Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sacramento Says: Green I Want You Green

You might’ve missed the Clean Tech Showcase , October 16 at Sacramento State University where four discussion tracks (Public / Private Policies, Clean Technologies, Clean Technology Workforce, Clean Technology Startups) chartered more than 700 participants through increasingly green waters.

The Showcase, the third annual since 2007, was held under the auspices of SARTA (Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance, an umbrella organization whose mission is to green the Sacramento Region.

It’s where I met to Ingrid Rosten, who serves as the Executive Director of CleanStart, an initiative of McClellan Technology Incubator affiliated with SARTA. Rosten excels at developing successful partnerships between private and public companies, investors, and academic institutions. “That’s when it all happens,” she said.

Her work with CleanStart began several years ago when she moved from San Jose to the Sacramento area as a successful developer of business incubators, some international.

Gary Simon and Mark Henwood, two venture capital investors, asked her to head up a project called CleanStart. The initial purpose was to assess whether the region could be a clean technology center. A feasibility study was born largely funded by SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utilities District) and the California Energy Commission.

The purpose of the study was to assess if the region could emerge as a clean tech center with enough initial investment capital, entrepreneurs, executive talent and an established base of green startups. A “Power Up Business Plan” competition hosted by California Clean Tech Open brought together green companies with the lure of $25,000 in prize money. “We began to map the clean companies,” she said.

In 2007, first Clean Showcase was held at the University of California at Davis. Today CleanStart now operates under the umbrella arm of SARTA, as does VentureStart which cultivates “angel investors with wide experience in starting companies.” SARTA uses a “Tech Index” to measure the regional technology economy by tracking 50 leading high-tech and life science companies.

The United States is behind many parts of the world with green technology, acknowledged Rosten. “Countries like China and India don’t need to deal with an aging infrastructure, but are building the (a new green) structure in place.” In Israel, she said, “use of solar water heaters is the law.”

But Rosten is philosophical. Despite the current recession, she thinks it’s a time “when people pull out the stops and starting thinking of unique ways to develop new products to service the coming market. We’ve been a consumer society. We’re seeing that shift.”

“Green I want you green /. Green starts of frost / some with the shadow-fish / that opens the road for dawn.”

—Federico Garcia Lorca, Sleepwalking Ballad

Lenore Weiss

Posted via email from techtabletalk's posterous

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cisco's Y-Space Does Cross-Generational Mentoring

It's gotta be the best when technology events turn into unexpected opportunities, which happened to me at a recent ASAP (Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals) meeting.
One group of presenters were from Cisco, members of the company's "Y-Space" team and innovative individuals, all born to run using social networking.
What follows is a mini-interview about the group. Thanks to members of the Y-Space team, particularly Norys Trevino and Ken Lotich. May all your Tweets be prosperous.

Q.) What is the history of the Y-Space group at Cisco?
Norys Trevino, Collaboration Solutions Manager and Y-Space coach: Y-Space was founded in September 2008 as an internal blog. There are currently 26 members from around the globe. We intend to gradually expand, specifically in countries where Y-Space is not currently represented. We are currently represented in the United States, Australia, Singapore, The Netherlands, Spain, and Germany.
The objective of Y-Space is to help educate and inform Cisco employees about new media tips and tricks, how to work more effectively across diverse generations, how to engage and retain gen-y employees, and explore personal filters related to generational differences.
Q.) Please describe specific areas at Cisco where Y-Space members are applying social networking expertise and business cases.
David Habbian, Cisco Business Analyst, Y-Space U.S.-lead: Y-Space has leveraged and applied its social media and web 2.0 expertise to make a significant business impact across various areas in Cisco.
One great example is a recent engagement where Y-Space team members worked closely with various cross-functional groups within Global Strategy and Operations to develop a platform for hosting a global virtual staff meeting.
Myriad technologies and deliverables were integrated into this platform including video, live chat, WebEx, live Q & A and many more! Ultimately, the solution was utilized to facilitate a global extended staff meeting for Karl Meulema and his senior staff. There was a great response among participants and it yielded a 92 percent satisfaction rate.
Q.) What is the reverse mentoring of Cisco senior leadership about and how does this happen?
Norys Trevino, Collaboration Solutions Manager and Y-Space coach:
The reverse mentorship program at Cisco offers executives and gen-y employees an opportunity to build a relationship and learn from each other's position and experience through specific projects and regular meetings. Reverse mentorship activities are up to the participants.
It is common for an executive to leverage this program to gain insight into the gen-y perspective of policy or program. In turn, the gen-y employee will gain experience and exposure in activities outside of their typical day job.

Lenore Weiss

Friday, October 16, 2009

Social Networkers Shall Inherit the Earth

Social networkers are changing established patterns of communication. Who knows? After all these years, maybe the meek will finally inherit the earth. Did someone say paradigm shift?

The current generation of social networkers grew up mouse padding, YouTubing, and text messaging on diminutive cell phones.

When they went to elementary school, their classrooms stressed peer leadership, which may have been a function of increased class size but like Darwin’s theory of evolution, there it was nonetheless.

Social networking is changing the way people relate from a top-down bureaucratic model born on the assembly lines of the 19th century to the peer model of the Information Age. Developing software and applications and technology requires that people exchange ideas. It requires social networking.

I speak as one who has spent the major portion of her working hours warehoused in various bureaucracies except for a brief stint in the industry.

The real gift of the days, IMHO, was not about stock options, but in serving as a hot house for developing new working relationships, a harbinger of social networking.

After years of occupying a cubicle as a technical writer for the offices of engineering, banking, and government firms, I was suddenly asked to speak up and participate, and not just dully nod my head in response to the latest administrative bulletin, which had arrived through interoffice mail in an ugly envelope.

At our team meetings, everyone who sat around the table was expected to generously pipe in at the appropriate moment with suggestions based on our area of expertise. One person wasn't supposed to have all the answers. Each of us were that answer.

Driven to release a new product had the net effect of wiping out years of in-bred hierarchical instinct and replacing it, or at least advancing the notion that collaboration, proven by many managerial theorists whose work had been adopted overseas in countries like Japan, was an alternate way of organizing the workforce.

For roughly five years, from 1995 to 2000, collaboration became a new craze, motivated by profit itself and not by the desire of some soft-hearted sixties refugee like myself who yearned for a more humane way of working.

So what if there wasn't a sound business plan developed by a person who understood a profit and loss sheet? That was a mere detail. So what if venture capitalists were unable to recoup their initial investment? Something more was at stake.

Although the era fizzled out in an explosion of overpriced technology stock, one thing remained clear: there was no one right answer, there was only a team.

Social networkers are that team with a model that seeks to replace the hierarchy of top-down communication.

Lenore Weiss

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

No Searching (or Social Networking) Tonight: Honey, I Have a Headache…

Don’t get me wrong. If I need to find something on the Internet, I know how to type a few keywords inside a search box.  

But remember those almost bygone linear search days when all we had to do was to scan a list of blue links and select one or two or maybe three?  


Even more troublesome is discovering how today’s Internet’s search engines haven’t kept up with a convergence of media across the new 2.0 Web. 

Honey. Can my search engine track a rich preserve of videos, photographs, blog posts, exchanges from social networks, ratings on restaurants and other vendors? Can it then display information in one place, allow me to work with content, and in doing so, make searching on the Web more efficient? 

Sure. Don’t stop indexing, classifying, and rating information. Just remove the walls that separate different kinds of media.  Don’t force me to keep opening different browser windows, and then to collect responses in a file for later review. 

Of course, maybe if I’m checking the spelling of a city in Wisconsin, or the name of an album by Nina Simone, I’m in good shape. Fact search. 

But what if I want to find someone whom I met at a recent comic book convention in Green Bay with a really strong opinion about the type of skateboard I should buy? Or if I want to find a local Nina Simone buff who would help organize a fundraiser for a musician, a friend of a friend’s, who played with Nina for 20 years and now is sick without medical coverage?   

The Web is no longer just about fact-finding. It’s becoming a way to create community across mutual interests.

Remember how President Obama’s campaign brought Twitter to national attention as he built a constituency in 140-character length messages? Then there’s Facebook, a service that college students introduced to their parents as a way of keeping in touch during semesters. Today’s unemployed professionals have discovered LinkedIn as a way of finding business contacts. And YouTube is a repository of video clips spanning past and present. 

Instead of blue hyperlinks, revolutionary in their own time, I now want to search for community, find a variety of opinions, and to offer my own. I want to personalize that experience so that everything looks and feels like home. 

Variety, customization, socialization and feedback are the new hallmarks of the Web. In the last five years or so, the Web has spawned a new generation of technologies, together called social media or social networking tools


So I’m thinking, isn’t it time for a new breed of search engine, which lets me view and work within a diverse media map of my own content?

Once I enter a keyword, I want to see related information, including text, photos, video, reviews, recommendations, and even exchanges from my virtual world (if I have one). 

Allow me to copy and paste information seamlessly into different accounts. Identify me through a photograph or avatar of my choice.   

The Web is no longer just about links. It’s about building relationships.  I want my search engine to work the same way.

Lenore Weiss

Posted via email from techtabletalk's posterous

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Building Alliances With Social Networking Tools

Find your customers and fish where the fish are, advised panelists at the first Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals, Silicon Valley (ASAPSV) program event of the year, held September 30 at the Cisco campus in San Jose. Next bait the hook with social media, and keep your message immersed in the conversation.

Speakers agreed that we are living in a time where the Conversational Era, a revolution whose direction is being shaped by its participants, is replacing the Broadcast Era.

Rajesh Setty, entrepreneur, author, and speaker, shared pictographs about the Twitter experience of “buzzability.” At one end of the spectrum is chatter and at the other is information that has immediate and future relevance and also brands its sender as a node.

Next up to bat was Tim Bailey, founder and president of Alliance-Strategies, Inc., who urged business leaders that in building relationships, to check LinkedIn for company profiles, and not to miss the names of current employees, the recently promoted, and the recently moved on. He also urged the audience to have a “PowerPoint strategy” of their own goals. Know your bullet points.

Introducing the next group of presenters was Norys Trevino from Cisco, a Collaboration Solutions Manager in the CA Web Strategy & Collaboration Solutions Team and Y-Space coach. Cisco is now primarily using WebEx for collaboration and Web-conferencing, she said. Email is passé.

The Y-Space team describes themselves on Twitter as “A Team of Generation Y employees…who contribute to an internal concept blog and are passionate about changing the way business is done through Web 2.0 tools.”

Trevino explained how the Y-Space team are “reverse-mentoring” some of Cisco’s senior leadership on the use of social media tools. Did you know that the number of members of Facebook now represent the fourth largest country in the world? Neither did I.

Jennifer Vessels, CEO of Next Step, rounded the evening off with a call not to be overwhelmed. “How many people feel that they can’t find the time for the collaborative social media world? Let’s not just add social media,” she said, “but shift the way we interact.” She said that most members of Generation Y have already set up their community before the first kick-off meeting.

Director of Global Services Channel at Cisco Systems, Raja Sundaram referred to Comcast’s presence on Twitter. Twitter has allowed the company to support customers at lower cost while yielding higher rates of success.

Here are a few resources to help you move through the social networking world:

Next meeting of ASAPSV is October 28, 495 East Jave Drive in Sunnyvale. Networking begins at 5:30pm. “The Impact of Alliances on Cloud Computing.”

Lenore Weiss