Friday, June 15, 2007

Milk and two sugars ...

I have three personal rules of business.

The first is: -

"if you don't like change, you're going to really hate the future"

or as Joseph A. Schumpeter put it

"Capitalism, then, is by nature a form or method of economic change and not only never is but never can be stationary"

The second is :-

"products or technology don't make great businesses, people do."

Your products are going to change, your markets are going to change - if you want to survive you are going to depend upon people. Now, I've been through this a number of times with Fotango; from a photo service to a software house and now to utility computing services.

The trick is transformation. You need to maintain one existing business whilst building an entirely new future. It's not an easy challenge, it takes a lot of time and energy.

I'm lucky though to have a wonderful team of skilled, passionate and talented individuals. I'm very proud of them and their achievements.

Zimki is a cool piece of software backed up with good ideas, a strong movement towards utility computing grids and viable new businesses to be created. There is still a lot more to be done, and then we need to build a community around it.

Transformation is not always a smooth process, sometimes there is too much to be done and sometimes that next step is just too high or you are not quite ready yet. At moments like this, you need to take stock, regroup and try another way.

There's no shame in that, it's life, it happens.

It was one of those moments, which led to the recent change to the open sourcing of Zimki.

Obviously we are disappointed to miss our target and some of the reaction has been negative. I do understand this, I understand the frustration and concern. I'm deeply sorry for this.

As I said "we'd rather do it right rather than just right now" of course given the choice "I'd rather do it right and right now" but sometimes that's just not going to happen.

My talk at OSCON will be on the impact of commoditisation in both manufacturing and IT and how open sourcing is driving the acceleration of innovation. I'll have to leave the announcements on Zimki to a later day.

So what's the third rule? Well that one I'll keep to myself. I can't give away all my secrets! That one is worth at least a cup of coffee.


Anonymous said...

As one of those whose reaction to yesterday's announcement was negative, I'd like to thank you for being upfront about the problems with Zimki. Others would have just "gone to ground". I'll continue to keep a small web presence on Zimki in the hope that someday the potential of the platform will be realised.


swardley said...

Hi Tom,

Thank you for your comments and also your post.

Firstly, I am deeply sorry about the change. Obviously our intention was to open source at OSCON but for the reasons I've explained we are unable to do so.

The team have been working hard on Zimki and we know the service lacks several things - like decent documentation etc (we've actually hired a tech writer to help with this). We're a fairly small team, with a lot of Canon systems to support, so sometimes we can't go as fast as we'd like.

Community help would make such a massive difference to us. But also having multiple independent providers overcomes any concerns or fears about vendor lock-in or loss of service. This is my aim and we are building, just we won't be open sourcing at OSCON.

I strongly believe in the potential of the platform. So thank you for your understanding.


Anonymous said...


Have you looked at positioning Zimki as an Facebook Applications delivery platform? Biggest problem I can see for small businesses developing against the platform is the "threat" of becoming too popular, too quickly! It would be great to have a service like Zimki that could scale when required.


swardley said...

Hi Tom,

This is certainly one of the things we would like to do, as well as providing libraries within Zimki to support this and to make it even easier.

However, at this moment in time, we're waiting for some clarity from my parent company about their future plans for Zimki and the open source question.


Simon W