Making money the Achilles Heal of software adoption

So okay, I can pick up a tripod of some sort from Amazon for not too much money — but speaking of money, here’s the big Achilles’ heel: while the free version of the app is fairly functional, upgrading to Pro costs €41.47. That’s nearly fifty bucks! Sure, I’d like to be able to use all my cameras; in free mode the app shows me the Wide 1x camera and the front selfie camera, but is it worth that much to use the Telephoto 2x or the Ultrawide 0.5x? Pro unlocks higher resolutions, and there are also a bunch of options to control focus, lighting, flash, zoom, and so on, which I would definitely have bought for a fiver or so — but not for this much. I already have a decent webcam at home (a Razer Kiyo), so I’d be using Camo only away from home, and I’d have to acquire and carry a separate piece of kit to do so.

Original source: Whammo, Camo

25 cents a gig pricing for systems management

The company is updating its New Relic One platform with simplified pricing, interface, portfolio, and a free tier for engineers to try and use the software, which instruments IT environments and applications. CEO Lew Cirne said the move is designed to make New Relic easier to consume and address the convergence of logs, infrastructure, and APM. Simplified pricing from 11 paid products down to three, moving to per-user pricing and a perpetual free license will make doing business with New Relic easier, he said.

Pricing is mysterious, critical, and this fascinating to watch.

Original source: New Relic simplifies portfolio under New Relic One as well as pricing in expansion play

Transformation case study

Jana Werner and Barry O’Reilly have a great case study and commentary of transformation at a couple organizations, primarily a bank. I was lucky enough to get Jana on for an interview on Software Defined Talk, talking about the case, information theory, and Nietzche. It should be in the podcast feed next week.

Here’s some of my highlights:

  • “In one Financial Services organization we’ve been able to implement an increase to contactless card payment limits in days where the previous increase took months. We stood up a work from home solution for call centre staff, automated processes and relieved pressure on teams having to manually capture customer data over the phone in 3.5 weeks—a record for service delivery and a credit to the teams and individuals who made this possible.”
  • Focus on the outcome, not following the process, or working a lot: “The subtle yet powerful shift to outcome-based measures of success — reducing and resolving customer issues — over traditional output-based deliverables of being on time, budget and scope had a pronounced impact on productivity and employee satisfaction.”
  • When the meeting (the bureaucracy) becomes the product: “Slide decks, paper proposals and steering group sessions all take a significant investment to prepare, avoiding “difficult” conversations by socializing and re-socializing in advance of exec meetings, deferring decisions, requesting a raft of meeting minutes to document, correcting, amending and signing them off—the majority of which few people read.”
  • This effects how the entire organization runs, and, indeed the pace of delivery: “The speed of these cycles determines the heartbeat of the organization.”
  • Management starts asking different questions: “Responses can now shift post-release from ‘How could you have got this wrong?’ to ‘What is our next best action?’ Seeing how shipping smaller slices allows us to iterate, also means leaders can set direction and monitor metrics over setting targets and failing anything but perfect results.”
  • Often, management has failed to build a system (vision, strategy, norms, “culture,” etc.) that makes staff’s job clear. That’s a problem! “Test your strategy cascade methods to maintain the clear purpose, problems and outcomes teams are working towards. Ask teams if there’s a clear line of sight between the objectives, and how their work contributes to achieve your shared success. If they can’t see it, fix it. Maximising both organizational alignment and autonomy can be the biggest accelerant for sustainable pace, employee engagement and amazing customers experiences.”
  • And: “The biggest hurdle to change is people not believing it’s possible.”

There’s a lot good in there. Check out the case study.

Starbuck’s digital stuff: working

Some 3 million new users downloaded the Starbucks App and signed up for the Rewards loyalty program since April, up 17% on the first three months of the year before the COVID crisis hit home in the US. Over the same period, 90% of sales were executed via a combination of drive-thru and mobile order-and-pay, with mobile order usage alone now accounting for 22% of total transactions.

The best time to plant a digital transformation tree is ten years ago. Barring that, today is great.

Original source: Brewing resilience – how early digital vision is paying off for Starbucks

Open source as the new open standard, open sourcing to control your rival's competitive advantage

Theory: in a world of SaaS/public cloud, “open source,” is an implemented standard, instructions for plumbing, not the actual product sold.

The actually product (the thing sold, paid for) includes running the commercial software, storing the data, managing how the software is used. It can also include doing the unseen, tedious Morlockian work of making it “enterprise grade,” even “cloud grade.”

Giving away the open source stuff lets the commercial company (the SaaS) define and control its 3rd party dependencies – here, how New Relic’s data is collected and modeled. That is the blood and oxygen of a monitoring company: no monitoring data, no company.

As a strategic bonus: open sourcing things allows the SaaS to kill off (perhaps “limit,” to be less hyperbolic) areas of the market that rivals could own, differentiate, and monetize.

Kubernetes does this (IaaS becomes low value, table stakes, undifferentiated), not sure about Linux. Linux is something different: it is the product, not the standard.

There is a major flaw in my reasoning, viz. Kubernetes: all of the code to make it actually work below and around kubernetes can be proprietary, usually. The software defined networking (despite years of trying to open source this awhile back, it remains, largely, inaccessible alchemy), the security integration, the PaaS layer (though, actually, here, another instructive confounder to my present theory), etc.

But, perhaps, this illustrates my theory: those parts of the market have been defined as the place that competition can occur.

You would then expect rivals to open source those things to damage (pardon, again: “limit”) their rival’s competitive advantage, while keeping their own stuff closed. (“Closed,” of course can also – usually in public cloud – mean “only available as a running service in one of the big three clouds or a the SaaS in question.”)

Of course, all of the rivals can agree to give up monetizing parts of the market and all open source that part, all giving up on making money off it. This is usually done somewhat by accident, or with one large competitor reluctantly throwing in the towel and giving up after a long fight, as with HTML, RIA’s (Flash vs. HTML5 vs. Androind/iOS – not only open source here, but very much industry de facto standards),

Docker, and, of course, kubernetes. OpenStack was a failed instance of this theory: the public cloud companies would not see one of their core assets open sourced and made non-differentiating. Also, the whispers are that the OpenStack community has its own problems, not least of which the inability (and the lack of will) for its primaries to spend billions on building their own Datacenters and global networks out.

Build tools are an odd river in this terrain that I don’t know well: has Jenkins being open source really limited the commercial opportunity of commercial build tools and CI/CD?

And security – always security: somehow impossible to fully open source as in drive out all the closed source and monetizing possibilities.

(Also, Hyperic tried this open sourcing the systems management stuff. Perhaps too early for it to be successful, perhaps getting acquired just halted the corporate enthusiasm needed to pursue that course. That was too long ago to remember, recount, and reminisce. [Nagios was that deafening dull-thumb of the GPL death-cult, where “life” is a vendor’s ability to make closed source profit margins and scale top-line revenue to billions.])

Original source: New Relic Changes Business Model, Open Sources Agents and Instrumentation

OutSystems proof points, marketsizing on low-code

That means being able to change or add applications and services at near the speed of the start-ups. Hughes gives as an example a Fintech company that was failing to hire the talent it required to develop a new mobile app, so instead used the OutSystems platform to develop it, in seven weeks, using the existing developer team. The effort resulted in an increase in customer onboarding conversion of 30%.

Original source: Using low code to sidestep the disruptors – a market survival strategy from OutSystems?

AI requires new hires, might target the wrong thing

One of the organizations we studied was the business-to-business sales department of a large company in the Netherlands. They used a relatively simple rule-based AI to predict whether a client would need a new product or whether a client should be contacted because a product they used was out of date. Normally a sales manager would call the client, and because the sales manager has come to know her clients personally, she would also ask personal questions: How are you doing? How is your family? In theory, the AI system was much better at predicting the best moment to contact a client, so the organization fired most of its salespeople and the AI system was introduced. Soon, however, the organization discovered that the personal contact between the salespeople and the clients was far more important in selling their products than anybody had realized. The AI system couldn't make this personal contact, and therefore performed much worse than the sales managers did.

The article also notes that you often need to hire new, additional people to be the "AI translators": staff doesn't know how to interpret what predictive AIs do very well.

Original source: The Impact of AI on Organizations

Books on Dutch art, from the golden age

As he and many others point out, transience is built into Dutch still life. You often have paintings of flowers that are starting to wilt, or a glass that has a chip or a crack into it. There are all these intimations of decline and decay, even as the objects are so beautifully rendered. That ties in with Simon Schama’s argument about the fundamental ambivalence of the Dutch who, even as they experienced this incredible economic prosperity and abundance, had a lot of guilt about it tied in with Calvinist religious beliefs, with the sense that they were constantly beset and imperilled on all sides by enemy forces.

Original source: The Best Books on The Dutch Masters

More of a design

By 1970, many of these covers had a uniform appearance, predominantly painted illustrations on black backgrounds with the titles set in Roberta, one of the Art Nouveau-styled typefaces of the occult revival. All the Alessandrini covers date from the late 70s and early 80s, and show an evolution of the imprint’s style, with the same black livery but a different typeface that I can’t identify (Coliseum is the closest digital equivalent), together with artwork that’s more of a design rather than an illustration of the book’s contents.

As a kid, I spent hours at used bookstores and combing through the books at charity shops. The books themselves were good, but the covers were their own quest and reward. There were so many paperbacks and designs over the decades that stocked those shelves.

Original source: Jean Alessandrini book covers

Upward momentum for running VMware VMs on AWS clouds

The continued adding of solutions and services to the hybrid cloud services seems to be paying off, according to both companies. They said this week that there has been a 2.5 times increase in the number of hosts between June 2019 and June 2020 and a 3.5 times jump in the number of VMs running, and VMware Cloud on AWS is running 17 AWS regions around the world and offers more than 300 third-party solutions from technology partners.

And, VMware’s kubernetes strategy, by capabilities:

This gives our customers the ability to have a single environment where they can deploy, manage and run both VMs as well as containers and Kubernetes clusters and because it’s enabled on top of VMC and AWS, it also inherits all the elasticity of the AWS public cloud for containerized workloads and also gives them a consistent operating environment for hybrid cloud environments where they might be running those same services on top of vSphere environments on-prem.

Original source: The Growing Dependence Of VMware On AWS

Public cloud spending finally more than on-premises, by hardware

As investments in cloud IT infrastructure continue to increase, with some swings up and down in the quarterly intervals, the IT infrastructure industry is approaching the point where spending on cloud IT infrastructure consistently surpasses spending on non-cloud IT infrastructure. The fourth quarter of 2019 marked the third consecutive quarter of cloud IT leadership with the annual share just slightly below the midpoint (49.7%). From here on out, IDC expects cloud IT infrastructure will stay above 50% of the IT Infrastructure market at both the quarterly and annual levels, reaching 60.5% annually in 2024.

IDC’s stalwart tracker looks at hardware spend. Putting software in would be great, but asking a bit much I suppose.

The point of this is that more hardware spend probably goes to public cloud, but not just building clouds (a relatively smaller number, usually), organizations using it.

Original source: Cloud IT Infrastructure Spending Grew 12.4% in the Fourth Quarter, Bringing Total 2019 Growth into Positive Territory, According to IDC

Broken brains

When ‘you think mental illness’, according to Piper, ‘you think schizophrenia and crazy people, and I’m not crazy, I just get really nervous.’ In making this distinction, interviewees like Piper and Jenna not only claimed that they were less impaired than the seriously mentally ill, they also insisted that their experience was categorially different. Piper said of herself that biologically something is just ‘a little off’. She has ‘too little or too much or whatever it is that makes you have these issues’. Distinct from ‘crazy people’, she has control over her mind and her story. All she needs is a little pill. Yet at the same time, her ‘condition’ is also different from the mundane challenges that normal people might face. Piper was adamant that her nervousness in social situations is different from ordinary shyness. Her taking of medication is warranted. She has a third condition caused by an ‘imbalance’.

He goes onto say, not in these words really, that (a) there's still a huge self- and social-stigma, and (b) it's more important for those with broken brains to talk about what they do day to day, how they struggle and succeed in life.

One of the most frustrating things with mental stuff is that the diagnosis of it is so…magical. It's hard to distinguish when you brain is broken versus your life, versus you "self." I think what this dude is suggesting is that it sort of doesn't matter: what matters is what you do after the diagnosis to cope and keep living.

Original source: Let’s avoid talk of ‘chemical imbalance’: it’s people in distress

Puppet raises more money, wants to shift from point product positioning to solutions

She also wants to shift from talking about solutions for solving specific use cases, to putting their products into a business context. Wassenaar wants to Puppet to be a leader in a “container-based world.”

“Puppet’s technology runs some of the world’s most critical businesses in the most demanding environments, from financial services to government agencies,” said Yvonne Wassenaar said in a statement. “This new capital will allow us to accelerate our go-to-market efforts and further fuel our innovation investments — from extending the power of Puppet Enterprise in the areas of continuous automation, compliance and patching to our newly-launched event-driven automation solution Relay, built to extend Puppet’s expertise into cloud-native and API-driven environments.”

Puppet this year added former Cloud Foundry Foundation Executive Director Abby Kearns as chief technology officer, and former VMware exec Erik Frieberg as chief marketing officer.

The new capital is a debt round, TechCrunch reported. Puppet has raised $150 million from investors over the years.

Original source: Portland cloud infrastructure automation startup Puppet raises $40M

Not a social device

The Walkman (briefly called the Soundabout) debuted in most places outside of Japan in 1980. The early versions were bulky and — in a misunderstanding of how the device would change listening — came with an extra headphone port for a friend. A button paused the music and activated a microphone so the paired listeners could talk to each other. Sony jettisoned these features once it was clear users preferred to listen on their own in sonic isolation.

I can imagine going off on a jag about anti-social anti-networks: things, “places” that are for being alone and not connected. That’s Apple, in some way, at least with the relationship between the person and the device. People might choose to use Apple’s stuff to publish in and connect to social networks, but it’s not what Apple products are intended for: a social network of one.

Original source: The Soundabout