My Research Agenda for the Fall 2016 and a Call for Participation

After a few weeks of failed vacation — my attempts at unbroken away time kept surrendering to business-related meetings and travel — I’m ‘back’ (as if I ever was ‘away’).
During the few hours of contemplation that I managed, I determined to announce a few research initiatives that I’ll be kicking off, on the heels of finishing up the Work Management Narrative Baseline, and Marketing Goes Agile.

  • Work File-Sync-and-Share — I am rebooting the former Enterprise File Sync-and-Share project which was started early in 2016, but which was sidelined for a number of unforeseen reasons. We will be reviewing the leading products in the market, and exploring the trends and changes in the marketplace.
  • Workplace Communications — from the prospectus:

Workforce communications is a class of message-centric work technology that is principally geared toward the modern mobile workforce, especially geared toward enabling communications between workers in retail, manufacturing, transport, security, and construction. These are mobile-first applications, although they also support other enterprise functions, but with an emphasis on the efficient functioning of the mobile worker, often working outside the typical workplace, and in particular, often without access to PCs. They incorporate elements of messaging, chat, social media, and file sharing, as well as more workforce specific capabilities like shift scheduling, calendaring, task management, and other functional tools.
I’ve been talking with a broad spectrum of vendors, and we will likely launch this in October.

  • Work Intranets — Intranets are private, content-centric networks used to provide communications and work-related services to internal knowledge-worker teams. We will likely launch this in December.

In all reports, we are taking a new approach. In each case, we are creating a research note that provides a concise take on the niche, and sets context for the trends and ‘bends’ (countervailing influences that block adoption) in the marketplace in question. I will take the lead role in these research notes, possibly supported by other researchers.
Call for Participation
And, about other researchers: We are taking a different approach to the Gigaom research network. We’ve had limited success with the model we more-or-less inherited from the old Gigaom, which was to rely on a network of self-motivated freelance researchers. This has had mixed results (at the most generous) and in some cases has led to extra effort due to the lack of alignment and integration in research processes. As a result, we are going to phase that approach out, and adopt a different approach.
We will — going forward — bring aboard only those researchers who want to transition into being full-time staff at Gigaom. While those researchers will start as freelancers, it is our intention to only work with senior analysts that we believe will make great contributions as full-time employees. Yes, they would start with a short period of freelance involvement, like three to six months, so we can be certain of the fit. And, to start with, we will be limiting ourselves in the next months to finding two or three senior analysts who could operate very quickly as Research Directors, managing a research domain for the business, developing new business, and hiring other analysts. So the network going forward will be transitioning from a large number of relatively uninvolved freelancers to a smaller network of full-time researchers where freelancers are involved only as an on ramp to a full-time job.
I am actively seeking one or perhaps two prospective research directors to work with me in the work technologies and future of work domain, and we are open to more candidates in other domains we are interested in, like internet of things, big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and others.
At the present time, we are looking for contributors based in the United States, exclusively, people with considerable experience in their domain as analysts, consultants, or journalists (with an analytic bent). We are likely to expand that to other regions in time.
If you are interested in discussing the research agenda, or in participating in the new Gigaom research network, please contact me by email.

Announcing Gigaom Change

Gigaom’s CEO Byron Reese is launching a new conference, Gigaom Change, which is ‘a hands-on summit designed to help those leading business get a grasp on the dizzying amount of technical change occurring around us and gain the confidence to accelerate enterprise adoption’.
I thought I’d ask Byron about the conference, and what his goals are.
About Byron
Byron Reese is an Austin-based serial entrepreneur, inventor, futurist, and historian who believes that technology will soon usher in a new golden age of humanity, where there will be no hunger, disease, poverty or war. He launched his first business while an undergraduate at Rice University and over the years has started several others.  Along the way, he became an award-winning author with the publication of Infinite Progress. He presently serves as the CEO of Knowingly Corporation, as well as the publisher of Gigaom.


Byron Reese

The Interview
Stowe Boyd: Gigaom Change is a new event you’re orchestrating. What was your motivation? Was there an itch you just couldn’t scratch? Does the world need another tech conference?
Byron Reese: Gigaom Change is something entirely new and different. There isn’t another conference quite like it. It is based on the idea that a series of technologies are all converging on us at the same time, and they promise to a cataclysmic impact on the world.  The seven technologies we will be looking at are artificial intelligence, virtual reality/augmented reality, robotics, human-machine interfaces, nanotechnology, cybersecurity, and 3D printing.
I have noticed that business leaders everywhere are having trouble keeping up with these technologies.  Everyone knows the high-level basic concepts, but this growing complexity is strangling corporate foresight and slowing business productivity.
If you think about it, it is no surprise that these technologies are so overwhelming. Humanity has only faced real change three times in the past: When we got speech 100,000 years ago, when we developed agriculture 10,000 years ago, and when we invented writing 5000 years ago. We are literally going to witness the fourth major change, when our technologies upend our society and its institutions.  Business leaders need to understand how to use these new technologies.
SB: The event will be covering a broad range of topics, so how will that done? Seven parallel tracks? What’s the experience going to be like?
BR: Gigaom Change is a single track event broken up into seven sections over two days. So all the attendees have the same conference experience.
SB: How does Gigaom Change articulate with Gigaom’s research focus?
BR: Gigaom’s research focus is exactly that: Helping our audience of executives understand the technologies they are confronted with. There are all kinds of research organizations covering the consumer space, there are plenty covering marketing departments and IT departments, but our unique focus  is serving business leaders confronted with the implications of emerging technologies on their business.
SB: What should attendees anticipate as the takeaways from the event?
BR: Gigaom Change is being built in such a way that we can dive into these seven technologies and understand three things about each one: 1) How we got to where we are, 2) How these technologies can be deployed today, and 3) Where it is all heading.
The intent to give leaders the most practical yet thoughtful insight into why these technologies matter and the very tangible impact they will have, collectively, on their business, their industry and the society of which we are all a part.
While it is a very practical conference in that regard, it is not going to be your typical “sit in your chair watching talking heads all day” kind of event. It is being built as an experience not just a conference that connects enterprise leaders with leading edge innovators.  If any attendees are ever served baked chicken, I have failed.

Those wanting more information can contact Byron by email.

Rebooting Gigaom Research

On March 9 2015, Gigaom ceased operations because of the insolvency of Giga Omni, the corporation behind the scenes. As part of that cessation of operations Gigaom Research also closed its doors, and the network of analysts, editors, researchers, and other staff — built over years — was disbanded in one day. Gigaom’s closure meant that ongoing research projects were halted, planned activities with clients cancelled, and all other operations were shut down.
In May, Austin-based Knowingly acquired some of the assets of Giga Omni, most notably, which includes the content created by Gigaom Research. Note that Knowingly was not an investor in Giga Omni, and there is no relationship between Knowingly and those involved in the former Gigaom business aside from this transaction.
After reading about the sale, I contacted the CEO of Knowingly, Byron Reese, and determined that he intended to restart Gigaom Research as part of the relaunch of the Gigaom operation. And I am happy to say that after some weeks of discussions, I am now working closely with Byron to kickstart a new Gigaom Research, and to help grow a new research and analysis operation as part of his vision for the new Gigaom.
I asked him a few of the key questions that Gigaom Research’s clients and the greater community might want to know:

Stowe Boyd: How do you envision the charter of the new Gigaom Research, going forward?

Byron Reese: We think that good research is authoritative, accessible, and actionable.  Those are the guiding principles. Having said that, we would love to hear from the community about what they like and don’t like about the research we publish.

We are introducing a few new things.  One of which is a section called “Private Briefings”. Private Briefings are exclusive, in-depth interviews with some of the titans of the tech world, who will discuss the state of the industry and its direction.  You will see the first of these soon – a chat with a Nobel Laureate around biotech.

SB: You announced that you were going to relaunch Gigaom in August. Is that still the plan for the media side of the company? Obviously, we’ve relaunched Gigaom Research earlier than that.

BR: That is still the plan. I do think you will see some new content on the site before then. Very soon in fact.  But when we relaunch, the amount of new material on the site will be pretty small at first. We are committed to the highest bar of quality, and we are going  to take whatever time it takes to build an editorial department that lives up to that standard.

SB: Those companies and individuals that were subscribers under the old Gigaom Research did not get full value in many cases. What’s the plan going forward?

BR: Although all of our subscribers had ongoing access to the 10,000 piece research library, there was a four-month period when no research was produced.  As such, we are extending everyone’s membership by four months.  An email to that effect will go out shortly.

Of course, this is only the starting point of an open dialogue we hope to have about Gigaom Research and our plans moving forward. Much more to follow, including several initiatives unlike any that the old Gigaom Research undertook, and a much greater cross-pollination across the various elements of the new Gigaom.
On a personal level, I had worked for over four years at the old Gigaom Research, starting as an occasional contributor, writing a report here and there. But in late 2012 I become a Research Lead, becoming the principal contributor to the Social channel, which morphed into the research area of the future of work and work technologies.
I agree with much of the criticism about the business model at Gigaom, a company that relied too much on venture funding, and not enough on organic growth. Danny Sullivan’s analysis was spot on. By extension, Gigaom Research might be painted with the same brush. I agree that the operating model set up by Giga Omni was too top heavy, and potential synergies between the news and research sides of the company were not exploited.
At the same time, at Gigaom Research we were doing a great many things right, as I wrote in late May (see What was working at Gigaom Research). Last year, Duncan Chapple wrote about some results in research that KEA conducted on influence among analyst firms, and which showed how Gigaom Research’s profile was growing very quickly.

Chapple’s analysis had Gigaom Research as the fourth highest growth of influence in the field of analysis firms. And Gigaom Research was continuing to grow in influence in the period since that research was conducted.
In the weeks following the shutdown in March, I contacted many of my Gigaom Research clients, and discovered a great deal about their perceptions of the old Gigaom Research, much of it positive, and some critical feedback, as well.
Our plan is to retain those elements of the old Gigaom Research that our clients found immensely valuable, which propelled that growth in influence: most especially the high quality of research and analysis drawn from that network of independent analysts. At the same time, we now intend to shift to a much more agile and innovative operating model: leaner and smarter. As Research Director, I will be working with Byron to grow the business organically, and we will be bringing on other contributors — some familiar names and many new ones — in the weeks and months to follow.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.

The trials and tribulations of the API economy

Zapier Co-Founder Bryan Helmig explains why his company wants to make it easy for users to cobble together their own personal best-of-breed app suites. And also why that is work for masochists.

Seven things I think are worth reading this weekend

Here are some articles I came across this week that I think are worth your time, including an optimistic piece about the future of email, a profile of the real brains behind Bitcoin and a look at how advertising has ruined the internet