Many companies travel a long and interesting journey. When we invested in NewsGator in 2004, RSS was just starting to emerge as a protocol and wire up much of the content on the web. At the time, it was impossible to anticipate how the web would evolve, as 2004 was a particularly low point in the evolution of venture capital and tech companies. Of course, it was also the year that Facebook was founded, which is an important thing to remember about the relationship between perception in the moment and long term reality.
A little over a decade later, mobile is dominating much of the growth of the web. Every company we are involved in is working on a mobile app. Every Fortune 1000 company I’m in touch with is focused on its mobile strategy and figuring out how to build and deploy mobile applications to its employees, many of them who are now engaging in BYOD where their personal mobile device and work mobile device is the same iPhone or Android phone.
A year and a half ago NewsGator acquired Sitrion to expand from their historical Microsoft SharePoint ecosystem product footprint to include SAP via Sitrion’s products. We decided to rebrand the company Sitrion as we liked the name better. As a hidden gem, we got the beginnings of an amazing mobile product that Sitrion had started working on.
NewsGator also had developed key mobile technology, especially for the enterprise, but with a tight dependency on SharePoint. Last year the combined product team stepped back, thought about what it had, and redefined the vision of the company around the notion of “the industrialization of mobile.”
Daniel Kraft, the CEO of Sitrion, has a very simple explanation of what the product and team addresses. Today, mobile apps are hand-crafted solutions for a specific use case. Accordingly enterprises make investments in very specific projects and just start to look for ways to mobilize their entire workforce.
Instead of building a new app for each use case, Sitrion provides the customer with one app for each platform (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) and pushes all the required services (micro-apps) to this app based on people’s roles, context or even behavior. As a result, you can create many custom apps, for specific use cases, without having to have a developer create multiple apps.
We think this will result in up to 90% reduction in development costs as you actually don’t need any OS developers. Time to market is correspondingly faster and TCO drops dramatically. Instead of an employee having 25 different company apps on their BYOD phone, they have one “container” app with 25 micro-apps.
What do you think? Are we in front of an industrialization of mobile, or are enterprises just slow and need to wait many more years for mobile being the main way things get done in large companies, just like how it’s playing out with consumer behavior?
Today on Brad Feld’s Amazing Deals I’m bringing you another offer from the online academy Udemy.com. A few months ago, Udemy was responsible for one of my most popular deals to date, a suite of deals relating to startups. Today they are offering your choice of two courses for $75 (normally $250). Pick either Learn to Develop an iPhone or iPad application in 4 weeks or Learn Python the Hard Way. Both courses include multiple videos, lectures, and code examples.
If you were one of the 100+ people that bought the last Udemy deal, I’d love to hear your feedback on the course.
I just received the “amusing email of the day” from Google. I feel like I’m in one step forward / one step back with Google Enterprise Support. If you read my two recent posts on this, you saw that I started by saying that it’s Time For Google To Get Serious About Enterprise Tech Support and I followed up with My Increasing Love Affair With Google Apps.
A few days ago, I realized that Google was no longer allowing me to enter new contacts. When I checked Contacts in Google Apps, I saw I had exactly 10,000. That triggered some neuron in my brain to fire at which point I did a – ahem – Google search and quickly found that the Apps limit is 10,000 contacts. I complained to Ross (our IT guy) who sent Google the following email:
One of our users has hit some sort of limit of 10,000 contacts – we need this increased as this user needs more than 10,000. Can you let me know how to increase this limit?
Early this morning Ross got the following response.
Thank you for your message. I understand that you are inquiring about the Contact limit per user for a Google Apps for Business account.
This is expected functionality at the moment and we suggest that you remove some of the contacts that you don’t use to free up some space on your account. You are not able to increase this amount, however if you would like you can submit a feature request for increasing the amount of Contacts each user has. To do this please follow these instructions
1. Login to your Google Apps account.
2. In your dashboard, scroll down to the very bottom on the screen and you will see a link called ‘Suggest a Feature.’
3. Click on this link and you will be able to fill out a feature request.
I hope you found this information useful, Ross and thank you for your understanding.
Dear Google, no, this is not helpful. While part of me fantasizes about never meeting anyone again in the future that I’d want to put in my Contact database (that’s the introvert part of me), my business dictates that I meet lots of new people every week. And CardMunch is relentless about munching their business cards and putting it in my Address Book (or – well – Contact Database). And – you are now the source repository for all of these dudes and dudettes!
I can’t imagine any particularly good reason why 10,000 would be the limit, or that I couldn’t simply pay you money (I will!) to get 20,000. Yeah, that seems like plenty – how about 20,000? Yeah, I know, we’ll never need more than 64K of RAM in a computer.
We are in the final stages of completely switching Foundry Group to Google Apps. This began as an experiment in August 2010 when I decided to Try Gmail for a Week and evolved into an actual plan after Gmail Won Me Over in September 2010. We took it slow to make sure it was actually possible to easily switch from a legacy Microsoft Exchange environment where everyone’s brains were hard wired with Outlook and Windows and shared calendars managed by multiple assistants were a critical business function for a relatively small number of people who travelled constantly.
It’s been a huge success. Oh, and a bunch of Mac’s crept into the organization at the same time. I’m now 100% Mac and am amused by myself whenever I try to do something on a Windows machine (after using Windows or DOS for my entire professional life.) And the integration / proliferation with iPhones and iPads is entertainingly sweet.
For all of the success with the migration to Google Apps, there is one very big obvious thing missing. Google doesn’t have an enterprise support approach. We are lucky in that we have lots of friends at Google so when we need to do weird things (like – ahem – port my Google Voice number from my Gmail account to my Google Apps account) we are able to find someone to do the magic for us. Or when the Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Exchange tool crashes in the middle of the night on a mailbox migration that is 10 hours into its conversion, we can find our way to someone that actually works on this tool who makes some changes to the backend processor that fixes the problem. And, when this happens on another mailbox migration, we can get to them again to help us fix the problem while they debug the tool for our error case.
Now, there is a Google Enterprise Customer and Partner Site and there is plenty of Google Apps enterprise level help on the web. But that’s not the issue. At 7am, when the guy doing the migration checks in and sees a error message that says something like “Failure: While migrating Email for firstname.lastname@example.org to Google email@example.com Error:80041065” you kind of want to call 1-800-HELPMERIGHTNOWBEFOREANYONESHOWSUPATTHEOFFICE.
There are nice, well proven pricing models for either (a) per instance support or (b) per user annual support. And, if Google wants to be price disruptive, just charge 10% of whatever Oracle or Microsoft charges. Or be like WordPerfect and charge nothing. But put a real enterprise level support organization behind this with humans to call.
The really cool thing about Google Apps is that once you are migrated, there doesn’t seem to be any need for support. I’ve been using Google Apps for four months and I don’t believe I’ve had a single issue that I couldn’t figure out myself. I’ve seen a number of new features automagically roll out and I’ve just started using them. Basically, the post conversion / deployment experience has been superb. And, someday, when Google finishes a real single sign on approach between my Gmail and Google Apps account and finishes their migration to their new infrastructure so I can really use things like Youtube on my Apps account without having to log out of apps / log into gmail / logout of gmail / log into apps to save stuff, I probably won’t even notice that there is any complexity.
Regardless of if and when Google ever gets around to this, I want to thank all of my friends at Google for their help whenever issues came up. You guys are awesome.
Today I concluded that my Gmail experiment is working nicely. In addition, we figured out (thanks to Dave Michels) how to wire up feld.com to Google Apps without breaking all the other feld.com users that are being served of an Exchange server. So, breaking rule #1 of all migrations, Ross and I flipped the switch at the end of the day to have my mail end up in my Google Apps account (via feld.com) rather than my Gmail account (via firstname.lastname@example.org).
All of my mail flows nicely. You can send email to email@example.com and it shows up in the right place. That was good.
But, I hadn’t thought through all my other Google services that are tied to firstname.lastname@example.org. Contacts was “so-so” – Export/Import but it still feels a little messed up and I can’t figure out why. But Docs seems like a totally parallel universe, as does Profiles. And I’ve got a bunch of other services that I use (e.g. Bookmarks, YouTube) that I don’t really feel like having two accounts for.
I searched around for an easy way to “move my email@example.com account over to firstname.lastname@example.org in Google Apps.” There are some mediocre help suggestions about migrating individual services, but nothing that just solved it.
Am I missing something obvious, or is this a non-trivial thing to do.