Archive for the 'innovation' Category

A down day leads to an agenda refresh

February 9, 2009     |     posted by gluecon

I’m a bit under the weather today, so I ended canceling my Monday phone calls (which makes Tueday through Thursday hellish, of course). That left me with some “easy time” to work on the Glue agenda – something which I get more excited about every day. Here are some updates:

1. In case you missed it earlier David Heinemeier Hansson and Mitch Kapor were announced as Keynote speakers.

2. To that I’ve now added Josh Elman (of the Facebook Platform group) and Bob Frankston (co-creator of VisiCalc). Facebook’s recent movements around “openness” should provide a pretty fertile foundation for Josh talking about what “gluing together the web” looks like from Facebook’s perspective, and Bob (who is just flat out, scary smart) will be addressing how we need to re-think some of our assumptions around bindings, platforms and achieving the structures of simplicity needed for innovation.

3. Keynotes are always fun to ooh and ahhh over, but when you really start to dig into Glue’s agenda, things get truly glorious (hat tip to Will Ferrell). Sidenote: I’m now writing about stuff that, for the most part, hasn’t even been updated on the agenda page yet.

4. Pam Dingle, of Nulli Secundus (and one of the smartest “identity people” I know) is going to be leading a workshop session on the “domain-less” enterprise. That is, “how far could a company get today, with the tools and protocols available to them, towards creating a business where employees could access exactly the same work environment from any computer in any location, without any concept of being inside or outside a network perimeter. ” The session will take a look at what’s available in the way of distributed identity tools, and specifically show how to do this with Microsoft’s beta Geneva set of tools, as well as a “how to” with open source tools. [sidenote: those of you that have seen me write about optimism in the past know that I love Pam's blog's name.]

5. A session around Data Portability will feature Daniela Barbosa and Chris Saad from the Data Portability Working Group and Ben Metcalfe with a perspective of what he thinks is right and wrong about data portability. I think this discussion is *vital* to the overall Glue picture, and I’m hoping this talk (in particular) draws a bunch of the cloud computing crowd.

6. There’s a session coming together around Cloud database standards. The whole idea actually comes from a post that Albert Wenger wrote, and the session is meant to tease out some of the threads around what I’m finding to be a REALLY important topic to this whole “glue mess” (databases, that is). We’ve enlisted Alex Iskold of Adaptive Blue so far (Alex made a key design decision around SimpleDB), and I’ve got invites out to some Google folks, etc. [sidenote: I applaud Alex's product naming choice. ]

7. There are a whole bunch of sessions coming together around web app description languages (needed?), cloud interoperability on a grand scale (possible?), the open social stack, and how RESful APIs play into rich internet applications….and so much more.

8. I’m also adding some key moderators/discussion leaders — notably, Jeff Nolan and Stewart Alsop (of Alsop Louie Partners).

9. Don’t forget all of the already announced stuff around Web Oriented Archiecture (Aaron Fulkerson), Harnessing the Cloud (Mike West of Saugatech Research), Leveraging API infrastructure (Kevin Matheny from Best Buy and Oren Michels from Mashery), Complex event processing across web apps (Mike Clymer), etc etc.

10. And the best part of all? The agenda isn’t even CLOSE to finished, so the goodies are just gonna keep on rolling in. Topics yet to come: data integration and mashups, web app integration, glue metrics, gluing together devices and data, social networks and glue, the evolution of the client-server model, etc.

I really hope you’re gonna choose to join us for Gluecon. If you wanna get lost in the crowds and listen to some non-impactful stuff, go somewhere else. If you want intimacy, connections, and sessions and interactions with impact, come to Glue. Seriously. (last sidenote: don’t just take my word for it, ask Pete Warden or Sameer Patel, or Zoli Erdos about the kinds of interactions you can expect.)

Time for thinking big

January 22, 2009     |     posted by gluecon

Layoffs, conference cancellations, doom and gloom – all just another day in the life of the tech world, right?

After a early morning phone conversation with my old partner-in-crime Andre Durand, I’m reminded of the 2001-2002 time period (when Andre and I started working together). You know what we did during that recession? We thought BIG; we dreamed BIG. We started an identity conference when it made absolutely no sense to do so. We started working on a problem (identity) that was so big that we were literally innovating from zero.

The best startups I know right now are focused on two simultaneous paths: 1) get to profitability fast; 2) focus on the next big problem in their space. Number 1 is obvious, and everyone immediately nods in agreement. Number 2 often leaves boards and bystanders going “huh?”

The truth is that THIS is the time for innovation. Two years ago, when every business plan was a “me-too” wasn’t. Two years ago was the time to really drive toward profitability. Not that you don’t want that now (you do), but don’t forget that innovation is best done when your entire environment is a wasteland. Now is the time to go “crush it” (hat tip to Gary V.). Where “crushing it” isn’t simply a sale process; crushing it means figuring out what your customers will want before they know it. It means opening up new markets, not simply tapping existing ones.

Why is this true? Because innovation takes time. Lots and lots of time (sweat, blood, tears, etc). If you wait until the economy turns to innovate, you’ll miss the next cycle. If you wait to *create* the next great software market, you’ll be launching as we enter the next recession. You need to start RIGHT NOW. Then, 2-3 years from now, you can look up and know that you’re well positioned to take advantage of the next cycle.

And yes, it is ALL about cycles. Success in the software industry is as much about riding cycles as anything else. Cycles are easy and predictable. Step one: if everyone thinks something is a the key to the “next cycle of innovation” it isn’t. Step two: dare to dream big. Step three: create your next market and ride the cycle (by altering your original vision as the market kicks back in). Step four: when people start talking about how “it’s different this time” (real estate, private equity, web 2.0, whatever), prepare for the downturn. Step five: repeat.

So, what is one of the next big cyclical trends? Glue.

The premise is really quite simple: everything (inside, outside and around the enterprise, as well as the consumer software space) is going to move onto the web as platform over the next 10-15 years. Yes, everything (see, I’m being bold and thinking big). When everything moves to the web that creates a ton of problems from both an infrastructural and architectural sense.

From an infrastructure perspective, it means that companies like Mashery and Gnip and Boomi (all smart Glue sponsors; Glue sponsors are, by definition, smart) are going to focus on the severe problems that “living in the API” brings. We can’t even begin to quantify what those problems are yet – but we’re smart enough to know that it’s big and it’s there.

From an architectural perspective, it means companies like Socialcast, MindTouch, and Ping Identity (and other Glue sponsors) are going to be trying to figure out how problems of data integration, context across apps, and *true* web oriented architecture will change EVERYTHING about software (and architectural deployment) in the enterprise. From purchasing to business process to implementation, nothing will be untouched. Nothing.

Big statements. Lots of black and white, right? Don’t mistake “big black and white statements” for certainty. That’s not it. Rather, it’s a recognition that there is a train coming down the tech tracks that is unstoppable. You can get on board, or you can get run over. Getting on board doesn’t mean that we’ve solved anything. It means that we collectively understand the problem, and that that problem is the fertile ground of innovation.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the cloud business, the data integration business, the identity business, or whatever – the truth is that the changes that Glue outlines provide the “hope and change” that will drive the real innovation of the *next* cycle.

Either you can step aside and ride this current cycle down. Or you can realize that a new one will begin, and help us define what that means. Don’t wait for someone else to give you a moniker for the next go-around. Come and join us over here today. ;-)