will dry up, not by a long shot. But I’m finding there is little left to say that has not already been said. The comments and the information is a lot of these stories is the same, the only thing that changes are the talking heads.

European sensibilities combined with American drive and perhaps just a very faint touch of Asian prices make Eastern Europe a compelling region-du-jour.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Talk is cheap... and it's getting cheaper.

Both Om and the SV Sleuth highlight developments in the voice market. Whether it is Comcast offering voice to its cable subscribers, or BT and Yahoo trying to undercut Skpye, the conclusion is the same, voice is becoming free and is no longer a sustainable business model.

Voice is becoming just another service--and in many cases a loss-leader-- and is only of use for an SP (telco or cableco) or an ”over-the-top” service a la Skype to get in with the customer in order to sell other, value-added data and video services.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

How 35-40% growth can save the world

The issue of the Middle East is one which I would like to come back to now and again. As mentions, Israel is a strong IT market but some may feel like that is not the case for some of its neighbors as well.

The Cisco Networking Academy is helping to address some of that lack of IT infrastructure, and that is important work not just for the local economies, but for overall stability in the region as well. What I like most about this is that it is good business, and not all warm-and-fuzzies.

I’m glad Cisco considers itself s good corporate citizen and as an employee, that makes me feel better about my company. But to be honest, I’m a little skeptical of CSR as a whole. If a company wants to do good, fine, but as a society we shouldn’t have to rely on the whims of a corporation to ensure that basic societal needs are met. Also, as a shareholder, I want the company in which I invest to make money; I pay taxes so I can have schools and shelters and so on. Also, if a nice-guy initiative doesn’t make money, it is vulnerable. So a CSR-conscious company may fund a good project one year, but if times get tough, that project will be axed to the detriment of those who rely on that project.

That is why I’m particularly interested in what Cisco is doing in the Middle East. Cisco does a lot of great socially-responsible stuff in the region and it is paying off, our business is growing by 35%-40% in there. JEI and other initiatives isn’t your typical CSR fluff. I’d call this more market development than CSR AND with the extra double added bonus of doing something to bring stability to a troubled part of the world.

The true cost of “cheap"

Much has been said about the cheap cost of products supplied by companies from China. Well, first off, we don’t really know how some of those companies can provide cheap products AND apparently turn a profit as they are not publicly held so we can’t take a look inside of their finances.

But even leaving that to one side, let’s look at the total cost of ownership of networking gear. As I have it, 25% is the cost of the gear itself, 25% is physical space and amenities (air conditioning and so on) and a full-on 50% is service. Now that’s in the best of scenarios. But if you gotta up your services by another 20% because you have reliability issues, compatibility issues or the #$%@! red-blinking “danger” light won’t go off and you can’t figure out why, that 10-15% you saved on the sticker price isn’t looking like such a hot deal after all.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Rise Of A Powerhouse

more on this when i have a minute

Rise Of A Powerhouse

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Live@WWAC: Emerging Markets by the numbers

The most exciting part IMHO of Cisco’s business is what it is doing in the emerging markets. What are broadly called “emerging markets” by much of the world are by Cisco re-defined somewhat. China and India, which are the emerging markets most people focus on are part of the APAC theatre. “Emerging Markets” as Cisco defines it is Russia&CIS, eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Latin America.

Anyway, no matter how you slice and dice it, they are cool markets to focus on.

Cisco in India by the numbers: half the size of China but growing at 2x to 3x China’s growth. This underscores why Cisco made some key investments in India a few months back.

But the real undiscovered country (or countries) are the Emerging Markets (Cisco’s definition, that is). By the numbers: 129 countries, 61% of the planet and 37% of the population.

What to know something else? In these areas broadband goes to only 5% of the households and only 1% of the population. This to me sounds like opportunity on top of opportunity.

Opportunity for companies like Cisco because they get to sell the gear to up overall BB penetration. That’s interesting, but not earth-shattering interesting.

What will turn heads is what people in emerging markets will do once they get the fat pipes to the Internet. We’ve already seen what can happen in more developed parts of the world when people get BB access, they turn into shopkeepers, bloggers and other engines of economic and societal growth. BB is helping to power and sustain the huge GDP growth we are seeing in China and India. And hopefully the same positive impact on economic growth and standard of living will be seen in Cisco’s Emerging Markets as BB increasingly gets rolled out more.

Live@WWAC: It's the processes, stupid

Cisco is a networking company and if you walk around our campus, you’ll see that we practice what we preach. Everything is networked and the most common answer to virtually any question is, “It’s on the web.”

But is that enough for Cisco to reduce costs and increase productivity? Uh-huh… not by a long shot. Cisco is the first to admit that IT alone does not improve productivity. Added IT use needs to be coupled with a change in business processes, which take into account the new IT infrastructure.

In fact, Chambers even highlighted today how Randy Pond, Cisco’s SVP of Operations, told him that to change Cisco’s processes to accommodate its own technology would take 1-2 years.

Bottom line, change may be painful but altering business processes to accommodate new technologies is the best way to reap productivity gains. Plan for 3-5 years, because that is how long it will take.

Cisco did a Net Impact study on this very topic looking at how business process change helped improve eGovernment in Europe.

Silicon Valley Sleuth: Cisco CEO beats the "interactions" drum

Also caught the Sleuth liveblogging.... I think he's making a break for the donut table...


Silicon Valley Sleuth: Cisco CEO beats the "interactions" drum

Live@WWAC: Interactive blogging economy

Bloggers represent the type of Internet Cisco is looking to build through its “interaction economy” vision. The vision posits that companies can no longer afford to just transact with their customers because that form of communication is distant and does not build the right type of intimacy. Rather, companies must strive to use their networks to engage in a give-and-take interaction with their customers in order to build better customer service. What’s an example of this, says Chambers? Bloggers of course! Give-and-take media is what is driving throngs of online users to blogs.

Live@WWAC: Home videos

Got coax running into your home? Got copper? Got a tin can connected by a piece of waxed string? It doesn’t matter, you’ll still be able to get IP video into the home. Video has long been the domain of cable companies but with IP TV, high-quality video can now be brought into the home via a telco link. Shouldn’t surprise anyone as cablecos have begun to offer voice so with telcos going into video, I guess you could say that turn-about is fair play. The Cisco/Scientific Atlanta deal provides a complete end-to-end offering that will help any type of SP—cable or telco—bring video to the home. So now, it doesn’t matter what sort of broadband connection you have, there will still be nothing good to watch on TV.

Live@WWAC: Cisco's war on terror

In the war on terror, perhaps the most successful font is being opened up by companies such as Cisco, battling the lack of education and economic prospects in some countries, namely ones in the Middle East. Cisco’s Jordan Education Initiative has already gotten a lot of coverage, but the problems it directly address still need to be highlighted. As John Chambers highlighted in his keynote at the Worldwide Analyst Conference, in many countries in the Middle East, you have 60% of population under 18, and have little or no economic prospects for the future. As Chambers rightly pointed out, if you don’t change that, “you will have terrorism forever.” Cisco and other companies recognize this and are proactively something to combat lack of education.

See here on how important economic stability is to peace in the region.

Liveblogging from WWAC

Over the next few posts, I'll be Liveblogging from Cisco's Worldwide Analyst Conference (WWAC) and highlighting a few ideas that I find interesting, and that may not be covered elsewhere.

In the interest of full transparency, I'd like to remind all Cantina patrons that I am a Cisco PR manager in real life. But that's no reason to hate me is it???

Oh yeah... by the way....

This site is a forum for individuals to express various personal opinions and viewpoints. It is not used by Cisco Systems, Inc. as a means of disseminating company information. The messages posted here express solely the views of the author of each message, and do not represent the views of Cisco or of any entity or person associated with Cisco. Cisco does not adopt, ratify, approve of or endorse in any way the contents of any message. Cisco does not actively monitor the contents of posted messages and is not responsible in any way for the content of any message posted. Cisco does not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message or any hyperlinked pages appearing in any message, nor does it undertake any obligation to correct information contained in any message.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Of pirates and innovators

In an earlier post, I highlighted some admiration for Bill Gates, but it looks like all the malaria funding and Xboxes isn’t going to help him out much when he lands in India to discover that the country is continuing its march forward with open source.

Interesting comparison with India and China (such comparisons are all the rage now) is that while in China, they copy and distribute versions of Widows, in India, they just invent a way around it. This highlights a difference between India’s more services/innovation economy and China’s more manufacturing/copying economy. Of course, this is a gross shorthand for the actual situation and China is rapidly moving up services/innovation stack.

But it is worth noting that when a company makes major announcement in India, it is around innovation, but when they land in China, the first question they are faced with is if they want to use the Windows or a pirated version of it.

For Gates and co., this is a formidable battle on two fronts, pirates on one side and innovators on the other.

IP arms

Although we think of innovation coming out of places like Silicon Valley , Bangalore and Shanghai, good to remember that there are other centers of innovation. Nice story here on robotics development in Europe. This sort of thing I think is extremely interesting from a networking point-of-view. Right now, there is a lot of focus on bringing the network into the home with entertainment, games and greater broadband to the home. This is all well and good and is a trend that will be interesting to follow. But how about bringing the network to the robot? Making a highly secure, highly reliable IP network the “arms” that can control highly sensitive and life-like robot hands at the end-points would have great application. Expanded tele-robotic surgery alone is worth the price of admission.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

IT parasites

I have no problem with companies enforcing a legitimate patent. But it feels somewhat parasitic if a company exists only for the purpose, and offers no other good or service to the market.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Om Malik on Broadband : � The Truth About Ala Carte Cable

Om Malik hits the nail on the head with his look at a la carte cable... not that its a bad ideas, mind you.

Om Malik on Broadband : � The Truth About Ala Carte Cable

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

IP TV drives major build out in Canada

SaskTel uses CRS-1 to roll out IP TV. A CRS-1 is no small investment, so it is interesting to see that IP TV being a key driver for this sort of advanced SP network upgrade.

Huawei reaches foreign sales milestone

This is an impressive story by any standard. But what I would sorely love to know is what were their expenses and what were their profits.

But Huawei is privately held... so we don't know. / By industry / Telecoms - Huawei reaches foreign sales milestone

(PS: Yes, I work for Cisco... )

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Wired Magazine: Barometer of Industry Health?

Mark Evans counts the number of ad pages in Wired and wonders if the tech industry is really coming back.

IP dynamics in Italy?

IPTV making in-roads in Europe, especially in Italy. Smaller Italian SP
FastWeb has been providing VoD and other TV services for a while. Are we seeing more competition in Italy?

A nation of (online) shopkeepers

Interesting study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which highlights the rise in on-line selling by individuals. Essentially, the Internet is showing signs of become a giant on-line yard sale.

This is something we obviously talk a lot about here at Cisco, how the Internet is powering so many changes in society. For the most part, we don't see it because the Internet is already such an ingrained part of our lives, we now take it for granted.

The study also highlights how broadband users tend to buy and sell more stuff online. Well sure, that makes sense as it is faster and easier to do so with a high-speed connection.

Need to see what is going on in China

Regardless if we are talking about oil slicks, SARs/avian flu outbreaks... or even well known telecom companies, if there is one issue that could potentially hamper China's ultimate rise to superpower status, its transparency

Monday, November 28, 2005

China to launch commercial satellite for Nigeria

Interesting to track China's continued business development in various emerging markets, especially in Africa. This is a trend that is also being witnessed in the IT market.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Can the world keep up with Bill Gates?

He is battling malaria, a pressing but neglected global healthcare crisis, and his company has just made a major assault into the home entertainment market. Has Bill Gates just solidified his position as the most relevant person in the world?

Blogging for Fame and Fortune

Nice look at the $$$ behind blogging by Mark Evans.

Northern Telecom..and Tech :: Blogging for Fame and Fortune

Saturday, November 26, 2005

What do you call a group of PR people?

Groupings of animals come with great names and it is sometimes fun to discuss them. We all know that fish come in “schools” and seagulls in “flocks” (especially if you are a fan of 80s music!)

Some of the more notable groups are:
A murder of crows
A mischief of mice
A convocation of eagles
A pride of lions

But what do you call it when a group of PR people gather (as we are oft to do?) Here is my contribution to the on-going development of the English language. A collection of PR people? A schmuck.

Used in a sentence: "Oh look, chasing that journalist is a schmuck of PR people!"

News @ Cisco: Palestinian and Israeli Students Come Together for IT Learning in Cisco Peace Academies Initiative

Can technology play a role in building peace?

Interesting to note that increased economic activity (which can certainly be facilitated by IT) is but one suggestion for on-going building stability in troubled areas.

Economist starts at home

In its "Business This Week" section, the Economist leads on the home front by covering Microsoft's and Cisco's moves into home entertainment. Sony's foray into spyware distribution is also highlighted.

The home is hot right now and companies are racing to find new ways to entertain couch potatoes.

(Just saw the fantastic movie "Good Night and Good Luck.” I'm glad Edward R. Murrow never lived to see the day when the hot new industry is building entertainment technologies that arguably help to create in society "a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information...used to distract, delude, amuse, and isolate us"..his gloomy foreshadowing of the decline of television news and intelligent discourse in general)

Business this week |

Tackling Indonesia's Challenges

With all the excitement around BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China), I think one country that has gotten lost in the shuffle in Indonesia. Although if you read this Q&A the Indonesian Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs Aburizal Bakrie hardly makes a strong case for his country.

Tackling Indonesia's Challenges

Cell Phones For The People

Yes, China and India are huge markets, but there are many other markets around the world with a huge potential upside for the IT industry, the trick is knowing how to benefit from these markets.

As best as I can tell, handset makers like Nokia and Motorola have done very well by not shying from highly price-sensitive markets and tailoring products for them.

It’s a gutsy move that can only bring good things. It puts powerful tools of modern technology into the hands of the people who most need them. If you poke around, you can find dozens of stories of people in very poor parts of the world using a cell phone to make their lives better. It isn't just hype, it is the promise of a better world through IT becoming a reality.

Nokia and Motorola have proven that with a little imagination, doing good and doing good business are possible in very early-stage emerging markets (I would call China and India late-stage emerging markets.)

I think there are companies who are hesitant to develop special products for early-stage emerging markets. I hope they follow the example of Nokia and Motorola.

Cell Phones For The People

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Wired 13.12: Why Gas Is Good for America

$5 gas??? Are you crazy??? That's it??? I'd love to see it higher!!! C'mon people, let's get some $10 gas going and really see some cool stuff get invented.

OK, DRM is moribund technology and Sony's proved it, but let's get some Silicon Valley innovation happening in terms of overall energy use. I just don't mean in cars (although the winners and losers there are pretty clear.... GM anyone?)

But IT should step up to. Love to see PC and PDAs that run on a fraction of the energy they use now. Same for routers and network gear. May seem like small potatoes compared to what cars and factories burn.... but remember, a watt saved is a watt earned.

Wired 13.12: Why Gas Is Good for America

Boing Boing: MPAA/BitTorrent post-mortem: a torrent or a trickle?

This isn't what I had in mind.....

Boing Boing: MPAA/BitTorrent post-mortem: a torrent or a trickle?

Sony Plays The Blues As Bloggers Turn Up The Volume

If I'm going to look for a silver lining in this whole fiasco, I'd say that hopefully this acts as a catalyst to get some real thinking behind how to best distrbute digital content, music, movies, books... whatever.

Hopefully the dark days of suing start-ups and tricky technologies are behind us and we can concentrate on new business models that legally puts digital content into the hands of the comsumers in a reasonable way, and at a fair price.

InformationWeek > Sony XCP > Sony Plays The Blues As Bloggers Turn Up The Volume > November 21, 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Building Brands In China

The argument here is that Chinese companies are starting to build up their own brands. Yes, that is true that they are behind the US and Europe in terms of building brands, but Chinese companies have been extraordinarily adept at recognizing the value in a brand... whether it is building up a home-grown brand or searching abroad and trying to buy up a known brand.

I think what is more interesting is the use by Western companies of a broad, vaguely defined "Asian" vernacular when trying to communicate their brand (yes, I know Asia is a series of very very diverse people and cultures, I'm talking about an "Asian" vernacular in a very general, ill-defined sense.)

What do I mean? How many times have you seen martial arts, manga, Hindu gods, Asian-looking characters (or even English words written is some form of Asia-looking characters) used to express some sort of cutting-edge or even "exotic" characteristic of the product or service in question.

I think this will only increase as Asian companies become more and more prevalent in the Western market. But what will change is our relationship with this vernacular. I think it will no longer appear "exotic", but become more and more familiar to us to the point that we won't recognize them as being Asian in origin.

Building Brands In China

Here are some further thoughts on brands from Asia and emerging markets.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Cisco Systems and ZTE Corporation to Collaborate in Asia-Pac

There is a popular misconception that Cisco has somehow been "run out" of China by the likes of Huawei. Total rubbish. China is a tough market, no doubt about it, and there is not one single straight-forward way to succeed there. That is why it takes several routes to market in order to really make your mark there, especially for a foreign company.

The cooperative agreement with ZTE highlights that Cisco knows it needs to take several routes to get to the right destination in China. ZTE has the local knowledge, Cisco has the gear... great combo.

Cisco is also making good use of its cash in China. $250M have been invested in start-ups there as Cisco attempts to create, and learn from, a whole constellation of new innovative Chinese companies.

News @ Cisco: Cisco Systems and ZTE Corporation to Collaborate in Asia-Pac

Silicon Valley and Intelligent Design

Most of the design that goes on in Silicon Valley is intelligent, but Intelligent Design is not. I'm not going to get into the faith or the politics behind ID, it is really not of much interest to me. What is important, however, is the quality of education in the Valley and in the US in general.

Many SV CEOs have made a passionate plea for the improvement of public education in this country, if the US is to remain competitive on a global scale. Silicon Valley is based on innovation and the relentless pursuit of the next big idea. At its foundation, the basis of that pursuit is math and science education.

By introducing a philosophic/religious theory as "science", we are chipping away at that foundation. Turning an intellectual pursuit such as science into a non-intellectual issue of faith will re-align our entire relationship with science, which could have far reaching negative implications for the health of innovation in Silicon Valley and in the US in general.

Countries around the world are focused on improving the capacity for innovation among their societies, and that is a very very good thing. It will spur global innovation and increase an idea's time to market. What will be bad is if the US abandons the pursuit of real science and drops out of the innovation race.

Silicon Valley Watcher--Former FT reporter Tom Foremski and team reporting on the business of Silicon Valley at the intersection of media and technology

Israel's technology industry

Interesting story on Israel in the Economist. This particularly caught my eye:

The small size of Israel's home market is also, paradoxically, an advantage. While a British start-up, say, will look to its home market to get started, Israeli firms cannot. Accordingly, they look to America for customers, so that Israeli start-ups function as “mini-multinationals” from the off—and are instantly exposed to the world's most competitive high-tech market.

Although India is obviously a much larger market, I've heard a similar explanation describe the success of the IT market there as well. India tends to look outside of its borders in many respects and IT is no different. When it came time to develop an IT industry, entrepreneurs at the time knew they had to be international-facing from day 1.

Israel's technology industry | Punching above its weight |

Monday, November 21, 2005

Green IT

I saw an ad for Ford the other day and they were talking about how innovative they will become and how fuel efficient they will make their cars. Well, innovation and fuel efficiency comes to Ford... Better late than never.

So for one reason or another, being green or talking green is starting to make good business sense. How long will this last? Probably not much longer than a couple of icebergs in a rapidly warming ocean, but let's enjoy the green-talk while it lasts.

My question here is that, it seems to me that the IT industry has generally been pretty good about being green. Sure, a lot a hazardous chemicals are used in the development of products, but there seems a concerted effort on the part of the industry as a whole to use and dispose of these chemicals responsibly.

I've heard rumors of motherboards being broken down under hazardous conditions in Africa, but haven't found a lot to back that up.

Green... Another example of IT industry being a head of the curve?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Firms Paid TV's Tech Gurus To Promote Their Products

You expect this kind of behavior in dirty world of politics (see Armstrong Williams) but I am shocked.. yes SHOCKED I say... to see this sort of behavior in the otherwise squeaky-clear world of TV gizmo reviews.

If you can't trust the gizmo reviewer, then indeed the republic is doomed.

Here is my favorite quote:

"Asked if he owed viewers a disclosure of his corporate clients, Greenberg said: "I have never accepted payment to place a product on NBC News." As for other news shows, "I have never accepted payment to say nice things about a product in any venue." He said manufacturers hired him as "a spokesperson who could talk credibly and understandably about consumer products," but that he would no longer accept payment for appearances on local shows. "

Huh? He wasn't paid to just say nice things about a product.. he was paid to CREDIBLY say nice things about a product.

Firms Paid TV's Tech Gurus To Promote Their Products

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Ad firm charged Ottawa $150 per hour to watch concert

OK, I admit... I have suggested that countries such as Canada do more to increase their profile. The story here highlights exactly how NOT to do it. I understand the poutine hit the fan a while back in Canada over this, and rightly so.

1) I don't think it is important for governments to increase their visibility at LOCAL events. Everyone in Canada is (or should be) aware of Canada and the Canadian government. What governments such as the one in Canada should do is increase their profile internationally.

And no, this does not mean sending people to attend a Neil Diamond concert in the US

2) Please ensure that when you do something to increase the visibility of Canada, make sure you have metrics so you can measure RESULTS.

I am so sick of people using PR as an excuse to have a party. It makes the rest of us look immature (bad enough I sign my name as "Penguin").

Sympatico/MSN News -

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Tyranny of humanities

The problem with PR nowadays is that is has gone from a social science to a humanity. The discipline that Edward Bernays envisioned was one that understood the public and could anticipate the reaction of a crowed of people. It attempted not to understand the behavior of an individual, but rather to carry out initiatives that demonstrated an understanding of the behaviors of a wider public (was Isaac Asimov’s Hari Seldon a PR practitioner? But I digress)

Nowadays, PR is too concerned with language. What we say and how we say it. We’ve evolved from being applied social scientists, to masters of semantic antics.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Silicon Valley Sleuth: Microsoft doesn't need Linux to make a fool of itself

Nice cut-up of MSFT here. The blogger here is referring to a press release issued by MSFT. I won't summarize it here (don't be lazy, just click through) but I'd like to think that no PR person was actually involved in this news release. I have NO insider information, but my gut tells me this is one of those all too often cases when a business unit or some internal person with a warped ego somehow gets a hold of the PR process.

Press releases: do not try this at home, kids. We are professionals.

Silicon Valley Sleuth: Microsoft doesn't need Linux to make a fool of itself

Monday, March 21, 2005

Berry, Gellar Nix William Morris

Ouch! Always remember, the goal of PR is to get coverage, which means people may actually read what you say and react accordingly.

This is yet another reason why people will hesitate to be candid with the media and have all of their messages thoroughly bathed by PR... which is unfortunate. We're losing spontaneity in the media... perhaps another reason as to the popularity of blogs? At last a place for candid off-the-cuff talk?

It is a shame because New Yorker Tad Friend was more than fair to his subject IMHO (was he a tad friendly? Sorry!) and it is a great story.

Is the good PR for William Morris worth the loss of two prized clients (well, one prized client and Sarah Michelle Geller)? Maybe.

I will NEVER get into showbiz PR!

Yahoo! News - Berry, Gellar Nix William Morris


Is it possible to work with a Japanese publication that is not named Nikkei? Just wondering.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Hot business opportunity!!!

Wanna earn some huge money, fast? Here's the business opportunity for you! Invest in the growing market of "how blogging will destroy conventional media" seminars and workshops. Get in at the ground level. Now you can invest in 12 such seminars for about 10 cents.

Friday, March 18, 2005

MIT Backs Open Source in Brazil Computers for Poor

This is an interesting case study of what I call a "backdoor story." (Yes I know, it is a dumb name... best I could come up with at the moment.)

Semantics aside, it is interesting because this was at the top of my Yahoo News! It directly impacts an important company (Microsoft) in one of its key issues (open source) yet the story didn't originate in the US, it came from Brazil.

No story is regional anymore. Although this is a story written in Brazil, about the Brazil market which is way different than the US market, it directly impacts the perception of who is winning the OS war, Microsoft or open source.

Yahoo! News - MIT Backs Open Source in Brazil Computers for Poor

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Bush's Wednesday Comments on Video News Releases

PR should help inform the news and shape the news, but it shouldn't BE the news. PR, at its core, should be a tool of public service not public manipulation (I know, I can hear Edward Bernays rolling over in his grave... sorry Ed).

Paying off pundits and pushing VNRs as news is a garden path to Orwell-land. But putting blame where blame is due... these TV stations shoudl make clear when they are airing a VNR or any footage not shot by them, be the content political or commercial in nature.

Is it too much to ask for some honesty from the media? Likewise, is it too much to ask for a president that is capable of speaking in complete sentances?

Bush's Wednesday Comments on Video News Releases

Karen Hughes Sells Brand America - She's supposed to market Bush policies to the Muslim world. Good luck! By Fred�Kaplan

Generally I’m in favor of this “national PR” approach (see the post on Canada earlier.) But to in effect “sell” a country in a region where that country may not be popular requires I think PR, rather than publicity.

Let me explain:
Publicity demands a more emotional response. You want the audience to like you, and to have empathy for you. I don’t think this is the approach the US should take in the Muslim world. Maybe someday in the future it will be, but not now.

At the moment, what is required is PR, that is to say an effort to gain an analytical, emotional response. We want people to understand and respect us. They may not like us or our way of life, but we need them to understand America’s relevance in the world.

Telling people how nice we are ain’t going to cut it. Telling people how important we are and that they should respect our democratic principles, even if they don’t fall in love with our consumerist society is the key message.

Karen Hughes Sells Brand America - She's supposed to market Bush policies to the Muslim world. Good luck! By Fred Kaplan

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Is India the new black?

Could be India, could be Japan. Bottom line is that there are some concerns about the China economy, where it is going, and if there exists the financial infrastructure to properly mange it.

So where does that leave us who need to know where global finances are going? Looking to India maybe. At 7% growth and a more market driven approach, India may be the next darling of the communications crowed. Want your company to look like its got a strong global story? Then you may need to articulate its India sales plan (notice how I’m now talking sales and note R&D/outsourcing)

I think the dark horse of Asia is Japan. Once they get their stuff sorted (admittedly, that could take until the next ice age, which may be fast approaching) then I think companies will again be killing themselves to talk about their Japan story.

Is India the new black?

Could be India, could be Japan. Bottom line is that there are some concerns about the China economy, where it is going, and if there exists the financial infrastructure to properly mange it.

So where does that leave us who need to know where global finances are going? Looking to India maybe. At 7% growth and a more market driven approach, India may be the next darling of the communications crowed. Want your company to look like its got a strong global story? Then you may need to articulate its India sales plan (notice how I’m now talking sales and note R&D/outsourcing)

I think the dark horse of Asia is Japan. Once they get their stuff sorted (admittedly, that could take until the next ice age, which may be fast approaching) then I think companies will again be killing themselves to talk about their Japan story.

Friday, March 11, 2005

The many faces of APAC

What I like about Asia is that each country is so different. The Europe and even to a (much much) lesser extent Latin America, there is some cohesions across the region. But each Asian country is as different from each other as you can get. China and India may be neighbors, but there is not a lot that they share in common. And Australia… well they an entirely different kettle of dingos altogether.

It is these differences that make the region interesting. But it also poses a challenge for communications. You have to be able to speak the local language (literally and figuratively).

I’ll forgive you if you think Europe is a single entity from a communications point-of-view (although I’ll think you’re not too clever.) But any thought that sending out a news release in Singapore and/or Hong Kong and you’ve got APAC covered will get you smacked with a frozen herring!

Local knowledge

The most critical thing to PR is local knowledge. Without it, you’re sunk. Please may get all excited about the Internet and blogs as PR tools--and then are, very powerful ones indeed—but their abilities to collapse time and space will only take you so far. An ability to read what is going on locally and to scrap it out at the street level are really what separates organizations who understand communications to those who do not.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Obituary for a colleague

I’d like to officially pronounce the death of the news release right here, right now. It is not with a heavy heart, nor a great deal of regret that I make this pronouncement. After all the document was clunky, fake and often so late in arriving that the time you were able to get it out the door, it was too late, the news had already happened.

We may never completely get rid of the news release. It will still have its place as a sort of official piece of corporate communications. But in terms of being a useful media relations tool, its days are over.

National PR

You know who needs more PR in the US? Canada. If they don't want to join the missile defense initiative, that's great... It is their decision. But they need to better communicate that here in the US. In fact, they need to go on a charm offensive to show to the US why they still matter.

And don't get me wrong, I think Canada does matter.

If you have millions upon millions of dollars of trade crossing your border EVERY DAY, then something must be going well.

The problem is that most Americans don't see it. Trade with the Canada is part of the scenery and is barely noticeable... Unlike trade with China, for example.

Also, the power center in the US is moving from the northeast (who know Canada... least shares similar weather) to the southwest, where the influence of Mexico and Asia is far more noticeable than anything from Canada.

It is in the southwest (as well as Washington DC, of course) where Canada has to focus its charm offensive. I don't know what sort of common ground you can find between Canada and, say, Texas, but you gotta find some in order to stay even remotely popular here.

Canada is a major foreign contributor to both Hollywood and Silicon Valley, yet those contributions go largely unnoticed in Sacramento.

Mexico, India, Israel and China are the countries off the top of my head that do a good job furthering elements of thier national interest here. Japan is being very agressive is promoting itself as well through its JETRO initiative, as are European countries like UK and France through their own initiatives.

Canada... never hear from them.

Friday, February 25, 2005


I'm getting sick of people complaning that Carly is being bitch-slapped by the media because she is a woman.

It is because she was overexposed in the press to begin with, because the Compaq merger hasn't gone well AS WELL AS because she is a woman.

This time around the revolution will not be blogged

I like blogs, I really do. I'm totally among the converted. But let's get some perspective here, people. They will not save the world, they will not make traditional media redundant and please.... this is not the dot-com boom of the 1990s... they are not a business model.