Embedded Experiences Are Coming to the Browser

One of the most interesting and valuable developments in enterprise social software (ESS) over the last few years has been the introduction of embedded experiences. Simply put, these are event-driven notifications, usually from other enterprise applications and systems, that surface within the activity stream of an ESS application. Embedded experiences go beyond merely notifying of something important; they also allow one or more actions to be taken to move a business process to the next step.
chatter notification vacation approval
Embedded experiences are great, but they have been written in proprietary code tied to a specific ESS vendor’s offering. It has not been possible to reuse actionable notifications across vendors’ solutions.
Google has announced a new feature in the latest beta version of its Chrome browser that will provide an open standard alternative for the delivery of extended experiences. Chrome 48 Beta enables developers to quickly create notifications with buttons that let users complete tasks. Those notification can be pushed from browser-based applications and webpages, as well as from Chrome OS applications and extensions to the Chrome browser.
Google and Mozilla employees have contributed to the development of the fledgling Notifications API standard under the auspices of the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) community. This specification is what has been implemented in Google’s Chrome 48 Beta.
A Notification Generator built to define HTML-based embedded experiences has been created by Peter Beverloo. The generator shows how easy it is to define an embedded experience that can appear in any HTML5-compliant web browser.

Notification GeneratorSource: http://tests.peter.sh/notification-generator/#actions=1;;requireInteraction=true

As previously noted, embedded experiences have been proprietary to individual vendor’s applications and platforms. Google’s beta implementation of the WHATWG’s Notifications API specification is a first important step toward embedded experiences that will work across operating systems and applications. When the feature is properly vetted and becomes part of the stable release of Chrome (and, we assume, Mozilla’s Firefox browser), open, actionable notifications will be reality.
This is important because it will make the development and use of embedded experiences far more practical and widespread. Enterprise software vendors who choose to implement the WHATWG’s Notifications API specification will empower their customers to more easily create interoperability with other vendors’ browser-based tools. Actionable data embedded in notifications will be able to be passed between systems, business process execution will be accelerated, and personal productivity will be increased.
This news further intensifies the browser-based versus operating system-dependent application debate, especially with regards to mobile computing. The current preference for native applications on mobile devices will be challenge to the uptake of the Notifications API specification, given its dependence on the Web browser. Development of more of these types of Web standards is precisely what is needed to swing the pendulum back toward browser-based applications.

Research Agenda of Larry Hawes, Lead Analyst

Greetings! As my colleague Stowe Boyd announced yesterday, I am part of a fabulous group of smart, well-respected people that have joined the rebooted Gigaom Research as analysts. I was affiliated with the original version of Gigaom Research as an Analyst, and am very pleased to be taking the more involved role of Lead Analyst in the firm’s new incarnation, as detailed in Stowe’s post.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve spent the last 16 years working as a management and technology consultant, enterprise software industry analyst, writer, speaker and educator. My work during that time has been focused on the nexus of communication, collaboration, content management and process/activity management within and between organizations ─ what I currently call ‘networked business’.
I intend to continue that broad line of inquiry as a Lead Analyst at Gigaom Research. The opportunity to work across technologies and management concepts ─ and the ability to simultaneously address and interrelate both ─ is precisely what makes working with Gigaom Research so attractive to me. The firm is fairly unique in that aspect, in comparison to traditional analyst organizations that pigeonhole employees into discrete technology or business strategy buckets. I hope that our customers will recognize that and benefit from the holistic viewpoint that our analysts provide.
With the above in mind, I present my research agenda for the coming months (and, probably, years). I’m starting at the highest conceptual level and working toward more specific elements in this list.

Evolution of Work

Some analysts at Gigaom Research are calling this ‘work futures’. I like that term, but prefer the ‘evolution of work’, as that allows me to bring the past and, most importantly, the current state of work into the discussion. There is much to be learned from history and we need to address what is happening now, not just what may be coming down the road. Anyway, this research stream encompasses much of what I and Gigaom Research are focused on in our examination of how emerging technologies may change how we define, plan and do business.

Networked Business

This is a topic on which I’ve been writing and speaking since 2012. I’ve defined ‘networked business’ as a state in which an interconnected system of organizations and their value-producing assets are working toward one or more common objectives. Networked business is inherently driven by connection, communication and collaboration, hence my interest in the topic.
While the concept of networked business is not new, it has been gaining currency in the past few years as a different way of looking at how we structure organizations and conduct their activities. As I noted in the first paragraph of this post, there are many technologies and business philosophies and practices that support networked business, and I will do my best to include as many as possible in my research and discussions.

Networks of Everything

This research stream combines two memes that are currently emerging and garnering attention: the Internet of Things and the rise of robots and other intelligent technologies in the workplace. In my vision, networks of everything are where humans, bots, virtual assistants, sensors and other ‘things’ connect, communicate and collaborate to get work done. The Internet, Web, cellular and other types of networks may be used in isolation or, more likely, in combination to create networks of everything.
I’ve had a book chapter published on this topic earlier this year, and I’m looking forward to thinking and writing more about it in the near future.


How do we build applications that can support business in a heavily networked environment? While the idea of assembling multiple technology components into a composite application are not new (object-oriented programing and Service Oriented Architecture have been with us for decades), the idea continues to gain acceptance and become more granular in practice.
I intend to chronicle this movement toward microservices and discuss how the atomization of component technology is likely to play out next. As always, my focus will be on collaboration, content management and business process management.

Adaptive Case Management and Digital Experience Management

These two specific, complementary technologies have also been gathering more attention and support over the last two years and are just beginning to hit their stride now. I see the combination of these technologies as an ideal enabler of networked business and early exemplars of component architecture at the application level, not the microservice one (yet).
I’ve written about ACM more, but am eager to expand on the early ideas I’ve had about it working together with DEM to support networked business.

Work Chat

Simply put, I would be remiss to not investigate and write about the role of real-time messaging technology in business. I’ve already called work chat a fad that will go away in time, but it needs to be addressed in depth for Gigaom Research customers, because there are valid use cases and it will enjoy limited success. I will look at the viability of work chat as an extensible computing platform, not just as a stand-alone technology. Fitting with my interest in microservices, I will also consider the role that work chat can play as a service embedded in other applications.
Phew! I’m tired just thinking about this, much less actually executing against it. It’s a full plate, a loaded platter really. The scariest thing is that this list is likely incomplete and that there are other things that I will want to investigate and discuss. However, I think it represents my research and publishing interests pretty  well.
My question is, how does this align with your interests? Are there topics or technologies that you would like to see me include in this framework? If so, please let me know in a comment below. Like all research agendas, mine is subject to change over time, so your input is welcomed and valued.

The Netbook: Six Months Later

In an effort to curtail my disastrous gadget spending habits, I’ve decided to take a look at devices I’ve purchased with the stated intent of increasing my productivity, to see if intentions and reality reflect each other at all. Today, I’m turning my critical gaze on my netbook, which I picked up just over half a year ago.
My particular netbook is the Asus Eee PC 1000HE, but the model doesn’t really matter. It’s a light device with a 10-inch screen, a small keyboard and an all-day eight hour battery. When I bought it, it was freshly released, and was generating quite a bit of buzz among the mobile computing crowd. One of the first things I did with the Eee PC was to install the Windows 7 beta (s msft), and it’s still running the release candidate today. Read More about The Netbook: Six Months Later

The Pursuit of Perfection: Hidden Gems in Apple Design

If you ask any of the Apple “fanboys” in the world why they are so devoted to Apple, at least one of the reasons you will hear is that Apple “sweats the small stuff” that really proves their dedication to user experience and attention to detail. Here’s a few of my favorites, covering Apple’s attention not just to their hardware and software, but even the product packaging. See how many you may have noticed before, and feel free to add your own that I might have missed in the comments below.

App Review: Hysteria Project — iPhone Owner Stalked By Maniac

title=Hysteria Project

Chased through a trap-laden forest by an axe-wielding murderer, Hysteria Project is a step in a much darker direction for the iPhone.

Reviewing Asteroids-esque shooter The Void last week, I mentioned that some iPhone (s aapl) games are ditching the cute and getting darker. With their first release, the BulkyPix team have taken the anti-cute movement further: chopping up any semblance of cuteness with a rusty axe, putting the bits into garbage bags and burying the bags in a creepy forest.
Hysteria Project is a choose-your-own-adventure for the iPhone. Blending atmospheric film sequences with quick-fire decision-making to create an intense horror experience. Read More about App Review: Hysteria Project — iPhone Owner Stalked By Maniac

Contributing to the Public Domain: Why It Makes Sense

cclargeLet’s leave aside ethical and moral considerations for the moment and think about what can be gained from contributing to the public domain. At first glance, there does not seem to be much solid ROI to be gained from giving away your work product, via something like the creative commons use license. It’s non-specific, and credit, if given, is not usually highlighted or given primary focus, so many won’t even realize it’s your work on display.

Other types of work, like contributing to the digitization at Project Gutenberg, are even more thankless. Adding to the sum of archived knowledge is definitely helpful in a general, charitable sort of way, but is there a more tangible, immediate benefit to you as a web worker as well? In both examples, the answer is yes.

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The Apple Experience

Maybe it is because I am a recent switcher that I notice details long-time Mac owners may take for granted, details that are so minute yet so useful and so quintessentially ‘human’. The level of attention painstakingly paid to the many small details found on every Apple product is a testament to Apple’s design philosophy, and is what sets the experience of using an Apple product a head above its competitors. Here are some thoughts I have about The Apple Experience.

Apple’s One-Two Punch

To take at face value alone Apple’s own statement, that it is first and foremost a software company, is to be merely skimming the surface. The Apple experience, be it with a Mac, iPod or iPhone, has no equal only because of the way Apple marries software seamlessly to the hardware that serves it. In an Apple product, software and hardware are inseparable: the success of that product weighs equally heavy on the shoulders of both its software and hardware components.
Take, for example, the iPod. The two main factors that make the iPod the success story it is are the Wheel (hardware) and the user interface (software). Would the iPod have reigned if it had sported a four-way D-pad instead, as was the norm for devices of that era, with the UI probably taking an entirely different direction as a result? Probably not. Would the Wheel have worked if it served an alternate user interface? Again, probably not. Another software factor that can be considered as equally important is iTunes and its ease of use.
Read More about The Apple Experience

Obama, Clinton and Business Leadership Skills

We’ve posted a few times on the leadership qualities of presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — and what you can learn from them. See: Obama’s Iowa speech: the difference btw. a Tactician and a Leader. The topic is fostering debate all over, including at Harvard Working Knowledge.
The question first caught our eye after a new book by Warren Bennis and Noel Tichy, Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls, was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal. See Credentials? Nah. Judgment is what counts.

[The authors] assert that “making judgment calls (especially about people, strategy, and crises) is the essential job of a leader” and go on to say that “with good judgment, little else matters; without good judgment, nothing else matters.” [Even experience!]

Now HWK is conducting an Open Forum to debate the issue. We encourage you to add your thoughts about whether acquired or inherent leadership skills matter more in business. One participant says it’s neither Read More about Obama, Clinton and Business Leadership Skills

Features I’d love to see in the iTunes Store

iTunes Store

iTunes has been around for quite some time (if my calculations are correct it’s about 6 years). It’s been my favorite music/video organizer I’ve ever used (both Mac and PC) and the launch of the iTunes Store in 2003 quickly made it the go-to place for purchasing music as opposed to actual CDs.

So while I really do love the iTunes Store, there are a few features that I’m honestly quite surprised have yet to make their way in to the software. In the 4 years of the store’s existence the main “shell” of the store really has changed very little. A few of these features I believe would make the shopping experience significantly better.
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