Reflections on Office 2.0

by admin on October 15, 2006

in Innovation

I deliberately chose not to provide a blow by blow account of the Office 2.0 conference. Others have done a sterling job. For me, David Terrar caught the mood of the blitz demonstrations really well. If you’re evaluating software, this is something I’d recommend insisting upon. The idea is the vendor has 10 minutes to show the offering. This forces the vendor to think clearly about their value proposition. I realise the enterprise players will say this is unrealistic but I still think it’s possible to show an enticing taste, regardless of the software/service.

David also levelled valid criticisms about the panels. I still don’t understand what Tara Hunt was talking about for instance. On the flipside, there was a very high level of energy at the event – and that counts a great deal.

For me, the event was all about the conversations. I spent much of my time scurrying between meetings with other Irregulars, vendors and colleagues I’ve not seen for years.

The bloggers I’ve come to know over the last 6 months are exactly as I expected in the flesh. Not one disappointed. That tells me they’re authentic in what they say and can absolutely be trusted, even if we don’t always agree. This is vital when we’re communicating across space and time.

It was especially good to catch up with Mark Nittler of Workday. I’ve known Mark since his days at PeopleSoft. Workday is searching for a fresh way to deliver enterprise class services that today we’d loosely classify as service industry ERP and HR. Jason Corsello had a sneek preview in Boston the previous week and was impressed with the attention generated. Mark and I talked in detail about how financial applications might be used to contextualise knowledge in end to end business processes. I like that idea a lot. Mark met up with Sig and, as I expected, was blown away by thingamy.

Itensil was a revelation. This is a work in progress sort of blog/wiki platform with workflow built in. The potential for building end to end practice systems is huge, provided the accounting data can be pulled into the platform in a sensible way. We’re keeping a dialogue open on that, with Rod Boothby running point on information sharing. Intensil is one of Susan Scrupski‘s clients and Susan did a great job of facilitating discussions.

Jeff Nolan’s vision for Teqlo is ambitious. The concept of DIY user built applications is appealing. In the past, this has always meant engaging IT but Jeff’s approach should dispense with that requirement, putting users in control of how they contextualise the real world through business processes.

The guys from SAP were terrific. Mark Crofton was especially gracious and insightful. Vinnie and I spend a lot of time beating up on them but they’re game for debate. In fairness, they’re wrestling with big problems and while I can’t repeat most of what was said, I was impressed with the way they’re engaging with users and critics. I just wish their PR wasn’t such a bunch of control freaks. And yes – there is a way for SAP to slash its costs to end users without hurting profitability. For clues – look at SAP’s external investments.

It was especially good to touch base with Tom Foremski, ex-FT hack and the first full time blogger who came out of mainstream media. He’s a real gent who has helped me a great deal over the last year.

Finally, I caught up withe Keith Rodgers. He was my first editor on Computers & Finance and we subsequently became business partners in Webster Buchanan, a tiny HR and process specific research outfit. Keith is currently researching facilities management for the London Development Agency. I know virtually nothing about that space but apparently there are huge savings to be made. Important for start ups.

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David Terrar October 15, 2006 at 6:44 am

Hi Den – thanks for the mentions. I plan to do a write up on itensil myself. I agree the meetings were the best component, and now I'm frustrated I didn't get to talk to Workday or get a proper Teqlo session with Jeff. So much time and so little to do (strike that and reverse it).

Tara Hunt October 16, 2006 at 7:31 pm

What didn't you understand?

I suppose I was a bit of a black sheep there. I work with grassroots movements and have been involved in the '2.0' world before '2.0' was a term used. I see people, not 'enterprise' pushing the production of what we deem as 'Web 2.0' technologies, like blogging, wikis, aggregators, social networks, photo sharing, tagging, social bookmarking, etc. They are chaotic, collaborative technologies that give power to the people. Somehow, I think this is an uneasy fit into the enterprise world of control and security and ivory towers.

To get a sense of where I'm coming from, you may want to read my article entitled Embracing the Chaos.

Mark Crofton October 17, 2006 at 2:45 pm

Thanks for the kind words.
Please continue to let us know in which areas we can improve; the feedback is always welcome.

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