IT Addict, "High Tech made Simple" / This blog has moved to

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Moving from Blogger to Wordpress: update your RSS feed!

Since I started blogging, exactly two months ago, I have been advocating that the very best enterprises needed to focus on serving their customers everyday better - one of my favourite topics being that Information Systems & Technology could empower these companies´ processes towards the necessary "operational excellence" achievement. In other words, I´m a strong believer that tomorrow´s leading companies in all industries will be the ones which will have proven a certain mastery in creating and servicing a competitive advantage thanks to IT-driven projects.

There is a word for all this mess, "e-Business": use the best technologies, and make these used and understood by your ecosystem (suppliers, employees, etc.) to serve you customer best.

I felt that I had no right writing about something I actually wasn´t applying nor planning to implement. This blog is an enterprise in its own: it requires dedication, time, patience, and the drive to write, or at least try and do my best to write interesting "IT Addict" stuff. Furthermore, I have a fast-growing portfolio of very bright customers: you! Through gathering feedbacks, I realized you were overall pretty satisfied with the content & design, but that you wanted me to switch, for reasons I still don´t understand well, from Blogger - a tool you consider being "blogging for dummies", to a more "professional" platform like TypePad or WordPress. I´ve chosen the latter.

My goal being to serve better my community, of which you belong to as long as you read me and leave comments, I hope I found a good way to illustrate how a technology upgrade (from the Blogger platform to the WordPress software) may enhance customer satisfaction.

Now that the message has come accross, here are a few housekeeping remarks:

- Do not leave comments on anymore, go to instead (update your bookmarks); you will anyways be able to find my blog on

- I made a slight blog title change, from "IT Addict, high-tech made easy" to "Tech IT Easy", under the name of a shop bearing such a name I saw in Rome;

- Update my RSS feed on your RSS reader from to for posts and for comments;

- I´m in middle of the migration process (making sure all the comments are there, pictures right-sized, no broken links, browsing features, etc.) and I should be done by the August 30th 2006. Consequently, I should be most grateful if you do excuse any inconvenience likely to happen until then.

- I´d like to thank: Blogger for providing me with a very simple tool that helped me start blogging; WordPress for making its superb software platform available to all for free (I added many interesting new features such as the last comments published); and you for your time and faithfullness in my writings & thoughts. I hope this is only the beginning of our collaborative sharings on the utmostly interesting topic of Information Technology.

See you right now on Tech IT Easy.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Entrepreneurial Brainstorming session N.3:

Which blogger hasn´t dreamt of accessing a sort of blogospheric map?

Blogs, as pretty much anything social, are organized in networks. If a visit doesn´t make of you a community member (Steve? Leo? ;-) ), leaving a comment includes you in a conversation and leaves a link towards your own personal space.

My idea would be to build a tool tracking networks on the blogosphere. In other words, would be an "automatic visual LinkedIn", where you could see who is connected to whom, and how strong their ties are. For instance, X & Y both leave comments on Z´s blog, so Z connects them. But Z leaves comments on Y´s blog, not on X´s blog, so the Y-Z link is stronger than the X-Z one.

I believe categories of bloggers should appear very fast, becoming communities of common interests (IT, Art, Rock music, entrepreneurship, Ventures Capital, Politics, etc.).

As usual, I´m not displaying any business model hint until it´s been commented (by the way, you´ll find commented what I think the business model answer is on

Monday, August 14, 2006

Kari Silvennoinen on Project Management

I spent a week-end in the world´s most beautiful city. You name it: Rome. Rome is just a big breathtaking open-air museum, and an open-air fashion show too by the way.

Here on the picture, you see my friend Kari, from Helsinki, Finland. We were brunching at ´Gusto yesterday, a very trendy place not far from the Spanish Stepsides (the exact address is Piazza Augusto Imperatore 9). Kari provided me with very useful professional insights, and agreed for me to share it on this blog.

Kari is an IT Project Manager at a major Nordic energy company. His projects involve mobile messaging platform implementation and IT risk and governance issues, among others. He is accountable for the project´s budget, quality and is obviously expected to make it match deadlines.

More interesting is the fact that Kari usually doesn´t have dedicated resources: he needs to "borrow people" from different types of IT resources (IT dept., contractors, etc.), people who don´t necessarily have time (or willingness) to commit to another project, and boss. You can imagine how enhanced Kari´s diplomatic & negotiation skills must have resulted! The role of the project owner (the Project Manager´s supervisor, directly reporting to the CIO) is also key: the project owner (who has the hierarchical clout) and manager (who has the execution drive) really need to seduce "client departments" when explaining why this project fits the company culture, goals, but also why the end-customer will benefit from such a service.

No doubt Scandinavian technological leadership and culture of consensus & dialogue help a lot in this challenging environment.

Oh, by the way & before I finish, here is Kari´s daily reading roll:
- Daring Fireball (Apple news, Kari is Mac-addicted)
- Reddit (news)
- (News for nerds)
- and the late Drunken Blog (about Apple)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Apple vs. Dell: the victory of marketing leadership over operational excellence?

Is the bell tolling for process-intensive (Dell, Home Depot, Amazon, Wal Mart, HP, Ikea, etc.), top of the class in operations, companies? Why have marketing-dept. driven companies (Apple, Nescafé, American Express, l´Oréal) so strongly gained momentum in the recent months?

Take the Dell-Apple bullfight. Check this MacDailyNews article. Ceteris paribus, Apple computers (laptops & desktops) now appear to be less expensive than Dells (see an example here, in Spanish but easy to pick up).

As a reminder, Apple´s market cap has been topping the one of Dell since the early days of May 2006.

Furthermore, Apple blows Dell away at the Google fight (see picture below).

Laptop furnitures: a niche market yet to be taken over by a sound leader

The 41 years old German architect Konstantin Grcic´s last blockbuster is nothing else but a laptop-friendly geek´s chair. I find it pretty cool.

I believe there is still a market for a beautiful, metal-designed, fashionable laptop furniture manufacturer. When you browse the Ikea, Home Depot & Office Depot websites, you indeed find some nice stuff - but people spend so much time on their laptop that they might let go a little premium to afford a unique environment for the time they use it from home.

Furthermore, laptop sales having outperformed desktop computers for half a decade, there is no reason why laptop-focused furniture sales aren´t skyrocketing.

Creative launches an iPod killer

I´m not an iPod fan (see post). And I´m happy to see Creative Technology launching, for the sake of all, its ZEN: elegant, light, powerful, & most of all working perfectly - unlike its Apple couterpart - in an opened, peer-to-peer, knowledge and information sharing environment.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Entrepreneurial Brainstorming session N.2: would basically be the Internet gateway of a real satellite television channel, the television channel of the People.

People vote (through the Internet, mobile phones, fax & telephone) for plannings, and the TV shows & programs to fill plannings in. Commercial broadcasting time will be broken down through an auction system: advertisers will be required to bid in order to obtain the targeted commercial timeframes.

People will also vote for the best commercials, which will be granted free prime-time spots to be allocated to charities. Basically, the winning advertiser will give out its commercial time to a charity it will have chosen.

Again, people will send donations (Internet, mobile phones, etc.). Biggest donators (individuals or organizations) will be granted free prime-time spots and be able to chose the advertising (politics, environment, themselves talking, their company, etc.) they´d like to watch.

This way, there would be no more program nobody would want to see. People will feel they entertain more wisely, spend their time & money better, & contribute to fighting poverty & diseases.

To make it short, is a TV channel inspired by eBay, LastMinute, Kiva & Wikipedia.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A few days in Barcelona with Vincent

My friend Vincent van Wylick just left Barcelona. Vincent is from nowhere: he speaks Dutch with a German accent and German with a Dutch accent...Born in Germany with parents from Yougoslavia & the Netherlands, a Dutch citizen, Vincent has studied in Manchester before working for Sony during 3.5 years in various countries & assignments related to marketing & innovation. He then went for Graduate studies in Rotterdam and is planning to start a financial auditing career in Luxemburg.

Vincent came to visit me for 5 days. Although I was most of the time working, we managed to find some time to to exchange on matters such as innovation, entrepreneurial economics, high tech, Apple, software, the Internet, & girls..which didn´t prevent us from drinking too much, eating interesting food, meeting nice people and listening to some really good live jazz music. I had met Vincent during my time, as an international exchange student within the Master of Entrepreneurship & New Business Venturing at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus Universiteit.

We had teamed up to write a research paper about the best possible entrepreneurial teams. Vincent & I had come up with the conclusion that Asterix (mental agility) & Obelix (strength) was a good founding pair, and we defined the perfect profile: Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is both a geek (Amazon rests on its customer-centric information systems) and a Wall-Street insider (helpful during fundraising times). Those who actually feel like reading the paper may write an e-mail to me and I´ll be glad to send it (.pdf).

The main reason why I´ve decided to write such a post is that Vincent underwent quite an interesting, although sad, adventure. As he was polishing his thesis, he landed a consulting job within one of the European Space Agency incubator´ start-ups. Founded by an Israeli / Belgian / American team, the start-up was devising virtual space tourism systems when its founder suddenly died in his early thirties. So did the project, obviously. It´s pretty difficult to comment on such a story, but I wanted to share it with you all.

This being said, Vincent is already thinking of executing one of his business ideas - a sort of Web 2.0 publishing company. Well, I´m afraid I can´t say much more, but you may expect Vincent, a very heavy reader, to come up with disruptive innovation (he was trained at Sony) in this ageing business.

Adendum 1: I have actually shot a video interview of Vincent. It´s pretty big (500 MB), and I´d like to start videocasting on this very blog. Would anyone be kind enough to suggest me a videocasting hosting service as well as a compression standard enabling me to plug the video (.avi)? I was thinking of YouTube and thanks in advance.

Adendum 2: for your information, Vincent´s favourite websites both cast video. These are the great & utmostly famous Venture Voice & a Stanford University lectures broadcasting service I don´t know yet. Vince, could you please provide IT Addict´s readership with the exact address in the comments section?

Entrepreneurial brainstorming session N.1:

The domain name is still available and I don´t understand why.
Well I guess you get from the very name of the website what it´s all about - good, that means the name´s well chosen. I've been thinking about such a service since I discovered Wikipedia, quite a while ago. It might already exist, but I haven´t seen such a thing so far. Still don´t get the picture? is an Internet wiki platform empowering users of all products of all brands to build their own customer service. Basically, the venture would need to convince potential clients, namely key accounts, to 'outsource' their customer service to their..customers! Employees specializing in certain business areas would be moderators in their fields, and companies would save millions in documentation and customer support service fees (such key accounts should keep their traditional customer service on the phone though; but why not also through being allowed to Skype the relevant moderator?). The wiki platform should be devised to enable a congregation of as many companies as possible, as well as brands, products, versions into a single graphic chart customable at the client´ convenience. The classifications & categorization may be inspired from, for instance, Wikipedia.

There you go. I'm not elaborating more on this business idea to let our creativity work a little bit. would´ve been helpful when Dell laptops burst, when Apple laptops burnt, when Smart cars & Class A Mercedes flipped over. Customers are more often than we think more reactive than product manufacturers themselves - a rather logical stance since customers are the ones that actually use the products.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Entrepreneurs, forget about NDAs!

Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) are useless.

At least that´s my opinion. I won´t be the first person advocating for their inefficiency and removal from entrepreneurial business practices (I´m not talking here about medical, law, industrial or any other "established" environment).

If you have an idea, say it! share it with your friends, family members, & the people you meet everyday. Why?

I can think of at least 3 reasons:
- Firstly, they´ll start challenging you and help you improve the initial idea.
- Second, because they´ll feel honored that your trust them and might well help you later on if they can.
- Third, imagine you talk to someone about your idea and realize that (s)he´s decided to start executing right away without telling you: if your idea has entry-barriers low enough to enable anybody to implement in a wink, I guess you should builp up your project, work harder to fit your market needs so that it becomes unmatchable by the competition in the short-run.

That´s why I´ll start posting a few ideas - all IT addicted- from time to time on this very blog, starting as of tomorrow. I believe we´ll be able to improve such ideas a good deal. And, who knows, some of you might well feel like starting-up something related to such brainstormings.

PS: it goes without saying that if someone comes to you with an idea, asking you for your opinion and input but for the strictest confidentiality as well, the most basic ethical discipline will make you even forget that you met with this would-be entrepreneur. However, before you shut your mouth forever to respect her/his will, take one or two minutes to try to convince her/he to display entrepreneurial ideas. There would be just nothing to regret since every word, comment, move, external input can only help.

Monday, August 07, 2006

56% of bloggers sometimes or often double-check their sources. What about journalists?

Although a mere 34% of bloggers define themselves as journalists, the bulk of them, actually 56%, sometimes or often double-check their sources (source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, 20th July 2006 report).

I believe 100% of journalists call themselves journalists. But how many exactly double-check their sources? How many 'professional' journalists cross information drilled through different channels before publishing/displaying/broadcasting it?

Believe me or not, the answer is "very few". Through a non-profit venture I worked for during 4 years, I had the opportunity to meet many, many journalists, one different everyday at some point, from many countries

Some journalists are sincerely curious, smart, honest, accountable, reliable, trustworthy, professional & helpful when it comes to helping readers getting to know what happened where. Unfortunately, such good journalists are a minority. I'm writing 'good' the same way I would qualify someone as 'a good person', in a narrow sense: I'm not talking about their skills, I'm not saying they're good rather than excellent, because these good people are just doing their real job, as it should be done.

Indeed, too many journalists forget about their initial mission statement: provide THE MOST ACCURATE FACTS to readers, rather than viewpoints or political messages. Instead of that, journalists are urged by their editors or their paper's owners to convey specific political messages. Reading one single newspaper hardly helps getting a clear picture of what's really going on since every single one of them expresses a viewpoint. The solution for us, citizens, would be to read all sorts of papers (different doctrines, countries, etc.) to confront representative opinions - which is hardly feasible for someone who can´t spend more than an hour a day reading the news.

Furthermore, many of the journalists I talked to confessed that, being conscious of their clout, they sometimes tend to abuse it. And when they do so, what happens? Well, nothing...A reader sends a letter to the editor, and this letter's most of the time not published, if read at all. However, in most regulated environments, there are consequences to one's mistakes: Andersen was dismantled in the aftermath of Enron, medical doctors get sued in case they do something wrong, unskilled politicians don't get reelected (well..I agree there's room for discussion on this one), thiefs get trialed, murderers get sentenced to jail or Death Penalty, Zidane got a red card..humm, let's stop piling up examples - you got the idea.

It all boils down to the following conclusion: no check & balances & seldom double-checking of sources (due to lack of time, fast-moving Society, publishing deadline, etc. - journalists just rephrase what Press Agencies broadcast), traditional media are in a pickle. Collateral damage: less and less citizens trust the media.

This is where blogs come in. Blogs, as I see it, constitute a Hegelian overtaking of traditional media routine:
Be inaccurate, just once, and someone will inevitably post a correcting comment.
Don´t mention your source & people will ask for it.
Try to lie on a blog: the blogging community will immediatly retaliate.
Blogs are also a fabulous counter-power for the people. Churchill once said during a House of Commons speech, on November 11th 1947, that "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." Thanks to blogging, democracies widen the gap that separates them from autocracies, symbolized by traditional media who have become more powerful than necessary.

Beyond "techno-fetichism & -nationalism": God Bless America´s Venturesome Consumers

I came across a refreshing article in the Economics Focus column of this Friday´s issue of the opinion-shaping, free-market, weekly, British magazine The Economist.

Amar Bidhé, a Professor of entrepreneurship at Columbia University´s business school, explained in a recent paper why mushrooming alarming reports stating that the US economy will suffer from a shortcoming of engineering graduates are mistaken.

Bidhé distinguishes upstream (R&D offsprings, inventions) and downstream (a service or product) innovations, and demonstrates that good managers, able for instance to bring a patent to the market, matter as much if not more than good engineers. Bidhé also advocates the Wal Mart case, striking a positive opinion about a company that has optimized its operational processes (downstream innovation) to lower prices and attract more consumers.

I recommend you to read Bidhé´s paper as well as The Economist´s column, which ends with Amar Bidhé´s main idea: there is no added value without a transaction, and since American consumers often lead the use of innovation products & services, the more innovation in China & India, the better for the United States. Consumers, not technologists, reap off the benefits of innovation. Hence the whole point of the demonstration: "America´s policymakers should worry more about how to keep consumers consuming than about the number of science and engineering graduates, at home or in the East" (source: The Economist).

Logistics: Information (Technology) matters every day more

This week-end I found some time to hang around the Barcelona Logistics Zone, hidden by the hill of Montjuic, at the Southern exit of the city.

I love watching the actual happening of international business. I believe the contemplation of merchandise trade flows helps understanding how the world goes round: a French container departs to Japan, a Chinese one arrives in Spain, etc. By the way, I suggest you combine harbor watch with reading a good Albert Londres novel for a unique, genuine, amazing brainstorming experience. It´s pretty much like making love whilst sipping a Chivas on the rocks.

Globalization has made the Information and Services Society hit the headlines, but though the feeling of distance might be abolished by IT, geography will never be annihilated. Moreover, we more and more tend to talk about what moves all around (capital, humans, goods, services, etc.) but tend to forget about what remains stable: distances. Distances matter more and more in a growing Consumers Society. We consume a hell lot of products, every day more products.

Products trade go through containers, a standardized metal "box" invented in the end of the 60s in Hong Kong. Containers fit the loading infrastructures of boats, airplanes, trains and trucks and are bound to at least use 2 of these transportation means during each trip, often more. Paradoxically enough, containers spend most of their time in storage areas like warehouses. Since containers are devised to make goods move from one place to another in a minimum period of time, one of the big challenges of supply chain management is to reduce storage periods.

This is where IT comes in: reducing storage time will lower working capital, and better the transaction economics. In this respect, IT can help.

78% of the logistics industry players make less than half a million dollars a year (source: International Data Corporation). Hence an overall limited of resources available for IT investments, which explains why, apart from MNCs who for a decade have been investing heavily to foster a competitive advantage. Trucking corporations have been particularly late in adopting Information Technology.

So far, it´s been proven (source: Ibid.) that the use of Internet & collaboration tools lowers transportation costs by 20% to 30%. Such achievements were reached thanks to:
- a better accountability of supply chain flows;
- inventory data sharing between manufacturers, transporters and retailers.

See for yourself, the best logistics companies are no more in the logistics business but in the information business. This is due to the very shift of the industry, enhanced by the generalization of EDI systems (Electronic Data Interchange) and soon-to-come (?) generalization of RFID.

I was always amazed by the FedEx tracking feature, allowing end-users to know exactly where a shipment is. I think information about one´s flows help accepting natural shipping delays due to geographical distances, never to be abolished. Let´s however make sure financial analysts don´t start analyzing logistics player stocks like media company ones...

Friday, August 04, 2006

On Microsoft´s diversified competitive environment

Which company doesn´t compete in a way or another with Microsoft? I can only think of two: Coca-Cola and Ikea...

Seriously speaking, Microsoft´s huge free cash-flows finally find some battlegrounds to be invested. It looks today as if Microsoft could start competing against any software or Internet industry player whose market proves sufficiently juicy.

Take a look at Microsoft´s competitive landscape, & you´ll find how tough the software/Internet environment is since only top-notch companies operate in this industry:

- Operating Systems: Microsoft Windows vs. the open-source community´s Linux
- Consumer Electronics / Digital Industry: Microsoft Zune (an iPod-like, an AppleStore-like, an iTunes-like, MS Media Player vs. Quicktime - Microsoft is, like Apple did, keeping its environment closed, too bad for them) vs. Apple
- Video Game Stations: Microsoft´s XBox 360 vs. the Sony Playstation
- Internet Browsers: MSIE vs. Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari, Crazy Browser, etc.
- Search Engines, Instant Messengers, eMail services: MSN vs. Google
- Same as above, + Media Content: MSN vs. Yahoo!
- Encyclopedies: Encarta vs. Wikipedia, Britannica, Universaelis, etc.
- Enterprise Resources Planning (mostly business intelligence & customer relationship management): Microsoft Dynamics (ex-Business Solutions)´s Axapta, Navision & MapPoint vs. SAP, Oracle-Siebel, Business Objects,, Amdocs, Cognos, Sage, etc.
- Contacts Management: Outlook vs. Mozilla Thunderbird, Eudora, Novell Groupwise, and even IBM´s Lotus Notes & Domino
- Office Solutions: MS Office vs. Open Office, Star Office, Corel WordPerfect Office, Google, etc.
- Personal Finance: MS Money vs. QuickBooks, etc.
- Internet Development Standards: the .Net galaxy (AJAX, XML, etc.) vs. LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-Php)

And I´m forgetting so many (MS Meeting, MS Visio, MS Project, Windows Mobile, MS Exchange Server, Virtual PC, etc.)...I believe Microsoft´s ability to deal with so many impressive competitors deserves an in-depth reengineering of "commonly-agreed corporate strategy rules" like, for instance, "diversification is evil" & "the BCG matrix is wrong" which prove to be jeopardized by Microsoft´s software industry leadership. But that´s another story.

As I see it, Microsoft´s main strengths are:
- top-of-the-class Software Development Project Management Methods, undoubtedly;
- R&D horsepower (MS doesn´t find it too hard to attract talents from all over the world; R&D headcount: over 25K!)
- a certain know-how when it comes to reaching the mass-market; I would say this was Bill Gates´ genius, cf. the democratization of Windows 3.0 against MacOS, IBM OS/2 and Jean-Louis Gassée´s BeOS, although Microsoft undoubtedly had the worst product at the time i.e. less stable and user-friendly.

Before I finish, I bet Microsoft will soon make (say before 31 December 2007) a VoIP acquisition (Wengo?) to allow Outlook users to basically "Skype" their contacts who are online just by clicking on a button. Who bets?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

CIOs ought to be business people, not geeks

Let's see how you react to this stance: I more and more tend to believe that, although it would definitely be best if engineering trained, CIOs (Chief Information Officers) need first to be business & management people, not geeks.

Further to that, CIOs should be promoted from the very inside of a company, and be familiar with its key processes and operations. Then, CIOs should obviously be keen on working in IT-intensive environments, though they don't necessarily need to be IT people.

Facing the dilemma "who should I chose between an excellent functional manager of one of my business key processes, and an excellent technologist?", I would definitely go for the process-knowledgeable candidate since this person will empirically know what it takes to optimize current operational routines, and foster a breakthrough from good to great value chain execution.

What about you? Please feel free to discuss my stance.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

CRM software vendors: leaders should pay attention.. rising stars (ASP only) & AmDocs (combining billing and CRM solutions). Both are pushing hard. See the following Customer Relationship Management software vendors ranking by Gartner:

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Wondering about which blog service fits ITAddict´s needs best

Due to recurrent uploading problems with Blogger at the moment, I´ve been wondering whether I had made a good decision or not opening "ITAddict: IT made simple" on Google´s Blogger / Blogspot. Don´t worry, this blog´s very existence in by no way in danger: I enjoy blogging a lot.

To tell you the truth, when it comes to chosing a service to power my blog, I´m not sure I actually made a choice: I just happened to open it on Blogger without thinking too much (I had had a former, pretty interesting, blogging experience one year ago - which lasted 3 weeks and as many posts, using Overblog - which wasn´t bad at all).

Since I didn´t want to pay anything to be able to blog (Six Apart´s Typepad and Movable Type), my pain should more or less have resulted in chosing between Overblog, Wordpress, and Blogger.

Blogger is very easy to use, powered by Google (ungrounded rumors: there are good chances that search rankings will be higher!), and easy to remember since so many people use it. But it lacks functionalities such as editing comments (rather useful when you realize you made a spelling mistake), and has been unstable recently. Another shortcoming: the layout is the one you should expect if you user Mozilla Firefox to browse the Net; otherwise, and especially on MS Internet Explorer, the design is crappy and definitely not what you should expect.

1) too late...
2) I´m not convinced another blog service provider would´ve done much better (e.g. WordPress´s rather slow at loading; Overblog is too French; TypePad is not free; etc.).

Adendum 1: I just happenend to discover that Olivier Ezratty, a former Microsoft France executive and now a coach for start-uppers, explained on his blog (in French) why he chose WordPress. To French-speaking readers (I apologize to the majority): Olivier Ezratty´s blog is one of my favourite daily visits. I don´t know the man, but his analyses are unique. We share a common drawback, which is having a hard time writing short posts :-). But though some of mines are concise, you won´t find any single one of them on his.
Forgetting about length, you have access on to the most accurate analyses on the software industry (innovation, R&D) in general and Microsoft on particular (as an insider, his writing usually involves a sarcastic tone when it comes to regulation or lobbying; e.g. "MS fined by Bruxelles for lower-tier software engineering methods"). You may also find in a recent post an enlightening interview of Bernard Liautaud, the co-founder & the Chairman of Business Intelligence software player Business Objects. Interestingly enough, the interview was published in the magazine "Centraliens", an in-house alumni review of Ecole Centrale Paris, a leading French engineering school where I´ll be starting in September majoring in computer science, telcos & project management thanks to an agreement between Centrale & my home-university, HEC Paris.

Adendum 2: ...the same Olivier Ezratty provides his readers with an a link: Emily Robbins describes on her blog her experience with both WordPress & Typepad.

Adendum 3: 5 blog services reviewed by CNet. Blogger ranks last between Typepad, MSN Spaces, Yahoo! 360 & AOL Journals but taking a look at user comments, Blogger´s far ahead. Although I´m aware of the sample bias we´re facing here.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Mitfahrerzentrale: a German collective car trips matching platform

This week-end I came to know (thank you Mathias) about the existence of a really useful German website: Mitfahrerzentrale.

The idea is very simple: say you're driving somewhere this week-end (anywhere in Europe) and have some seats available in the car. Just mention where you're going, how much you're asking people who want to join you (either on the full trip or just a part of it), and the platform will match you with travellers. Same business the other way round: you're broke, cannot afford a plane, train or bus ticket. Just log on Mitfahrerzentrale and you're on your way to the destination of your dreams!

I have to say I loved the idea: it's simple, environment- and wallet-friendly. And it's safe since travellers are allowed to provide a feedback on their drivers (and conversely): safe driving? friendly atmosphere? etc. Great site!

Despite common belief that all internet intermediation ideas (suppliers - manufacturers; buyers - sellers; women - men; companies - investors; etc.) have been exploited, there is still plenty of room for creative and dynamic people to reinvent the world. And say you're not creative enough to come up with you own innovative business model, just reproduce in your country a successful story like the one of Mitfahrerzentrale in Germany!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

IHT: "France's mysterious embrace of blogs"

Here's a great article on skyrocketing blogging habits in France, published in the International Herald Tribune's Technology columns.

Just to tease you before you read it, let me just quote this really funny but so true sentence from the article: "We had 16 presidential candidates at the last election, and we will probably have the same number next year," Benjamin Griveaux said. "Every French person wants to run the country - a blog is the next best option."

Loic Le Meur, the Godfather of the French blogosphere, is also quoted in the article.

PS: I knew I had seen this name Benjamin Griveaux somewhere, and I quickly realized I had actually talked to Benjamin Griveaux, an HEC alumni if my memory's correct, an advisor at think-tank A Gauche en Europe , several times when trying to invite French center-left politicians to an AFIDORA symposium at the French Parliament in May 2005. The world's so small...

Friday, July 28, 2006, a useful traffic analysis service for bloggers

Many thanks to Xavier Fisselier, a Barcelona-based blogger as well, but also an entrepreneur and a marketing passionate (to French speakers, check his blog), for letting me know about this new service. I've been testing 10^3 bees for a few days now, and I like it. Though certainly not exhaustive, 10^3 bees is simple, reliable & easy to deploy. I recommend to all my fellow bloggers.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Innovation Clusters: South-West Paris, a Technology Valley

Too often do I hear that France lacks a Silicon Valley.

Last occurence: I recently exchanged a few e-mails with blogger Hadrien Simon, also a member of AFIDORA.
In one of these e-mails, Hadrien harshly criticized France for fostering local innovation centers rather than backing the creation of a true Silicon Valley.

There are many actually many innovation parks in France (Rennes in telcos, Lyon in software and video games, Grenoble in semi-conductors, Toulouse in aeronautics and biotech, Bordeaux in structure mechanics modelling, Lille in retail information systems, Metz, Montpellier, etc.). But the technological innovation clusters landscape is by far dominated by French Riviera´s Sophia Antipolis, near Nice, which ranks #2, and, quite unsurprisingly, Paris and its South West outskirts as the leading technology innovation center in France.

South West Paris (between highways A6 and A14 on the map, broadly speaking) concentrates everything that´s needed to foster and encourage innovation.
There are plenty of research centers in leading engineering universities such as Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau, Ecole Centrale Paris in Châtenay-Malabry, SupOptique, Supélec, all-mighty University of Paris-XI in Orsay, University of Sceaux near Versailles, National Institute of Agronomy in Grignon, National Telecommunications Institute in Evry, Pharmacy Academy in Châtenay-Malabry, and I´m probably missing a few. The business University I study in, HEC Paris, is also headquartered in the area, 5 minutes away by car from National Institute of Agronomy, Ecole Polytechnique, Supélec & SupOptique (the latter & Polytechnique share a campus).
Many, many, many global corporations are based in the area (in Versailles, Issy-les-Moulineaux, Boulogne-Billancourt, Vélizy Villacoublay, Buc, Saint-Cloud, etc.). To name a few: CISCO, Alcatel-Lucent, Bouygues, GE Healthcare, Thalès, Nissan-Renault´s Technology Center, EADS Astrium, etc. etc. etc. Microsoft and Apple are not so far away (head North 20 minutes to department 91 taking A86).
Financial Center La Défense is pretty close, and providing that most Venture Capital firms are located in the 8th district of Paris, according to the corporate blog of fundraising boutique Chausson Finance, the "1-hour driving rule" is well-respected, even under the worst traffic conditions.
South West Paris has it all. We´re talking here about the highest brain concentration in Europe.

But true, Paris´s no Silicon Valley, and conversely. How could the Silicon Valley ever be replicated in any other place than..the actual Silicon Valley? It´s just impossible.

Say you´re a CEO: do you really want to become Jack Welch or would you rather learn his methods from some legacy he left (be N.1 or 2; leadership training; Six Sigma; was going over best executive profils himself saying "It´s my job"; etc.)? Anyways, had you wanted to become Jack Welch, this would´ve been impossible! The logics applies to innovation clusters too: no place anywhere in the world will ever be able to become another Silicon Valley. There is just one Silicon Valley and it´s in US California, 1 hour driving North from San Francisco, around Stanford University´s home city Palo Alto.

I believe Paul Graham, an essayist and programmer, is mistaking when writing an irrational though brillant article entitled "How to be Silicon Valley". However, I think Paul Graham´s "Why startups condense in America" is far more relevant. The Silicon Valley model should be studied, understood, digested, and reinvented according to the specificities of a targeted location where human & financial capital are available as much as the political brave willingness to ease Schumpeterian creative destruction.

I should wind up stating that territories should focus on attracting and retaining capital, both humain and financial. In today´s globalizing, everyday flatter world, everything moves, flies and flows apart from geography. Ensuring and promoting the global competitivity of regional territories is, according to Bill Clinton´s economic advisor and Harvard Professor Robert B. Reich (see a book that changed my life, The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for the 21st Century Capitalism), the single mission-statement political leaders of all sorts should be obsessed by. Hummm..such a long way to go.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Towards a European Small Business Act?

At least, I hope so.

Between 23 and 40% of the United States of America´s public procurement have been granted to small and medium businesses (SMEs) since 1953. The American Small Business Act has helped many innovative start-ups become high-growth SMEs, in other words Gazelles, before eventually going public, abroad and joining the multi-national enterprises (MNEs) club.

In the last 30 years, Europe hasn´t created so many world leaders when compared to the United States or, say, India. Take the Internet industry for instance: the Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, eBay (which acquired Luxembourg-founded by Swedish & Danish entrepreneurs Skype), Amazon are all US-born and raised. And the same goes for many industries. Europe has a hard time making SMEs become world leaders, despite obvious entrepreneurial capabilities: the bulk of the industrial fabric in many European countries is made of SMEs (Spain, Italy, Germany, to name a few).

On the one hand, most public procurement tenders are disputed between already leading. On the other hand, the European Union wants to promote, like it or not, equal chances to succeed for all. Quite paradoxically, global European leaders are thriving whilst unemployment rises.

So let´s give a European Small Business Act a chance. I advocate the creation of mechanisms that would allow the best SMEs to supply European Governments with their products and services. European public procurement currently amounting to 1500bn€, a European Small Business Act appears at least as a short term solution to rising employment and SMEs development uncertainties.

If you agree with my stance, if you believe like me that Europe needs a Small Business Act, that the best companies - independently from their size - deserve a share of the 1500bn€ per annum public procurement market, sign the EuroSBA petition.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

IT as a business process optimizer: back in B-school tracks

Yesterday, I read an extremely interesting article in the British daily newspaper Financial Times. Basically, two NYU professors, namely Vasant Dhar & Arun Sundararajan, conducted a research about the importance of IT teachings in MBA programs.

After the bubble burst, IT suddenly become a separate area despite having been a superstar two-letters word during the net economy period.

I found really telling the parallel drawn in the article between finance and IT: market finance is a stand-alone set of skills that are very specific to people willing to work on capital markets; corporate finance is on the other hand a subject every single executive should know about, since investment decision-making science is based on such measurings as ROI, IRR, EVA, NPV, EPS, WACC, etc.
The same actually goes for IT: IT is both about studying technologies (like market finance: everybody doesn´t need to know about networks architecture, etc.) and the way technology apply to companies by driving business processes improvements. Henceforth, the impact of Information Technology in organizations should be an underlying topic in all business management courses. According to the article, the universities of Stanford & Harvard seem to have integrated IT as a performance driver in all its MBA course topics.

As far as I´m concerned, I enjoyed a very good exposure to the challenges and opportunities raised by the integration of technologies at HEC Paris: you get compulsory general MS Office training seminars, optimization and simulations on Excel, statistical marketing analysis on SPSS, Information Systems (ERP, networks, security, databases), and if you chose to, there are Visual Basic for Excel classes too. Furthermore, IT systems were often to referred to as potential competitive advantages in marketing (SRM, CRM, BI, etc.), supply chain (SCM, RFID), management accounting and control (tableaux de bord, balance score-card, etc.), financial economics (arbitrage, etc.), etc. Not bad, uh?

If I may add something, it looks as if the best IT-driven companies are most of the time the best performing and most respected corporations in their field. For instance, an e-Business investment plan made CISCO save 1.4bn$ last year (e-education, distance collaborative projects, billing, etc.); take a look on HP (IT-driven operations & logistics), Dell (a company that sell IT products through IT systems that had been providing its value chain a great advantage over the competition for several years), Home Depot, IBM, GE, Procter & Gamble, Decathlon, Toyota, Nissan, etc.

Basically every leading company is actually a leader thanks to a perfect fit between information systems & organizational structure. A good understanding of the integration of information technologies within corporations has become a key skill, one of these skills that will differentiate good people with excellent change agents.

But still, too many business management students believe IT is the designated area of all geeks and techies. Too bad!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Petite Anglaise, a British secretary in Paris, fired..BECAUSE OF BLOGGING!

I discovered on Loic´s blog that Catherine, a British secretary who´s been living in Paris for more than a decade, was fired because she was blogging.
Petite Anglaise´s former boss, a so-called Old-School boss in Catherine´s own words, evoked 2 main reasons why he dismissed her:
1) he was concerned by the fact that she might blog from work;
2) Catherine was broadcasting too much information about her workplace.

Here are my two answers to these two points:
2) On the latter, I can tell that, on, one could never guess which organization Catherine was working for...There are thousands of companies in Paris, most of them unknown to the mass. Wouldn´t her boss be a little paranoïc too?
1) On the former reason, well, if Catherine is a good secretary, why would she deserve such a treatment? Isn´t the most important bit the fact that her work is done and well done?
I have blogged from work too , that´s what I´m doing right now.

But I respect a few rules and an ethical, employer-employee interests convergence approach regarding blogging from the workplace:

- there should be economies of scale between blogging and working; I work for a capital and business development company involved at the moment in several entrepreneurial Internet projects. Consequently, blogging helps me bring ideas to the business, know in advance about new consumer trends, learn about ways to create a marketing buzz, etc.
In other words, blogging helps understanding better how the Internet shapes the world, and how a changing world will change the Internet. I´m pretty sure my boss is happy to have someone to ask questions to when uncertain about the raison d´être of a new web technology or website. And if it wouldn´t have been the case, he would have told me so and I would´ve stopped spending twice 30/35 minutes a day blogging.

- Oups, that was my second point. Getting disciplined is necessary: I never, ever spend more than an hour per day blogging. Too many things to do in 24 hours!

- Third, I prepare my posts the night before, from home (I´m sharing a flat where there´s unfortunately no Internet connexion yet), it´s a nice thing to do before going to bed, and behaving this way I don´t waste my time at work writing stuff that aren´t connected to my daily missions. A USB stick helps me carry support articles back and forth.

- Last, but not least, I make sure I do not disclose neither confidential nor negative information about my workplace, my company and its stakeholders. This is an implicit moral contract, that doesn´t apply to blogging only, I´ve always and will always abide by: when saying bad things about a place where you´re spending half of your time, if not more, you´re also sending a negative signal about you.

When all´s said and done, let´s wish Petite Anglaise good luck during her not-so-soon-to-come trial. By the way, Catherine´s blog is so cool, well-organized and her posts so clear and clever that I do not doubt 1 sec. that she´ll be job hunted in the next week thanks to her blog.

PS: this reminds me of another story. A Delta Airlines flight attendant was already fired for posting on her blog a picture of her in a plane...This is one more reason why you should never fly Delta Airlines. Delta Airlines is an awful company and here´s why.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Entrepreneurial finance for fast-growing start-ups: bootstrap & secure bridge financing. Venture Capitalists may help.

Thanks to this very blog, a Chicago-based young engineer & entrepreneur Skyped me yesterday. John thought I was a VC. Well, I´m a trainee in a capital and business development company - that´s slightly different in terms of decision-making power)); though I´m learning a lot.

John is a pure geek, in his own saying. We had a great conversation: I was happy to give him advice, and I hope John found some of it useful.

A fantastic programmer, John gives a damn about operations, finance and marketing. He´s been developing a software that suits the needs of many US & Chinese Universities (John´s family lives in China and is connected to the academic world over there). Anticipating his future need for manufacturing the software (every client University might purchase several hundred licenses), John attended a lecture about bridge financing last week.
- I asked: "How interesting was it?"
- "Probably great, but I still don´t understand what bridge financing is, so I didn´t get the most of it", John replied. "Anyways, considering the high-growth potential of my software company, I don´t need external financing. I don´t want VCs to come onboard and bother me with tons of questions I can´t answer. I prefer to focus on coding perfectly and taking care of clients."

Focus on quality and clients: fantastic attitude!
I praised his words, but told him firstly that growing and making sure cash inflow streams were increasing were two totally different businesses. Especially with clients such as Universities - not considered as fast payers.
Secondly, VCs can be extremely helpful to him. Venture Capitalists are not only boring financiers aiming at cashing out on your back. Some of them are real entrepreneurs, and true, VCs are finance guys, but good VCs get hands-on involved in the business strategy. Furthermore, considering John´s lack of business management experience, VCs could also provide free top-notch consulting on how John´s software company should be scaled.

I tried to make my point about growth and lack of funding resources using two examples, one of them I faced myself taking part of an entrepreneurial adventure in Israel one year ago. I thought what I told John, plus the two examples I used, might be of some help to the numerous geeks that frequently visit IT Addict (I wish...).

1) What bridge financing is

NeedForBridgeFinancing Inc. is a start-up company. Its founder was able to bootstrap in order to get the product R&D, suppliers sourcing and primary business development achieved. Therefore, these bootstrapping financial efforts are considered to be sunk costs.

The entrepreneur came up with a very successful business model. Transformations from primary goods aren´t costly (though the gross margin amounts to 30%), but the value added to the end-user is sound & real. The business plan reveals sales should increase by 5% every month, which is tremendous.

All in all, it´s pretty clear that we´re talking here about a very profitable venture. However, it seems obvious that prior to actually going into business for good, the entrepreneurial team needs to secure an 8-months bridge financing in order to survive its profitable fast-growth (which is often the case in high-tech start-ups) until breaking even. Bridging is a treasury management vehicle, usually a mezzanine loan, devised to help companies finance their net working capital. In the beginning of its operations, a company is just not scaled enough on the competitive landscape to decide how long supplier debts and customer credits should be cleared.

2) Venture Capital as a necessary financing step for entrepreneurial Gazelles

The term Gazelles usually refers to start-up companies, often in the high-tech sector, growing extremely fast. The first time I heard that word was during a lecture on entrepreneurial innovation clusters in the Netherlands: Erik Stam, an at the time bright Ph.D. student and now a Professor at Cambridge University, was letting his students at Rotterdam School of Management know more about his findings on the geography of gazelles in the Netherlands (see .pdf article). In France for instance, "Gazelle" is a label granted to the 2000 fastest-growing companies during two consecutive years. As an example, Photoways, the company ran by the French blogger and entrepreneur Michel de Guilhermier, was accredited "Gazelle" by the French SMEs Minister Renaud Dutreil recently (see post on Michel´s blog - in French, one of the blogs I visit most frequently for the top quality of its writer thoughts).

Well, let´s go back to our second example. The company we´re talking about in this case study definitely deserves the "gazelle" title: its sales grow 100% every month! Unfortunately, its competitive position is rather weak; although its management secured identical payment delays for both suppliers and clients, clients get pretty loose and the executive management of the start-up has no other choice, commercially speaking, than letting them do so - until its competitive bargaining power increases.

Fortunately, the entrepreneurial team had anticipated this situation, thanks to their talks with VCs (one of the VCs was an entrepreneur in the same business, prior to his exit after which he became a VC). So the VCs invested in this business, for the sake of all. Without the capital provided by the professional investors, the entrepreneurs´own financial resources could never have shadowed the development pace of the company in a sustainable way. After one year of operations and though the business model clearly shows profitability, breakeven is yet to come.

John might well have suffered a similar situation hadn´t he realized he needed to surround himself with skilled stakeholders: a team devised to support the software start-up´s scalability (John plans 3-digits growth in the American and Chinese educational market), and proper advisors with established networks and access to capital for the very best projects, such as John´s software start-up. I wish John good luck, success,!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Top 10 Online Advertisers according to Nielsen/NetRatings

Nielsen/NetRatings compiled a webads spendings ranking thanks to data provided by AdRelevance. Though Nielsen/NetRatings´ last podcasting/blogging/advertising .pdf report legitimately provoked a little uprise amongst bloggers (see for instance: Loic Le Meur, Robert Scoble, Frank Barnako) for its lack of podcasting spirit acumen, I believe several things were rather interesting in this release.

What I´d like to point out to show not only crap is issued in Nielsen/NetRatings´ last podcasting/blogging/advertising .pdf report is its interesting Top 10 Advertisers by Estimated Spending table. Not that I feel like analyzing which kind of company would be most likely to waste its marketing budget online, but I believe Nielsen NetRatings´table lacked a Cost per Impression column. So I added it:

What may be drawn down from this table is that online advertising campaigns are largely optimizable: for instance, NextTag spends 10% more than Skype in online promotion, but generates about 3 times the impressions Skype advertising campaigns do. These are undoubtedly figures e-advertising professionals should study thoroughly to make sure they understand the way online spendings ROI could be optimized.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Towards a "project managementization" of organizations

Project Management is, in my opinion, the single most important skill people willing to work in for-profit or not companies should acquire.

The corporate world is not complicated, it is complex i.e. difficult to represent graphically. Therefore, people should learn how to deal with all the departments of a company. The widely spread word to explain such a trend is "transversality".

Project Management doesn´t necessarily mean "to manage a project" but to integrate best within a specific teamworking environment supposed to deliver a defined service or product before a deadline, provided resources constraints.

Project Management is still a young discipline (although the Project Management Institute I´ve just subscribed to is everyday more and more recognized), primarily born in the construction industry, and structured in the IT spheres during the last decade.

Look at these frightening figures: "According to Maxfield, 74% [of all projects] come in over budget, 82% miss deadlines, 79% fail to meet quality or functional specifications, and 67% result in damaged team morale." (source: ComputerWorld) As I see it, projects mainly fail for political reasons or lack of resources.

You must probably be thinking "Jeremy´s fool. Why would companies switch to project structures if project management gives such crappy results?". Well, projects fail because organizations are not project management-focused.

See the chart on the right (sorry, it´s in Spanish. I live in Spain, think in Spanish,..). This is how most companies operate, through departmental and divisional structures. Marketing and Finance spend their time fighting instead of working towards improving business processes; Sales and Production departments can´t be blamed for not getting along well: when sales go up, production people work harder; when sales go down, production people need to justify increased inventories and hence a higher working capital, etc. Examples are countless!

I believe the traditional way to organize a company should die. And the quicker the better. Today, young and less young professionals want to get the big picture of the organization they work hard for. People want to interact with people that are different: different cultures (look at Microsoft, the United Nations, or INSEAD, three successful organizations. it´s the zoo there; different people, colors, backgrounds, etc.), & most of all different domains of expertise. Bring purchase, supply chain, IT, finance, marketing & sales people all together in one team; give them responsibilities, a well-defined deliverable, flexible deadline & budget, make sure someone takes leadership of the group. Monitor the advancement of the project and check regularly that a corporate mentor (a senior executive) visit them and provides relevant advice. See the results for yourself: your team will feel empowered, since all its team members will be learning from each other.

In the short-run, everything won´t be perfect, but you´ll notice the difference after a few years: less turnover, better people that their organization is a learning one (provided that executive management set up the right Knowledge Management tools eg Intranet, Virtual Experiences Exchange platform, Feedbacks, etc.).

The best way to learn about the best project management practices is certainly to benefit from IT people´s numerous insights - IT people suffer from most organization´s lack of Project Management acumen. Most of today´s best organizations in Project Management are technology-driven (Cegelec, Microsoft, HP, IBM, Business Objects, GE - to name a few. But I´d be glad if my readership could provide us with more insights about the best PM organizations). I wish companies from other industries start taking to Project Management-oriented organizational structures; one gateway to such a change could be e-Business implementation, that implies having different corporate departments working together. I wish...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

How to fry an egg on your MacBook

Thanks to The Register for these breaking news.

A blogger eventually understood why Apple laptops were so "thermically undisciplined": Apple wants you to be able to fry an egg on your laptop.

Cool, isn´t it?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Entry barriers strategies in social networking

First, Friendster patented last week its database-centric social networking technology at the US Patent Office. What is the strategy behind this move? I don´t know, but I guess such a step may temper potential social networking new entrants´ enthusiasm.

Second, a European project, Fleck, has also been in the process of patenting its technology recetly.´s motto is "Web Democracy".

Third, a dating website, Engage, just raised 5m$ in a first financing round. It´s business model is a mix of social networking and dating. Are investors buying diversified Web 2.0 projects, or will Engage bring in disruptive synergies in the dating business?

I suggest that all IT Addicts start thinking right here, through commenting, about the nuts and bolds of patenting "soft" technologies. Are social networking technologies really innovative? What´s the underlying strategy of companies willing to legally protect their activities?

Friday, July 14, 2006

I can´t resist taking to the ZidanoNinjaMania

Have a look at this, it´s really funny:
Anyways, apologizing to my Italian friends, I think Zidane was right to do what he did. Racism should be fought without compassion for anybody.

Keep an eye on India´s reaction to what happened in Bombay, and on the Israeli strikeback against terror that unfortunately involves Lebanese civilians that believe terrorism is pure negation of life too.

And for those who´ll ask be by e-mail what the connection between this post and high-tech is:
- "buzz" marketing (viral video clips)
- video special effects (see Zidane´s videos)
- blogging as a personal window on the world: I can express my opinions freely without having to write an reader letter to The Economist (that has around .00003% to be selected).
- and anyways, I can write whatever I like. It´s my blog. Open yours and put you on the map!

* Materazzi is not bad too...Here are his Top 5 most violent plays according to Italian journalists.
* Try it too, it works!

VoIP: Skype introduces customer experience feedbacks

For the sake of all...A good initiative though, something engineers-ran high-tech companies should do more to get closer to their customers.

Taking advantage of this post´s topic, you can obviously feel free to criticize this blog anytime, should you think that it doesn´t match its objectives/most posts are crappy/I should talk about specific technologies/etc.

YOU are making this blog existing through your comments and visits. Keep that in mind.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Loic Le Meur on blogging at the Google Zeitgeist Europe conference

You should listen to Loic Le Meur´s intervention at Google Zeitgeist Europe, which occurred in June 2006. Loic Le Meur is one of the most prominent spokespersons of European blogging and podcasting (he´s written a book on each of the topics; I haven´t had the opportunity to read these yet but I´ll keep you posted, it´ll come soon), and leading French blogger.

Loic Le Meur´s presentation of what it takes to be a blogger is extremely telling. Indeed, why don´t journalists bother to discuss with their readers? There are situations in life where we just feel like expressing ourselves. Let me conclude by quoting Loic: "Bloggers just want to be part of a conversation".

Enjoy the podcast.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

On e-Commerce & e-Business

E-Commerce is not e-Business, and e-Business is not (only) e-Commerce. Everyday I realize as I discuss with people that the the trend goes towards mixing the two concepts every day more.

* E-Commerce is synonym to allowing e-Shopping: an e-Commerce platform (be it C-to-C or B-to-C) is basically a virtual, interactive shop window that make products and services available to all cyber-citizens.

* E-Business has a broader range: as I see it, e-Business incures major transformations in traditional ways of doing business.
E-Business is about getting rid of resources-costly processes through integrated information systems.
These information systems (ERP software + electronic terminals) usually involve sourcing (SRM: Supplier Relationship Management), tracking inventory and goods (e-Supply Chain), managing talents (e-HR), finance, customer needs (CRM) to make their shopping experience better and better - and..e-Commerce, which, because it allows direct interactions with customers, is the most important part as long as operations are perfectly executed.

To wind up, when e-Commerce helps the company selling (better) through electronic channels, e-Business is about enhancing a competitive advantage by bringing in information technologies into the firm´s operational processes.

Here is an excellent recapitulating chart devised by Pr. Petra Schubert from the University of Applied Sciences of Basel, Switzerland:

You may find the whole presentation (.pdf) by clicking here. The lecture was given in December 2005 at an e-Commerce conference in Lisboa, Portugal.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"Positioning, the battle for your mind", a must-read by Al Ries & Jack Trout

Too often do high-tech people focus on the technology only, rather on the customer experience.

Al Ries and Jack Trout, and Philip Kotler who writes a foreword, explain in "Positioning, the battle for your mind" how marketing in general, and branding in particular, helps you build a position in your prospect´s mind.

I enjoyed a lot reading the book. The lessons I will remember are the following:
- position well, wisely. Make sure you target a corner of the prospect´s mind that´s still virgin;
- think outward (ie from the customer´s viewpoint), always look for a niche to occupy before the competition, and give the customer what (s)he wants to listen about my company;
- the message you convey should be your actual strategy; keep your message as long as possible to achieve your strategic goals: don´t change your mind or the customer will change his/hers as well.

Some examples are a bit outdated (the book was written more than 20 years ago!), but still, Al Ries and Jack Trout provide great insights through them: why Xerox always failed to invest business different to the copy machines one (because Xerox MEANS copy in the customer´s mind), why IBM failed to even think about competing with Xerox in the copy-machines business, etc.

In a nutshell, I recommend this thin book to all techies that are willing to brush up their marketing skills in less than a week.

PS: many thanks to my former Marketing Professor at HEC Paris, Frédéric Dalsace, for granting his students with a great strategic marketing reading list. "Positioning, the battle for your mind" was on the list.

"To google" officially becomes an English verb

The Merriam-Webster English dictionary has officially added "to google" as a verb, and "googling" as an action. Unsurprisingly, "google" means "to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web".

Impressive for an 8-years old company (at that time PhD students at Stanford, Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded the search engine in 1998), isn´t it?

Google is the third company I know having become a verb too. If "xerox" obviously means to copy, "cofacer" in French means to hedge one´s company again one´s international client failure-risk during an export transaction (COFACE is France´s main credit risk insurance company).

Picture credit: thanks to Jeff Clavier for the printscreen on the day of the Soccer World Cup Final (

Monday, July 10, 2006

Why Israel didn´t make it to the Soccer World Cup...

Do you want to know why Israel didn´t make it to the World Cup in Germany? Check this video out. By the way, many thanks to Neila for the link.

Apart from that and on such videos in general, I read in this week´s issue of the British free-market newspaper The Economist that some advertising companies specialize in creating funny and shocking videos. One example they provide is Kontraband, a London-based firm specialized in "viral" marketing. Such advertising videos are aimed at creating an online buzz, mainly through e-mails and links sent amongst friends - exactly like Neila sent the video to me. buy out - What will be Emmanuel´s next step?

Emmanuel le Sellier de Chézelles founded, the leading French-speaking website on PC Video Games matters (tests, new releases, tricks, trends, etc.), in 2000. At that time (he was still a high-school student), he already knew he was, and was all the more becoming, a true entrepreneur.

But instead of dropping out (like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc. - nice comparison, don´t you think?), Emmanuel went on to French preparatory classes to business schools competitive exams. In other words, hell! I can tell you from undergoing preparatory classes myself, it takes more than a three-figures IQ to study like a Japanese in these extremely intensive environments, and develop your own Internet-company AT THE SAME TIME!!

Emmanuel not only managed to make of the leading PC games website in the French-speaking world, he also succeeded in passing the competitive exam of the most selective business university in France. Do you think he then started to look down on his friends?

Not at all. Emmanuel and I are classmates at HEC Paris. Could you believe that it took me several months to get to hear (not from him) about his venture? Emmanuel is extremely humble, and at the same time terribly effective, driven, and learnt. Having employees and managing a very profitable website never changed his tremendous people skills. On the contrary, Emmanuel still believes he has a great deal of things to learn about entrepreneurship, Internet technology and management. And he keeps spotting new trends: his team recently launched a website dedicated to booming Flash games: JeuxVideo-Flash.

Last week, Emmanuel finalized his exit from, sold out to Groupe Best of Micro, a top-50 Internet media company in France (bestofmicro,, Well done Emmanuel!

Though Emmanuel´s now on the map, bets aren´t opened regarding his future projects: Emmanuel shows his long-term commitment by staying more involved than ever in Emmanuel believes synergies between Groupe Best of Micro´s hardware sites and are tremendous and potentially provide room for two-digits growth.

One thing that´s certain is that Emmanuel belongs to the forthcoming generation of French entrepreneurs, knowledgeable of the extraordinary buzzing opportunities of the Internet, and ethically-minded.

If you´re a VC or a business angel, I advise you to watch ITaddict carefully to be able to jump on Emmanuel´s next venture financing bandwagon. I´ll make sure I keep you posted.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Wengo, a better VoIP service than Skype?

Skype is good. But there exists a better software, at least for now. Its name´s Wengo.

Lots of people connect through Skype, the rates are pretty low, and everybody knows about it. True. However, I´m sure you´ve already noticed that:
* The quality is good, but not so good;
* Skype uses a lot of memory resources;
* if you´re connected to a network (in your company, at home, etc.), one of the networked computers will be assigned "Server Tasks" and become EXTREMELY slow and vulnerable (security breaches). It´s on the contract you tick to agree when registering to Skype, and a major pitfall against corporate accounts business development.

So I suggest that you try Wengo. It´s as cheap as Skype, the hearing quality´s definitely better, few people have is so there´s no "Server" risk, and it´s extremely easy and simple to download and install. I now use Skype for PC-to-PC calls and Wengo for PC-to-landlines/cellphones/SMS use.

So try Wengo.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Cisco Systems France and its weekly high-tech podcast

Cisco Systems France had started in January 2006 a weekly radio-podcast program: diaLog. The two journalists, Jérôme Colombain and François Sorel, are really, really good, both have a great sense of humour and they invite the most prominent decision makers of the French high-tech lanscape.

Judge by ourself! You should be able to find on the Archives page:
Pierre Ardichvili (IT Communications business development director), Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet (HEC Alumni, founder and CEO of, Olivier Sezner (VP technological strategy @ Cisco France), Jérôme Archambault (country manager @ Skype), Rafi Haladjian (founder of Ozone), Stéphane Cotte (Samsung France), Patrick Chanudet (, and many more!

The two interviews I found most interesting were the ones of Alexandre Mars (HEC Alumni too, founder and CEO of PhoneValley) - because I happen to know him a little bit (he had just stopped investing in start-ups when I was fundraising for a project); and the double-interview of Pierre Chappaz (founder of, founder of Kelkoo, former Yahoo! France director) and Tariq Krim (founder of Netvibes) who are particularly visionary when it comes to their vision regarding what Internet 2.0 really is.

I apologize to all non-French speaking ITAddicted, the program´s in French. But I suggest you start taking French lessons because Cisco diaLog´s worth it.

Click here to access the podcast´s main page.

Steve Job´s commencement speech at Stanford: "follow your intuitions and become yourself".

Apple´s founder and CEO Steve Jobs gave a fantastic speech at Stanford, talking about his family background, the reason why he dropped out of college, why we should thank him for the many typos available on our PCs, his entrepreneurial quests at Apple (and how he primarily got fired!), Next and Pixar - which eventually became managerial adventures. In a very moving conclusion, Steve Jobs talks about death and urges Stanford students to live their own life instead of someone else´s.

An amazing speech available by clicking on this link.