Back in Seattle

Last week, I was able to go back on the Microsoft campus in Redmond for a meeting. That’s the first time I’ve been back there since I spent 3 months there as part of the EDS Top Gun program back in 2005.

Flying into Seattle, we got a good view of the Space Needle and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.seattle

There were a number of déjà vu moments walking around the Microsoft campus.

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I always find these opportunities to see what companies are most proud of very telling. It was clear that cloud, analytics and human interface transformations were in the forefront of their thinking — much like the rest of us.

Action as a services moving forward…

action 002Had to laugh when I saw this post from Forrester titled: “Big Data” Has Lost Its Zing – Businesses Want Insight And Action since this is a song I’ve been singing for a number of years now. The first post about this I could identify was back in 2007.

Big data efforts should be measured in time-to-action, not time-to-insight. IT organizations need to be defining, developing and deploying systems of action.

To quote myself: “the organizations that can understand “normal” and focus the people on the areas that need their creativity will shine in the end. This relationship between situational awareness and automation needs to be part of organizational strategic planning, much more than what most architectural processes allow.”

Glad to see that analysts are recognizing this.

Expect more from IoT

planningRecently there was a post in Forbes titled In Search of the True Value in The Internet of Things. This post narrowed down the value statement to:

The real value lies in being able to capture and analyze the data that comes from the sensors at the endpoints of IoT — and that needs to be the few nuggets of data that are of material value to the business.

It does make me wonder if the author overlooked the new business model possibilities. It is not just about capturing and analyzing, it also include the action taken by which actors for the company and its entire ecosystem. As everything ‘gets smarter’ there should be more options available and more time to execute those options. At the same time we see larger and more powerful arrays of processors, we also see them moving into more places and processes.

One of the great questions that remains is what should ‘we’ be doing differently now that computing’s impact moves both deeper and broader into the business?

The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow. -William Pollard

I survived my first day at SAP #SapphireNow

The one area that both surprised and interested me most on the first day had little to do with the analytics or IoT space (although I did have some interesting discussions in those areas too). It was the SAP approach to their on-line store.

They have had many on-line stores in the past but now they are taking a different more ‘digital’ approach that is focused on selling direct to the consumer. This will change the relationship with the user and the enterprise based on consumption. This could disrupt their traditional buyer, the SAP sales force as well as their partners that perform system integration and consulting. It will be interesting to see if this level of change can take place without too much disruption.

By selling tools like Lumira with a free version, then a low friction purchase option with a credit card a business could easily see this tool enter into its portfolio of resources without their knowledge. They have implemented the purchase process so that if a feature of a premium version is needed you are dropped into the store. Anyone who has done on-line gaming recently has likely run into this behavior. This kind of stealth selling is inevitable and will accelerate the kind of shadow IT has been discussed for years.

I asked the people at the booth about what happens when someone buys it on their own version and the company purchases a master agreement. The answers varied a bit but the individual has a choice to roll into the agreement or continue to pay on their own. Look to the terms and conditions (that no one reads typically) for the details.

There is also the concern about who will support anything that gets created once the business becomes addicted. Everyone likely remembers the years of Excel Hell. Hopefully that will not happen but I am still checking into how change management elements can be put in place for end user developed elements.

My greatest concerns is that the traditional command and control IT organization will be very frustrated by this, while the digital purists will be confused by the resistance – it may be just outside their contextual understanding. SAP stated they will be opening these capabilities up for 3rd parties to sell their capabilities and that will have its own problems. Service providers usually sell apps as a mechanism to facilitate up-sell into consulting and integration. SAP is trying to ensure what gets into the store is valuable on its own. Some of the service providers will likely have a hard time understanding these implications as well.

It was stated (many times) in the first day that business models are changing and SAP seems to be doing its part to be disruptive, even if most of its customers haven’t internalized the implications.

Exponential growth and Earth Day

earthdayOn this Earth Day, there is little doubt that we are living in an exponential society as opposed to linear one. Change is happening so rapidly and broadly that it challenges our traditional (linear) way of thinking. Technology’s ability to enable change in other industries has been discussed by many over the years, but since the disruptions can be so insidious, they can still surprise us. The number and breadth of the change we’re seeing (or that’s happening behind the scenes that we’re not aware of) is staggering.

Whether it is the growth of computing capabilities, data storage or even gene sequencing (as examples), it isn’t the growth in one area where the impact is felt. It is the change in the surrounding environment where those skills can also be applied that offer the greatest surprises. Like using the understanding of genetics to clone the long extinct Woolly Mammoth.

There are many ways that IT can help with efficiency in the world around us, by providing better measurement, analytics, visibility and control to how energy is being consumed and waste produced. I had a post previously that discussed the various levels where sustainability change can take place– even within a data center. The whole Green IT movement reinforces this perspective on using the power of IT to be more efficient thought it could still be expanded to view the problem holistically, since it needs to address more than just green data centers.

Some more references to areas of exponential growth:

And if these are the secondary effects, the tertiary effects to industries like insurance, transportation, law are not close to being understood, in my opinion.

Where do you think we’ll see the impact of these capabilities? Will that make our planet a better place?

Starting an R programming course

educationI always like to try and take a few Coursera courses every year. Now I am starting a course on R out of John Hopkins. One thing addition to this approach that I haven’t seen before is that the R environment has a Computer Based Instruction available called Swirl. As analytics increases in importance a bit of hands on exercise is likely a good thing.

It just started, so if you’re interested in this, feel free to drop me a note.

A Technology Radar on Software Creation

radar (technology)I recently had the opportunity to look at ThoughtWorks Technology Radar. This is a document targeted primarily at developers, describing the emerging and trending technologies that are shaping software creation. It is grounded in tools that support the issues of: DevOps, Analytics and Security.

It is clear that those who put this position paper together are passionate about keeping up with the changes in the software development space, as well as internalizing the implications on how the software creative process will be performed in the future, and happy to share these views with others.

The technologies adoption profile is captured using a radar metaphor: emerging tech. around the edge and those technologies that should be adopted closer to the center. The model is divided into quadrants dedicated to techniques, platforms, tools and languages & frameworks. I can easily see this being used in a holistic, yet targeted discussion about what this shifts can mean to an organization and its software portfolio — in addition to facilitating a discussion among technologists.

Although industry analysts publish their vision documents regularly, it’s rare that a technology services organization gives their insight into the tools they are investigating or using publicly. I’ll leave it to your imagination why that’s not done much anymore.

There are versions of their technology radar going back a few years on the site (their goal is to publish twice a year), so if you’re interested in the development space, it’s worth a look.

If there was one suggestion I could make, it would be to include a vector estimating how soon the technology will advance to the next stage. This additional dimension should cause some very valuable discussions to take place.