The internet of everything: 5 big ideas at Structure Connect about connecting everyone and everything

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Between the smart home, wearables and the industrial internet, we’re hearing about the internet of things all the time. But before we start connecting devices, we need to connect people in more places, improve connectivity in our homes and offices and even figure out how we can connect our web services to these new products that you control via an app.

It’s a lot to take in. That’s why we’re excited to host Structure Connect, a conference dedicated to the challenges and opportunities that ubiquitous connectivity in everything from sensors to smoke detectors is creating. The conference will take place in San Francisco on Oct. 21 and 22 at the Mission Bay Conference Center. We’ll use the event to discuss how we turn the theoretical promises of energy savings, smarter cities, automated homes that anticipate your needs and more-efficient businesses into reality. You’ll want to be there, so register…

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Does Corporate America Finally Get What Working Parents Need?

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

At this week’s White House Summit on Working Families, President Obama and others made a moral case for changing the way we work. “Family leave, childcare, workplace flexibility, a decent wage – these are not frills, they are basic needs. They shouldn’t be bonuses. They should be part of our bottom line as a society,” the president remarked.

Yet there was also a strong business case for change, with vociferous and impassioned representation from our nation’s private sector. Bob Moritz, PwC’s US Chairman and Senior Partner, called on his peers to make significant changes, saying that “CEOs need to make this happen.” He reported that when PwC increased their flex options they saw higher productivity in return.  When they transitioned to unlimited sick leave, the actual number of days that employees took as sick days declined.  PwC offers back-up childcare and other family-friendly benefits because they have found that…

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Got Chrome for Windows? Your extensions have to come through Google’s Chrome Web Store

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Google announced in November that it was going to start cracking down on Chrome extensions, particularly on the Windows(s msft) platform. The warning became reality this past week as Google is now enforcing the policy it laid out last year. If you run Chrome(s goog) for Windows — either the Beta or Stable channel — all of your browser extensions will be had through the Chrome Web Store. Chrome Canary and the developer channel of Chrome on Windows are exempt from this; these channels can still install Chrome extensions from any source.

Why the new policy? There have been too many reports of malware-infested extensions for Google to ignore. Some extensions were doing things behind the scenes and unknown to users, such as, according to Google, “silently installing extensions on your machine that do things like inject ads or track your browsing activity.” And that’s a no-no. So…

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Google is harnessing machine learning to cut data center energy

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Leave it to Google (s GOOG) to have an engineer so brainy he hacks out machine learning models in his 20 percent time. Google says that recently it’s been using machine learning — developed by data center engineer Jim Gao (his Googler nickname is “Boy Genius”) — to predict the energy efficiency of their global data centers down to 99.6 percent accuracy, and then to optimize the data centers in incremental ways if they become less efficient for whatever reason.

Part of Gao’s day-to-day job at Google is to track its data centers’ power usage efficiency, or PUE, which demonstrates how efficiently data center computing equipment is using energy. Traditionally many data center operators were seeing about half of their energy consumed by cooling equipment, but in recent years data center leaders like Google, Facebook(s fb) and others have focused on tools like using the outside air for cooling, or running the server…

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4 mistakes engineers make when building a SaaS company

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Before I joined Loggly as CTO and VP of Engineering, I built seven cloud-based products. From my perspective, four mistakes separated the SaaS companies that stumble from the best.

1. “Adoption for our offering will take time, so we can build fast now and build right later.”
Look at how steep the technology adoption curve has become. Every SaaS product needs to be built for scalability and robustness from the start.

technology-adoption

Image courtesy Udayan Banerjee

2. “Our customers have predictable behavior.”
Be ready for something unexpected that will threaten to break your service, and have processes for managing out-of-policy activities. For example, Loggly must deal with customers that send a huge burst of log events, inadvertently or during a fire, 24-7.

3. “We don’t need operations automation.”
Operations is at the heart of every SaaS business, and they shouldn’t be treated like sysadmins. By automating defrag of ElasticSearch, Loggly devops saves about 15…

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A Shared Purpose Drives Collaboration

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Imagine coming back home from work, calling the family into the living room, and urging everyone to collaborate more. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Ever wondered what makes collaboration seem so natural at home but unnatural at work?

The answer: Purpose. Purpose is collaboration’s most unacknowledged determinant.  While it can be taken for granted within families, that’s not true of most organizations. “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work but rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea,” pointed out Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the French writer and aviator, who wrote The Little Prince. 

Yet, companies and executives spend endless amounts of time and money trying to foster collaboration through technology, training, and memos instead of quickly defining the problem, framing the challenges, and inspiring people to come together and tackle it.

Let’s remind…

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11 Books Every Young Leader Must Read

Harvard Business Review:

This is a great collection of books. In my opinion, Seven Habits by Covey should be read first, if you haven’t already read it. This is a book that I read and read again and again.

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

Recently, I wrote that leaders should be readers. Reading has a host of benefits for those who wish to occupy positions of leadership and develop into more relaxed, empathetic, and well-rounded people. One of the most common follow-up questions was, “Ok, so what should I read?”

That’s a tough question. There are a number of wonderful reading lists out there. For those interested in engaging classic literature, Wikipedia has a list of “The 100 Best Books of All Time,” and Modern Library has picks for novels and nonfiction. Those interested in leadership might consult the syllabus for David Gergen’s leadership course (PDF) at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government or the syllabus his colleague Ron Heifetz uses for his course on adaptive leadership (PDF).

But if I had to focus on a short list for young business leaders, I’d choose the 11 below. I’ve only included books I’ve…

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