I am the 83 percent


It may well just be me, but there seems to be more and more going on online about the issues caused by poor working practices around collaboration, in particular around documents.
This is interesting as it follows a presumption a few years back that, with Google Apps and new versions of Office, these problems were set to disappear.  As always, technology implementation without good change management has led to problems for some and what seems to have instead emerged are a complicated picture where:
  1. Some companies have failed to adopt new technology.  The imminent death of XP may drive laggards into reviewing practices and supporting improvements through tech.  For now, people are continuing to face challenges and wasting time due to inefficient IT.
  2. Some have adopted office solutions, badly.  I am increasingly of the belief that what is needed is ‘possibilities’ training in the tech sphere.  There is no point throwing people in to hours of, say, Excel saying training when what they actually need is for someone to look at what they do and offer possibilities for improvements.  For example, I wonder what percentage of the world’s population uses Excel everyday but do not know Macros even exist, never mind how to author them.  Sitting down with someone to spot where efficiencies can be made and identify the small differences in application understanding can, ultimately, add up to big efficiency savings.  This works across the board, for example I often sat down with people to show them how to do something with learning management systems only to end up asking ‘why do you do that?’ about how people operate in Office and other software.
  3. Some feel the need to look further afield.  I guess the outstanding question is if Office, Google and other major players are actually what you need.  The video above is a nice example of the problems identified by a company looking at alternatives whilst the likes of Huddle offer what can be seen as simpler but more effective solutions.

It is then of interest to see iCloud finally step up to the plate and potentially try to fill the enterprise-sized gaps in Apple’s offerings.

Cheerio Google Reader

So I’ve taken the opportunity of a long holiday weekend to jump ship from Google Reader.

My final solution has been to move:

  1. most audio subscriptions to iTunes.
  2. other RSS to The Old Reader – this seems fine so far, a little annoying that imports come in as unread but otherwise not too bad.  The mobile version (on my Windows 8 phone) seems good enough.

For the record, my Reader stats were:

  1. 1682 subscriptions (The Old Reader said it imported 819 so I’m hoping that is ignoring dead ones rather than losing any)
  2. 42 tags/folders
  3. Over the last 30 days I had read 629 items, clicked 54 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 12 items.
  4. Since April 12, 2007 I had “read” a total of 178,020 items
  5. 8 starred items:
    1. Eradicating the Stigma: HR’s Future
    2. Rethinking Human Resources in a Changing World
    3. How Poor Leaders Become Good Leaders
    4. Nine Rules for Stifling Innovation
    5. Student Loans – sale of ‘mortgage-style loan book’
    6. What is a private university?
    7. The ePortfolio Idea “Forking”?
    8. A comment I made on a blog

The implications Google perhaps does not see with Reader

Google, of course, knows a lot about me, they know what I search for online, via Google Docs they know a lot about my interests, via my old Blogger site they have a record of my personal development for a couple of years, they know my friends and family via Android contacts and much more.

However, the announcement to close Google Reader has got me thinking that it is perhaps a sign of how a multinational, living in the era of ‘Big Data’, can struggle to engage with their users and thus fail them horribly.  This failure is unlikely to impact hugely on Google’s bottom line (as savegooglereader.org has picked up they could get over a lot of the bad PR just by spinning it off into a different company)  but enough failures, over a length of time, and they will start to notice loss of customers and that would, eventually, hit the bottom line.  Google infamously has not supported users in the traditional sense, most services offering a Google Group or other limited form of a manual with the expectation being that by using search someone will have posted an answer to customer queries.  Similarly, updates have been rather ad hoc and forced upon people (although Google Apps for Education and some other services have started to alert users better) and I do not remember ever seeing a traditional survey from Google.

Reader is perhaps the single most important website in my life – it aggregates some personal information (local news sites), entertainment (podcasts via RSS), and formal (journals) and more informal (blogs, etc) professional reading.  There are also a host of notifications setup with Page2RSS.  Sure I use Twitter to keep up with some things and LinkedIn and Facebook but only in the same way that I go directly to the BBC and Guardian.  Virtually everything else is via RSS and Google Reader.  If they needed to make money out of Reader they could have, adverts for additional journals and news sites would have been relatively easy to map out from my folders and the titles of read stories.

Personally I am holding off transferring away from Reader to see how the playing field levels out – not least as it is a clear opportunity for Microsoft to build something with a great W8 app, but also cross browser compatibility, to take on the crown of the champion of RSS.  Indeed the live tile approach and RSS could merge quite nicely (and perhaps already does with some apps?) and Reader already works better in WP8 IE than it did on my old Android phone.

All in all, it is another reason to use Google products less often and as I posted previously they probably do not care but it means:

  • Phone – I bought my Windows8 phone as something of an experiment but in many ways I prefer it over Android.  I doubt I will go back, the UI is great and most things I need to do I can.
  • Calendar – I have continued to use as WP8 very nicely allows you to import Android contacts and access Google and Yahoo services via the phone in unified interfaces – Microsoft playing ball with everyone else more than Google.  Who’d have thought it!
  • Docs – I still use Google Docs (sorry Drive) but things on my phone also go to Skydrive.  Docs is really the only area Google has me locked in.
  • Search – Google still often seems to trump Bing (on my phone) so I do not expect to switch from Google here but I could and I doubt it would make too much difference.
  • Video – YouTube is still the first port of call but SlideShare and others are stepping up.  Kudos to the YT team though for the improvements over subscriptions as I now visit daily to check what is new and use my ‘watch later’ list.
  • RSS – lets wait and see what happens in the next month or so but by cutting off Reader at the very least Google pushes Audio users away to podcasts via iTunes.
  • Google Alerts – I have a few of these setup, perhaps one G product to benefit in that it might gain some use away from Page2RSS and other alerts.

On previous blogs I have posted on my current tech usage – it will be interesting to reflect on what the GR changes mean in a few months time.

Is Google Play the sign Google no longer cares about me?

Okay, so its only a name change, but the death of the Android Market in preference to the Google Play Store seems a curious move from the big G.

Not that long ago I was becoming more and more Google, using Docs, Gmail, Reader and more.  However, even with an Android phone, I find myself looking at options elsewhere.  The ‘Play’ switch risks alienating the Enterprise and users such as me even more.  Okay I might buy the odd movie, book and music file but that is not a huge percentage of my expenditure.

This video perhaps shows why Play is like it is – going down the hardware route is shifting Google’s focus and I am not entirely sure it is for the better.

Perhaps Microsoft may yet come good via Windows 8.

The next twelve months is certainly going to be a big one in consumer and enterprise technology.