Thursday, April 30, 2009

Green energy in Estonia and IT

From the beginning of april it is possible to buy Green Energy in Estonia. I changed my previous "oil shale energy" contract against the new "green wind and hydro energy" contract. So now the electrons coming to my home come from Estonias wind and hydroplants. :-) Well, at least the contract with Eesti Energia states that the power consumed by green energy consumers is less than the power put into the electric grid by wind and hydro plants. I hope they keep their promise and if there will be more green energy consumers they speed up their new wind power development projects.

What do you think, are Estonian consumers and businesses environmental? And should MicroLink change our serverroom power contracts to green energy? The price difference is actually not that big, about 9% for the base contract. The servers hosted in our 4 serverrooms + UPS-s + cooling consume about 240kW of electricity, that is 2,1 GWh/year. Which is about half of what Virtsu wind plant's first 3 turbines produced in 2002.

It is only now that I realize what a clever and environmentally friendly electricity pricing system Estonia has. :-) In a nutshell the "oil shale energy" consumers do sponsor the "green energy" consumers. Which is of course right, as the consequences of limestone energetics are so horrible, that they are even visible on satellite images.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sales, Marketing and Developers

Probably the biggest reason why startup IT projects fail is that only the technical work is calculated into the project, but sales and marketing is forgotten. This is especially true when the founders are technical guys themself. For example programmers and server administrators. They usually think that an elegant technical solution and a clever service itself is thrive automatically people to using it. (To be honest I have also made that mistake in the past.)

Remember the view of Dilberts boss: "Everything that I don't understand can be done by one person in 10 minutes." This goes for techies planning sales and marketing.... and also vice versa.

But what should be the percentage of work spent on the technical solution compared to sales and marketing in a successful SaaS project? Should there be two, three or perhaps six sales and marketing persons per one programmer in a startup? Do you know if there are any statistics on this subject?

How about hosting and IT service providers? Should there be more sales and marketing people and customer service people than system administrators? In MicroLink's case the number of sysadms and IT-specialists is far greater than the number of sales, marketing and customer service people...which of course means that our customers get technologically great service that is not too expensive as we don't keep too many sales and marketing people on our payroll. :-)

If we look at statistics then the services industry calculates for 65% of western economies GDP. Can this be translated that for each techie there should be 2 sales and customer-service persons as an average?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Marketing in Management Books

Business bestsellers, like the ones from Constantinos C. Markides or Gary Hamel rely on examples. Examples of successful and un-successful business cases. The most typical examples seem to recur from book to book. For example the Xerox's failure to compete with Canon in small copier market is a theme that travels through many business textbooks.

After reading the same cases from different influential, smart, authoritarian gurus over and over again this does change your opinion about the companies and their products. :-) Even worse, if you yourself happen to write a case study about a success story. (like I am currently writing about Google) As a result you would:
- Buy Japanese (Honda or Toyota) cars, because their technology is superior.
- You would never buy a Detroit car.
- You love Google.
- Xerox - you would never consider buying.
- IBM ... well maybe you would buy something from them. Mostly because you feel sorry for them as they have lost so much to Microsoft, Intel and others and have such a huge dinosauric business model.

So try to make a successful business case and show it off to professors writing those bestseller business books. :-) You might get enormous marketing value. Imagine every "soon to be rich" MBA student in the Western Civilization reading about your success.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

IT products that are ... completed.

Recently I have been using OpenOffice and I quite like it. It seems to me that in some ways OpenOffice is even better than MS Office 2007. As you probably know OpenOffice is somewhat like MS Office 2003.

The scenario with MS Office 2007 vs OpenOffice is in some ways similar to the Windows XP vs Windows Vista scenario. Both Office 2003 and XP are products that actually meet all the needs of the customers. Besides some minor technical enhancements they don't need to be changed and developed. They are completed. This might be of course bad news for Microsoft, but on the other hand they can stop spending money on XP and Office development.

But MS products are not the only completed (IT) products:
We all hope that Google never changes its search engine web page.... and the manufacturers of microvawe ovens should have stopped a long ago - the oven does not need more than two knobs (to regulate time and power), nobody never uses the programming features.

So for every product it is quite important to notice the "no need to make a new version of it" moment and stop spending the efforts and money of development teams.