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Looking For Feedback On IT Innovation ResourcesCase Details


Closed: 30 May 2010, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

As you know, we've been running the ITInnovation.com tab within Techdirt since last year, sponsored by Sun (now Oracle) and Intel.  We've had a series of fascinating discussions within blog posts and webinars during that time.  We've also continued to regularly refresh the IT Innovation Resource Center, which includes a rotating list of useful tools and white papers provided either by us or the sponsors of IT Innovation.

We'd like to get some feedback and insight into the quality of these resources and how they might be improved upon.  Listed below are six currently available white papers in the Resource Center.  If you are familiar with these topics (i.e., you work in IT), please review the white papers and write up your insights and comments on the whitepapers: what's good about them, what could be improved, what would make them more useful, etc.  You are free to provide insights on as many of the white papers as you would like, but we ask that you submit insights on each white paper as a separate insight, rather than combining them into a single response.

  • Best Practices for Managing Datacenter Costs via Application and Server Consolidation

    Server sprawl, software licensing fees, and facilities costs are sending datacenter operational expenses through the roof at a time when every penny is being scrutinized. As a result, low utilization rates and wasted power/cooling resources are no longer acceptable, and smart companies are looking to consolidation and virtualization to trim expenses and increase operating efficiency.

  • Why Solid-State Drives Usage Scenarios Are Expanding for the Datacenter

    To accomplish the objectives of making more-efficient use of IT resources, lowering power consumption, and reducing operating expenses, many companies are turning to server consolidation and virtualization efforts—endeavors that increase server CPU utilization and reduce the number of discrete servers in a datacenter.

  • The New Economics of Midsize Enterprise Computing: Oracle’s Sun Systems Based on the Intel® Xeon® Processor 5500 Series

    Midsize companies often face the same competitive pressures as large-scale enterprises. However, they may not possess the resources and staff to invest heavily in complex computing systems. Yet it’s critical for IT organizations within these companies to ensure that they have the strongest, most expandable systems in place, so that their companies have the requisite flexibility to adapt quickly to changing market conditions, roll out new products and services in shorter cycles, and become more effective competitors.

  • New Blades and Networking Solutions Ensure Solid Return on Investment

    Traditionally, when companies need more computing power to deal with expanding amounts of data, they increase the number of servers, the number of compute cores per server, and the memory capacity of each server. Today’s high-powered blade servers save space and help enable significant gains in computing performance, especially when workloads are consolidated efficiently and datacenter resources are utilized most effectively. To accommodate this increase in capacity, however, the network infrastructure carrying the data must also be upgraded.

  • Reassessing Server Costs for Midsize Companies

    Most companies keep their servers for three to five years—a time frame that seems reasonable given current economic conditions. Despite the savings this would seem to imply, however, extending server life in the datacenter in this way may not be the best strategy, even in the toughest economic times.

  • Oracle Solaris Operating System — Optimized for the Intel® Xeon® Processor 5600 and 7500 series

    This document is intended as a technical guide for developers and system administrators that want to understand the precise details of how Oracle® Solaris and the Intel® Xeon® processor 5600 and 7500 series can improve your application solution environment.



20 Insights

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Are You Happily Invoicing Your Customers?Case Details


Closed: 20 May 2010, 1:46PM PT

Earn up to $250 for Insights on this case.

Our entrepreneurship series - sponsored by AcceptPay from American Express - is compiling interesting resources, valuable tips and useful services that can help out small business owners.  One of the key themes we want to discuss is the process of invoicing -- because what could be more relevant to a small business than getting paid?  Every business (small or large) needs to deal with billing customers and efficiently accepting payments.  For smaller companies, though, invoicing and payment collections can become a more time-consuming process than it should be.

For those of you out there who are already happily invoicing -- what kinds of invoicing software do you use?  What kind of billing solutions have you tried?  What is your opinion of online payment solutions? (full disclosure: AcceptPay is a player in this market.)  How would you evaluate an online payment system for your company?

However, if you've ever encountered invoicing challenges that started to eat into the enjoyment of actually running your business, do you have a happy-ending story for your billing solution?  What would you recommend for other small businesses that might have similar experiences?  What kind of procedures have you developed to make your accounts receivable easier to handle and more reliable?

To other helpful folks who aren't (yet?) entrepreneurs, what types of small companies do you think might benefit from using online payment solutions (that may not already be doing so)?  How would you describe the market for online payment services?  What recommedations have you seen for small business invoicing software?

We're looking for your input on these topics, and the best response will be published on the Entrepreneur's Corner edition of Techdirt, as well as receive a monetary award.  Other high-quality insights may also receive monetary bonuses, depending on the content and how many insights are submitted.

7 Insights

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Help A New Kind of Music Label Revolutionize The IndustryCase Details


Closed: 21 Oct 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $500 for Insights on this case.

The music industry has changed significantly in recent years, and technology now allows musicians to distribute their work and interact with fans more easily than ever before. As times have changed, the traditional process of signing with a record label is getting more and more competition. Here we describe one alternative vision for supporting musicians that focuses on the artist and aims to disrupt conventional music publishing. The subsequent task is for the Insight Community to suggest improvements to the plan, give feedback from an artist's point of view, offer advice on implementation, and even respond with possible arguments against this approach.

The Vision of an Un-label

The 4 pillars in the work of a musician are: compose, record, be on stage and on tour. The live show is more than ever a vital component of the career of an artist, but it can not exist without the production of new tracks. For the artist to tour, an album is a prerequisite.

As always, there are costs to produce an album, but the artist should ALWAYS retain ownership of his/her work. Without artist ownership, the genuine involvement of the performer is lost. But if the artist ultimately owns the work, the musician has an honest commitment to promoting every song and a vested interest in connecting with fans. That said, albums still need to be financed at times, and a complete support infrastructure to promote the artist and his/her work is still necessary as well.

For the financing of albums, an artist will sign a temporary exclusive license to his/her music in exchange for initial funding (if necessary) and a share of revenues from tours, shows, physical and digital sales, merchandising, etc. The artist will commit to live performances and interactions with fans through various channels (eg. press, TV, web, etc). The artist will be the brand behind the music, and the new 'Un-label' will provide financing, publicity and management as necessary. The Un-label has incentives to serve the artist since its exclusive license is temporary, and the artist will be free to go elsewhere after the contract is fulfilled.

Key points summary

  • Artists always retain ownership of their work.
  • Artists get worldwide distribution with transparent accounting.
  • Artists get a dedicated partner with aligned incentives.

Supplemental Materials

To further explain this vision, there is an accompanying presentation to discuss this concept:


How You Can Help

The idea behind this Un-label is hopefully easy to understand, but how does a business based on this philosophy attract and convince artists? Below are some questions that attempt to focus this discussion on improving this vision. These are not the only questions to answer, but they're a starting point.

  • What kind of educational materials need to be created to help this business compete with the more traditional recording contracts?
  • If you were an artist, how does this proposition sound to you?
  • What are the most attractive portions of this plan for musicians? What are the least attractive parts of this concept?
  • Have you heard of similar businesses? How do you think similar businesses are doing?
  • Are there services that exist that could improve this business? Can you think of potentially good partnerships or collaborations?

Visit the CybearSonic Site (English translation)

22 Insights

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Navigating The New Business World After This RecessionCase Details


Closed: 16 Sep 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

The usual economic indicators suggest things aren't getting worse as fast as before, and the more cautious forecasters are offering some less-than-optimistic predictions of a long road ahead for recovery. Several analysts (in reports from McKinsey Quarterly, Harvard Business Review and the like) point out that business has fundamentally changed and that the current downturn is not simply part of a regular business cycle. On the upside, though, the preceding decades have developed an incredible collection of enabling technologies that businesses may have only scratched the surface of -- which have laid the foundations for future long-term economic growth.

In this environment, employees look for real leadership and direction from their corporate executives. So this case sponsor, HP, is looking to inspire forward-looking discussions with essays aimed at executive level managers. We're looking for insightful articles that may help guide executives towards success during uncertain times. What does an executive need to do or need to know to be more effective nowadays? What does the future of business look like? How can an organization thrive under pressure? What innovative technologies or services will help companies stay competitive? What techniques can be used to motivate and promote innovation? How can workflows be optimized to be smarter, more efficient and productive? These are just some example starting topics to give you a general sense of what we're looking for -- we're not expecting point-by-point answers. We encourage unique (and even entertaining) submissions on related topics.

The best insights will be used as posts on an HP website that will be announced later. Please submit essays that are at least 500 words in length.

UPDATE: The sponsor is more accurately "HP Enterprise" -- so the target audience is specifically executives and decision makers (CEOs, CFOs, COOs, etc) at large companies.

13 Insights

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Implementing Big Ideas During A RecessionCase Details


Closed: 10 Jun 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $100 for Insights on this case.

The current economic situation has certainly reduced the financing prospects of a good number of big ideas, but that doesn't mean the development of innovative businesses and technologies should (or will) grind to a halt. Obviously, though, starting up during a boom is a bit different than bootstrapping during a recession. But that just means more garage startups get created in actual garages -- focused on creating truly valuable services and technology.

So what kind of big ideas are possible to develop during a recession? How can government help (or hinder) economic growth under the current financial conditions? What kinds of technology revolutions may be primed to go right now -- and what can help give them a boost? What areas of business are thriving currently and are poised to continue to grow even when the economy recovers? How do companies plan for long-term growth and avoid pessimistic short-term thinking?

Microsoft People Ready Business is sponsoring this case to create interesting discussions at BigThink's section on Navigating Today's Economy. We're looking for unique perspectives that will inspire further conversations, and selected insights will be published on BigThink.com.

16 Insights

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Rethinking Print In A Technological EraCase Details


Closed: 27 May 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.


The business of print has always been a risky one. While the printing press made it much cheaper to print, there were still significant fixed costs involved. In order to make it economically feasible to print something, you had to make sure there were enough buyers, which involved significant forecasting. There were also significant costs associated with setting up each print run, such that it wasn't economically reasonable to do really custom work. Thankfully, in the past few decades advances in various technologies have made it cheaper and cheaper -- even as the rise of the internet has led many to write off the opportunities for print publishing, and even suggest that paper was dying.

Yet, what if that same trends, of ever decreasing technology costs combined with increasing quality and internet connectivity, enable a new era of print? These trends have the ability to enable things that simply couldn't be done before. We're seeing the beginnings of this with print-on-demand and self-publishing services, but where does it go from here? How far will these technology trends take us in creating totally new opportunities for print? When it's easy and cost effective to not just self-publish, but *micro-publish* suddenly the entire stream of possibilities becomes different. A photographer can publish a special magazine for every attendee at a wedding (even with the attendee's photo customized to be on the front). Or a novelist can let fans buy each chapter to be delivered fresh each month (or week!) as she finishes it. A textbook maker can create a totally customizable textbook, listing out a series of chapters online, allowing professors/teachers/students to create their own combination based on what works best for them.

And those are just a few starter ideas. HP is sponsoring this conversation (with more info at futureofprint.com) about how these trends will enable all sorts of new possibilities and business models. What new opportunities will be enabled thanks to ever cheaper print-on-demand offerings that combine customization, high quality and the connectivity of the internet? What new businesses may spring out of this convergence? What new hobbies, side projects, cultural artifacts? We're looking for creative thinking on where these trends will take us and what they'll enable.

28 Insights

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Rules For Cautious ExpansionCase Details


Closed: 27 May 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $200 for Insights on this case.

Continuing from our earlier cases, American Express is sponsoring more conversations here in the Insight Community concerning how small businesses can handle the current economic environment. Contributions to our past discussions have made their way to American Express' OPEN Forum blog, and we're looking for further insights that will complement the topics on the economy section of the OPEN Forum blog.

While the headlines are still somewhat gloomy, there are some signs that the economy may be starting to turn around, and some businesses are trying to start up or grow. If you're a part of this group, there are obvious reasons to be cautious. So what steps are you taking to make sure your plans for growth are not foolhardy in this environment? What kinds of expansion are justifable? What resources are available to small businesses that are trying to expand during economic hard times? These are just a few topic suggestions, feel free to contribute your own recommendations.

Ideally, submissions will contain specific examples and personal experience. Any insight that is selected to be published on the American Express OpenForum blog will be awarded a payment. You may submit multiple insights, but make each submission a post that can stand alone.

6 Insights

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