Monday, March 26, 2007

talk to me GE

If you were able to attend GITA 30, you would have likely heard the announcement "GE Energy to Introduce New Oracle-Based Product Portfolio for Electric Disturbition Utilities" (be sure to read the comments for this article). It is also likely that if you had any questions and concerns at that meeting that there would have been plenty of GE representatives there to answer your questions and assuage your concerns. It sounds to me that GE had a consistent message that they were able to get out to the attendees.

If you were not able to attend GITA 30 it is likely that you now have more questions than answers about this strategic announcement by GE. I was unable to attend GITA so I count myself in that group of under informed Smallworld users/partners. If this year's attendance was any indication, then I imagine that many others in the Smallworld community were also not able to make use of the direct interaction with GE representatives to have their questions/concerns heard. And GITA attendance is largely from the Western Hemisphere. European, Asian and African Smallworld community members would have had even less chance to get their questions answered.

I suspect that this year's Smallworld Users Conferences will be dominated by presentations on this new architecture (and hopefully demonstrations), but it seems like a long time to wait until September/October to have our questions answered.

Maybe GE would consider some of the following communication options:
  • press release
  • send a more detailed note out to all Smallworld users/partners
    • Smallworld Helpdesk has a fairly efficient mechanism in the SupportCentral site to send out blanket e-mails to all users. Use this feature to give a more-detailed-than-the-press-release announcement to the Smallworld community
  • Online forum
    • I understand that there might be concerns about making information available on an uncontrolled list, so extend the Global Customer Forums (see On-line Smallworld resources (closed and open)) to include a forum where customers/partners are invited to post any questions they have about the new product.
    • Commit to having GE management/technical staff answer each post in a timely manner.
  • FAQ
    • As the questions start coming in to GE as phone calls and e-mails, compile a list of Frequently Asked Questions and post them in the forum.
  • online demonstrations
    • provide WebEx demonstrations of a more technical nature where we can see how the new tools are supposed to work.
Most importantly, please talk to us sooner than later. It would be helpful even to send out a note (another press release, maybe) that indicates dates and types of information will be made available. For example "GE will have a new customer forum opened by April 1", etc...

As always, I welcome readers' comments. In particular, I am interested in what kind of communication you would find helpful to address your questions or concerns about this new "non-GIS" spatial product announcement by GE.


Kelly said...

Ge presented a preview of their announcement at a few of their older customer sites.
This is what I interpreted from the presentation and some of the comments that GE made.

GE Smallworld and earlier Smallworld developers had never intended to be in the database business. The smallworld database model was created because nobody at the time could provide what Smallworld needed.
Now that Oracle (working with GE) has built up most of the required capabilties, GE is eager to ditch the burden of doing both gis and database development.
There are pros and cons but in the long run database capabilties for Smallworld should improve as all of Oracles database resources will be available.

The GE Smallworld target market has always been limited to large utilities. Clients that are large enough to absorb the development costs in tailoring generic GE Smallworld.
So GE is trying to increase its maket share by focusing on the GDO, EDO type of products. These can be used by smaller companies, (more) out of the box. These require less customisation and in the future will provide an api to Java. This will be used to build applications or extenstions to tack on to the GE Smallworld product. Customising the GE Smallworld product will be limited or done through GE Smallworld develpers.
Java allows smaller companies to tap into a vast pool of relatively inexpensive developers. Also java provides an industry standard development environment that is well integrated with current technologies.

Due to their investment with large customers GE indicated that they won't pull the rug out from under Smallworld 3.x and 4.0. At least not for the forseable future.

But for the long term future of Magik developers... I would suggest picking up Java.
You may never need it but it wouldn't hurt to be prepared.

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