Google released an update today that enables you to use your Google Voice account right within GMail to call other numbers. Unfortunately it does not work for Google Apps users. Seriously, we are cutting edge and promoting/bragging about Google Apps.. and yet you make us suffer. sigh
The HTC Evo has been a great phone so far.. Sure, the battery started out sucking, but it appears to be stabalizing and yesterday I got a solid 13 hours out of it. That includes using the tethering option on the bus to work for an hour.. and about 40 minutes on the ride home.
OK, I’ve really tried to giv e Google Buzz a run and see how useful it can be. My problem is two fold. First is the lack of integration into my GAFYD (Google Apps for Your Domain) email, the second is lack of integration into the linked sites.
GAFYD: Lack of integration is a source of constant frustration with this tool. I personally love the Email, Docs, Calendar. Don’t want to give it up. The problem is feeling like a second class citizen because GAFYD does not include things like Reader, Voice or now Buzz. (sure it’s coming.. but..) What is the purpose of that little checkbox on the dashboard to get new features if we REALLY don’t get things early? or at all?
Without Buzz being integrated into my REAL email account, it forces me to go to yet another location for information. I now have Google Reader, Twitter, Buzz, Email, Facebook.. hmm.. too many. It isn’t really a solution to fix that problem and just caused a NEW location to look. If it was part of my email, it might be ok.
LACK OF TIE IN TO LINKED SITE: My second beef is the lack of tie in back to the social site. If I am following someone on Buzz, they post something on Twitter.. then I have to either respond in Buzz, and people using Buzz can see it. The problem is the loss of conversation on Twitter? I have now moved conversation from the main site (where presumably MOST people follow) to Buzz, where it is a parasite, leaching the good value off to allow itself to live. Had it not been for the host, Buzz wouldn’t exist.. hell, even parasites provide SOME value back to their host (like cleaning bacteria, etc).. Buzz is just migrating traffic from other sites to their own! If you are building a nice following on Twitter, it is detrimental to your core group of followers.. unless they all use Buzz.
Here is how I keep track of things. I’d be interested to know if others have found Buzz to be useful in a way to help consolidate my current sources of news.
Google Reader: I use this for my blog reading and following. This link is to my shared items.. but I keep track of around 40 blogs. It is a lot per day.. I need to find a way to remove dupes… too many people post the same news.
Twitter: I have found this to be a great source of news. I use Twitter to keep up with things.. not typically to reach out or communicate. I’m a consumer, not a producer.
ReadTwit: I use Readtwit to pull links from Twitter into my RSS feeds. This helps me while on the bus and using Google Reader on my iPhone. It finds links in the posts of people I follow on Twitter, pulls in the content and makes an RSS feed for me. Nicely integrated.
Any additional news consumption is through random surfing, reading or links emailed to me. My open question then is this. How does Buzz help? I would like to benefit from a tool.. I just don’t find this one useful.
Evernote Blog Post
Everyone and their brother is posting articles about how they use Evernote. For god sakes, we know you can keep notes in it people. We know you can post pictures in it.. please give me insight in to how you integrate into your daily routine! I’d love to learn more ways to be productive with it.. but your lack of detail kills me! I want to learn good information from you.. not that you have 7 ways to tell me what I already know. I am being selfish. you have figured out how to use Evernote.. I want you to share! 🙂
This is going to be a fairly short little post, but after a couple discussions recently with some other people, it is still amazing to me how many managers don’t know how to manage a team properly. The experiences I have been hearing about all resonated with me based on my own past.
First off, let me say that as professionals in our fields, we all recognize the times where it is crunch time.. go time.. the time to put your head down, focus on your work to completion.. no matter what it takes. Those are the make or break opportunities in our own fields, the ones that get us the big deals.. the ones that impress big clients.. the ones that meet a critical deadline. As a manager, you hope to have team members who recognize these times and do the right thing without you having to ask. That is what helps create a great team.. and one that truly will gel over time with these experiences. Now.. as a manager, don’t confuse this with always expecting your team to work long hours, weekends and holidays.. on a regular basis. If your team is ALWAYS overworked, working long hours, weekends or constantly taking on random tasks…there is a systemic problem in your organization. You will succeed in the short term with some wins.. but fail in the long-term. You will fail to deliver long-term sustainable results. You will fail to retain quality employees. You will fail to recruit new good candidates as word spreads. You, as a manager.. will have failed. You failed yourself, your team and your company.
As a manager you also need to manage the tasks coming in to your team appropriately. Being the manager that never says no to upper management does not make you successful. If it is putting your teams ability to succeed at risk, you are failing. There are two areas I see this happen. The first is in sheer volume. (see first rant above) If you are taking on more work than your team can handle, and expecting them to “suck it up”, you will fail. The second way this occurs is with managers who don’t know what the capabilities of their team really are. Some managers take on ANY task and expect good people to just make it work.
If you truly give someone a task that is out of their skill set, hoping they will grow with the task, you may have just set them up to fail. If you can provide proper education, training or assistance, it could be for the better. If you don’t enable their success, you just asked them to fail. The problem is, many managers will have good people who they just expect to succeed. Nobody can do EVERYTHING well. There are limits. Take a solid project manager and try to make them do customer account management across multiple large customers with big projects. While at surface level.. it is someone tracking and delivering goods on a timeline.. they are two different disciplines.
Lastly, if you are hiring a manager for a group from outside the company into an organization, have a transition plan for the newly hired manager. Please take the time to think about how this person will succeed or fail. What is your plan to ramp up this individual on your products? Do they come in as an individual contributor before taking on a management role? How do you expect this to impact the team? Was there someone on the team that may have felt they should have received a promotion and that management slot? If so, have you talked to the team to let them know why you went the path you did? Have you clearly laid out a career path for your employees that will help them meet their goals and not feel slighted by this new hire? How do you plan on educating the rest of the organization on the new hire’s role in the organization. Educate the current team on the reasons you hired the new person.. what is their background, skill set, etc. By all means, if you can make them part of the interview loop.. do so.
Anyway.. just a quick little rant. I’ve had too many discussion with people lately who are bringing up similar stories. Lucky for me these are really not part of my current organization.. but clearly I have had these things happen to me in the past through direct contact or close ties and the great stories that inevitably follow.
Work should and can be fun, you just need to be set up to succeed. If your manager is not helping to enable your success, you should be concerned.
One final tip for managers: You will go MUCH farther and do MUCH better by setting your team up to succeed with flying colors time and time again… vs. the manager that is trying to make him/her self look good to upper management. Do the right thing for YOUR employees; Their success will drive long-term sustainable wins for your customers, your company and your employees. Your management team will surely recognize the solid team you have built and maintained. That is what will drive YOUR success.
I have these talks time and time again with people about the state of application development in mobile. It is hard. No matter how many people get excited about the buzz of applications on the iPhone.. no matter how many developers want their applications in an app store and no matter how many people want to buy applications, this is a challenging space.
If you are looking for the best opportunity to make a difference in people’s mobile world, you have limited options. Take away the discoverability of the apps.. and just looking at platforms. Here is my view on top bets.
Android will overtake iPhone in the next few years with the way the app stores are panning out. More manufacturers are developing handsets, new ideas are popping up all the time. With the open-ness of Android, it does not have some of the limitations Apple is putting in place. Developers still have the risk of fragmentation here, but I hope Google helps solve that at the OS level and leave the developers to solving problems for end users.
Palm Web OS is going to take better hold over time. There are a plethora of developers that can develop for this platform with a low learning curve. It will be interesting to see where this pans out.
Unless you are developing corporate applications for RIM or Windows Mobile, I would struggle to see where you will get much traction through those app stores. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to try to take on that challenge and see how it pans out.. but it will be tough for sure.
Anyway.. that is my $0.02 for where things are heading. As an application developer, getting distribution scale is a challenge to make money. People are not used to paying for web-apps yet, although as they get better and have integrated off-line use, it will be an option. I love applications, don’t get me wrong. I just think it is a challenge for developers to pick a single platform to be successful. Don’t spread yourself too thin.. it wont work.
One side note.. this is clearly a US focused post.. and not touching on Symbian, Samsungs new plans or even what Google is trying to do with “go”. I am sure we will see more interesting things come up in the next 18-36 months. OEMs, please reduce fragmentation.. don’t make it worse.
I am torn on the battle to get things to market vs. create good product. As a product manager you are always working with engineering to make trade offs. Can I get my product to market in time? Can it make it at least in time for CTIA? No.. hmm, can we cut a couple of features? No.. don’t worry.. no need to test that right now, we won’t demo that piece. Seriously.. how many times have people either been a part of this.. or used a product that they can predict is a result of this exact way of life for us. Market timing is essential in most any case. My concern for companies is really around two areas. One is what Google does. Keep everything in BETA, set expectations low yet deliver a fairly competent product. (or great in some cases). I am not saying I agree with perpetual beta.. but after a while crutches even start to rub you the wrong way. The other area where I have concern is around rushing product to market to a “release” that is not solid. In many cases you can get away with it, in most you cant. In a recent article about Smart Phones, Jim Balsillie was quoted saying that buggy phones are the “new reality“. (Another RIM Article Here) He not only admits that they got it a little wrong on their first touch screen, but most people get it wrong the first time around. The issue with this in my view is two fold. Mr. Balsillie was coming to market with his touch screen 1.5 years AFTER the killer touch screen came to market, and not only did it come late.. it had many issues with it. Sure, Apple had some serious issues with the original version however they were competing with nobody in the market with this phone. It stood alone. RIM also had a problem with RIMs stellar reputation. Sure it is good to have such a solid reputation with “enterprise class” devices, but it makes it impossible to hit the market with a flawed device without severely damaging the brand equity they had built up.
I came across this great chart showing RIMs market share in the corporate world of smartphones. Sure.. the chart shows Apple passing Palm for market share, but look at the separation between RIM and Apple. Significant yet starting on the closing trend. Why give your strongest competitor another advantage by releasing a device that is NOT ready for prime time. Sure.. I am coming down hard on RIM here but if I were in charge of the brand up there in Canada, I’d be worried about the next device. Do you come to market 6 months earlier? With Issues .. since your CEO already set the stage for you.. or do you refine it and release a knock down Apple iPhone enterprise killer to help keep your secure placement in the worlds of corporate IT gods. HTC, RIM, Microsoft, Samsung.. face it. Apple did the right thing. They drove a product through proper design and testing, they have fantastic people and you are NOT going to replace the iPhone. Find your niche and focus there. Do not lose sight of your core business… bad reputations are hard to repair.