A Fine Line offers a step-by-step overview of the innovation process -- from targeting goals to shepherding new products and services … Read more
Wilson Audio Specialties didn't invent high-end speakers, but its original WATT speaker, introduced in 1986, changed the rules of the game.
Up to that point, state-of-the-art speakers were all large beasts, but the WATT was a comparatively tiny stand-mounted speaker. Its distinctive pyramidal shape went on to spawn countless imitations.
The WATT was soon joined by the matching Puppy (woofer), and over the ensuing decades the two-piece WATT/Puppy system evolved, culminating in the WATT/Puppy 8 in 2006. Well over 15,000 WATT/Puppys have been sold since 1986, but rather than move to the W/P 9, founder David Wilson decided to start afresh, so now we have the Sasha W/P ($26,900/pair).
Wilson Audio Specialties' director of sales, Peter McGrath, came to New York City to present the Sasha W/P to the press at Wilson dealer Innovative Audio last week. The new speaker's sweeping curves and refined shape make for the best-looking Wilson speaker of all time. … Read more
Google is looking for ways to make sure its engineers have ways to get their ideas up the food chain before they take them somewhere else.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Google has begun to hold "innovation reviews," where employees can pitch their bosses on their latest idea or product, who then in turn take the idea before Google's ruling triumvirate of CEO Eric Schmidt and co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It's part of an effort to make sure the ideas conceived in a Google employee's famous "20 percent time" have … Read more
NEW YORK--"I'm anti-tax, but I'm pro-carbon tax," Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk said onstage at the Wired Business Conference here Monday--a remark that prompted interviewer and Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson to quip that he was a "true Silicon Valley libertarian."
Gasoline "should probably be $10" per gallon, said onetime PayPal co-founder Musk, who is also attempting to make sending satellites into space cheaper with a start-up called SpaceX. "I'm not paying for the true cost of gasoline at the pump...since nobody's explicitly paying for the CO2 capacity … Read more
NEW YORK--As he kicked off the Wired Business Conference on Monday, Wired magazine's editor in chief, Chris Anderson, started talking about Jell-O.
Anderson was explaining the thesis of his forthcoming book, "Free," about the realities of making a profit and building a business in an environment rife with digital goods that can be replicated at almost no cost. The Jell-O angle came from an anecdote that detailed how, in the late 1800s, the manufacturers of the then-bizarre dessert got the word out about it by distributing free Jell-O recipe books around the United States.
"Giving away … Read more
Even as CIOs accelerate adoption of open source in an effort to trim costs and improve innovation, the world's top system integrators (SIs) have largely played it safe on the sidelines. Accenture, given its close partnership with Microsoft, has perhaps been one of the most conservative SIs when it comes to open source.
Or so it has appeared. Despite a partnership with SpringSource, an open-source infrastructure leader, Accenture's open-source activities have largely gone unnoticed. Even Accenture's Innovation Center for Open Source, a collaboration with Red Hat and other open-source vendors, was more whispered about than promoted.
I caught up with Alex Wied, senior manager at Accenture and head of its Innovation Center for Open Source, and Tony Roby, partner in Accenture's Global Architecture and Core Technologies group, to find out what, exactly, Accenture has been doing with open source, and how the global consulting firm expects to use open source going forward. They collaborated on the answers to my questions below.
Accenture is not the first company that comes to mind when one thinks of open source. After all, you have a joint venture with Microsoft and have been pretty quiet on open source. Is open source alive and well at Accenture? If so, what are the areas of focus for Accenture?
I'm curious to find out why that is the case! Accenture has strong relationships with many leading technology companies--that is what our clients expect.
Open source is growing within both Accenture and our client base. We continue to be substantial users of open source, particularly in custom Java development, and our focus is expanding beyond this space to cover the gamut of open source portals, content management, business intelligence and data management. We also continue to contribute to open-source projects where we expect the results to benefit our clients.
Is open source client-led or Accenture-led? Meaning, are your customers asking for it or are you embracing open-source solutions for your own reasons? If so, what are those reasons? If clients are asking for it, what reasons do they cite?
It's a mixture. There is a tremendous amount of education still to be done regarding open source. We have clients who still have policies not to use open source at all; others who want to use open source wherever possible. But the majority is in between: they are open to using whatever makes most sense from a technical and commercial perspective.
What is clear is that the current economy is driving many who were ambivalent about open source to explore its potential more closely. Regardless of the economic environment, Accenture is a strong open-source advocate and will continue to work with our clients to help them achieve business benefits with it.
Is "vendor lock-in" a serious concern for your clients? If they had to choose between zero cost and 100 percent lock-in or a hefty cost and no lock-in, which would they choose? Or is that even a fair question?
Yes and no. No one wants to be locked in, particularly if that lock in results in ever-increasing expenditure that is disconnected from the value being realized.
But our clients in general look for a balance. "One throat to choke" is high up in the requirements for making major technology investments and is often prioritized over "lock-in." Also, in the context of very large projects, the cost of the software compared to everything else is frequently a small part of the equation.
Nevertheless, we are seeing a noticeable increase in the use of open source, driven largely by the "free" aspect. Few are fooled by the notion of open source being free (as in no cost): lower cost, flexibility and the ability to be supported at modest cost are key drivers of the increased uptake.
Are there particular open-source projects that are of interest to you/Accenture? Which ones, and why?
We do a lot of work with the Spring Framework, so I would say that has historically had the bulk of our interest. That said, we have people active in a number of community projects and we are making increasing use of Alfresco, Liferay, and Talend, to name a few in the technology area.… Read more
There seem to be three (non-mutually exclusive) models for marketers tasked with building brand equity: marketing scarcity, marketing artificial scarcity, or marketing relevance.
Scarcity seems to be at the core of all marketing: an exclusive, unique value that can be reproduced; an original idea replicated for many. That's how markets work, how marketing works. Branding is effective when it keeps the aura of an original idea intact despite its mechanical reproduction. Apple's original idea, for instance, could be described as "technology must be fun and human," and it has not lost an inch of its integrity. … Read more
I saw an interesting article in the New York Times this weekend titled "Put Ad on Web. Count Clicks. Revise." The premise of the article goes something like this: because the web provides functionality to test every variation of a banner ad for effectiveness, the next big thing is tailoring advertising in the moment, and leveraging findings from click-thru rates to construct more relevant offerings for consumers. If I had to construct a tag-line for the so-called "data practice" services cited in this article it would be "downstream solutions to … Read more
Sure, you think: it's easy for Google to innovate. It has thousands of engineers!
Maybe. But I don't remember Microsoft coming up with Wave, and it has even more engineers. Neither did IBM, Oracle, SAP, etc.
Google did, and it started Wave with a small core team of two brothers, a core team that appears to have done much of the work gestating Wave to … Read more
Stephen Fry, British author and host of a book/BBC series on his travels in the United States, offers up a paean to America in the May 9 edition of The Spectator. At times lightly scabrous, often hilarious, Fry gives a depiction of America that sounds much like Silicon Valley today:
[With some not insignificant exceptions]...America is comprised of the descendants of men and women who at some point over the last 300 years or so wanted to improve their lives. They left their miserable shtetls and peasant hovels and urban slums and blighted potato fields and sailed the … Read more