Announcing the Winners in the iRise Video Commercial Contest

[Note: I developed and managed this contest as one of my projects when I was at iRIse]

iRise Visualize the Prize Video Contest

We are proud to announce the winners in the iRise “Visualize the Prize” Video Commercial Contest.  The 15 semi-finalists received more than 4,500 votes during the two weeks of voting that ended on June 20th, and it was a pretty tight race.

The winning entry was “iRise Recipe” submitted by Brian Palatucci of Santa Monica, California.  Brian wins $15,000 for his video which depicts a man preparing dinner for his girlfriend while asking the question, “What if there was a way to learn from your mistakes without ever having to make one?”

There were 2 runners-up entries that each claimed a prize of $2,500.

“Foresight is 20/20” by Michael Beeson of Great Falls, Montana – This video looked at iRise from the perspective of a spectacle manufacturer which lost its focus before trying iRise.  “It’s made painful hindsight a thing of the past because thanks to iRise, foresight is now 20/20.”

“A Celebration of iRise” by Ron Rogers of Healdsburg, California – This video compared the process of developing company Web sites to the wine industry which doesn’t reveal the finished product until the very end.  “Now that calls for a celebration!”

Visit the official contest website to check out the semi-finalists and all contest entries.

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Most Product Managers Struggle With Stone-Age Tools

Many people that I work with have been preaching for years that words by themselves do a poor job of defining the requirements for software applications. So, it’s refreshing to see someone else – especially a Forrester analyst – pile on to the discussion. Tom Grant, a senior analyst in the Technology Marketing group at Forrester, published a research document this week titled “Improving Your Product Management Tools”.

While the note is targeted at product marketing and management professionals, the roles and tasks performed by these workers have significant if not total overlap with business analyst and usability professions.

The problem is actually double-edged. According to Tom, “most product managers rely on tools – predominantly Microsoft Office – that do not adequately support them.” And while there are tools specifically designed to handle product requirements, the majority of technology companies do not embrace them.

Tom further identifies 6 functions needed to address the requirements challenges for product managers and describes the shortcomings of trying to use Microsoft Office, Web 2.0 tools and CRM systems:

  • Collection
  • Analysis
  • Prediction
  • Connection
  • Communication
  • Updates

Tom’s research also pointed out that innovators are more than twice as likely to adopt requirements tools. He examined companies based on their size, company age and product delivery and found that requirements tools were adopted at a much higher rate in companies that were 1-5 years old, smaller than 500 employees or who used software as a service (SaaS) delivery.

The full 16-page report is available from Forrester for $279 and is worth a read for anyone involved in defining and managing requirements. You can also read Tom Grant’s blog at this link and he welcomes community feedback.

Happy Birthday Oxford English Dictionary

Oxford English Dictionary

Even if you’re a not a writer or lover of words, it is still important to note that today is the 80th birthday of the First Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary or OED as it more commonly known.  The OED bills itself as the “definitive record of the English language” and is one of the most famous dictionaries in history.

The OED was a major collaborative efforts and a precursor of today’s Wikipedia.  During the 70 years from it’s approval date to it publish date on June 6, 1928, the OED went through many editors.  Sir James Murray shepherded it from 1879 to 1915, and probably had the biggest influence on the work.

The official policy of the OED was to:

  • “present in alphabetical series the words that have formed the English vocabulary from the time of the earliest records [ca. AD740] down to the present day, with all the relevant facts concerning their form, sense-history, pronunciation, and etymology. It embraces not only the standard language of literature and conversation, whether current at the moment, or obsolete, or archaic, but also the main technical vocabulary, and a large measure of dialectal usage and slang”

Here are some quick facts about the First Edition of the OED:

  • Actual size – 10 volumes, 15,490 pages
  • Time to complete – 70 years
  • Number of entries – 252,200
  • Number of contributors – 2,000
  • Number of quotations submitted – 5 million

And here are some quick links to check out when you have more time:

While iRise is trying to do away with textual word-based requirements documents, we still love words and the English language!  Take a moment today and reflect on the efforts of so many to bring sense and order to our English language.

Happy Birthday Catalyze!

Happy Birthday Catalyze

Happy Birthday Catalyze

I just realized the Catalyze Community officially opened our doors to the public in a sneak preview on June 4, 2007. So, today is our FIRST ANNIVERSARY!

In the last year, we have grown from about 100 members to almost 3,800 members. Over the last year, the Catalyze community site has had 68,000 visitors, 37,000 unique visitors and served up 293,000 pageviews. Visitors have also averaged 4 1/2 minutes per visit.

I got to thinking about Catalyze this morning because of a blog post from sometime Catalyze blogger Craig Brown who recently published the results of an informal survey of business analyst communities.

I want to share my response to his blog post:

Here’s why the Catalyze community is different (and better) than the other BA communities:

Definition AND Design – We don’t think you can separate the definition and design aspects of developing software or websites. For example, 45% of our members are business analysts and 27% are usability professionals with the rest scattered among product managers, project managers, software engineers and others. We believe that the interplay and different points of view are essential to developing a vibrant community to advance both the business analyst and usability professions.

Community Openness – Catalyze also embraces more community openness than the other communities. For example, anyone can view content on Catalyze without registering or logging in. Registration or logging in is only required if you want to post to a discussion or blog, or upload content. Speaking of content, Catalyze is the only community that easily permits members to upload content. We are also very open on our statistics and share our growth numbers publicly on the site.

Better content – We may be biased on this front, but we think we offer the best content of any business analyst site. We do host monthly webcasts that are well-attended, and we post recordings and slides back into the community to build the knowledgebase. And you can easily search for content via search terms or tags.

Commercial free! – Finally, Catalyze is the only commercial-free business analyst community site. All of the other communities are pushing an agenda, whether it is conference participation, services, profit motive, etc.

In any case, it’s good to have competition because that pushes each community to do their best to deliver on their vision. And it’s good to have different opinions, and I encourage people to check out each of the sites for themselves.

And a special thank you to all of the faithful and active Catalyze members who have been critical to our growth and viability.