Monday, November 7, 2011

The Art of Project Management

When I first started out as a Product Manager, I had the naive perception that simply gathering information on customer feedback and competitive offerings would be all the input you'd need to chart the course for product development. If I had a good handle of what the customers were asking for, and what the competitors also provided, than all I had to do was to prioritize those things into a product road map and feature requirements.

Galvanized by Art

I couldn't have been more wrong. As Apple and other game-changing organizations have proven time and again, successful product strategies are all about divining what the market values and is willing to pay for. That can be, and more than often is, completely different from what users say they want, and from what competitors currently provide. We didn't know we needed an iPhone, or a Tivo or DropBox, etc, until the product wizards conjured them up.

I'm starting to believe the same thing rings true with Project management. It's relatively easy to do user interviews, come up with a requirements checklist and execute towards a finished solution. The more difficult question to answer is - what will truly make that solution successful in the organization? The old saying "Be careful what you ask for" rings true here: do customers really understand what they've asked for, and will their stakeholders embrace and make it successful?Are we taking into account the complexity of learning and using the final product? Does it ultimately make the task simpler, or is just another thing to learn how to do?

The risk for not taking this into consideration as a project manager, is that your solution may ultimately fail at the customer's organization despite your successful project delivery. When the customer gets everything they ask for, seldom do they get what they really need.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Critical Infrastructure? � geoMusings

Wanted to summarize Bill's post earlier this week:

Critical Infrastructure? � geoMusings

if you're looking for the most reliable forms of communications in and after an emergency here in the U.S.0, they appear to be:

1) a land-line telephone
2) your mobile phone's data connection
3) your mobile phone's voice connection

Bill didn't review home broadband connections, but I'm suspect here as well: our Comcast service was down for 8-12 hours on Tuesday after the quake.

So if you're like me and are too cheap to have a land-line in your house, make sure your cell phone has a data plan and you know how to reach the outside world with it -- don't expect to be able to call anybody or for them to call you!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

#WhereCamp Awesomeness

Lots of warm fuzzies at the Ignite Spatial evening at the inagural WhereCampDC this past Friday. I met a lot of folks, some of whom I've only known via blogs and Twitter so far, including
and but also reconnected with some familiar DC faces including and . Here's my take on the presentations - which I'm hoping will be posted online soon:

  • best use of hand-gestures
    • WMS is Dead – Sophia Parafina (@spara)
  • best summary of multiple disertations that wanted me to go out and learn more:
    • The Future of the National Map: A CEGIS Overview – Eric Wolf ( )
  • best geonerd feel-good time
    •  GeoHerd – Homophily in the Geonerd Community – Anthony Quartararo ( )
  • most interesting product pitch
    • Mobile Mapping Project of Washington DC – Michael Quan

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nokia & Microsoft - what now for maps?


Last week, Nokia and Microsoft formally announced a not-so-secret plan to leverage the two companies' technologies in the wireless marketspace.  Nokia will get much-need access to a modern (if not yet popular) mobile device OS, while Microsoft gets a still-major hardware vendor to dedicate itself to their platform.  I learned a great deal of background info from this post on the 'mobile opportunity blog' (thanks to Marc Piroleau for sharing).  And on Monday we learned as well from the Journal that Mr. Elop is getting significant aid from their friends in Redmond to implement this new OS.

So what does this mean for both Bing maps, and Ovi maps - surely only one of these technologies is really needed.  Microsoft has been developing its online map products for several years now, and it competes and shows well alongside the likes of both Google maps and Mapquest.  Nokia relies on Gate5 technology that it acquired through NAVTEQ a few years back, and has now integrated into it's free mobile navigation solution.  Evidently, Microsoft sees enough promise within the Gate5 technology, to bring some of that into Bing.  From a content perspective, and for access to content and services outside of the US, this may be a good thing for Bing.  I have my doubts however, that Ovi maps in its current form will win over customers in North America.  A few concerns I have:

- an online web platform that is not battle-tested:  currently you can see Ovi maps at work in their portal, and also at  I seriously doubt either portal has been tested to scale, the way Google, Mapquest and Bing have.

- a user experience that is still very European-centered:  go to Ovi maps, search for an address and invariably you'll still get results in the US that are StreetName-first and discount the US state  (Pennsylvania Avenue 1600, Washington, USA) - yick)

- a navigation experience that has great promise, but is also untested outside of Nokia's core market.  Nokia Gate5 has a big jump on google with their hybrid Nav (offline map data is easily updated via a PC) and I think this could be a boon in the US, where wireless service is spotty compared to many of Nokia's other markets.  If only there were more Nokia handsets involved to give me more peace of mind, that there solution is better-tested here.

And that frames up the larger problem for Nokia in the US - no relationship with the wireless carriers and no market presence to ensure a positive 'geo-experience' with their maps and navigation software.  Microsoft may help, but things aren't going to change overnight.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Visualizing your LinkedIn Contacts

Saw this on Google reader - very interesting:

from NRGS Geospatial Blog
Visualizing your LinkedIn Contacts:
"LinkedIn. People like it and people hate it….or in some cases people have no idea what it is. I ignored the first few requests I had to join it – Now I try to add at least a contact a week.

For the uninitiated, It’s Facebook for business…Minus all the pictures of your friends kids and tales of drunken parties.

On the heels of Facebook’s map of users you have this:

Give it a shot at"

Monday, January 10, 2011

a bigger HMI is still an HMI

I have to disagree with the telematics experts at Continental here - I don't think the answer to ease-of-use and minimal driver distraction is porting cell phone content to a larger screen on the car.  it's still a distraction - maybe an easier-to-read distraction.
A better solution is already out there - audibal navigation with turn-by-turn directions and spoken street names accomplishes this for the most part.  I'm more impressed with technology like Ford's Synch  that makes this so much easier and less intrusive.  

The interview on LBS Zone:
Nokia Interview - Aiming for the perfect integrated mobile phone-vehicle navigation solution 

"as Continental points out, displaying navigation information on a small and static mobile phone screen while inside a car is the wrong human machine interface (HMI)."