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Internal Debate on Blogs

May 20, 2005 at 12:00 pm PST

Normally I wouldn’t do this type of navel gazing, but I would relish some feedback on the power (or lack thereof) of corporate blogs. And, yes, I have read the BusinessWeek cover story. The reason I’m looking for some general feedback is that my team had an internal discussion on the efficacy and importance (or lack thereof) of blogs. I was arguing for, of course. I had a colleague arguing against.

“What’s the point?” this person asked. “It seems like make-work to have everybody on the team blog.”

“I can only do so many meetings and phone calls a day,” I replied, “but a blog can get an idea across to hundreds a day and since we are in the business of trying to influence public policy I think blogging is a natural.”

“They’re stupid,” said this person.

“In the time that you have just taken to (gripe) about blogging, you could have written a blog entry,” said I.

My boss directed a question to the blogging nay-sayer, “Have you ever read a blog?”

“No,” said this person.

“Ignorance is bliss,” I said under my breath.

So, please help me and my nay-saying colleague by giving me any feedback on the power (or lack thereof) of blogs in the corporate setting…especially if you have any thoughts around blogging on the public policy side. Thanks. And, happy blogging.

Trade, or Something Like It

Cisco announced our quarterly earnings this week, and what I was drawn to is the fact that sales outside of the U.S. now account for 54% of all our company’s sales (that’s up from 52% a short time ago). What’s the Big Deal, you ask? Well, despite stiff competition from Asia, Europe and elsewhere, as well as ambivalence among some U.S. policymakers about how to help make U.S.-based companies more competitive, Cisco is selling to more customers outside the world’s largest economy than inside of it.

Selling abroad is a pretty tough endeavor, as there are so many ways that local firms have a leg-up. But, there are rules-of-the-road, which most governments agree to, that allow U.S. products and services to be treated fairly in foreign markets. These rules are enshrined in the World Trade Organization, and in a number of free trade agreements that the U.S. Government has negotiated with other countries over the years.

There’s a new free trade agreement that the U.S. Government negotiated recently with six countries in Central America (Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua), and it’s running into opposition in Capitol Hill, where its implementing legislation needs to be passed before the agreement can take effect. Among other things, the agreement (CAFTA) would lower a number of tariff and non-tariff barriers in these countries, so U.S. companies could sell more products and provide more services to these markets.

The thing is, U.S. barriers to products and services coming in from these six countries are already extremely low, so the agreement would benefit both sides -- in fact, I had the pleasure of hearing the Guatemalan Ambassador to the U.S. explain how he’d heard this story of a farmer in Costa Rica who learns the world market price of coffee beans from a mobile Internet kiosk that comes through his village every week. The farmer can log-on and know what the going-rate is for his coffee and not get taken advantage of in the local market. Pretty cool. So, making this stuff more accessible and affordable I think is a good thing -- keeps us all connected (and honest).

I know, there are a lot of politics swirling about over this agreement, but I think this vote comes down to a fundamental decision: are we in or are we out?

Wireless Broadband in North Carolina – Catch It!!

May 13, 2005 at 12:00 pm PST

Generally known for NASCAR, ACC basketball, banking, BBQ and tobacco, North Carolina can NOW be known for wireless broadband. At least Greene County, North Carolina can. Leave it to my home state to be cutting edge. : )

Greene County is in the eastern part of the state, about an hour east of Raleigh. Now, through a partnership with a technology company nearly all of the residents in the county can get wireless broadband for a relatively attractive price -- $34.95. According to an article in the The Free Press of Kinston, North Carolina, the company involved in deploying the technology, Wavelength, “recently signed an exclusive two-year contract with Greene County to provide service. Investments made by the county are expected to be recouped in a few years thanks to a profit-sharing plan worked out between Wavelength and the County Board of Commissioners.”

Let’s see how this one plays out, but in rural and undersevered areas (parts of Greene county qualify as both) this method of deploying broadband could fill in some of the holes in the U.S. Good luck, Greene County!!

The full article can be viewed here.

National Broadband Plan for the Enterprise

May 10, 2005 at 12:00 pm PST

So, my cable bill (Comcast) came the other day. I get basic cable service as well as broadband service. Cisco allows me to expense the cost of my cable broadband service. Pretty much all Cisco employees are allowed to expense their broadband at home. They understand (correctly) that if an employee works one hour a month at home, then the broadband pays for itself. I worked three hours at home just last night, so I think they’re getting a bargain.

Why doens’t the government pay for its workers’ broadband to extend the workday and make telecommuting a reality? Why don’t all Fortune 1000 companies pay for their workers’ broadband for the same reasons. If you want to talk about productivity increases, please talk to me or any of my colleagues…I actually find it EASIER to be able to access the network from home -- clear the e-mail out in the evening, in the morning before driving to work, etc.

Anyway, any other companies or entities following the Cisco home broadband subsidy model? If not, why not?

China to Surpass US in Broadband Subscribers…and the PhD Deficit in the US…

May 6, 2005 at 12:00 pm PST

Check out this interesting lead from an article today, “If the competitiveness of nations can be measured by their broadband subscriber rolls, then the United States is on the verge of losing its leadership to China.”

The article continues, “China already is rapidly approaching the United States as the country with the largest number of broadband subscribers, according to data from iSuppli Corp.'s newly-launched Broadband and Digital Home service. At the end of 2005, China is expected to have 34 million subscribers, compared to 39 million in the United States.”

Read the full article here : or by copying this URL: http://www.emsnow.com/npps/story.cfm?ID=11378

Again, why do we need a national broadband plan? You may have seen the news and previous blog on China and India partnering to compete directly for world leadership in IT…you may have seen a recent article in the Wall Street Journal on the “PhD” deficit in the US… the answers ARE out there, it's just a matter of execution and funding…and FOCUS!!

A couple of stats from the WSJ article to help us all on some of those who have found focus: “In China, R&D expenditures rose 350% between 1991 and 2001, and the number of science and engineering Ph.D.s soared 535%. In South Korea, R&D expenditures increased more modestly — by 220% — and Ph.D.s by 150%. In that same period, the number of applications for U.S. patents from each country grew by 400%. Publications in scientific journals provide another indicator of the global challenge to our scientific primacy. In 1986, the U.S. share of articles in such journals world-wide was 39%. By 2001 it had slipped to 31%, and it is still declining.”