A winner, some losers, and a little excitement

There's plenty of news making a noise this month, and here are a few short takes that you are sure to hear more about in the months ahead.

PalmSource’s Cobalt, the equivalent to Version 6.0, looks to be a big winner. The new operating system has developers bubbling over in excitement.

Its new capabilities, allowing developers to truly support multitasking and multimedia apps, have Tony Meadow, president of mobile and handheld company Bear River, calling the OS “every developer’s dream.”

There is now a real microkernel and memory protection to separate the OS from the apps.

“The previous OS was ugly. We had to write low-level hacks to do anything,” Meadow said, adding that there is integrated security that is better than what Microsoft’s mobile platform provides.

Earlier in the week of Cobalt’s release, Nokia bought out its handset partners and now owns Symbian and its OS outright. This may make the other handset manufacturers gun-shy about using a competitor’s operating system. Now, suddenly Palm is in the running to supply the operating system on millions of mobile phones. Remember that Palm, unlike its high-tech competitors, knows how to play in the mass consumer electronics business.

Consulting firms are trying to pass off BTO (business transformation outsourcing) as a new trend, rather than what it really is: a reaction to customer backlash over the big consultancies charging huge fees for lots of talk with little in the way of results.

No longer are companies willing to accept good advice as a product. Now the big guys, Accenture, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, IBM Global Services, and Sapient — just to name four — are being forced to get more involved in projects.

In a deal worth billions, IBM, for example, will take over Sprint’s entire customer care business. The transaction includes all of the consulting and involves running the improvement projects.

“We are not just taking over management of customer care. We are going to change the way they do customer care, change the way they hire people, change the education of customer reps, change the desktop, the way calls are routed and handled, change the self-service options. It is an end-to-end change,” said Dean Douglas, vice president at IBM Global Services.

Let’s face it. Outsourcing is mainly about cost-cutting. This goes well beyond that.

If there’s any trend here, it’s the enterprise saying, “We’re not going to take it any more.” Companies want results and are saying to the consultancies: “We’ll move ahead with a project only if you are willing to put your fees at risk in a partnership relationship.”

Call BTO what you like. The truth is, the concept will seep down until all deals are structured this way — not just the billion-dollar ones.

Roger Sippl, CEO and founder of Above All Software, revealed his unique take on assembling composite applications at Demo 2004 this month. Sippl points out that most enterprise apps have high-level APIs, such as a “cancel an order” API.

Web services allows a client program to send an XML message (SOAP) as input to an API and receive an XML document (SOAP) as a response. If you send it as an order number, it will return all the information on that order. Above All builds the human interface that allows nonprogrammers to talk to these APIs.

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More about Accenture AustraliaCap Gemini Ernst & YoungConsumer ElectronicsErnst & YoungErnst & YoungIBM AustraliaMicrosoftNokiaPalmsourceSapientSprintSymbian

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