Most people take notes with a regular paper notepad or book and then transcribe into typed notes for a meeting and so on. How could we replace this with digital technology? The basic requirements here:
Some people are actually good at typing on a laptop very fast, so they have moved on from relying on the writing experience.
Typical Writing Use Cases
There are other use cases but these jump out as the lion share of regular writing which will be explored with the various electronic writing options.
Reusable Notebooks and Smartpens
There are several solutions out there that can be considered a step up from the traditional paper
Rocketbook - Allows the user to erase the writings and use a smartphone to copy and send the writings to the cloud - also has the ability to support writing to text conversion. Essentially, the notebook can be used many times over.
Smartpens - These pens use specially designed notebooks (not reusable) but the pen would keep the details and transfer into the cloud wirelessly connecting to a phone or computer.
Most people would have an Ipad or Android (Samsung, Google etc.) tablet as they provide a lot of functions and applications. However, most will agree that even with a pen, writing on these will not give you the paper experience but maybe useful to take some quick notes or demonstrate some concepts. However for real writing these are not ideal.
There are some workarounds on the market especially to add special screens which improves the experience. A popular one is paperlike for the Ipad. Some would complain that this will affect the viewing experience on the tablet while not really solving the ultimate paper experience.
Hands down, tablets are great all round devices and provide lots of benefits but that paper writing experience is not there. The biggest disadvantage with these is that more functions also brings a lot more distractions.
As tablets are here to stay; Is it time to move away from the hand writing approach to taking notes?
E-ink or E-paper Tablets
The concept of E-ink has changed the way we read books, especially popular with Amazon Kindles. However, there are several tablets built with this technology for writing purposes and several popular tablets in this space. The verdict is that these are very close to paper in respect to writing experience with an electronic implementation.
Remarkable - This is a small company that builds this tablet primarily as a notetaker with the ability to read some ebook formats. It also allows marking up on books specially PDFs. There is big buzz on the Remarkable 2 coming out in September 2020 with an improved design. The complaints for these devices is the lack of advanced software features and low on device storage space. However, they get high marks in respect to the writing experience. The size of both generations is 10.3” which is a good sweet spot for portability. This is probable the best candidate for digital note taking out there.
Onyx Boox Tablets - These are similar to the Remarkable in terms of being E-ink devices and they run Android as the main OS. The writing experience on the low end ones are not so great. The Max 3 seems to be the most genuine writer from this company but of course the size is 13.3” which is huge for every day portability.
Sony DPT Family - Sony also has a platform which they sell directly as well as OEM to Fujitsu and Quirklogic. They are very similar to the Boox Max 3 especially in terms of some software features and writing experience. The experience on these are very good but the cost is fairly high running from $700 and up. The Papyr from Quirklogic seems to get very good marks for sharing the writing with others in real time as well as integration with Cloud services.
There are some good options here and it seems the disparity is mostly around software features. The 13.3” tablets could be good for something to keep on a desk for planning and tracking things while the smaller ones are good for doing the regular everyday note taking. The common concern here is cost since they will not give the full functions of a regular tablet. Can one have a regular tablet and still get one of these?
The ideal here is to have a paper like experience in writing, translate the writing materials into readable text and be able to store and share electronically while being sustainable. Looking at the options presented, there seems to be some positives and some negatives about fully replacing the paper notebook while benefiting from new technologies. On the one hand, the E-Ink options are promising but also come at a very high price with limited functions. Traditional tablets have many functions but are very poor in terms of the writing experience.
To keep with the traditional approach, the Rocketbook is a great contender as it keeps the writing feel and provides some technology improvements plus the cost is very affordable. While, it seems the E-inks may be the best choice overall with the potential for automation, it seems there is a gap especially around pricing with a truly electronic solution. Delivering something that keeps the traditional experience and will not break the bank. Ultimately, below $200.
With all of those options it also comes down to the specific writing feel for each individual.
What is your take on this? Have you used one of these devices?
I have always have an interest to have one device which could be used in different ways. In the mean time we have different devices that excel of specific tasks.
If you have to pick one device due to budget which one would it be? I would definitely keep a laptop for now but the Ipad with magic keyboard looks promising.
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As we work through the pandemic, its important to understand the overall implications of each action and its over effect on the global system as whole.
There is a lot of buzz about innovation and the need for companies to relevant to constant industry changes. How do you manage innovation? There are several approaches out there. The Strategyzer team came up with a concept to plan out an innovation portfolio which can be done continuously to stay on top of the market. This captured in the book The Invincible Company. Below is an example of the portfolio map used in this process.
Another approach that is also useful is the 3-Box Solution. Where products are grouped into Past, current and future buckets. The concept is captured in the book - 3 Box Solution.
There are many other books and articles on this topic but these are two options to start with.
There is always debates around the role of Product Owners versus those of Product Managers. Many present the idea that Product Managers are strategic while Product Owners are tactical, mainly focusing on writing users stories and managing the backlog of features per sprint. Is this true? looking at the responsibilities of Product Owners rom Scrum.org, There are two elements that stands out. 1. the Product Owner is accountable for the product and 2. he/she has ownership of the product. This means the individual would interact with customers and other stakeholders to define the vision of the product and then work with the scrum development teams to prioritize and deliver on this vision.
While Scrum does not speak directly about strategy, marketing, sales and other activities, it is pretty obvious that the Product Owner would be involved in these roles as the accountable party for product success. One cannot properly manage a backlog and prioritize features if not being fully involved in the strategic intent of the product. Ultimately, it's fairly clear that Product Owners are bona fide Product Managers and in fact more. An example is given of ex-Apple CEO Steve Jobs as the ultimate Product Owner. The following video provides a good overview of the product owner role..
What is your take on this debate? feel free to share your comments openly..
Are you curious about using your phone as a regular computer? With the speed and specifications for Smartphones nowadays, technically, this is very possible. The question is; How do we realize this solution? Are the drivers for this (1) Economics, (2) Convenience and/or (3) consolidation?
While the phone specifications have gone up, the price for Laptops have come down significantly, so one could easily just buy a low cost Chromebook to handle duties that require larger screens. However, there could be more to this situation. Take the Apple ecosystem for example; An iPhone is roughly $1000, the MacBook Air is another $1000 or more. If you buy both, one is looking at $2000 minimum in cost. However, if someone came up with a solution that sells an upgraded iPhone experience on a laptop for $300 that may be appealing. Of course, the argument could be made that an iPad could do the trick but a good iPad setup is about the same cost as a MacBook anyway.
This is topic worth exploring more in the coming months. There are some good data points:
1. The Smartphone is a critical piece of equipment for pretty much everyone across all social spectrums - Which means its foundational.
2. Several concepts have actually gotten crowd funded on Kickstarter.com in recent times which implies there is a market looking for a suitable solution. The solutions vary from Laptop style to more of desktop type designs.
A tablet is also something that has value but in the case of needing an essential solution; is it the most critical upgrade to a phone?
The Samsung DEX is one of the mainstream solutions out there but of course it only works with Samsung Phones. How could this be widely available for pretty much any phone?
Here is a promising foldable solution - cost about $55.00
The Nexjack Desktop solution is just $19 but only works with Samsung Phones at this time.
Here is a video sample of how this could be done.. There are other ways but this kind of a desktop approach with the idea of it being portable.
Other perspectives in Part 1 of this topic - http://www.larklandmorley.com/home/computing-with-a-single-device-especially-a-smartphone
There is clearly a lot of chatter around driverless cars or in fact flying cars? This technology is actually developing rapidly and Tesla has shown a lot of practical progress in this area. Where do you think this is headed? Feel free to comment here.
There is a lot of buzz around going to Mars to establish a colony. Electric Cars thanks to Tesla and others are really taking off. One of the big challenges is whole question of energy storage density and distance. What if there is a solution for this? It seems this startup in the San Francisco area - Ardica is on to a very feasible solution.
This fuel source is called Alane which Aluminium Hydride. Ardica's focus is on making this process much more efficient which would significantly revolutionize the green energy industry. The implication here is to have more robust clean energy options which can minimize the need for legacy fuels.
We are excited!!!
Many times having a conversation, the question comes up; what is your profession? Mentioning the words "Product Management" many times has the follow up question; What is that? People are familiar with Project Management and so on. To give a quick layman summary of Product Management; We could say that "Product Management is the domain of owning the full life cycle of products. Spanning from conceiving the product, developing, supporting and retiring." Every product that is created has some form of a Product Manager (some companies use terms like Program Manager etc.) owning and driving the process. This could be a Jetliner or even a new toothbrush.
Product Managers tend to have a mix of Business and Technical skills. The technical skills are important to understand what problem the product solves and how. Business Skills helps to develop a big picture view especially to satisfy the corporate requirements for profit. Product Managers are also real Entrepreneurs always looking for opportunities to drive new business ideas. How does one become a Product Manager?
The typical default answer on becoming a Product Manager is to consider getting an MBA. This can be useful if available but certainly not required. It's better to focus on the skill sets that will make one an effective product manager. Here are some key skills to consider with some bias to the technology industry:
1. Leadership - Be visionary with influencing others (using data and not force!!)
2. Strategy - Understand the business reasons to build a product - Create business Cases and Roadmaps
3. Customer Focus - Have good relationships with customers to understand needs
4. Communications - Being able to communicate at various levels and context
5. Analytical Skills - Being able to analyze and solve problems
6. Technology - Being able to understand the architecture of technical solutions
7. Marketing - Converting the product features into a conversation around tangible benefits
Ultimately, your job is to conceive and champion products to success. How does one get training on Product Management? Before we get into recommended training programs, one shortcut is to find a good product manager and get mentoring from them.
Here are the training options:
1. MBA Degree - While this degree does not teach product management directly, it does provide good foundations on the various business topics. Not worth taking a $120K MBA degree just to be a Product Manager but there many cheaper options especially online (Examples such as WGU and some Indian accredited universities also offer MBAs online very affordable). One advantage is that in some companies and cultures, the MBA can help to move into executive management roles. Btw, in silicon valley, notable technology founders does not have MBAs and in many cases no degrees.
2. Individual Courses - Since we know the skills required to be a good Product Manager; taking individual courses especially online can help with this process. The advent of MOOC platforms will make this process much easier. Youtube has lots of free videos on business topics including product management.
3. Specialized Product Management Courses - There are several courses available nowadays that teaches Product Management within a few months. Examples would be General Assembly, Singularity University and 280 Group. There are several others which covers in-person or online delivery.
4. Books - Assuming one could get mentoring from a good Product Manager, there are some good books that could help fill gaps in skill sets and also depending on the individuals learning styles. A good example is Product Management for Dummies.
In summary, Product Management is a great profession which has been around for a long time but has been labeled with different names along the way. It's a very rewarding and exciting field, so make an assessment and see if it's the right fit for you. The ideal situation is to find a Product Management mentor or coach that can help to accelerate the process. In the mean time here is a great course on udemy.com to learn the ropes - Product Roadmap 101.
What do you think of product management? Share your thoughts.