March 11, 2009

The no-brainer business case for RIA

Although the RIA seems to defy definition, its business case has become crystal clear. If you are still not convinced about adopting RIAs, then have a look at these great slides from this webinar by Forrester on Enterprise RIA adoption.

Wait, what do I mean "RIA seems to defy definition"? Well, the definition of the term RIA seems to be shifting continuously. It certainly no longer just literally means rich internet application. I have said before that RIA was becoming a synonym for website, because nowadays, people expect you to build an RIA when they ask you to build a website for them. Just yesterday, I attended a seminar about RIAs, and the keynote speaker was of the opinion that an important aspect of RIA is "cross-platformness". And I can only agree, because the capability to build an application only once and being able to deploy it on many operating systems and devices is definetely a big development and maintenance cost reducer: win-win.

Interestingly, the definition of the term Web Service is undergoing a similar process as its meaning is also becoming broader. Well, that is not entirely true, because the definition of Web Service is depending on the perspective of its beholder. Seen from a business perspective, a web service is a course granular thing that reflects a certain business process or transaction, for instance "payment". Seen from the perspective of a software architect, a webservice is a programming interface that provides a set of operations that can be invoked from anywhere on the web. Seen from a consumer's perspective, a web service has a much broader meaning: a service of a company that is rendered to them through the web, for instance "online banking". Each of these notions is essentially true.

Did you notice how close the perceived meaning of "web service" comes to the meaning of RIA when seen from a consumer's perspective? In any case, an RIA can significantly improve the quality of the service that is rendered to the customer, because the rich capabilities of RIA technology allows you to develop appealing and responsive web applications. Add the above mentioned "cross-platformness" to the equation and you get a no-brainer business case: RIA technology improves customer satisfaction and reduces cost. And if you pair RIA development with an Agile methodology (also a no-brainer) and rapid design & visualization, you can have your customers experience the first version of your cost reducer and customer satisfier within the month. No kidding.

March 02, 2009

Personal branding with social media

Modern (social) professionals spend a lot of time on the web to advertise themselves. Social Media, which is a new umbrella term for web applications that allow people to participate in the creation of the content served by that application. Examples of Social Media are Web log (blog) applications, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Ning (for an extensive list of social media examples, look here)

The modern professional uses social netwroking applications such as LinkedIn to create and maintain a personal profile and to associate himself/herself with other individuals (preferably with commonly recognized authority), put their ideas, knowledge, experience and interests on display in their personal and professional blogs and leave authoritative comments on selectively picked blog posts of other individuals. Today's pros are constantly shaping their personal brand. I have made an attempt of illustrating the basic processes behind this in a use case diagram below (diagrams always make articles look more authoritative...).

Personal branding will help yourself to become engaged in the type of projects you aspire. It also helps other people to find certain information and expertise that they need for their projects. Recruiters have discovered social media too. They use it actively to hunt for heads or passively to scan the extracurricular activities of people who have applied for a certain position. Needless to say, you should be aware of the down side of this too: it can be difficult to erase past results of your online activities. Recruiters also scan the web for any recent or past behavior on your part that they might see as unfitting for the position they attempt to fill. An online picture of yourself in a bikini might prevent you from getting a job as a teacher on a primary school, but depending on your looks, it could improve your chances of becoming an aerobics instructor.

Guy Kawasaki gives us 10 tips for using LinkedIn to find a job (in particular, have a good look at tip 11). The effectiveness of these tips is directly proportional to the strength of your brand, i.e: take good care of your personal brand and these tips will be more effective.