A weekly article or story that winds me up is always worth a retort - check it out here.
InternetWeek, October 10th, 2001: Article called: Post-Napster File Sharing on the Rise, by Mike Koller.
You gotta see this! "A new survey by Jupiter Media Metrix shows that while unique users of the Napster application plunged by nearly half -- 49 percent -- between March and August this year, users of file-swapping applications other than Napster increased by 492 percent. "
Napster is past it's sell-by date. Even when the public eye caught hold of it, there were 30 or more other services that do "P2P" file sharing without a centralized database service (that Napster uses). In other words, there were other decentralized file sharing servers that have no fixed address. If you throw in the mix open source, you have a recipe for disaster. After all, who was the beneficiary of the government ruling to shut down Napster? The artist? The consumer? Or the distribution and marketing companies? See here some interesting facts (and fiction) about where the money goes, when you buy a CD. You might think that you re "supporting" your favorite artist - well think again!
This is a great example of the "new economy" being established under our very noses and the best of our leaders don't even see it. Or smell it! And if an open source P2P file sharing service is "out there", then no legal argument or paper can shut it down. The Internet encourages self-organizing systems - and consumers of MP3 files serviced by such tools are just that!
Napster is dead. Long live Napster. But what of the Sons of Napster, and the Grandsons of Napster?
Line56, September 6th, 2001: Article called: Cause and Effect, by Bill Robins.
For once, I have nothing to criticize about an article! I am praising it most heartedly. What I wanted to comment on was that it is clear where web services and P2P technology converge. If I understand correctly, web services are supposed to be granular components that reside on a hosted service, whereby a company will access it in order to compliment or replace part or all of a business process. For example, if I am a manufacturer of something, and I "do" Customer Order Management, I might want to do a credit check. In stead of having to use my own native credit checking system I might use a web service that is available that connects to other web services in order to verify a potential customer and their credit worthiness. Likewise, if I "do" demand forecasting at my factory for sales to prospective customers, I might pay to use a web service that provides me some input to the process such as "impacts of weather for the next 60 days," if that were applicable to my business, of course.
I think that P2P and web services will converge. And they will converge at the gates of the enterprise.
P2P is all about companies sharing:
Files (like Napster)
Resources such as spare CPU processing (like seti@home)
Business Processes (like CPFR, www.cpfr.org)
However, most efforts to date associated to building B2B and enterprise solutions exploiting P2P have focused on just that - the whole solution. For example, how might I do forecasting taking advantage of P2P? How might I do order management taking advantage of P2P? One could describe Peer to Peer today as being targeted at PC's. If we look at the processes that take place inside an organization and review which lend themselves to P2P, we can see that there will be several classes of business process that can use and/or exploit P2P technology:
Some business processes are shared by definition and qualify as P2P business processes. Examples here are CPFR (www.cpfr.org) for collaborative business and product replenishment planning, as well collaborative product design
Some can use file sharing techniques but the process themselves are not share. Examples here are RFQ/RFP in the realm of sourcing, where there are two discrete "send and Respond" cycles that converge. This is the same as for Customer Order Management and Purchasing: they are two halves of the same coin. For a process to qualify as a true P2P business process, it needs to be reversible; it has to be a client as well as a server at the same time. In the way that file sharing systems acts as clients (I am looking for a file, for a customer order) they need to act as servers (you can look at my system for a file, for a customer order). Clearly, Customer Order Management and Purchasing systems as we know them today fall short of this definition
Some can use resources sharing techniques. Examples here might be doing complex mathematical processing that can be carved up into discrete chunks of work
The following graphic shows these three models and in fact where web services and P2P converge:
Admittedly this is a shameful Microsoft view of this convergence, but I am convinced that the convergence will take place and I am guessing that it will be via Microsoft's .Net strategy that it will happen first.
The last comment concerns what will happen then? My guess is that the market will experience a tremendous boon period where everyone will think that all business processes will lend them selves to being re-engineered as a web service. This might be the next major tech market growth cycle. However, before it gets too hyped, losers of the last B2B hype cycle will realize that even though many business processes lend themselves to the web services technology, not everyone will use them!
For example, in the last B2B cycle many companies thought that all core strategic business processes would be operated on a centralizing net market model. Now, after the crash, CEO's are realizing that this was complete folly. Who in their right mind would consign their competitive differentiation methods and models to a common platform on which their mortal enemies could replicate them at will? It turns out that smaller companies who cannot afford, or have the time to build, extranets, will pay for such services but not medium to large companies who's whole existence is predicated on competitive differentiation.
Same for web services. Some web services, the first wave if you will, are likely to focus on mass adoption in order to make successful companies and make good on their investment in the technology. These will therefore appeal to the majority of companies and will be commodity type business processes or components. Later, as strategic differentiation comes to the fore, web services will be applied to server-to-server, or extranet-to-extranet models. This will be the second phase.
Some people actually describe P2P as "computing at the edge of the network." I don't subscribe to this line of thinking as I maintain that by establishing a series of overlays of P2P networks, you virtually eliminate the "edge" as it is perceived today. Today the edge of the Internet is your server or desktop and it has one connection to the web - and the web acts as the pipeline to other servers and PC's. With P2P, you are a client and server at the same time, connected directly with other client and servers - and the very idea of a central web goes away. Instead of a web where there is a great density in the middle, the density is evenly spread, or at leas
TechWeb, August 30th, 2001: Article called: Ford Supply Net moving to Covisint, by Chuck Moozakis, with follow up here.
So what? Read the whole story and you get to see that this is nothing more than a glorified outsourcing deal. Ford is NOT using Covisint for their strategic business processes; they are using their own private network simply hosted on the Covisint platform. It sure is good news for Covisint, but not the see-change some might have hoped for. This is being called a "virtual private exchange".
So what is a "virtual private exchange"? What does this mean for the likes of Covisint, Transora, WWRE and other behemoths? A VPE is where (for example) Transora would host all private networks (not services - as that would provide too much commonality for each competitor). And so now Transora members would view Covisint as an outsourcing agent! However, think about this… If they all host their own technology, it’s a spaghetti soup for integration. If they start to use the same technology, it them looks like a public service again and they are back where they ended up with the current "private versus public" argument. Therefore, the conclusion is still the same:
The Ford thing is interesting (if it happens...) as it could be a new commitment to making the "common good" platform a viable company. However, they are not resolving yet the "spaghetti soup v competitive strategy" issue just yet….
InfoWorld, August 24th, 2001: Article called: Driving Collaboration, by Ephraim Schwartz.
"Portal Integration Platform" is what Covisint is to offer over and above public auctions. That's code for integrating co-located/hosted private exchanges. Ooo so strategic.... A CTO that dances - great article - for what it does not say rather than for what it does. He is asked how Covisint will provide competitive advantage. He dances and does not give any facts.
"Although Covisint has the three largest automakers as members, there is competition from supplier trade exchanges and other automakers as well. How will you use technology as a competitive advantage?"
"CTM Vasconi: Two things for competitive advantage: One, all of our companies are early adopters, and in this space, an early adopter has an advantage over those who wait. Although there is some element of experimentation, they are learning now and positioning themselves to play off the strengths. Others trying to do build-to-order with a marketplace are going to be left in the wings and will have to be playing catch-up, and while they do that, we will be working on the second generation. Part of it is a time-to-market play. In terms of technology, we don't have a silver bullet but an extremely strong portfolio of scalable and robust technology to support an industry as large as ours. This is Internet and standards-based, but we are going into this with full knowledge it has to be robust, scalable, and cost-effective, and this is a significant advantage over someone who doesn't understand that."
He starts off by promising two answers - then proceeds to give only only. He seems to forget that anything that is "Internet and standards based" will interoperate - hence Peer to Peer (shared business processes versus shared files) will dominate over centralized, controlling models. Duh!
IDG.NET InfoWorld, August 27th, 2001: Article called, "Extended ERP reborn in b-to-b by Heather Harreld.
Writer suggests that ERP was trashed as the dinosaur of the old economy as the new took off. Now reports from users and vendors are coming on of savings from the use of those dinosaur ERP systems that are not leveraging some of the new Internet technology. In a nutcase, this is the value proposition: take a centralizing ERP system that seeks to reconcile an enterprise's data (including Inventory Control) and slap a browser on the end and send a User ID and Password to your remote customers. Customers, if they have enough time in the day, can now log onto your system and check on inventory levels (if they are suitably allocated or stored in phantom inventory locations so that they don't pinch someone else's inventory) and order status. Great! So what! Is this what we have all been waiting for? Is this what the new economy is about? This is nothing more than a has-been business model (ERP) seeking to extends its moribund life cycle by adding simple glitzy features that add incremental benefit. Sure, its useful but it pales into insignificance when you consider what is being done in the real B2B. Those companies that plan to spend their limited, hard earned dollars on these low-hanging fruit should be warned: their doom is already being written and they don't even know it. New, new, NEW business processes that completely eradicate old value chains is the name of the game and that is where winners play for keeps. Sharing "self-service" inventory inquiry screens is one small step for man, and an even smaller step for business-kind.
CNET News.com website, June 26th, 2001: Article called, "Covisint CEO to holdouts: Divided we fall" by Reuters.
Non-automotive CEO calls for BMW and others who are not in the exchange to join else they might lose momentum and fall back into the fragmented ways of doing things as before.
This guy has to be a few nuts short of a screw! The public model of mortal enemies loving it up to the betterment of the consumer and be dammed to the shareholders is as dumb as me or you thinking that we will get a date with Brittany Spears. Please. After 12 months of business, they transacted a couple million dollars of indirect materials; DaimlerChrysler DID take advantage of the network to make some large purchases but that makes sense: the smaller guy in the pecking order is always motivated to work with bigger guys who offer to share the burden; note that Ford, within the same week, said they would never move their steel purchasing to Covisint as it represents strategic competitive advantage. Hello!
This ONLY makes sense if Covisint bellies up and says publicly that it will focus on indirect material procurement and not on game-changing business models that threaten the status quo.
EMarketect website, May 11th, 2001: Article called "Analysis: Collaboration or Cartel?" by Martin Butler, of the Butler Group. His main argument centered on the following:
Collaborative commerce is being used to support relationships between these [new] super-heavy dinosaurs that look set to dominate the global economy. Through collaboration, the relationships between organizations become very close, such that open competition becomes impossible. The relationships are getting too cozy, with a tacit understanding that membership of this super league confers the right to collaborate in a very intimate manner
I have to say that this person is completely out of touch with what is happening in the real world! Let's look at two key issues here: are competitors collaborating and if so, for what purpose? Does GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler collaborate (or corroborate, for that matter)? I would suggest (and human nature [read: evolution] is on my side) that they might collaborate on any activity that does not materially (in their view) change the competitive landscape. Why would a (perceived) leader share their (again, perceived) dominant so-and-so with a lesser enemy? They would not - unless that executive that supported that wanted to eliminate themselves from the executive gene pool pretty sharpish! However, the smaller of the two companies would be motivated to insight such activity as it is through that avenue they might improve their position relative to the larger competitor. Duh! So where is collaboration taking place for real? Between those that are BOTH motivated to make it work: buyers and sellers, customer and supplier! Man, do I have to make this more plain! Some people are just so full of s**t that they can't see the wood for the trees! That is where collaboration makes sense. Any collaboration between competitors is likely to be very short-term. A cartel might happen in any industry (Internet enabled or otherwise) but that is collusion - not collaboration. Collaborative Commerce, as Martin Bulter proposes is here, in his paper, being used as an excuse to get some web space to show that he is a forward thinking person. Whatever the Butler Group does, I would suggest that it is not focused on understanding what is really taking place in B2B collaboration.
Industry Standard, May 8th, 2001: Larry Ellison's words of wisdom on "the post b-2-b revolution" - why Oracle seems to have been a victor in a "survival of the fittest" battle: "B-to-b should not be a new industry," he adds. "It's just conventional software companies using the Internet to make people buy and sell more efficiently." Delboy says: ask not what the country can do for you, but what you can do for your country! What a complete jerk. Try reading "The Innovators Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. I can't wait for Oracle to mess up their numbers. Why do great companies fail? And fail they do. He seems to think that he is untouchable. He seems to think that the battle is over. This is not the beginning of the end for the B2B race; this is but the end of the beginning. Those early, slip-shod business models that HE professed earlier have been proven to be (for the most part) a false dawn. Wait another year. Maybe two. Then we shall see where "ERP" lives; then we shall see where CRM lives; then we shall see who the winner will be in B2B. It won't be Oracle. It might be SAP if they acquire Commerce One. It might be i2....
Informationweek, April 9th, 2001: Steering Around the Wreckage - a review of Covisint's chances of success. Delboy says I doubt it. Let's face it, any company that is over 12 months old that does not have a permanent CEO does not look like a safe bet. I bet all would-be CEO's are all trying to secure a safety net but the powers that be want to prevent that as it would look like a sign of weakness. And then again, Covisints' core business model is to be the main virtual market place for buyers and sellers to do business. So why is it that Ford continues to buy core materials via is Private Exchange - and DaimlerChrysler likewise! And then again, in the most recent (and fourth) quarter, Covisint has processed $350 million of business, mostly for maintenance, repair and operational supplies (that included toilet rolls.) Duh! Why would anyone do anything that threatens an implied dominant position? Double duh!
August 2002 - Adapted from Software Developments' article, Agile Manifesto, see here some tips to building an agile process for rapid software delivery. Download the zipped PowerPoint. (file=25k)
July 27th 2002 - American Pie 2 available to download off web sites; P2P technology runs madhouse; Napster was but the tip of the iceberg and Titanic is headed straight for it! Yahoo story about pirated file sharing.