It’s That Time of Year

20072008.jpgTo usher out 2007, it’s time to do the retrospective. Cue the music.

Looking back on this past year elicits “wow” moments for me. This time last year, I worked in a different team, Fusion Financials Strategy; I was neck-deep in the requirements for Secure Enterprise Search integration into Apps. I lived in a different state, and we had just finished tiling the patio. Now, I have no patio; instead, I have a yard.

AppsLab didn’t get started until April. Paul, Rich and I planned out what we hoped until Rich’s transfer was effective in June. Then, we got started. This blog debuted in June. Since June, we’ve had 61,000 visits and 110,000 pageviews. The top five posts of the past six months based on pageviews are:

  1. MetaLink (and More) in Your Browser Search Bar: 4,769 pageviews, posted July 10
  2. Mix, JRuby on Rails, Small Teams, Agile, and it’s Effects on the World: 3,810 pageviews, posted November 21
  3. Why Ruby on Rails is the perfect framework for building next generation Enterprise Apps: 2,393 pageviews, posted June 4
  4. Oracle Gets Social: 2,206 pageviews, posted August 7
  5. Let’s Mix: 2,110 pageviews, posted November 12

Based on this list, you guys love what Rich has to say, and who doesn’t? The fact of the matter is that Oracle talking about building New Web applications on Ruby is an eye-catcher. We didn’t set out on this path purposefully; it just happened because of Rich’s experience with Rails. One resolution I have for the New Year is to get Rich talking more about the guts of what we do.

When we started in April, I asked Paul and Rich how long they thought the shelf-life for AppsLab was. How long did we have to add value and show results? We all agreed that a year was probably about right. We’re nearly three-quarters of the way there, so let’s review.

In July, we released the IdeaFactory. One of our early goals was to have “What is Web/Enteprise 2.0?” sessions with all the Applications Strategy teams to get them to innovate by doing, i.e. use New Web tools and apply the social concepts to your domain area and product.

Within our team, we needed a way to collect the ideas these teams came up with, but we knew email or a Word document would a) not cut the mustard and b) not be very 2.0. So, IdeaFactory was born. Rich built it in about a day, and soon we had teams adding and voting on ideas. IdeaFactory spread virally across the whole company, and even though we haven’t done much with it lately (sorry), it still gets solid traffic and new ideas every day.

One of our first ideas for AppsLab was converting the employee directory into a network to expose people to social networking in a secure environment. Once IdeaFactory took off, we had established a destination for people, so building the property out to include a social network became easier.

So, in August, we launched Connect as the new framework for the IdeaFactory. So people could now network with their colleagues as well as share, see and vote on ideas. Connect blew up our traffic. We weren’t expecting the traffic we got tapping into the hidden demand for social networks. Some days, we had 10,000 visits. Rich’s code and our dinky hardware never fell over, and we had a runaway, mostly viral hit on our hands.

Almost immediately after Connect went live, we started to get requests to do something similar for customers. People saw the value of sharing ideas and networking with people they trust. Product teams are constantly looking for ways to identify who uses their products and tap into what their users think.

I started with a prototype of what we called ER2 mid-August. ER2 is Enhancement Request 2, get it? Paul and I pitched the prototype to some teams, but it went nowhere fast so we moved on to plan enhancements for Connect. Then Paul revived the ER2 idea in late-September. He changed the focus to ideas over enhancements and emphasized the social networking aspects.

This time it stuck, and we were off and running in October, with an OpenWorld date for launch. This is the part where Rich freaked out; he was the only on writing code, and the task seemed impossible. Enter ThoughtWorks and some extra hands, and Mix went live on November 11.

Mix has done well so far in its beta phase. We were tardy getting analytics on it, so we missed some of the initial buzz right after the launch. Still, we’re right at 60,000 visits for a month and a half, and there are more than 4,400 users and 150 odd ideas right now.

We’ve tailed way off during the holidays, which gave Rich and Anthony a chance to fix some bugs and deploy some new stuff, more on that soon.

Not too shabby for six months of existence. I like to think we’ve influenced some Apps people into blogging. I also think we’ve managed to change the outside world’s perception of Oracle a little by opening up channels for open communication.

That’s the year (or eight months) that was for AppsLab. Here’s to hoping we’re all around next year to review all the awesomeness we plan to accomplish in 2008.

Happy New Year!




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.