Enterprise 2.0 – Social Computing

In 1999, Rick Levine, Christopher LockeDoc Searls, and David Weinberger in their “The Cluetrain Manifesto”, wrote

“A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter – and getting smarter faster than most companies.

Amongst their theses, the authors proposed the exploring of the intranets within the organizations, theorizing that intranets re-established real communication amongst employees in parallel with the impact of the internet to the marketplace (thesis 48) which will lead to a ‘hyperlinked’ organizational structure within the organization which will take the place of (or be utilized in place of) the formally documented organization chart.

Ten years on, easy connections brought about by cheap devices, modular content, and shared computing resources are having a profound impact on our global economy and social structures, fundamentally changing the way we do business. Driven by the network, communication / collaboration tools flourishing on the web, tools like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, have changed not only how we communicate with our customers and stakeholders but also how we organize ourselves. Institutional sources like corporations, media outlets, religions, and political bodies have declined in significance with individuals increasingly take cues from one another rather than from these previous mass media outlets.

A History Of Social Ties

Social computing traces its origins to the research done in 1973 by Mark Granovetter, a sociologist now at Stanford.

Granovetters’ great insight was “The Strength of Weak Ties” (SWT) in which he proclaimed that it was weak ties which might actually be the more important ones for innovation and knowledge sharing.

Strong ties and weak ties are exactly what they sound like. Strong ties between people arise from long-term, frequent, and sustained interactions; weak ties from infrequent and more casual ones. The ‘problem’ with strong ties is that if persons A and B have a strong tie, they’re also likely to be strongly tied to all members of each other’s networks. This leads to redundancy in ideas since members tend to think alike. Weak ties however are relationships between members of different groups. These lead to a diversity of ideas as they tie together separate modes of thought.

SWT’s conclusions were that strong ties were unlikely to be bridges between networks, whilst weak ties were good bridges. These bridges helped solve problems, gather information, and import unfamiliar ideas. They help get work done quicker and better. Subsequent research has explored whether Granovetter’s hypotheses and conclusions apply within companies, and they appear to be quite robust. Weak ties have been known to help product development groups accomplish projects faster, reduce information search costs as well as greater innovation in the workplace.

Thus the ideal network for a current day knowledge worker probably consists of a core of strong ties and a large periphery of weak ones. Because weak ties by definition don’t require a lot of effort to maintain, there’s no reason not to form a lot of them (as long as they don’t come at the expense of strong ties). This is why social computing is coming to an Enterprise near you.

The Coming Era of Social Computing

According to Andrew McAfee Associate Professor, Harvard Business School, Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers. This technology has the potential to radically changed the way people interact with both information and one another on the Internet. What’s the value? It’s the ability to more efficiently generate, self-publish, and find information, plus share expertise in a way that’s so much easier and cheaper than earlier knowledge management attempts.

Corporate SNS lets users build a network of friends, keep abreast of what that network is up to, and even exploit it by doing things like posting a question that all friends will see all within the confines of the enterprise itself. These activities are especially highly valuable where the company is large and/or geographically distributed one where you can’t access all colleagues just by bumping into them in the hallway.

This new paradigm is about considering people as the engines of the organization and their knowledge and social capital as the fuel. A new kind a fuel that can’t be stocked, replaced or substitutable by a commodity or cheaper means of production. It’s also about a new way of looking at business. Like Lew Platt Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard said “If HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times as profitable.”.

The subsequent posts will address this field of social computing and how large enterprises are managing this transition.


HP ProBooks Launched In Pakistan

Philip Lau, General manager, Asia Emerging Countries, Personal Systems Group, HP.
Philip Lau, General manager, Asia Emerging Countries, Personal Systems Group, HP.

I recently participated at the HP launch of their new brand of affordable notebook PCs, at the Karachi Avari, that merges business functionality with sophisticated design – the HP ProBook. The HP ProBook series joins the award-winning HP EliteBook series to form one of the most versatile business notebook portfolios in the industry.

The new HP ProBook family, is a low-cost business notebook designed specifically for small and medium businesses. Translation: this desktop replacement notebook has a good balance of performance, security, reliability and extras all at an affordable price.

HP Probook
HP Probook

First Look

Inspired by minimalism, the design of the new HP ProBook series combines matte and glossy surfaces while stripping out the extraneous, leaving only a stylish and clean look. The Probook is also distinguished by a choice of merlot or glossy noir finishes, a unique keyboard design and a set of professional innovations previously found only on higher-priced models.

The outer shell of the screen casing, like the rest of the notebook, is made of plastic. The lid is made of reflective, glossy plastic with the HP and ProBook logos printed in silver. The laptop screen housing it is a mixture of firm and flexible materials.

The full-size keyboard is a new design that HP has unveiled with the launch of the ProBook series. The keyboard provides extra spacing between the individual keys to help reduce typos and even includes a dedicated number pad (a major plus for businesses that use their computers for number crunching or data entry). Each key is relatively flat with a nice matte texture and the keys sit above a glossy black support frame. The support frame surrounding the keys is quite firm thanks to the design of the chassis which adds additional support for the keyboard. The only obvious area of flex in the keyboard is when you press on the number pad keys. Usability is the same as with traditional keyboards and the raised surface means fewer places for dirt and dust to hide making it easy to clean and more maintenance free than ever before.

HP Professional Innovations

HP Professional Innovations included on the ProBook s-series include:

1. HP QuickLook 2 software, which provides access to e-mail, calendar, task and contact information within seconds at the touch of a button.

2. The HP SpareKey feature addresses the hassle of forgotten passwords by using a sequence of three predetermined personal identification questions to gain immediate entry into the system.

3. For added data security, File Sanitizer for HP Protect Tools permanently deletes individual files, folders and personally identifiable information from the notebook, which also allows customers to recycle the notebook with confidence that their business data has been removed.

Pricing and availability

HP ProBook - Black
HP ProBook - Black

Estimated street pricing in Pakistan begins at a little over Rs.60,000. The glossy noir (black) option is available now and the merlot color option will be available from August.

The standard series (s-series) of the new HP ProBook models incorporate a mercury-free design, and features high-definition (HD) LED backlit displays in a choice of 13.3-inch, 14-inch, 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch diagonal widescreen sizes.

See Tuesday’s Flickr Page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tuesdaydigital/ for more pictures of the event.

Green Computing – How Green Is Your Computer?

How Green Is Your Computer?
Published Dawn, Images, July 13th, 2009

These days it’s hard to move anywhere without being urged to make ‘green’ changes in your lifestyle. To answer these consumer trends, computer manufacturers worldwide have embarked to align business concerns with the broader issue of greening the environment. There is


cause for concern. IT’s CO2 emissions have been estimated to be at 2 percent of the world’s total, thus the entire community is waking up to the challenge of sustainable development.

At the manufacturing level, leading firms such as HP especially are improving their processes, accounting for environmental impact, operational impact and end-of-life impact for their full range of products. They try to do this by minimizing harm ‘before’ use by employing cleaner, leaner sourcing and manufacturing techniques, by designing products that consume less energy and materials ‘during’ use and helping with reuse and recycling ‘after’ use. This is why the new devices (esp. based on Intel Atom Chipsets) are highly energy efficient and form factors across the board have been reduced greatly.

Thin Clients
HP Thin Clients

Corporations too are joining this trend, as being green serves the twin advantages of catering to consumer sentiments and business profitability. One way businesses are becoming greener e.g. are via using ‘thin-clients’. This is a setup where you have a low-power device on your desktop instead of a PC Processor box and all the work takes place at a central server or data center. This can take a lot of hassle out of desktop computing (and resulting maintenance, upkeep, etc), increases security (since all updates are at the center), is economical and requires minimal upgrades, since the average life-span of such a setup is around 8 years.

Another area enterprises are addressing is their servers. It has been estimated that worldwide most servers never run beyond 30% of their capacity and though more powerful than desktop machines, this is not utilizing them for their full potential. To address this challenge, virtualization software has been introduced which allows centers to double the amount of work done by the same servers. This allows businesses to halve the total number of devices and decrease environmental impact as well.

Green IT is also taking place at home e.g. a standard PC can consume around 350 watts (that’s ~1800 watts for 6 hours usage daily @ a minimal Rs. 7.5 per KW). With increasing awareness & electricity prices, consumers are now investing in products which use

All-In-One PC
HP All-In-One PC

less power, give off less heat and are recyclable or made of renewable materials like bamboo. These include new forms such as netbooks, ‘All In One PCs’, Ultra-portables and ECO PCs (less than 100 Watts consumption). There’s also a side benefit to this. Unlike traditional devices, these products fit anywhere in the home.

Net Result – Mobility Computing In Pakistan

Net Result
Published Dawn, Sci-tech, Jul 5th, 2009

Pakistan was recently host to two occurrences that herald an oncoming revolution in how we will compute and communicate with our world. One was the launch of the new line of HP MINI Netbooks (just recently announced in May at the ‘Touch the Future, Now’ conference in Beijing) which aim to bring in a new level of portability & operability to the Pakistani user. The other was the launch of the Nokia flagship Nokia N97 ‘Mobile Computer’. Both products are trying to satisfy the same need “to have something small, portable, and inexpensive (mostly) with you that is always connected” to the Internet.


Netbook PCs are miniature versions of notebooks that keep cost to a minimum. The new ones come with 10.1 inch screens, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB HD and enough power to hit a sweet spot for both consumer and business users. Their main attraction is their low price (less than PKR 30,000), followed by full QWERTY keyboards that approach (if not quite match) standard laptop arrangements, whilst their portability and ability to run most common applications mean that many people can leave a heavier notebook behind.

On the other hand, Smartphones, defined as phones which run complete operating system software and provide a standardized interface and platform, have offered mobile office applications for years including tasks such as document editing, e-mail, and web browsing. These now promise to usher in an era of mass-personalization, adjusting to the world around us, helping stay us consistently connected to the people and things that matter most.

The battle for the supremacy of being the new client-side interface to the web thus begins soon as netbooks and smartphones start replacing traditional PCs in homes and offices. Here let us the clarify what’s the fuss about towards becoming the most popular device to connect to the net – the device with the highest number of users will attract application developers from both consumer & business segments, gaming companies, advertising revenue, entertainment content, data pipes, etc. It will thus create the digital ecosystem around which we will work, live and play and massive markets & revenues for the companies which own these devices.

This however is not an easy task. The Pakistani data market is still in infancy stages. We have less than 300,000 broadband connections, whilst on the mobile side, voice still accounts for over 92% of the revenues of local mobile operators and data services are currently growing at only 2% per year. Combine this with low literacy, lack of local content development, lack of broadband awareness campaigns, QOS levels and provision of low interest loans for purchase of computers and these affect the development of mobile computing in the country adversely. Even in face of these adversities however, desk-bound PCs stand to lose their dominance as the main access point for the net –fast, since all the trends point to a mobile environment dominating our part of the world and soon.

The first trend is the push by wireless broadband companies and mobile network operators. The WiMax companies hope to provide ubiquitous coverage throughout Pakistan as close as 2011, whilst a leading company is already thinking of adding net-books plans to their existing offerings, plunging the cost of a netbook further. Mobile carriers are also actively pushing for consumers to start using data plans, driving rates to as low as Rs. 500 per month for unlimited data usage.

Secondly as compared to the current total of 5 million PCs not all which are net enabled, there are around 5 million phones in Pakistan which are EDGE/GPRS enabled and these are growing at a brisk pace as income levels across Pakistan rise, whilst cost of hardware falls. Local operators are now expecting their revenues from data to grow, as the subscriber’s appetite for mobile based content has been increasing every year. Going beyond a ring tone, wallpaper, SMS or a theme, they are now on a look out for great content and applications. One challenge which currently restricts this from taking off however is the absence of standards.

Originally uploaded by romainguy

Optimizing mobile applications for different OS and broad range of mobile devices with varying screen sizes and versions remains the biggest problem for both the mobile content developers and distributers. However, an upcoming step taken in this direction is the new Google’s Android platform that unites the players of mobile ecosystem such as wireless operators, handset manufacturers and developers all at one place. Android’s software stack will provide developers a complete access to handset capabilities and tools that will enable them to build more compelling and innovative applications for the mobile consumers. It’s noticing this trend that Nokia has made Symbian Open Source and hopes to counter Google’s influence in the manner.

Thirdly, SMEs, the over 1 million small companies in Pakistan, are starting to push the trend towards cloud and mobile computing, unlocking increases in productivity that a mobile revolution promises. These businesses desire the benefits of enterprise solutions to grow further, but simply can’t afford the custom-based solutions common to large companies because there aren’t enough users to spread the cost of developing proprietary apps. However, provide a smart-phone with a built in web-browser like ‘Opera’ to each of the employees and suddenly cost-effective mobile applications are very much possible for the sales force, field employees, in store employees, for fleet management purposes, finance, operations management and more. With the power of the full web available today and with business apps and web front-ends for ERP, CRM and other business critical systems on a mobile phone, the flexibility and the economies to propel Pakistani small businesses into the digital age are very much possible. Similarly, by deploying a VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) technology — which runs the local machine’s desktop from a remote server – businesses can use a netbook for everything, including accessing content stored on other machines, thereby decreasing the costs of IT hardware and improving productivity no end.

HP Mini 110 - White
HP Mini 110 - White

Fourthly, we have seen the digital convergence in our country which is bringing together the separate worlds of audio, video, data and voice communication services, giving control of the entertainment and media content to the consumer. Already today (to a limited extent) we can access the services and content (e-mail, television) using different terminals over different types of networks. Thus the borders between fixed-line and wireless mobile networks are disappearing.

Looking five years out, with netbooks continuing to improve in quality with better graphics abilities, these will move towards true laptops in features whilst connected to faster data networks whilst smart phones dominating the landscape will marry the best features and capabilities of the computing and communications worlds, which will transform the user experience, bringing incredible changes to what we call our life.

Hp Strategy Presentation

See Chin Tek talks about the transformation happening at HP at the conference “Touch The Future Now”, held at Ritz Carlton, Beijing, China. I took pictures of the presentation and have uploaded it with his speech as a slidecast.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Hp Strategy Presentation“, Audio Recorded via Nokia N82

Hp ‘Touch The Future, Now’ Design Presentation

HP’s Design Presentation

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Hp Design Keynote Presentation“, posted with vodpod

HP ‘Touch The Future, Now’ was held in May, 2009 in Beijing, China, where they launched several products, including the HP Mini 110 netbook, the HP Pavillion MS200 all-in-one Desktop PC, an upgraded HP DV2 notebooks, and some new HP ProBooks. The conference served as a wonderful opportunity to better understand as to what makes HP tick, and what their philosophy is when it comes to deciding what kind of product to design and create.

This was delivered by Stacy Wolff, Director Notebook Design & Randall Martin, Director Desktop Design.

The Story of Design

The Story of Design

Photograph: Shot With Nokia N82

This image is from the HP ‘A Touch of Future’ Conference being held in Beijing. HP aims to launch its next gen. products after this conference.

HP is pushing product design goals for higher connection to individuals:

* Use of classic form – giving birth to simple, iconic designs
* Use of rich materials – rich surfaces with authentic metals; color personalization at entry-level
* Going small – small footprint and streamlined designs
* Experience made simple – better integration of hardware and software

HP is moving forward with the ‘Emotional Connections To The Brand’.