Home » Author Archives: Rob Thomas

Author Archives: Rob Thomas

Scale Effects, Machine Learning, and Spark

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“In 1997, IBM asked James Barry to make sense of the company’s struggling web server business. Barry found that IBM had lots of pieces of the puzzle in different parts of the company, but not an integrated product offering for web services. His idea was to put together a coordinated package, which became WebSphere. The problem was that a key ...

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Technical Leadership

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As companies grow and mature, it is difficult to maintain the pace of innovation that existed in the early days. This is why as many companies mature (i.e. Fortune 500), they sometimes lose their innovation edge. The edge is lost when technical leadership in the company either takes a backseat or evolves to a different role (different than the role ...

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Even Doctors Will Be Data Scientists

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We all know how it works. You walk into a doctor’s office complaining about some pain in your leg or otherwise. They take your temperature, get you on the scale, check your blood pressure, and perhaps even get out the rubber hammer. These measurements are simply snapshots at one particular instant in time and may be subject to error. This ...

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Legendary Product Development

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“Brand will not save you, marketing will not save you, and account control will not save you. It’s the products.” – Marc Andreessen I believe there is a recipe for winning in product development. It requires a delicate balance between pragmatism in planning, efficient execution, and the ability to see around corners (into the future). I’ve written this post to ...

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Drones and Big Data

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Two weeks ago, I had a conversation with some colleagues where I was postulating a future bull market for drones, as I envisioned a number of commercial applications (food service, surveillance, etc). Coincidentally, this topic has gained major momentum since Amazon’s disclosure of a drone R&D project for goods delivery on 60 Minutes this week. Suddenly, everyone has a drone ...

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A Framework for Enterprise Software

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For decades, the companies in this industry have produced sophisticated and complex products. They are difficult to assemble, require the stitching together of a variety of component parts, and its often a long time from the beginning of a project to when the end user sees value/success. Unfortunately, many times, the user is never satisfied. The product breaks or does ...

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Self-Service is the Future of Enterprise Software

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Despite human desire to be pampered and served, there is a huge affinity to self service throughout the economy. Some samples: 1) Would you prefer to print your own boarding pass or have an agent do it for you? 2) Do you like taking your computer in for technical support or do you prefer to fix at home? 3) Do ...

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The Business Opportunity of the Decade

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Peter Drucker, the famed management guru, frequently talks about risk (more specifically managing risk) in a business. Per usual, he simplifies into 4 kinds of risk: 1) Risks that you must take 2) Risks that you can afford to take 3) Risks that you cannot afford to take 4) Risks that you cannot afford to not take I believe the ...

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Big Data: All Aboard the Information Bus

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What is good for the short term is often not good for the long term. A simple example from baseball: As it became obvious that steroids enhanced performance, many players turned to the ‘juice’, to drive their short term performance. However, they quickly learned that it was not sustainable. Once you stop or overuse it, your performance and stability begins ...

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The Myth of Start Up Costs

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Conventional wisdom in the start-up community these days is that it has never been cheaper to start and build a company. It’s been written and re-written about, but I’ll summarize the logic as: You used to have to build your product, then write enormous checks to Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Sun, etc to buy the hardware/software that you needed to run ...

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