sábado, 6 de abril de 2019

La paradoja de las nuevas tecnologías ( by @KPMG_ES)

Los modelos de negocio actuales se basan, cada vez en mayor medida, en la innovación.
Dicha innovación se consigue, entre otras acciones, aplicando nuevas tecnologías (emergentes) a la cadena de valor del producto en cuestión. Este camino, que ofrece tremendas oportunidades, no está exento de riesgos, algunos de ellos todavía por explorar, pero quizá sea esta combinación lo que haga que nos planteemos que podemos estar ante un nuevo reto, un reto que si logramos superar, nos permita dar un salto evolutivo.

Lo que dicen los números

…un 75% de las empresas están afrontando la adopción de nuevas tecnologíasen sus procesos de negocio de manera proactiva, con una visión mayoritaria de esta situación como una oportunidad y no como una amenaza.
En el top de tecnologías emergentes, según la encuensta de KPMG a CEOs, tendríamos:
  1. Cloud security services.
  2. Robot Process automation & Intelligence Automation.
  3. Internet of Things.
  4. Mobility & Connectivity.
  5. Cognitive computing.
  6. Blockchain.

Las nuevas tecnologías generan nuevas oportunidades…
La digitalización de procesos internos de negocio, así como su automatización mediante RPAs (Robot Process Automation) se está traduciendo en una significativareducción de costes y tiempos…
…sensores y dispositivos interconectados permiten detectar potenciales problemas o asignar recursos técnicos especializados con el objetivo de poder llevar a cabo acciones preventivas de mantenimiento, reduciendo o, en el mejor de los casos, evitando que se produzcan fallos.
El enfoque de negocio deproducto como servicio(product as a service) basa su éxito en la utilización de estas tecnologías. …parece capital centrarse en gestionar los riesgosque puede implicar.

…pero acarrean riesgos que gestionar
Dados los múltiples vectores que pueden influir sobre estas tecnologías, esta situación puede suponer un problema, según el estudio de KPMG Disruption is the new norm.
De entre los riesgos, los más destacables serían:
  • La débil alineaciónque en muchas ocasiones se produce entre la incorporación de estas tecnologías y la estrategia definida por la organización.
  • no contar con un presupuesto firme y realistaque pueda desembocar en una implementación parcial o no alineada con los objetivos.
  • En tercer lugar tendríamos la falta de capacidades y experiencia técnica.
  • En cuarta posición nos encontraríamos con regulacionesque en muchos casos son inconsistentes, están desactualizadas o directamente no existen.
  • Por último, no contar con un correcto análisis y proceso de seguridad desde el diseño, así como laevaluación de riesgos y amenazas externas
  • Los riesgos no van a desaparecerni a dejar de evolucionar, pero debemos ser conscientes de su existencia y conocedores de sus impactos para, de este modo, poder tomar decisiones basadas en los mismos.

Actualización del marco de gobierno y de gestión
Para afrontar este reto con la mayor certeza de éxito posible, proponemos una serie de acciones, orientadas a la actualización del marco de gobierno y gestión de estos proyectos, de manera que podamos responder a las expectativas, destacando especialmente:
  • Categorizar la innovación como algo continuo, planificado junto al resto de iniciativas y con un presupuesto específico. Gestión del cambio 100%.
  • Definir el apetito de riesgo. Quizá estos niveles deban ser dinámicos: pero marcarán si la organización responde y cuándo ante un determinado riesgo.
  • Pasar de un enfoque de gobierno basado en reglas a uno más flexiblepero con límites definidos.
  • Creación de un comité para el gobierno de iniciativas de innovación tecnológica.
  • Agregar el concepto de security by designdesde las primeras fases de ideación de los proyectos y definir procesos de revisión y prueba periódica de la seguridad. Para ello es básico incluir los requisitos de seguridad desde las fases más incipientes, tanto a nivel de desarrolloarquitecturainfraestructura, medidas específicas y capacidades de respuesta a incidentes.

domingo, 31 de marzo de 2019

Are "millennials" really killing some industries? (by @CBInsights )

12 Industries Experts Say Millennials Are Killing — And Why They're Wrong - CB Insights Research



What’s really ‘killing’ these industries
Industries are not being threatened by millennials themselves. The threat comes from younger, more adaptive brands that have zeroed in on millennial habits and preferences, and are actively leveraging those insights to unlock huge market potential.

The message from millennials is clear: brands that prioritize convenience, personalization, and sustainability will thrive. Brands that continue to cling to outmoded ideas of consumer behavior will continue to struggle.

A number of industries have already figured this out. For example, the $3.7B wellness economy, which spans everything from fitness and athleisure to mental wellness and personal care, is thriving thanks to young consumers. Pet care, coffee, snacks, and live entertainment are also successfully connecting with millennial shoppers.

Industry disruption was happening long before millennials came along, and it will continue long after. The brands that manage to survive changes in consumer preferences are the ones that listen, adapt, and realize that shifting markets are not a threat, but an opportunity for creative transformation.


1. Cereal
The breakfast food that’s too “inconvenient” for millennials may actually just be too sugary
The question that cereal brands should be asking is not, “How do we make millennials eat cereal for breakfast?” Instead, it’s “How can we make cereal a more appealing snack?”

2. Casual dining
Millennials eat out more than any other generation — they just don’t want to sit in booths
By offering more dine-and-dash convenience, revising menus to highlight more health-conscious fare, and even reimagining spaces to better align with contemporary design sensibilities, former dining heavyweights could reclaim some of their market share from the fast casual invaders.

3. Department stores
Millennials aren’t turning their backs on brick-and-mortar, but traditional departments stores are pricey and have limited selection
If department stores can tap into millennials’ hunger for experience and convenience, and address theiçr concerns about cost and ethical consumption, they could still draw younger shoppers back in.

4. Luxury goods
Millennials like luxury, but they rent more and buy less
The clothing rental model has struck a chord among millennials, likely because of its emphasis on flexibility. 17% of millennials have rented clothing or accessories, according to a recent survey by Price Intelligently.
Moving foward, the rental model could pose a challenge to traditional luxury brands unwilling to adapt. But, as the success of LVMH and Tapestry illustrate, there are opportunities for creative brands to claim their slice of the millennial pie.

5. Cable TV
Millennials are cutting the cord, but Gen X is more pro-streaming than any other generation
Premium cable channels like HBO and Showtime have introduced their own a la carte apps with pricing similar to Netflix or Hulu. If cable providers want to stem the tide of customers abandoning their services, they should consider doing the same.

6. Gyms
Solo exercise is out and group classes are in for the “lonely generation”
As with the shifts in many other industries, the idea that millennials are actively “killing” gyms doesn’t hold up. Rather, millennials are willing to pay a premium for fitness experiences that fulfill their desire for flexibility and community — and the fitness industry should take note.

7. American cheese
Millennials aren’t turning against cheese, they’re avoiding fake, processed foods
Fast-food outlets are jumping on the trend, switching to cheddar, Gouda, and other cheeses in their sandwiches and burgers. This includes Panera, Wendy’s, and even McDonald’s, which now sells Big Macs with a non-artificial cheese.

8. Beer
Craft beer is on the rise, while mass market beers are losing popularity
The adoption of craft sensibilities appears to have served the beer giants well, with Anheuser-Busch reporting 16.8% combined global brand revenue growth in 2017.
The beer industry illustrates another instance in which the key to successfully navigating shifts in consumer preferences is not to change millennials — but to change with them.

9. Canned tuna
Millennials like tuna, but they prefer it outside of the can
Poke bars embody everything millennials appreciate: a fast, fresh, protein-rich, relatively inexpensive meal served in a bowl. It can be made with salmon or other fish, but tuna is the most popular base.
Evidence suggests that some of canned tuna’s difficulties may be of the industry’s own making. One possible culprit: the well-publicized issue of dolphins getting caught in tuna nets, which clashes with millennials’ concern about sustainable food practices. …
To remain relevant to this generation of consumers, canned tuna brands will have to convince millennials that they are prioritizing ethical practices.

10. Motorcycles
The rising micromobility movement is making motorcycles smaller and better suited for millennials
Some players in the motorcycle industry are making efforts to adapt, shifting to smaller, lighter models. These bikes are easier for the first-time rider, more affordable, and better for urban riding — qualities tailor-made to appeal to millennial sensibilities. Between 2011 and 2016, sales of bikes with smaller engines increased by 11.8%, compared with a 7.4% gain for bigger, more powerful motorcycles.
In the motorcycle space, the secret to survival may be to think small.

11. Golf
The exclusive private country club is in decline for a generation more focused on inclusion
As with gyms, millennial golfers want customization and personalized service. Over half (51%) say they’d prefer a flexible membership combining a low social fee for full access to the club, with golf on a pay-per-use basis.
In short, golf will need to be more inclusive, affordable, and flexible if it wants to win over millennials and reverse the downward trend.

12. Raisins
Millennials want to avoid added sugar, even in a ‘healthier’ source
Some raisin industry leaders are doing exactly that. Sun-Maid, for example, is unveiling a new line of sour raisin snacks made with natural fruit juice and no added sugar in watermelon and strawberry flavors.
Healthy snacks represented a $23B opportunity worldwide in 2018. By expanding their selection of natural fruit snacks, it appears Sun-Maid is working to claim a slice of that pie.

domingo, 10 de marzo de 2019

The Sharing Economy Was Always a Scam by @susie_c

 What came next wasn’t sharing. Power and control wasn’t decentralized — it was even more concentrated in the hands of large and valuable platforms.
The Sharing Economy Was Always a Scam – OneZero
Early sharing champions were ultimately correct about technology enabling a shift away from an ownership society, but what came next wasn’t sharing. The rise of streaming services, subscription systems, and short-term rentals eclipsed the promise of nonmonetary resource sharing. The power and control wasn’t decentralized; it was even more concentrated in the hands of large and valuable platforms. 
Why go through the trouble of swapping your own DVDs for a copy of Friends With Benefits, after all, when you can stream it through Amazon Prime Video for $2.99? The idea of paying for temporary access to albums rather than outright owning them may have been galling at first, but we’re increasingly comfortable with renting all our music, along with our software, and our books. Downloading and sharing the materials that live on these streamed resources is impossible, illegal, or both. 
The new trust never materialized. Government regulation typically plays an important role in mediating consumer relationships with corporate firms and for good reason. Peer-to-peer platforms can make discrimination easier, and they often claimed limited or zero liability when things went wrong. New social media reputation tools couldn’t prevent inevitable problems, especially when sharing companies did not institute background checks for their freelance workers or inspect homes and vehicles for safety.
Sharing didn’t deliver broad financial stability either. The jobs eventually created by the sharing economy were poorly regulated and hastened the broader growth of contract labor, pushing down already low wages for freelancers and employees alike. A few frequently quoted studies have claimed that soon, most of us will be freelancers. But most of that freelance work appears to be extremely part-time and merely supplemental income, and ride-hail driver turnover in particular is high.

In order to make money, especially the kind of money that tech investors expect, venture-backed companies couldn’t just activate underutilized resources — they had to make more. For-profit businesses demand growth, and platforms demand scale. More than a decade into the sharing experiment, we’ve been able to fully assess the costs. Capitalism wasn’t tamed, as Werbach had hoped — it was stoked. 
“Now it’s just a transaction,” Werbach says. “It doesn’t need to be dressed up in any language about changing the world or whatever.”

domingo, 17 de febrero de 2019

Los cerebros ‘hackeados’ votan (por @harari_yuval en @elpais_inter )

 La propaganda y la manipulación no son ninguna novedad, desde luego. Antes actuaban mediante bombardeos masivos; hoy, son, cada vez más, munición de alta precisión contra objetivos escogidos.

Yuval Noah Harari: Los cerebros ‘hackeados’ votan | Internacional | EL PAÍS
La democracia liberal se enfrenta a una doble crisis. Lo que más centra la atención es el consabido problema de los regímenes autoritarios. Pero los nuevos descubrimientos científicos y desarrollos tecnológicos representan un reto mucho más profundo para el ideal básico liberal: la libertad humana. 
… 
Haga usted mismo la prueba. ¿Cree que la gente debe elegir a su Gobierno en lugar de obedecer ciegamente a un monarca? ¿Cree que una persona debe elegir su profesión en lugar de pertenecer por nacimiento a una casta? ¿Cree que una persona debe elegir a su cónyuge en lugar de casarse con quien hayan decidido sus padres? Si responde sí a las tres preguntas, enhorabuena, es usted liberal. 
… 
Por desgracia, el libre albedrío no es una realidad científica. Es un mito que el liberalismo heredó de la teología cristiana. Los teólogos elaboraron la idea del libre albedrío para explicar por qué Dios hace bien cuando castiga a los pecadores por sus malas decisiones y recompensa a los santos por las decisiones acertadas. 
… 
Los seres humanos, sin duda, tienen voluntad, pero no es libre. … Los seres humanos toman decisiones, pero nunca son decisiones independientes. Cada una de ellas depende de unas condiciones biológicas y sociales que escapan a mi control. … En 1776 y en 1939 no era muy grave creer que nuestras convicciones y decisiones eran producto del libre albedrío, y no de la bioquímica y la neurología. 
… 
Para conseguir piratear a los seres humanos, hacen falta tres cosas: sólidos conocimientos de biología, muchos datos y una gran capacidad informática. … de aquí a unos años, los sensores biométricos podrían proporcionar acceso directo a nuestra realidad interior y saber qué sucede en nuestro corazón.
… 
A veces la gente piensa que, si renunciamos al libre albedrío, nos volveremos completamente apáticos, nos acurrucaremos en un rincón y nos dejaremos morir de hambre. La verdad es que renunciar a este engaño puede despertar una profunda curiosidad. Mientras nos identifiquemos firmemente con cualquier pensamiento y deseo que surja en nuestra mente, no necesitamos hacer grandes esfuerzos para conocernos. Pensamos que ya sabemos de sobra quiénes somos. Sin embargo, cuando uno se da cuenta de que “estos pensamientos no son míos, no son más que ciertas vibraciones bioquímicas”, comprende también que no tiene ni idea de quién ni de qué es. Y ese puede ser el principio de la aventura de exploración más apasionante que uno pueda emprender. …si bien los filósofos son gente muy paciente —pueden discutir sobre un tema durante 3.000 años sin llegar a ninguna conclusión—, los ingenieros no lo son tanto. Y los políticos son los menos pacientes de todos. 
… 
Por desgracia, no son preguntas que suela hacerse la mayoría de la gente. En lugar de investigar lo que nos aguarda más allá del espejismo del libre albedrío, la gente está retrocediendo en todo el mundo para refugiarse en ilusiones aún más remotas. En vez de enfrentarse al reto de la inteligencia artificial y la bioingeniería, la gente recurre a fantasías religiosas y nacionalistas que están todavía más alejadas que el liberalismo de las realidades científicas de nuestro tiempo. Lo que se nos ofrece, en lugar de nuevos modelos políticos, son restos reempaquetados del siglo XX o incluso de la Edad Media.

domingo, 27 de enero de 2019

VTC y TAXI

En estos casos siempre recuerdo el chiste de la película Philadelphia.
¿Qué son dos abogados en el fondo del mar?
–…
Un buen comienzo.

¿A qué viene esto? A cuenta de que el conflicto entre los VTC y los taxis se deriva, primero, de una regulación (excesiva) y, segundo, de una regulación absolutamente arbitraria.
Y la regulación suele ser cosa de abogados…

Un taxi y un VTC son lo mismo exactamente, “una empresa” que compra una licencia para transportar pasajeros en un vehículo con conductor. Por lo tanto, la solución a este conflicto presenta soluciones alternativas sencillas y evidentes:

1.- Bajar la licencia a los taxistas 
2.- Subir la licencia a los VTC
y dejar a ambos con las mismas reglas de juego (cerradas o abiertas): horarios, descansos, precios, etc.

En definitiva, igualar y liberar el mercado. Hacen lo mismo, servir como vehículo de conveniencia a los que no queremos usar (o tener) vehículo propio para llevarnos de un sitio a otro. Es un servicio que ayuda a disminuir el uso del vehículo propio en la ciudad (principalmente), disminuyendo su tráfico y nivel de contaminación, con algunas ventajas (por ejemplo, servicio puerta a puerta) frente al autobús (espero que si aumenta el número de autobuses, los taxistas no se consideren atacados también).

Posiblemenete la cuestión sería subir la licencia a las VTC, porque si ahora se baja a los taxistas, a los que la compraron antes se les penaliza en cierto sentido… quizá empezar todos igual e ir rebajando el precio a medida que se renuevan.

Se trata de crear competencia y los clientes decidirán cuánta oferta es suficiente y qué servicio es el que prefieren. El coste es el que es y por debajo de ese importe nadie quiere trabajar; el que resulte muy caro no se usará.

Si se hace que paguen todos la misma licencia…
¿Qué sentido tiene que los taxis se puedan “llamar” estando en tránsito y que los VTC no? No podría ser que el VTC solo pudiera salir de una base.
¿Por qué no puede haber VTC en las paradas de taxi (paradas de SP de transporte)? El cliente elegiría el vehículo en el que se quiere desplazar.
¿Por qué tendrían que tener los taxis festivos y precios fijados artificialmente?

La plataforma electrónica para "llamarlos" es anecdótica, pero está claro que es muy práctica para que cada persona usuaria tenga su vehículo reservado… porque en días de lluvia es un incordio intentar coger un taxi porque siempre hay una persona listilla que se ponga algo más abajo en la calle según vienen los vehículos para interponerse y que lo recojan primero.

“Full disclosure” (siempre he querido decir esto…): he sido un ávido usuario de Mytaxi.
Es más barato que los VTC en caso de reserva y hay más cantidad de vehículos, por lo que también son más rápidos en las recogidas (aunque es más impredecible en la rutas y el precio)…  perfectamente podría seguir combinando ambos servicios.


Pero no quiero hacerlo con una patronal del taxi ensañada con los usuarios de VTC, destrozando la herramienta de trabajo de los trabajadores de VTC, que bloquea ciudades enteras con sus protestas, una patronal que no propone soluciones, solo restriccciones a los VTC. 

Andar, autobus, metro, patinete/bicicleta/motocicleta "on-demand" y VTC…

domingo, 20 de enero de 2019

I have a 300-year plan ~Masayoshi Son

 via @exponentialview Why SoftBank's Masayoshi Son is Silicon Valley's power broker by @fastcompany

‘The entrepreneur’s ambition is the only cap to the company’s potential,’ 

There is no one on the planet right now in a better position to influence this next wave of technology as Son. Not Jeff Bezos, not Mark Zuckerberg, not Elon Musk. They might have the money but not Son’s combination of ambition, imagination, and nerve. The network of companies within the Vision Fund, if they succeed, will reshape critical pieces of the economy: the $228 trillion real estate market,



the $5.9 trillion global transportation market,



the $25 trillion retail business



We won’t be able to turn Vision Fund–backed services and technologies off like computers and smartphones. They will, ultimately, have minds and thoughts of their own.



sábado, 19 de enero de 2019

Business Model Canvas vs Lean Startup vs Disciplined Entrepreneurship

via @detoolbox Building a Bulletproof Startup: Business Model Canvas vs Lean Startup vs Disciplined Entrepreneurship:
An in-depth overview of the methodologies reveals a hidden truth: none of them is universally valid. As I said, there is no one Startup Bible that guarantees redemption from uncertainty and the perilous journey. Each of them focuses on very different aspects of a startup. Using them together, as different tools and toolboxes in the arsenal of an entrepreneur, is the best approach to building a successful venture. Instead of choosing one and hope for the best possible outcome, I would recommend combining them.


Business Model Canvas 

-Pros
Visual, easy
Focuses on value
Helps with understanding the customer beyond simple marketing parameters

-Cons
It’s a map of the destination, but with no compass
It has a fixed architecture
Being very minimal, it can give a false impression


vs Lean Startup 

-Pros
Provides the right mindset for entrepreneurs to deal with uncertainty
Focus directed at user/customer
Important concepts as MVP and pivoting

-Cons
Could give entrepreneurs a false illusion of progress through failure
Encourages focus on product vs business (build/measure/learn)
Process leaves a lot of room for founders to avoid hard questions and take the wrong approach


vs Disciplined Entrepreneurship

-Pros
Focus on business side of a startup
Clear and detailed map from beginning to end
Focuses on numbers and process to reduce uncertainty

-Cons
The steps metaphor gives the false impression of a linear process
Lot of effort in dealing with multiple unknown business variables before getting to the enjoyable part of the process (building the product or technology)
Focus on the path & tools, not on how to be an explorer or the clarity of the destination

viernes, 18 de enero de 2019

Jean-Louis Gassée's memories on Apple

 excerpts from @Gassee memories on its years at Apple

Starting Apple France

After two rounds of interviews, I sign my employment agreement over dinner at the (now defunct) Le Duc restaurant in Geneva on December 12th, 1980… the very day of Apple’s IPO.

Undeterred, I land at SFO in February, 1981, and immediately drive down to Apple’s Silicon Valley mothership in Cupertino, CA. When and where is the training course? You know, like at Data General where they run a tight induction curriculum with eliminations along the way?

Nothing of the sort.

Well, how about an Apple ][ I can take to the hotel so I can learn on my own at night?
I had pored through the Apple ][ technical documentation on the plane, was struck by the elegant simplicity of Steve Wozniak’s design, and wanted to get moving. … After much hemming and hawing a kind staffer lends me her machine.

I arrive at the Sunnyvale Hilton late at night and am met with apologies… Up in the suite I delicately place the Apple ][ onto the bed (there’s no desk), gently toggle the power switch, and behold the perfection of… VisiCalc.

…seeing my three-piece pinstripe suite and befuddled mien, the officer took pity on me… 
The suit felt out of place as I entered a conference room on what would one day become my first Cupertino office, a building known as Bandley 3. Steve Jobs was sitting cross-legged on a credenza, picking his toenails. I felt relieved, I was leaving the Exxon stiffs and rejoining the tribe of unhinged techies.

…the package labels said AppleWriter, a modestly serviceable word processor written by Paul Lutus. I inquired about sales volumes and found out that Apple had shipped more word processing programs in one month than the entire word-processing industry (where I just came from) in one year.

I had made the right decision.

Pre-EU Common Market regulations simplified the movement of goods across borders, so we used procedures originally designed for vegetables and fruits (pun unintended) to move computers from The Netherlands, a friendlier trading nation, into France. A company called Seedrin (last three letters of my name plus last four of my street) was set up in my name as sole proprietor, with a total capital of 20,000 Francs (about $3K), and given an exclusive contract to take orders and deliver goods from an Apple warehouse situated in an ex-US Military camp in Zeist, Netherlands.… All we needed were offices and a buffer warehouse. We soon located a building that Pharma company Choay no longer needed. Luckily, it was close to my old HP France, a target for recruitment efforts. I soon met Choay’s CEO who demanded to know how a $3K-capital company was going to make rent. I explained that this was just a disguise to go around government hurdles. This, as he thoroughly disliked regulators, pleased him greatly and led him to give us the furniture for free.



Different Apple Distribution Game

The Apple ][ was a fantastic machine; the always-clever marketing campaigns were becoming more insouciant and (in retrospect) “Apple-like”; the distribution logistics hummed along… but there was one thing that bothered me: Sales. Not the sales numbers, but Sales’ attitude towards retailers.

With a long and friendly history with their current distributor Sonotec, a family business run by the avuncular and flexible Georges Zimmeray, they had mixed feelings about Apple taking over its own distribution.

our sales people didn’t work on commission. To add a bit of “competitive encouragement”, I set up a small PFS:File program that tallied daily, weekly, and monthly sales-per-person. Every morning, I printed the latest and passed it out to the entire team

And it was more than just Apple products. In my first Cupertino visit, I chanced upon a demo by French hardware developers Mssrs. Chaillat and Chaligné. They had designed an Apple ][ extension card that bypassed the mediocre native NTSC and, instead, provided a clean RGB display using the French mandated Peritel connector that was available for a number of display devices, included the ubiquitous Trinitron monitor. … This sort of impulse buy wasn’t exactly standard company policy, but the product looked very good, so did the numbers, and Apple management was otherwise preoccupied… a perfect illustration of the freedom and benign neglect that I found so compelling during my years at Apple — in France.



A Resonant Apple France Message


I fondly (and nostalgically) recall how the company published an Apple Magazine with, if my recollection is correct, a story by Johnathan Livingston Seagull’s author Richard Bach in one issue, and a Ray Bradbury poem titled Ode To The Quick Computer in another. I only recall the poem’s last verse: So cowards, what are you afraid of

We got along nicely and he smilingly approved of my simplified view of his trade: Marketing’s primary task is positioning, defining identity. Put another way, if you don’t have a clean, clear, resonant identity, there no story to tell — and your efforts and budgets are wasted.

We zeroed on the raison d’être of Personal Computers, and on what Apple PCs did for humans.
Symbols, the alphabet and Hindu-Arabic numerals were humankind’s one of, if not the, most important inventions. With symbol strings, one could write Elizabethan poetry, religious scriptures, math, physics, Wall Street greed…

Steve Jobs, who would later position Apple at the intersection of technology and liberal arts, called his machines bicycles for the mind. In France, at the time, we used ULMs (Ultralight Motorized planes) as a metaphor.

So, we endeavored to put more specifics on the mind-body extension virtues of our PCs. Because we all need simple, sharp taxonomies, we decided our personal computers helped with five activities: Think, Organize, Communicate, Learn and Play. And we pointed to software products as examples.



Almost Illicit Fun


Lionel’s most notable creation for us was La Fondation Apple pour le Cinéma. When he began outlining the project, I told him we couldn’t possibly afford the cost of such an operation. In fact, he told me, he knew of a need we could inexpensively fulfill: helping young and always cash-strapped movie directors promote their movies. For 30,000 francs (say $20K today) the Foundation could pay for posters on downtown columns advertising movies and theater shows. He’d assemble an unpaid jury of actors and scriptwriters friends, take everyone to Martinique, expenses paid, for a few days of relaxation and movie reviewing, and of naming a winner to be drummed up.

at the Cannes Film Festival, a French radio reporter put a microphone in my face and demanded to know what a computer company had to do with the movie business. This was a golden opportunity to explain how Apple was different, how we stood for tools for creative pursuits, as opposed to instruments of oppression mechanizing office tasks. The gent chuckled, everyone understood what/whom I meant.

While, in the US, Apple marketeers were struggling to promote the company as a worthy opponent to Big Blue and its clones, at Apple France, we decided a frontal attack was the road to perdition. Early in our existence, we had decided to position Apple as providing tools for creative pursuits, only occasionally getting our machines in the forbidden office fortress through the side door…

I need to add this worked in a French culture that didn’t particularly like IBM, and where Apple’s California Chic, helped by Steve Jobs’ already mythicized charisma, made us the People’s Liberation Army From Computing Oppression.

I inserted myself in the heated exchange and asked the unhappy customer if he wanted us to buy his system back because “we couldn’t afford a single unhappy Apple patron…”. The answer was a resounding NO, he wanted to keep his Apple ][. Next, I arranged for the customer to bring the dead system to our service department. As a special favor, we’d recycle a board from an otherwise dead machine and bring his machine back to life. Lastly, I asked for his child’s age. Why? For the t-shirt, of course (Apple t-shirts were items then); I want to thank you for the opportunity to make things right.

From then on, we made giving t-shirts to complainants an unofficial practice.
...
Because she had an extremely seductive, clear radio voice, my dream was to have her read stories to callers as they waited. She immediately accepted, told me she’d do it for free as a thank you, and that she’d write the stories herself. These were sweet little tales that markedly changed the mood of callers. Some even asked to be put back on hold because they wanted to hear the end of the tale
...
Mac trouble was to become my opportunity, and an occasion to make a series of cultural mistakes when landing in Cupertino in the Spring of 1985



Mac Hopes And Troubles

It’s November, 1983; I’m sitting in the auditorium at Apple’s worldwide sales meeting in Honolulu. The house lights dim and “1984” begins. Conceived by ad agency Chiat/Day, directed by Ridley Scott of Blade Runner fame, and destined to be aired nationally only once (during the 1984 Super Bowl)…
...
To this day I remember the electrifying effect on the audience, and troubled thoughts regarding mass persuasion —criticized on screen and, without irony, performed right in the room.

Apple’s assembled sales organization was delighted by the Mac’s enchanting presentation, its (almost) never-seen-before user interface. But there was a nervous energy under the surface: Would the Macintosh save Apple from the IBM PC and its clones?

Born in 1981, almost three years before the repeatedly delayed Mac, the 16-bit IBM PC had made mincemeat of the 8-bit Apple ][ (and of the troubled Apple ///). With the introduction of the PC XT and advent of Lotus 1–2–3 in 1983, the competitive situation had become even more severe. The XT sported an integrated hard disk, something Apple machines lacked. …
For a supposedly stodgy company, IBM’s PC marketing was surprisingly clever. They appropriated Charlie Chaplin as a mascot and ran a very successful TV ad campaign that positioned their machine as the personal computer. I was stunned: They’re stealing our song!

Apple replied with cheeky “Welcome IBM” ads. At the time, I felt this was twice mistaken. Not only did it make us sound presumptuous, but why were we spending money advertising the opposition’s ware? (I realized, later, that I was wrong about the former count: It was a good idea to position Apple as an equal — and precursor — of IBM.)

sales of the original 128k Macintosh were hobbled by its relatively high price ($2,495) and the same lack of features that hurt the Apple ][ — no hard disk, no office productivity software, no Lotus 1–2–3.…

By early 1985, Mac sales still weren’t taking off and sinking sales of the Apple ][ were to lead to the shutdown of the company’s Texas manufacturing plant and the company’s first-ever layoff. Something had to be done.

Having gained something of a foothold in the “creative space” and education applications, Jobs thought we could sell the French government on having a large local company such as Thomson take a license to build Macs and sell them to the education market, thus creating a success story and fatter numbers.
I recall how I felt when Mitterrand expressed his vision of Computing For The People: This is our pitch. And we promptly and efficiently took up the refrain. Luckily, our US masters were launching a Kids Can’t Wait marketing blitz targeting the Education market. We piggy-backed on it, called it L’Avenir N’attend Pas (The Future Can’t Wait), exploited government regulations again, and sold beaucoup Apple ][ machines as well as the color monitors we had had “made to measure” by Philips Italy. (The monitors were the idea of Michael Spindler, the recently departed and much-missed friend who was then European Marketing Chief.)

A talk that Sculley gave to our staff describing Apple’s future was the best business talk I had ever heard, and I told him so. I wasn’t flattering him, it was my honest feeling and my hope for the company’s coming years.

To counter the Mac’s perceived and real weakness in business productivity apps, Jobs came up with the concept of a Macintosh Office including a Local Area Network (LAN), a File Server (essentially a networked hard drive), and a networked laser printer. This was vintage Jobs: A grand vision supported by a spectacular demo. Unfortunately, it was only a demo.
....
I addressed a pair of notes to Sculley in which I dissected Jobs’ story. The Mac Office concept was never going to become a reality (I wrote), and even if the fantasy could be true, it wouldn’t solve our Corporate America market problem.

My memos were not universally well-received, to say the least, but neither was the 1985 Mac Office. (However, the LaserWriter and the AppleTalk LAN were later to become key components of Apple’s Desktop Publishing push.)

Also, strange as it may seem, I was a rarity compared to most Cupertino senior execs: I had actual, repeated computer technology experience. All of the above led to an invitation to move to Cupertino in the Spring of 1985. Or, to put it another way: “Enough criticizing. If you’re so sure, why don’t you come over and help us fix things?”



Hard Landing In Cupertino. Steve Jobs Fired

Initially, I was to work on a putative “Software Division”… The idea was to encourage third-party developers to write software for the Mac, and to help them make a living doing it.

I was to report directly to CEO John Sculley… Caught between the two, I was adamant: I couldn’t work for Apple’s mercurial and controlling co-founder. Previous trips to Cupertino and Jobs’ visits to Europe had convinced me that I didn’t (yet) have the temperament or the inner sense of security to “collaborate” with him.

In the spring of 1985, Jobs brought things to a head by approaching members of Apple’s exec team, asking them to side with him and run Sculley out of town. It backfired; the coup failed and Jobs was deposed. In the reorganization that followed, I became VP of Product Development.

The Jobs I knew in 1985 had no experience outside of Apple. As Bill Gates once felicitously said, “success is a terrible teacher”. … The success of the Apple ][ might have seduced Jobs into believing that he knew…
NeXT was different story. It was a technical success but not a commercial one. When Apple came calling in late 1996… NeXTStep, the company’s foundational software, had lain fallow for some years; the company was focused on WebObjects, a set of software tools aimed at helping businesses develop e-commerce and other web-based applications.

Back to 1985, I found myself in a dangerous, paradoxical position. I, too, lacked experience. I had never run an engineering organization, my knowledge of computer technology was largely acquired on the job and on weekends torturing hardware and software. And yet, I was given the reins to Apple’s engineering organization
The Mac group was ailing but thought of itself as much superior to the “traditional” (read stodgy) Apple ][ engineers, calling them bozos and other charming names. The Apple ][ people thought the Mac folks were a bunch of arrogant, ungrateful bastards. After all (they said), it was the Apple ][ that paid everyone’s salaries; the Mac was just a pretty demo.

My mission was simple — or simple to state, at least: Get the Mac out of the ditch and create a cohesive organization that unites the engineers.

As we’ll see in the next two parts of this series, culture (not technology) and my own emotions were to be the most difficult challenges.



Getting The Mac Out Of The Ditch

When I landed in Cupertino in May 1985, I had a few simple ideas for short and medium improvements that would help sales, and was happily surprised by the support that most of these ideas got inside the engineering community.

I count 30 faces around the conference table. That’s one too many. As Apple’s newly-appointed VP of Product Development, according to a temporary org chart, I start with 29 direct reports…
Engineers liked to call HR the Thought Police, KGB, Gestapo… and insisted these were meliorative nicknames. …tended to create political turmoil as they overplayed their power-behind-the-throne role at the highest levels of the company. Even more regrettably, I allowed myself to get sucked into the turbulence.

May, 1985: Apple ][ sales are falling; the Mac has yet to take off. We need to make some changes, pronto, that will attract new customers and keep the old ones coming back.
…the proposed Apple IIGS (“G” for graphics, “S” for sound) was undeniably superior to earlier Apple ][s and the current Mac, but it used a virtually unknown processor with a doubtful future and offered so-so compatibility with earlier Apple ][ models…

On the Mac side, I suggested we needed to do three things: Implement a few quick improvements that will make the Mac feel more muscular, design an “open” Mac with interface card slots and color display capabilities, and slide a robust operating system kernel under the existing Mac OS.
…made their way into the next Mac offering, the Macintosh Plus, announced in January, 1986. The most important new feature was the incorporation of a SCSI connector that let you plug in an external hard drive. Less conspicuous were double-sided floppies, a larger ROM, and a doubling of internal memory (RAM) to 1MB

Unfortunately, the suggestion that we introduce a kernel into the Mac OS was completely unsuccessful.

I’ll venture that Jobs’ decision to “go light” with the Mac was a result of the Lisa. The Lisa had a proper, home-grown multitasking OS that was far ahead of its time

We didn’t have time to write such a complex piece of code, so we looked at companies such as Hunter & Ready who would license a kernel. Problem almost solved.

But then we realized that the task of delicately lifting the existing Mac software base, disconnecting and reconnecting blood vessels and nerves —that, too, would take time that was beyond our budget…
As we got busy with the short and medium term fixes for the Mac product line, Apple engineer Sam Holland came up with another, longer term idea: Let’s develop a quad processor of our own for future Apple personal computers
To simulate the microprocessor, codenamed Aquarius, we bought a Cray supercomputer and used AT&T Microelectronics as our development partner. This wasn’t the AT&T that we now love to loathe as a wireless carrier, it was the technology giant whose Bell research labs gave us Nobel laureates such as Arno Penzias and Steve Chu, and a long list of inventions including the transistor, cellular telephony, the C programming language, the Unix operating system, the original non-blocking telephone switch and many more.

…Also noteworthy: The AT&T Microelectronics relationship led to the Newton project, and then on to another company’s hardware… but that’s a later chapter.



Cupertino Culture Trouble

Moving from Paris to Cupertino, from running a distribution company to heading Apple’s engineering proved more challenging than I had naively expected.

I land in Cupertino in May 1985 with three strikes against me:
– I’m a true Parisian.
– I’ve been the head of a successful team running Apple France.
– I have no experience running an engineering organization.



… It isn’t just that my unfiltered comments aren’t well received, but that I’m disoriented by the lack of engagement; there’s no ritual give-and-take that ultimately clears the air. It’s as if an invisible steel curtain has descended between the engineers and me.

The ever-present HR parson (felicitous typo gratefully accepted) who’s attached to this new alien suggests that I ask questions rather than give immediate and unmediated feedback. … They wonder why a marketing person is leading Apple’s engineers.



Following the HR rep’s suggestion, I start to ask questions. Actually, a single two-part question: What are you doing, and Why?

For the What, I rely on a variant of my old I Can’t Be Stupid gambit: If I don’t understand what you’re saying, either you don’t actually know what you’re talking about, or you’re withholding something. As for the Why, please don’t say you’re just following orders — I know you have a mind of your own; and don’t hide behind “marketing demanded it” as if you respect marketing. Tell me how your work serves the common purpose. Does it improve performance, reduce cost, increase reliability, forge a killer feature?

…But after the “recalibration” my interactions with the engineers are the best part of my five years in Cupertino. …

The not-best part combines past habits of the heart and mind from my Apple France role, my own insecure, assoholic behavior, and what I perceive to be the fearful incompetence of the marketing side of the house.



I also vociferously disagree with marketing’s obsession with “winning” Corporate America through a frontal attack on IBM and its clones. Indeed, we are doomed if we take that approach, the opposition is too firmly entrenched. I argue that Desktop Publishing is a perfect example of a “side door” approach that’s ready-made for Apple and the Mac. 

The suggestion falls on deaf ears. Not only are my past ventures in field sales dismissed as irrelevant because they happened in an alien country, I’m now seen, by the marketing folks, as a mere techie who has wandered out of the labs. I can’t win.


… One particularly perceptive individual tries to set me straight when I protest that I respect his role. “Indeed, you respect the function…but you show too much disdain for the person.”


But, in the end, the engineers’ strong work saves me.

In March 1987, we announce the Mac II; the Open Mac promised on my license plate; and the Mac SE, an evolution of the original Mac with an internal disk drive. (The machine earns us justified gibes for its noisy fan, but it sells quite well, nonetheless.)
…getting promoted to a broader role greased the path to my exit from Apple.


Firing Frankness

My boss asks me what I really think of him. HR advises me to tell the truth. I’m fired.



As we wait for our cars, Sullivan puts his arm around my shoulder: “Jean-Louis, I’m proud of you…” After half a decade in Cupertino, I know what this means: What I have done is irreparable.

Soon, engineers are marching outside with placards that read Jean-Louis Don’t Go.
The demonstration, small and brief as it is, changes the course of what should have been a typical, quick departure. Apple management is concerned that some engineers might elect to follow me, wherever I may land. My protest that I wouldn’t dream of such a thing is met with disbelief (perhaps I was a bit too sincere). As a result, the terms of my departure are altered: I’m asked to “stay around” until the end of the company’s fiscal year in September.

Thus begins a paradoxically pleasant eight months. As a minister without a portfolio, I’m occasionally called upon to offer clarification on unimportant issues, but otherwise I have little to do. Some HR staffers who had their own views of my firing are sympathetic; they ask me what the company can do to make my “stay” more comfortable. Perhaps I’d be interested in courses on Japanese calligraphy and conversation?


He had been my benefactor in the past, and he’s still the boss. When the general and his lieutenant disagree too much, the lieutenant must go. Sculley has made the right decision.

It had taken less than three years to go from the high of shipping the Mac II and the Mac SE to the fateful dinner.

He wants to form a new company that will develop a tablet featuring handwriting recognition. I should give him a pep talk, point out that Apple is in great shape with so many interesting projects ahead of us. Without thinking, I ask him if he needs a CEO.
…a dedicated building on Cupertino’s Bubb Road. Thus, the Newton project is born.

My responsibilities are expanded, a fancy “Senior” is added to my title…

Another project, the Mac Portable, isn’t as successful. Convinced it’s going to be too big and heavy, I want to bench the project lead and ask Sony to partner with us to develop a much smaller portable Mac. …I get strong push back on the proposed moves, complete with accusations of being anti-American. I lose my nerve and capitulate. … (I get the last laugh, however: In October, 1991, the PowerBook 100, the “tenth greatest PC of all time”, is released…designed and manufactured by Sony.)


… Just for crossing the street, I’m rewarded with an even fancier President (of Apple Products) title, and add Manufacturing and Product Marketing to my portfolio. The Manufacturing part is especially exciting: I can’t wait to head over to the factory to “work” on the production line…where I immediately embarrass myself by puncturing the loudspeaker while affixing a part to the Mac’s front bezel.

…Some of the other execs question the value of working a few days on the line: How much can I really learn there? “Certainly more than if I hadn’t,” is my defiant answer.



By this time I’m really on the ropes, politically. Proximity to the executives has proven to be the diplomatic disaster I had anticipated; my “raise prices” advice is openly scorned; my behavior is considered strange, almost embarrassing. So imagine my surprise when I get the highest exec bonus for the fiscal year ending in September. I feel vindicated, but the bonus is actually just a cadeau de rupture, a breakup gift. The next January, Sculley invites me to dinner in Palo Alto.

During my calligraphy hiatus, I briefly contemplate an offer to be moved back to France, perhaps as the head of Apple Europe, an arrangement that would appear less spectacular than being fired. But after a rainy Sunday afternoon spent reading Barbarians At The Gate, and an animated evening dinner with a group of French expats, including Philippe Kahn and Eric Benhamou, I realize: “This is where I want to be and what I want to do.”

miércoles, 9 de enero de 2019

Time for us to quietly contemplate who and what we are.

 by @gassee Valley Spirituality – Monday Note

While our range of worship choices is, in general, commendable, it’s easy to become disconcerted by the anything-goes, make-your-own-religion attitude. But I’m not completely confused: Even if they intersect, I don’t equate religion with spirituality. Actually, I fear the excesses of organized religions, amply documented over centuries of oppression and bloodshed.

As the title of Les’ and Teresa’s book signals, we’re yearning for something better than our material selves. This hunger, or worry, is gaining intensity as technical innovations force us to contemplate our nature. The gene manipulation that’s “permitted” by promising and potentially lifesaving technologies such as Crispr has recently led to gene-edited infants. Are we just things? Will we use technology to create new and better things, smarter students, better soldiers, more obedient factory workers, and, (why not?) slaves?

I chose to see the meeting as an example of spiritual pursuits living in quiet, comfortable coexistence with hardcore business.

So is Buddhism the answer to our spiritual quests? That’s above my pay grade. But what I can say is that Buddhism is alive and well in the Bay Area. …

By now you can accurately guess one of my 2019 New Year wishes: Time for us to quietly contemplate who and what we are.

domingo, 30 de diciembre de 2018

La Educación

No soy filósofo, ni sociólogo, pero creo que el conflicto armado, la disputa con las manos, la intolerancia, la violencia … no son posibles cuando entre las dos partes en confrontación se es capaz, a través de la educación, de diferenciar la diversidad de opiniones de la necesidad de liarse a tortas.

Un poco por estas consideraciones y también un poco por prepararme para unos cursos que era posible que tuviera que impartir, decidí realizar el CAP (Curso de Aptitud Pedagógica) y en la memoria utilicé unas ideas de un documento de Apple que cayó en mis manos y del que, sorprendentemente, he conseguido borrar todo rastro... 

El documento habla de la enseñanza personalizada, como contraoferta a la enseñanza de "café para todos" existente en la actualidad y esta era mi manera de expresar algunas de sus ideas:

"Con los medios tecnológicos actuales y la mayor parte de las infraestructuras ya implementadas, por qué no se financia la inversión tecnológica (y no solo los ordenadores, sino las telecomunicaciones, porque es en la red donde reside la fuerza de los mismos) para orientarnos a una enseñanza personalizada. Cuando nos hemos convertido en un país de servicios, dejando la era industrial detrás, tanto por la deslocalización empresarial como por la propia evolución de nuestra economía, nuestra educación sigue respodiendo a un modelos de enseñanza industrial, de café para todos, en la que no se cuenta con el bagaje cultural, las preferencias educativas, las ambiciones ni las capacidades (o incapacidades) de los alumnos.

Con un planteamiento de enseñanza personalizada el profesor se liberaría de la dieta única para sus alumnos, frustrante puesto que no todos la pueden seguir igual ni les va a afectar igual. El profesor podría ser creativo y, por lo tanto, al desarrollarse interiormente, alcanzar una mayor plenitud en su realización profesional, una de las de mayor vocación.

Con la enseñanza personalizada, la edad y la procedencia geográfica de los alumnos no tiene mayor importancia. Simplemente se agrupan en las materias de su interés, de las que los profesores, en lugar de limitarse a los libros de texto o a los PDFs en la intranet, orientarán a los alumnos para que éstos encuentren por sí mismos el conocimiento en otras fuentes.

A través de la enseñanza personalizada y las clases virtuales, los alumnos descubrirán que no se trata de aprender sobre tecnología, sino de aprender sobre el lenguaje, como escuchar, como escribir y cómo expresarse claramente.

Lógicamente el absentismo bajaría a través de la enseñanza personalizada, no hay que llegar a clase ni trabajar en el horario establecido, sino cuando a uno le convenga, de este modo los alumnos trabajan más y la calidad de la enseñanza mejora. El ritmo de estudios, además mejora de manera sustancial, puesto que un alumnos puede pasar de ser “el último de la clase” (y desmotivarse) a descubrir que a su ritmo puede ir superando obstáculos, marcándose sus propios objetivos. De esta manera la disciplina se la impone el mismo alumno.

El aislamiento es uno de los miedos en la enseñanza personalizada, pero se ha de considerar que la personalización difiere de la individualización en su enfoque colaborativo. Los alumnos no se sentirán aislados en un foro que los agrupe, no por edades, sino por intereses. De esta manera, a través de la ayuda que se presta a otros en los foros, se cataliza el propio aprendizaje. Suena ligeramente a “wikipedia”, pero el reto de los profesores es controlarla sin censurarla y su motivación para estar al día. Si a ello añadimos un ambiente de enseñanza virtual, con una buena intranet con recursos, control de trabajos, resultados, recogida de opinión de los alumnos… encontraremos que el aislamiento no es un factor a temer.

La enseñanza personalizada es la construcción frente a la instrucción. El paso de los libros de texto a los PDFs no es suficiente. La verdadera enseñanza no es distribuir contenidos educativos a los alumnos, sino la interacción con las personas y los contenidos para crear tu propia enseñanza. Este misma afirmación, desde el punto de vista del alumno es válida igualmente: el aprendizaje no es que te den “algo que estudiar”, sino que a través del intercambio de opiniones con otras personas y de la criba entre diferentes contenidos el alumno se genere su aprendizaje.

Del mismo modo, la enseñanza personalizada es la creación frente al consumo. Aprender a través de proyectos imaginativos que requieran crear algo, mucho más que a través de consumir información, sea ésta o no digital. Hay que ayudar a los alumnos a que se ayuden a sí mismos. Es el modelo de negocio de Google: no tienen la información pero te ayudan aencontrarla por ti mismo. O el de eBay: no venden nada pero te ayudan a comprarlo a quién sí lo quiere vender. 

Del mismo modo, la web antes era un montón de “sites” mandando información a quién los visitaba. ¿Qué es hoy? La web 2.0, un lugar donde los usuarios crean el contenido. La enseñanza personalizada significa que el estudiante puede hacer sus propias contribuciones. En cuanto a los profesores… efectivamente podría darse el caso de que los alumnos dominen más la herramienta que el propio profesor, pero ahí está el reto y va decreciendo en la medida en que los formadores se renuevan. Evidentemente el perfil tecnológico de quien se jubila dentro de 10 años no coincide en nada con el del que se incorpora ahora, tras un proceso de estudios “normal”.

Es el momento de iniciar la transición de las “fábricas de enseñanza” del siglo pasado a la enseñanza personalizada, que trata de hacer un traje a medida de las habilidades, la cultura y las ambiciones del estudiante.

A través de la enseñanza personalizada se elevarán los estándares educativos porque:
  • Crece la atracción del estudiante por sus estudios (los elige él, en base a su persona) 
  • Crece la motivación de los profesores porque les permite pasar del café para todos a una enseñanza a medida, más creativa 
  • Ayuda a los estudiantes a superar los límites geográficos y de edad respecto a lo que quieren aprender y a despojarse de la tímidez o el pánico de ser “el último de la clase” 
  • Sin desatender que, a diferencia de la enseñanza individual, la enseñanza personalizada parte de un planteamiento colaborativo y que reside en el profesor animar a los alumnos a hacer dar un enfoque creativo a su aprendizaje y supervisar el resultado.

Lo que significa que la enseñanza personalizada requiere un cambio de paradigma en la práctica educativa desde la instrucción hacia la construcción."