Sunday, September 13, 2009

And the rockets' red glare!

And now, having posted to the NonStop community blog, Real Time View for two years, I have started my third year of blogging ...

Friday evening is approaching, and in the final hours of the day I’m multitasking, as usual. On Skype to my good friend Mark Hutchens in Sydney while scanning emails and checking financial markets. Out of nowhere, an SMS message arrives from another good friend, Brian Kenny – “stand by for sonic booms,” it says. Space shuttle Discovery is going to break orbit and land nearby at Edwards Air Force Base.

Sure enough, in mid sentence with Mark, the dual booms rattle the windows. The base is not far from where I work, and only a few days ago, I had stopped by the rocket museum alongside the Naval Air Weapons Station, at Point Mugu, California, and the picture above is of me alongside some of the rockets on display. But these were all ancient relics of a bygone era and minuscule when compared to the Shuttle!

It's now the second time I have heard the signature booms – earlier this year, while at Willow Springs race track, I had just returned from my driving session and was trying to take in what instructor John Matthews was suggesting, when similar dual booms rocked the building. We all ran outside and many of us saw the shuttle. In at least four different locations above us!

This evening, I wasn’t in a position to see anything and from where I live, the shuttle is still very high in the sky. It’s still an impressive feat of engineering – by the time the space shuttle enters the atmosphere, it’s “flying” at more than 17,000 mph! Just thinking about how much energy gets released during the descent, is mind-blowing!

The space station orbiting above us is almost complete. Not sure what exactly is to be added next but, from all the stories and pictures I have looked at, it’s pretty close to being finished. As I listened to the news coverage of the descent and landing, the news anchor commented on how Astronaut, Jose Hernandez, of Stockton California was sending tweets back to his followers on earth.

Among the more amusing was an early one “Met our six neighbors next door and they seem nice! So nice, we are giving one of them a ride home!" Astro Jose, as he is known on Twitter.com, then sent the tweet just before leaving the International Space Station (ISS), “we undocked today. What a sight seeing the ISS from up close and then seeing it get smaller! We also did a fly around the ISS!”

If anyone had told me, a few years ago, that social networking would leave the planet earth and the Internet would carry text exchanges with missions in space, I would have been shocked. While few things surprise me these days, particularly when it comes to the space program, all the same, to imagine this level of open dialogue with an Astronaut and with the same tools we routinely use, was quite a surprise. For decades now there’s been some concern that a returning space flight will bring with it unwanted viruses that wipe out the planet’s human population - but who would have thought that perhaps the ISS is more vulnerable to a virus finding it’s way up from earth!

Social networking has been very much on my mind of late – it’s been hard to escape all the exchanges between many within the NonStop community. A few days ago, a new user group was created on LinkedIn that was called the NonStop Vendor SIG. Ernie Guerrera of NuWave did a good job of getting it up and running, and marketed to the vendor community, and within the first 24 hours, there were more than 40 members. And at last count, it was getting close to 60 members, and only two more days had passed.

Why the rapid growth in membership – well, rapid in terms of what we see across the HP NonStop community – when compared to other sites? Put simply, it was the content and the opportunity to provide feedback, almost instantaneously, that developed the membership. Marketing a web site, a blog, or a user group, isn’t all that hard given the email lists and contact data basses most of us have these days – but getting casual web users to sign-up and become members, and then to revisit the site on a regular basis, is no mean feat and tells us a lot about the type of tools preferred by web users these days.

Social networking is becoming the predominant tool for communicating with our peers, our business partners, and customers. It may not always sit well with your legal staff and still remains a puzzle to many in marketing and public relationships, but I sense there will be no let-up in the number and diversity of on-line communications in the coming years. And blogging is becoming an increasingly important tool for maintaining a presence on the Internet. And who would have guessed that I am now into my third year of blogging to Real Time View - the actual anniversary being a few weeks ago, back in early August.

“So, blogging can be vitally important, but most likely it will open doors for you that lead to revenue or help you promote things you are selling, as opposed to generating a tone of money from advertising,” suggests web-sales teaching guru, Brian Clark. (Check out http://www.teachingsells.com/) Clark then adds “there’s a huge shift going on thanks to globalization and the growth of the Internet, and those who can create and express ideas online will be at the top end of the economic spectrum.”

As with everything you run across on the Internet, you have to be a little careful applying all that is conveyed. In the case of Clark, he’s encouraging today’s generation of entrepreneurs to begin building their future empires in the virtual world of the Internet. But the basic observations he makes here remain valid; “product placements” in blogs are becoming just as important as in any other medium, and the trend today is that more and more people are relying on the Internet for all of their product information. Ignoring this medium and letting your competitors gain the upper-hand, will be tough to reverse when you wake up and finally “get it!”

Under the label of “Artists and Technicians,” as seen to the right of this posting, I have written six posts on different professions within IT – covering operators and operations (twice), CIO’s, CTO’s, Architects, as well as Programmers. But perhaps, the most important leader to emerge will be the digital, or media, marketing executive.

In my most recent essay in Tandemworld.net (September, 09) I observed how “we read of titles like Ford’s ‘head of social media,’ Levi’s ‘director of digital marketing,’ Intuit’s ‘social-media marketing leader,’ and Intel’s ‘social-media strategist.’ And I have to believe that none of these titles would have appeared on anyone’s business cards five years ago.” I then added “traditional marketing managers may soon become part of a new organization headed by the Chief Blogging Officer, or something along this line but perhaps more acceptable to the marketplace.”

Perhaps this is a bit far-fetched and doesn’t really warrant the creation of a new job title. And perhaps all of this is just a natural progression for all those involved in marketing. However, as forward-thinking and as creative traditional marketing people tend to be, there’s mixed emotions about the need to invest in social networking and in developing a lively presence on the Internet. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen the work I create being dismissed as just a series of unfocused opinions!

Ernie’s creation of the LinkedIn user group “NonStop Partner SIG” clearly demonstrated for me how many of us within IT have access to the Internet and how many of us find time to check out sites relevant to the products we work with as part of our daily routines. With travel budgets cut and money for education withdrawn long ago, creative IT professionals, who really do want to know more about their industry and what their colleagues are pursuing, will always find a way to stay current.

Social networking is rapidly becoming the premier vehicle for doing exactly that – so the rapid growth in membership in the NonStop Partner SIG is further reinforcement, for me, of just how many in the NonStop community monitor social networks loosely tied to our profession. There may be concerns over how many social networks any of us needs to participate in but very quickly, it is the content and the “currency” that tend to draw the crowds. Lively discussions on topics of the day will always draw return visits – and we remain curious creatures so will always check back if we have posted a comment ourselves.

Perhaps there are many years to go before we do see the emergence of the CBO! Perhaps it will take a lot more courage (and insight) on the part of our CEO’s before such a role is created. But if today the likes of Ford, Levi Strauss, and Intel already have leadership in place, it can only be a matter of time. Pulling back from 17,000+ mph can release a lot of energy – but so too can hundreds of thousands of networked IT professionals. And there’s no escaping the booms when that happens!

Not unlike email, that seemed to be only a social and inter-company communications vehicle just 25 years ago that has become a legitimate business tool – and as valid as a notarized signatures on a piece of paper, and is used for mega-million dollar transactions - blogging, social networking, and even video communications via the Web, will in time replace big tent events, glossy marketing brochures, and good old snail mail.

On-line education and webcast meetings are becoming pass̩ Рjust give it a couple of years and the need for huge conventions may very well go away! Should we be short-selling Las Vegas convention hotels? I am sure that will make CFOs happy, even as they scramble to find the funding to pay the salary of their newest hire Рthe CBO!

1 comment:

patricia said...

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Patricia

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