Friday, July 31, 2009

Smart Grid Summit Updates

This has been the busiest week I've had in a long time. The Smart Grid Summit is taking shape on a few fronts, and we're starting to get the word out through both conventional and viral channels.

The event website has launched, so we're open for business. The details there are pretty sparse, but that will change in the next few days as we firm up the sessions and our speakers. We have a number of confirmed speakers, and several more pending - we'll be sharing the latest on that early next week.

What I can tell you for sure is that the summit takes place Tuesday, September 1 as part of TMC's IT Expo, and we have 5 sessions planned. There's an outline of the sessions on the home page of the site. We're not adding any new topics, but will consider sponsorship or speaking inquiries for the scheduled sessions if they're appropriate. Just get in touch with me and we'll see if there's a fit.

Our Smart Grid portal is also coming along nicely, with new content being posted daily. As our conference planning activities even off, you'll see more in-depth content that I'll be driving, along with my ICP partner, Shidan Gouran.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mitel SIP Trunking White Paper Published

Exactly a month ago, I presented my take on SIP Trunking for a Discovery Series webinar sponsored by Mitel. Anyone following this space knows how popular SIP Trunking has become, and with over 1,000 registrations, this webinar confirmed it.

If you missed the webinar, there's an archived version available for 90 days on Mitel's website - you just need to register and you'll have access to the replay. You can get all the details on my last blog post about the webinar.

The news I have to share today is about a White Paper that I wrote as a companion piece to the webinar. It's now been published, and as with the webinar replay, you can download the paper by registering for it at Mitel's site.

Getting Hosted Services Right - BroadSoft, Microsoft and Chinook

My latest Service Provider Views column on TMCnet is running now, and if you're following the hosted space, especially for serving SMBs, I think you'll enjoy this column.

The focus is on a recent announcement about how BroadSoft, Microsoft and Chinook Hosting are working together on an integrated offering that delivers Unified Communciations on a turnkey basis for SMBs (enterprises too). Hosted is a great solution for SMBs, but it's remained a tough sell for a variety of reasons. I think this offering gets it right, and my article explores the reasons why. If you give it a read, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I've been meaning to post this since Monday, but our new Smart Grid venture has taken priority big time the past few days! That's another story, and for some of you, it's a space you'll want to get closer to.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Smart Grid Venture Updates

All new ventures take up tons of time at the beginning, and our new venture is no exception. I posted the basic details about our venture - Intelligent Communications Partners - and ICP's venture with TMC for the Smart Grid Summit on Monday. Since then I have a few updates to pass along...

- the Smart Grid portal is starting to generate quite a bit of traffic, so we know it's getting noticed. Shidan and I will be driving regular content there very soon, and we posted a welcome message to the portal yesterday.

- we've been quite busy contacting prospective speakers for the panels for the Smart Grid Summit. Events usually have more lead time, but the opportunity to launch the conference is now, so we're running on pretty compressed schedule. We're planning to be far enough with the program to have the event website running by Friday, at which point people can register and read more about the program.

- we've had very encouraging feedback so far about the Summit, and believe we're on to something good here. To share the news, Rich Tehrani had a nice post about the event and our venture on his blog yesterday.

I'll keep posting updates here as they come, but as you can probably deduce, for those of you interested in Smart Grid, I'm hoping you'll migrate over to our portal and subscribe to the eNewsletter. Of course, I want you to keep following me here, but for specific Smart Grid content, the portal will be the place to be for everyday news and insights.

Finally, since I have you here, any suggestions for the Smart Grid Summit are welcome.

Nortel/Ericsson Deal - BNN Interview

At this point, I'm doing this more for the record, but if you're still following the Nortel/Ericsson deal, you may find this of interest.

I'm late posting this as I had Internet access problems that basically kept me offline for 2 days. All fixed now, and I have some posting to catch up on.

Early Monday morning, I was interviewed on BNN - Business News Network - Canada's main financial news TV channel, and shared my thoughts with host Michael Kane.

The interviews runs about 7 minutes, and you can view the clip here. BNN leaves video clips on their site for 7 days, so if you want to see it after it's gone, please drop me a line.

If you do watch the clip, a correction is needed. Near the end, I talked about how Siemens is the lead bidder for Nortel's telephony business, but it's Avaya. Sorry about that!

Monday, July 27, 2009

New Venture and Conference Launched in Smart Grid Space

Been a very busy day, but the news is out now. I've launched a new venture in the Smart Grid space, and there are a few pieces to this.

First, I have teamed up with Shidan Gouran to form Intelligent Communications Partners. Shidan is a Toronto-based tech entrepreneur that some of you will know, and we share an interest in Smart Grid. We have formed ICP as an entity to partner with TMC and build a new community around Smart Grid, with a focus on bringing the worlds of energy/utilities, telecom and IT together.

The news release went out this morning, and there are two key items:

1. We have launched the Smart Grid Summit event. This will be a 1 day event running during TMC's IT Expo in Los Angeles. Our event runs on the first day of the Expo, Tuesday, September 1. We are in the process of putting together the sessions now, and are actively engaged with lining up speakers (and sponsors of course!). Response so far has been very supportive, as there really isn't a forum like this to brings these worlds together. Later in the week, the event site will be ready, at which point people can register to attend.

2. We have launched the Smart Grid portal. This will be our home base from which we intend to generate ongoing thought leadership about this space. As with most TMC portals, the content is heavy on news feeds, but we will soon be adding original, exclusive content to make this a destination for Smart Grid players, especially in thinking beyond what the utility sector is trying to do on their own. We see telecom and IT having a key role in making Smart Grid successful, and the portal will focus on bringing these worlds together.

There's lots more to come, and I'll be posting details and updates as we bring this venture along. Would love to hear your thoughts any time!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Smart Grid - Smart Utilities, Smart Homes, Smart Opportunity

Just a quick update on my new venture. I have formed a new partnership and on Monday, we'll be announcing a first-of-its kind event focused on the Smart Grid space. Our vision is to bring the worlds of energy, telecom and IT together with a common focus of creating the opportunities and ways forward into this huge new world.

Unlike telecom and the seismic shift to packet networks, Smart Grid has the force of government policy and funding behind, and there's no doubt this transition is going to happen. We believe the time is right to create a forum and community to bring these worlds together, and you'll hear more about it for real on Monday. In addition to the event, we'll also be launching a portal dedicated to Smart Grid thought leadership, and you'll be seeing lots of content from myself and others there quite soon. Should be a pretty exciting next few weeks - hope you'll check this out, and by all means I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

iPod Touch - Bringing SIP to the Masses

Andy Abramson had a notable post yesterday about the new iPod Touch.

I don't post much about consumer gadgets since I don't use them, but I do see how my youngest son uses the iTouch, and it's not hard to see how things can unfold once you become totally dependent on one. As Andy notes, the "rumored" new iTouch will have everything you need to make it a poor man's iPhone - built-in mic, lots of memory and WiFi support. That's great news for mobile WiFi, and validates the touch-screen interface big time. With a touch-screen, pretty much any broadband-enabled/WiFi supported device can become a phone, whether it's mobile, bolted on to a wall, or projected from a really smart gadget on to your kitchen floor.

Scary, huh? I had similar thoughts earlier in the year, when posting about the first wave of VoIP apps on the iTouch from Truphone, and wondered how much this will cannibalize iPhone sales. I agree with Andy, though. For most teens/pre-teens, the iPhone is not affordable, mobile contracts are expensive, and adding voice to their iTouch will tide them over just fine.

I also wanted to echo Andy's thoughts on the bigger picture. Aside from this being good news for mobile VoIP - along with the booming opportunties around mobile video - it's really about bring SIP to the masses, something many people have long been waiting for. With mass-market products like the iTouch and super-cool brands like Apple, we now have the pieces in place to support consumer-friendly, SIP-based multimedia apps and mashups that will make the iTouch even more sticky. When that happens, I'm starting to think this could make the iTouch a bit like a scaled-down Microsoft Surface. When you start thinking of the iTouch like that, then the possibilities with SIP get pretty exciting. Has there ever been a better time for innovation?
By the way, if you don't know about Surface, you should - and you've come to the right place. This is a bit of a sidebar to the iTouch story, but I think it fits. My oldest son and I got one of the very first private demos of Surface in North America about 2 years ago, and it's pretty cool. You're going to hear a lot more about Surface going into 2010, and I think Microsoft knows they have more competition on their hands now that Apple has made the touch-screen mainstream. I'm going to let that thought hang out there a bit, and maybe follow up with another post. It's got me thinking...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Red Sox Slide - Worried? - You Bet

Not much to say, really, but the Yankees have finally caught and passed the Red Sox and taken first place - and that cannot pass unmentioned. The Sox do not hold up well under pressure, esp when it's NYY-related. Well, we haven't played the Yankees in a while, so there is more going on. The offense has dried up completely, and today's post from the Joy of Sox blog tells the story very effectively.

You know what this is?

0 000010 000 100 100 000 000 100 100 010 000 001 001

You might have guessed by now. Yeah - it's the box score for the last 40 innings the Sox have played. Yeesh. Not going to win many games when you can't score more than 1 run an inning. I don't know binary code, so maybe there's a clue in this - but I highly doubt it.

In true RSN (Red Sox Nation) style, it's panic time, and the Sox are in freefall. Their flaws are being exposed, and outside of Youkilis and Pedroia they don't have any big time hitters or anyone who scares opposing pitchers (maybe Lowell on a good day). You could well argue that age and injuries are catching up, and this will soon start to look like a tired, broken down team. It will also make us regret not getting Texeira, as this may well turn out to be the big difference maker by season's end, and the Evil Empire will prevail again.

To be even more bleak, Tampa Bay is just hitting their stride now, and could easily glide by the Sox, leaving them gasping in third place and - strange as it may sound - out of the playoffs. See what happens when you release Lugo?!?!?!? Between him and his pal Manny, there may be another curse shaping up.

How can things go from so bright to so bleak so quickly? I was at the Jays/Sox game on Sunday. Halladay pitched his heart out, and it was clear to me from the third inning on he was in shutdown mode, and the Sox weren't going to get anything more off him. Well, they got one more baserunner, but nothing else.

When everyone is hitting, they ARE the best team in baseball. However, they are just as likely to fold as a group, and then nobody hits. Right now, they've just been too inconsistent, and of course they're going cold just as the Yankees are getting hot. Topsy turvy. I can only hope the tables turn again, and the Sox come back to life in time to save the season.

Today, I'm not too optimistic, and it's looking more likely that they'll need to trade for a big bat by next week to rejuvenate the lineup. I really think it's necessary and my money in on Victor Martinez. That would be great, but short term, let's hope they just get back on the winning track and whimper out of Texas without getting swept. Oh, the joy of Sox...

SIP Trunking Podcast/Interview on BTQ

I've been a contributor to Business Trends Quarterly for some time, and also serve on their Editorial Advisory Board.

June was a busy month for content generation, and some of that is coming to market now. One of these was an engagement with BTQ to help organize and moderate a roundtable discussion about SIP Trunking. I've been pretty connected to this topic recently, and it was a great opportunity to aggregate viewpoints from across the ecosystem.

Joining me on this roundup was Steve Johnson from Ingate, Alan Percy from AudioCodes, Alan Klein from Avaya, and Michael Timar from Panasonic. Two outputs were produced from our session - a podcast along with a full transcript that is running in the current print edition of BTQ. As I've mentioned before, it's a solid publication, and the subscription is free.

If you don't have the magazine, you can access the transcript in PDF form. To access the PDF or listen to the podcast, you can find the links on the Work Samples section of my website.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thoughts on Avaya's Bid for Nortel

Seems like everyone in telecom has an opinion about Avaya's long-expected offer to acquire the enterprise side of Nortel. I'm figuring it will happen, but there's a very real chance a better offer will come - maybe from the likes of Siemens, or maybe from a dark horse like Sonus, Huawei or even Cisco. How about a PE-backed mystery buyer?

Lots of possibilities here, but one way or another, it looks like Nortel is over and out in this space. That said, I was pleased to read about DiamondWare being part of the package, and if you don't know why, please check out my earlier posts on them, starting here.

We all have our trusted sources, and by now you've probably done your share of reading up on the buzz around this news. I just want to share two with you here. First is a short article in InformationExec that I was cited in.

Second is a podcast I participated in yesterday afternoon. I recently posted about my expanded involvement with Jim Burton's UCStrategies portal. Part of this involves a podcast based on a weekly roundup call with the other UCS consultants. We did our first one yesterday - it was a bit ad hoc, but Jim pulled it together very nicely. Surprise, surprise - we all wanted to talk about Avaya/Nortel.

So, if you want to hear a rather impromptu roundtable from our group, you'll get a wide range of opinions as to what this deal may hold in store. It's a quick way to get a digest from a lot of well-informed people - and all you need to do is click here and download the podcast.

Well, you're not quite done. After listening, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Then bookmark the site and come visit often. We plan to do these weekly, and I think it's the start of something good.

Friday, July 17, 2009

New Venture - Smart Grid Meets IP

I posted the other day about a new venture I've been working on, and it's just about ready to go. It's been a busy few weeks on a few fronts, as I've been exploring some new avenues to grow my business.

For now, I can just tell you I'm about to launch a new venture with a couple of partners that's focused on the Smart Grid space. We believe there's a great opportunity waiting to happen at the intersection of energy and communications. Smart Grid is a big deal, not just to bring the massive infrastructure side of energy transmision and distribution into the 21st century, but also the whole new world of communications services that's going to open up, especially in the home.

To me, it sounds like telecom/VoIP all over again, as utilities need to bring IP and digital technologies into the fold, and with it a whole new business opportunity on many fronts. We think we're on to something good here, and feel the time is right to build the community as well as provide a forum to drive change and shape the future.

There's a unique opportunity to integrate the best of IP communications technologies with intelligent energy management, and we plan to be in the middle of it. This venture will be the bridge to bring these worlds together, and we think a lot of you out there will want to be part of it.

That's all I can say for now, but more detail will be coming very soon!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Google Wave - Good News or Bad News for Carriers?

My current Service Provider Views column on TMCnet is running now. I've had some exposure to Google Wave recently, and it sure has a lot of possibilities. I've taken a first cut at this in the column, especially in terms of what it could mean for service providers. There's a lot to consider, and I have some follow up pieces in mind for future columns, so this won't be the end of it.

It's very early days yet, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on Wave - so please give the column a read, and let me know.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Been Busy

Just poking my head up to let you know I haven't gone away. Blogging has taken a back seat the past few days to more important things, but I'll be back on track any day now. Am working on some new initiatives that I'll have more to say about as they take shape. Also have my hands full with some project work that is nearing completion, and it's also summer, right? Stay tuned...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Baseball Time - Red Sox/Yankees - Separated At Birth?

I haven't posted much on baseball lately, but coming out of the July 4 weekend and being exactly at the mid-point of the schedule, it's a good time to evaluate the Red Sox season so far.

In absolute terms, they're a bit ahead from this point last year, although with the WBC, they've played 10 less games compared to 2008. We're 17 games above .500 now, compared to 14 over this time last year (and should be at least 20). The big difference is Tampa Bay, who were 23 games over last year, and 5 games in front of us. They've come back to earth this year, and we're clinging to a 1 game lead over NY, with TB being 6 back. I still think the Rays will stay in the race, but the magic just isn't there this time.

Last year, absolutely everything went right for them, and I don't think they had any key injuries. On the other hand, nobody had a career year for them, so most people figured they would be even better this year. As a team, the Rays just seem to be missing something this year (not to mention fans), but interestingly, there's at least one Ray near or at the top of every individual performance category this year. Strange. Enough about them...

On a good day, it's easy to pick the Sox as the AL frontrunner, and then how can you NOT think ahead to the possibility of a Red Sox - Dodgers WS with Manny and Joe Torre? A bit like dreaming of another Celtics-Lakers final - maybe next year for that one.

The problem is the Red Sox are a true Jekyll-Hyde team, and they have their share of bad days, when they are just so laughably lame. I don't know how this can be, and you never know when their mojo is working, but there's not much middle ground with this team. When they're on, they ARE the best team in baseball - everybody hits, each day it's a different hero, the defence is sound, and the relievers do their job. But then you see the team that showed up against the lowly Orioles and Mariners during 4 of the last 5 games and then you see just how vulnerable they can be when the mojo goes missing. How many times did Bay and Youkilis strike out over that stretch? What happened to Mr. MVP, Pedroia? How many rallies did Ellsbury and Drew kill? And it didn't matter who got the ball in the bullpen - NOBODY could get the job done. Not even Paps for that ugly, historic 11-10 meltdown. Scary.

That brings us to the Yankees, who almost got their share of first place yesterday. Both teams trailed in their games yesterday, but the Sox rallied and held on to their 8-4 lead, while the Jays could not, and dropped their 3rd straight to NY, 10-8. Ugh. I know this is hard to say, but right now the Yankees are the best team in the AL - they know how to win with clutch hits, late rallies, and lately a solid bullpen. However, as we know, they have their flaws and streaks, and at the season mid-point, I really don't see much to choose between them and the Sox. I really wonder sometimes if these teams were separated at birth, and of course if you're from the Northeast, these things matter - big time. Anyhow, just a few things to consider along these lines....

Both starting rotations have not performed as expected.

Both have a top starter that has lost it for the time being and nobody is sure what the problem is - Dice-K and Wang.

Both have great closers who save almost every game they pitch, but have had their lapses and blown winnable games.

Both have aging DH's who are on the decline and can't really contribute on the field.

Both have elite players at first base.

Both have solid third basemen who are coming off hip surgery. No doubt that A-Rod is the better player, but he's streaky.

Both have aging catchers who can still come up with clutch hits.

Both have had pleasant surprises - who expected Damon to still be hitting home runs? Who knew Gardner was so fast? Nick Green being Boston's best clutch hitter?

Both teams have solid, dependable players - not flashy, but real pros. For the Yankees Jeter and Cano - for the Sox, Pedroia and Bay (and at times, Drew).

Both are solid at home, but also play well on the road.

As much as I love the Red Sox - and hate the Yankees - it's really hard to say right now who's the better team. Offensively, the Sox have more balance and speed, but the Yanks have more power. Both starting rotations should have 2-3 20 game winner each, but I doubt either will produce even 1. The Sox have more question marks in terms of players who are on the decline or playing below their potential - Ortiz, Lowell, Drew, Varitek and Ellsbury. Shortstop remains a work in progress, but I think we're past the worst of it, and I don't think that spot will cost us any more games now. The only tangible edge I can see is our bullpen, which until recently has been the best in baseball. But when you see these recent blowups you have to wonder, and if we lose that edge, I think the Yankees have the upper hand.

We may have a tangible edge with the bullpen, but the Yankees have the intangible edge that will trump everything if our bullpen falters big time. Winning is simply in their DNA - they have the killer instinct and know how to win when the going gets tough. Just like the Celtics and just like the Canadiens. Every sport has its one killer franchise, and the Red Sox know this better than anybody.

The Yankees have mental toughness in spades, and don't let our 8-0 mark against them this year fool you. Five of those games were at home, and many came before A-Rod was in the lineup. I fully expect they'll split the remaining games, and I think we're going to be in for a great second half of the season. The Jays and the Rays will kill each other off and will do their share of damage to keep the Sox and Yankees in check.

The biggest wildcard I see right now would be a trade to change the balance of power. It's very possible the Sox will panic and give up some pitching to get a solid power bat. Without Nady, the Yankees are thin in the outfield and the bench, and may deal for a swingman. Both teams have holes, but both teams are very good when everybody shows up. Since they both lack the consistency we've seen from the Dodgers all year, there's no way to tell who's really the better team. They can get hot or tank at any time, and it all comes down to which team plays well in the big games. I'm pretty sure both will make the playoffs, but beyond that it's a coin toss. Who do you like?

Friday, July 3, 2009

June Media Roundup

This is the first month in a very long time I wasn't cited in any articles. I spoke with the media a few times, but these ended up being for longer features which won't run until July or later. On the other hand, I was busier than ever producing original content in June, and on the whole I feel it was a pretty productive month in terms of keeping my profile out there and contributing my ideas to the industry.

I'll start with the most visible activity - my SIP Trunking webinar with Mitel. That took place on Tuesday, and just over 1,000 people registered. If you missed it, the archived version will be ready any day now, and will be accessible for 90 days. All registrants will receive a copy of the slides from Mitel, along with a companion white paper that I'm wrapping up just now.

- SIP Trunking - More Than Just Cost Savings

Next - TechTarget. I'm a regular contributor to their Ask The Expert feature, and they recently engaged me for some more extensive work. The outputs were published in late June, consisting of a white paper and a podcast. To access these you need to register on their site, but this just takes a minute.

- eGuide/white paper: Connecting and Leveraging VoIP Islands

- podcast: The Benefits of VoIP Islands

My regular bi-monthly Service Provider Views columns ran on TMCnet:

- Q&A with Telanetix - Why Hosted Services are Gaining Adoption

- What Service Providers and Auto Makers Can Learn From Each Other

June also marked my debut column on The Mark - Canada's answer to the Huffington Post:

- On the Future of the Automobile (and Telecom, Too)

Finally, I was cited in a press release about an Advisory role I've taken on with a U.K. consultancy, MeDe8 Group Ltd. You'll be hearing and seeing more about this over the next few months.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

BroadSoft - New and Improved

Am pretty sure it was George Carlin who noted how much of an oxymoron "new and improved" is. It's classic American marketing-speak, and is right up there with another of his favorites, "jumbo shrimp". The two words just look dumb together, but they roll off the tongue so easily. Walk down any aisle of any grocery store, and it won't take long to find some product touting how "new and improved" it is. I sure miss George, and he was just as funny (among other things) mocking life as an old guy in his 70's as he was back in the 70's, teaching us how to relax with language and to notice the absurdities of everyday life.

So how do we get from comedy icon to BroadSoft? I dunno. Am definitely not poking fun, but after looking over their new website, that goofy term "new and improved" just popped into my head. But I really do mean it - as Dame Edna would say - in the nicest of ways. Enough comedy, let's talk about BroadSoft.

Am sure many of you got notice about their new website the other day. I really like it, so let's come back to "new and improved". You can't possibly be both at the same time, but the ideas sound great mashed together. However, if you parse the words out, and say new as well as improved, then you have something, and that brings us to BroadSoft.

Let's talk about what's new first. The biggest new is the look and feel of their main website. It's closely tied to the company's overall re-launch, so I guess we're looking at BroadSoft 2.0 here. The quickest way to get a sense of that is to watch an intro video on the home page by Leslie Ferry, their VP of Marketing. Her main message is that much like the way BroadSoft helps its customers become more effective communicators and users of new technologies, so are they now, and this new website will show you how.

The other important new feature is their corporate blog. It's called Broadband Ignite, and will feature regular posts from their key executives. There's nothing new about a corporate blog, and there a lot of caveats that come with this concept, but I do like how they're making this a key part of the new BroadSoft. Time will tell how regularly they post content, as well as the utility of that content, but I applaud the initiative. So far so good, as there's a nice post there from yesterday by CEO Mike Tessler about why the time is right for video - I couldn't agree more. On a personal note I can't complain, as my blog is on their blog roll, and I'll be returning the favor here.

I'm a long-time fan of BroadSoft, and if you've spent time on their previous website, I'm sure you'll agree that's what the biggest improvement is here. There was always a ton of good content there, but I found it too sprawling and not that tightly focused. The new site is much cleaner and crisper. The layout and groupings are more intuitive and it's easier to navigate. I really like how the customers are prominently featured - to me, that's the best way to show how established you've become in the market.

While much of the content is familiar, it's presented in a more interesting way, and organized more cleanly. The graphics are stronger, as are the colors. And keeping with the spirit of 2.0, there are lots of handy references/icons for RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook and Linked In. As it should be, right? After all, their tagline is "Innovation calling", so you might as well use the tools too.

Note to self - I do like the tagline, but it's a bit telco-centric, don't you think? Web 2.0 - and certainly their Xtended community - they're not so much into "calling" as "communicating", right? We only use the telephone to call, everything else is about communicating - text, chat, video, etc. Telephony is still very central to communicating - no doubt - but I think that focus changes a bit as we edge closer to the world of 2.0.

Enough on that - let's focus on news at hand. I'd love to hear what others think about what BroadSoft is doing here. It's both new as well as improved - at least to me. Just don't say it's "new and improved" - unless you're channelling George Carlin really well!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

eComm News - Ken Camp On Board

While this is really a news item, I'm glad to share this since it has a personal connection on a couple of levels. First is the news that colleague Ken Camp has taken on a formal role to help build and bring together the eComm community. Having been an Advisor to the eComm event earlier this year, I've been particularly close to growth challenges that lie ahead. Defining the eComm community is a fleeting task, so all the more reason to make it a bit more real - especially now that the conference is transitioning from a good idea into a viable business.

Yesterday it was announced that Ken is now the Director of Conversations and Marketing, and I think it's a great fit. Don't ask me what these Web 2.0-style job titles really mean - we're all directors of conversations, right? - but I think we understand the mission. It's much like Carl Ford's Community Developer role in his VON days - be a public advocate for the brand and engage people around the eComm vision. I think Ken is really well suited for this, as you really need to be grounded in the technologies and have a good contact network in the community. He's got these in spades, and of course Ken is a social guy, something you absolutely have to be for the role.

So, congrats to Ken on the posting, and hats off to Lee for formalizing this role for eComm and finding someone to take on the task. I'm sure we'll be hearing lots more from Ken as eComm ramps up for its first Euro event this fall. To learn more about the event, and to read more about Ken's news, check out the eComm blog. Also note that the post about Ken includes a link to a podcast that goes into his role and the broader eComm mission in greater length.