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Always say DAI - conference WiFi

Just yesterday (I'm on US Mountain Time, even if my blog isn't) I was speaking In Zurich at the first SOMESSO conference. I really enjoyed it, and I'll say more about the content another time. It was a great event in a quality venue (Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute), with classy food, top class audio visual resources, in stylish surroundings, but guess what? - the conference WiFI service failed several times during the show. Now as you know, I've ...
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Switch to iPhone or go for BlackBerry Bold?

BlackBerry BoldI'm just completing my first week of living with my new BlackBerry and my conclusion, particular if your phone is for business or heavy email use, is a resounding "go for Bold"! Let me explain why.
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Off to Office 2.0 in San Francisco

Office 2.0 conference 2008 By the time I post this I will be in San Francisco for a collection of WordFrame partner meetings and then the Office 2.0 show. I attended Ismael Ghalimi's first event based around the trend towards web based office and enterprise productivity back in 2006, but missed out last year. This year I'll be one of the presenters and contributors, and our partner SocialMediaToday is one of the media sponsors,at what I hope will be a very worthwhile show. The unconference is on September 3rd, with the main conference activities on September 4th and 5th, all based at the St. Regis hotel.
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EditGrid teams up with ThinkFree

David Lee of TnC and TJ Kang of ThinkFreeWe're currently working with David Lee of Hong Kong-based Team and Concepts Limited (TnC), looking at connecting EditGrid with Twinfield. We think EditGrid is by far the best online spreadsheet and collaboration tool available, and part of David's approach is to partner and integrate with a number of solutions.

Late yesterday I heard that they are teaming up with ThinkFree the free, full-featured Internet office suite. I still have the off-line version of ThinkFree sitting on a memory stick here on the desk waiting to be reviewed. EditGrid will help make ThinkFree Online even more attractive. It will replace their Quick Edit Calc and allow users to collaborate on spreadsheets, managing real time updates from each user. ThinkFree will continue to develop their own Power Edit Calc. Dennis Howlett gives his thoughts on the tie up. I think this is a very good move on ThinkFree's part.

The picture is David Lee, chairman and co-founder of TnC shaking hands with ThinkFree Founder and CEO TJ Kang.

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Windows Live Writer - new beta 2 release

While I was researching something else entirely (WeeWorld and Wee-Mee avatars), Steve Clayton tipped me off to the fact that a new release of Windows Live Writer beta came out 2 days ago.   Windows Live Writer is definitely the best blog editor I've come across, and they've been listening hard to the customer feedback, because it just got even better. 

WLW screen captureSome of the new things that have been added:

  • A new user interface
  • Adding new categories/tags
  • Inline spell checking
  • Support for creating tables
  • Support for excerpts and extended entries
  • Sharepoint 2007 support
  • Plugins become automatically enabled after installation, even if Writer is running
  • Available in 6 different languages: English, Spanish, German, French, Japanese and Chinese.

And more.  One of the nicest additions is that you can set the options to remind you to always add categories and tags.  Something I forget a lot of the time, and then have to go back and fix.  I like this editor a lot.

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More community generated content from ThinkFree

There is a ThinkFree branded memory stick languishing next to my coffee machine, regularly reminding me that I should take a proper look and review the product. It's a Microsoft® Office compatible application suite comprised of word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation graphics software-all usable online and off. A few days ago I got a little advance warning of their latest offering that's just been announced - ThinkFree Docs.

I've mentioned before about successful products tapping in to their community of users to add value for all. ThinkFree Docs gives the kind of ability to share the written word (or numbers) that Flickr does for photographs. You can search, share, and publish documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with anyone around the world.  Just like with Flickr, your documents can be shared with specific people or a group, or made public.  Just like Flickr or YouTube, you can add comments, e-mail to a friend, download, and rate them. It even supplies the code to embed and publish the document on your blog or web page.

There are already services around like authorSTREAM, SlideShare, Scribd, and Zoho Show, but ThinkFree looks like it could be a more complete solution for collaboration and sharing all of your office documents. It's well worth investigating.

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I wish I was in Atlanta

That might be a good title for a song by Little Feat, but actually I'm voicing the frustration that my Enterprise Irregular blogging chums are having fun over at SAP's SAPPHIRE 07 conference. I get the chance to join in when the show hits Vienna in two weeks, but in the meantime I have to attend vicariously through their blogs, and they're doing a great job!

Hasso blackboard keynote

Thomas live blogged SAP Chairman Hasso Plattner's keynote, whilst Dennis gave his considered opinion, and Dan thinks we have to wait and see. Dan also has the details on A1S from Hans-Peter Klaey, now the president of their SME division, and then Dennis presents his analysis. I've written twice before about the product, and their on demand strategy. Like me, Dennis doesn't see how it is going to work, and worries that we aren't being shown the new product, even though they say it is being trialled by 150 customers.

Dennis has met with a few people and teased us about what might be coming from CODA. He seems to think that there is definitely more innovation on show at SAPPHIRE 07 compared to SAP's major rival Oracle. Dan has also posted about Duet, which integrates SAP and Microsoft Office. I'm looking forward to the rest of the output.

Update: Jerry Bowles is at the bloggers corner too, and Coté of Redmonk is blogging Henning Kagerman's keynote.

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Weekly SaaS Roundup - w/c 2007/04/02

As I write this week's roundup, there is some debate going on between the Enterprise Irregulars on the SaaS term itself - could there be a better term? It's a bit ugly, and a bit of a mouthful, but Vinnie suggests "as a Service" is here to stay. He says:

"Few of my corporate clients have a problem understanding "as a service" - they know it means no capex, lots of stuff they should technically not have to worry about....if they can be convinced about the "not worry about" part - security, service levels, etc - they have little problem with the term service. "

Vinnie highlights we've already got Hardware as a Service, Chris Selland reminded me we have Telephony as a Service, and earlier this week I saw Bob Brauer, CEO of Strikeiron, talk about Data as a Service, and say DaaS is gut!

One of the recent talking points has been hybrid access for web applications. Dan Farber reported on Zimbra's announcement of their off-line client:

"The Desktop Zimbra client (alpha code) will solve the problem of disconnected use, which plagues many online, on demand application users. The desktop version offers faster search, rich email rendering and synching with the Zimbra server. The Desktop Zimbra alpha download is available for Windows, Mac and Linux and is free for open source and Zimbra Network Edition users to try out. Pricing and availability haven't been set, according to the company"

Om Malik suggests the desktop is like a "cat with nine lives" as announcements of the death of software are premature:

"The biggest problem, of course is the availability of ubiquitous broadband, without which even the smartest web application is as bright as Paris Hilton. As long as Moore's Law helps keep Silicon Valley churning out ever-faster processors and the storage capacities of disk drives keep rising (along with falling prices) the edge client (translation: the desktop) will always be around."

He references the Zimbra client, Salesforce's off-line edition, Adobe Apollo, or Yahoo Widgets 4 as examples.

Meanwhile Mastermaq, a Microsoft developer quotes the same Dan Farber post and wonders why Microsoft aren't better placed with their software AND services approach:

"The company spends billions on R&D every year too, so it should be no surprise that they are often ahead of the curve when it comes to technology innovations. I don't know what the problem is, but I continue to be amazed at how they can be so far ahead, and yet so far behind, all at the same time"

Elsewhere Alex Barnett quotes Richard McManus and picks up on Yahoo's announcement of an API to its mail application, and see this as a big deal pointing the new direction for the web:

"Why is this 'big'? It is a clear signal of where we're all going with the web. APIs, APIs APIs!!!!!"

APIs and mashups are going to be crucial, but taking things back to practical application of SaaS and web 2.0 technologies, I listened to this podcast on Jenerous of Eric Madsen talking to Mark Mader, the president of SmartSheet. Mark's product is not competing head on with traditional spreadsheets or online versions like Editgrid, but where spreadsheets are used lists of work and assignments of work that people share. That's the kind of project management approach that many organizations end up using. It's always interesting listening to the top guy talking about his product, company and business model.

Lastly, Joe McKendrick was writing at the FASTForward blog, about SaaS passing the tipping point. He says:

"Saugatuck predicts that the next surge of growth will come from large enterprises that are now beginning to view SaaS as "just another part of the fabric of enterprise IT." Saugatuck calculates that on average, the typical large enterprise now taps into at least three SaaS applications, with one in seven having greater than 10 SaaS applications."

Jeff Kaplan jumped in in the comments to suggest this is old news, but it's still heartening to hear more enterprise examples, and more commentators saying the same thing.

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Office 2007 compatibility pack

I haven't received a file from someone who's jumped up to Microsoft Office 2007 that I couldn't read with Office 2003..... yet. Knowing the file formats are so different I have been expecting it to happen at some point. I just spotted this Office 2007 compatibility pack which says that it will do the job:

"When you install the compatibility pack, you can open, edit, save, and create files in the robust Office Open XML Formats."

Sounds good to me. I've installed it and it's added the 2007 and 2007 with macros formats to the save options. You can find it here.

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Weekly SaaS Roundup - w/c 2007/03/19

Earlier in the week I reported on Cisco's big acquisition of Webex. The Webinar Blog points to some posts and analysis I hadn't seen, including Infoworld's opinion piece which says:

"Cisco had two choices. Either accept being the dumb pipe, a.k.a. network infrastructure supplier, for the coming age of SaaS and other Web 2.0 applications, or enter the fray and offer services as well as infrastructure. "

Today I was at Salesforce.com's Spring 07 announcements in London at The Landmark Hotel. I'll post a detailed report later, but they reported:

  • 29,800 customers
  • 646,000 subscribers
  • Their 5,000th customer in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) is Rolls Royce Motor Cars
  • 52% growth in the last year in EMEA
  • 51% market share of on-demand CRM
  • Gartner saying that on-demand is going to be "white hot" in 2007

Over at Appirio they also report on the momentum of the SaaS market:

● Credit Suisse's March 11 "On Demand Market Forecast" projects "On Demand software to grow at a CAGR of 36% to roughly $21 billion in 2011 from over $4 billion in 2006."