Category Archives: "Book Brief" Series

Free eBook Primer: “Shedding Light on the Cloud”

I recently stumbled across Shedding Light on the Cloud, a short, free e-book/primer by Gregor Petri, Advisor Lean IT at CA Technologies, that provides a very good overview of cloud computing in its current state and how it will affect future business applications.  It is a quick and easy read, yet very informative for people who are interested in learning more about how the cloud functions.

The book describes the three “flavors” of cloud computing; Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) and provides good examples of how these applications are being used in the business world today.  Petri also provides his thoughts on how the IT industry, and IT managers, will have to change to accommodate the new cloud computing paradigm.

I would recommend this primer to anyone interested in gaining a quick overview of the current state of cloud computing.

The e-book can be downloaded in multiple format at Petri’s website found here.

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Groundswell Charlene Li Josh Bernoff

Book Brief: Groundswell

Groundswell Charlene Li Josh BernoffThe book Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies provides a great overview of how social media is changing the way businesses, large and small, are interacting with their customers and conducting their business.  The book covered the following topics.

An Overview of Social Media:
The first section basically describes how technology has enabled individuals to push for changes in products, ideas, and services that companies offer.   Li and Bernoff provide some real-life examples of how social media has played a role in business decisions and also provide some information on the demographics of social media.  A brief summary of the tools of social media are also outlined in this section (blogs, podcasts, social networks, wikis, open source, forums, and tags).

Using Social Technologies in Business:
The bulk of the book revolves around how businesses can use social media tools to enhance their business and connect with their customers.  The authors advocate what they call a POST method, with POST standing for People, Objectives, Strategy, and Technology.   The POST approach can be achieved through one or a combination of the following objectives; Listening, Talking, Energizing, Supporting, and Energizing.

The Future of the Groundswell:
The final section of the book provides a discussion on some of the challenges associated with implementing social technologies, how to internally connect companies through social media, and a brief discussion on future trends of social media.

In Summary:
Overall this is a great book if you are looking to learn more about how larger businesses and organizations are using and responding to the use of social technologies.   The book is written to have more of a business and marketing angle than a personal use angle and being written in 2008 is slightly out-of-date already.  Nonetheless, I found the book to have great information for any user of social media technologies.

Some of the best parts of the book revolve around the case studies.   Some very prominent large and medium sized companies are featured in the book including Best Buy, Dell, Salesforce.com, Unilever, Mini, Special K, HP, Comcast, ebags, and Lego (amongst several others).

To learn more, you can visit the Groundswell blog at groundswell.forrester.com.

Book Brief – Why Software Sucks

Although the book title “Why Software Sucks..and what you can do about it” may sound like a book all about humor, it actually provides a very serious argument about the state of the software industry.   The book was written by David S. Platt.

The basic theme of the book  is that most software that we use today either misses the mark for functionality, was designed without the user in mind, or both.   Platt provides several examples of where the software industry has gone awry with software crashes, poor design, missing functionality, and poor usability.

He cites several reasons why this is the case, but most of Platt’s arguments are summed up in one phrase – software companies do a poor job at understanding their customers needs.

Platt lists several reasons for why this is the case, including poor communication between departments within software companies and the tendency for software developers to think that customers want software the way that they want it.  He also gives methods for the customer to improve software design, including provide feedback to the company.

I do agree with his premise that software can be improved by having an active user base that provides feedback to the companies.  Ultimately, the software companies are dependent upon the user’s dollars, so they should have a say in the design.

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  It was humorous throughout but provided a serious argument with several examples documenting bad software design. If I had a complaint it would be that Platt provides mainly commentary on the software design issue and does not have a lot of quantitative data to back his claims.  Nonetheless, the books makes you think about the choices you have as a software consumer.