Monthly Archives: December 2012

Bounce into 2013

bounce

Just finished a pretty cool and stimulating book called Bounce written by Matthew Syed of international table tennis fame. ( I love ping pong )

Cool? Well when I reflect on 2012 in terms of IT I ponder that all the highs and lows have often been because of a ‘person’ and not technology itself.

Pretty much all the bits and bytes I have touched this year have worked as designed. What often puzzled me is when I didn’t get the desired service and having finished this book I reaffirm a theme of my blog – IT stands and falls on its people.

Syed maintains among other things that there is often a myth round talent and that many successful people have become so through bloody hard work and practice. I wont bore you with the details in case you get the book but as I read each chapter it dawned on me that the art of practice in IT is a dying feature. Sure there is technical certifications and more opportunity for an IT Pro to learn self-paced but there is in my opinion a relaxing of the ‘putting the hours into perfecting the IT’ Why am I making this point?

Technology now just works – come on it does! We live in a self-service or Next Next culture where demand for instant gratification also extends to the IT Pro. These guys may have entered in the virtualization boom and were swept on the wave of instant success and true technology transformation. Older guys continued to ‘engineer’ but were too often overlooked as businesses expected instant IT. As a result the need to practice IT skills were slowly squashed against time pressures, emerging new talent that just wanted to ‘crack on’ and do some stuff and I suppose the cost of training and skills development being no longer a business priority. Cloud may have a part to play here. Bad habits started to creep in. People lived in artificially inflated egos and often shied away from practice in case it highlighted a crack in their halos. All these things IMHO have led us to a situation where people don’t want to get better. Good enough seems par for the course. Of course I generalise. I can. Its my blog. Notable exceptions exist but I maintain are harder to find.

My point? The book made me think about IT Pros and how much they practice. I’m sure there are other industries’ s going through similar change but I sense the IT industry is set for a major shift change and if people aren’t practicing as much as they did what does this mean for current careers, future IT pros and IT service as a whole. Up for discussion. 🙂

Read the book. It open my eyes to how successful people got where they are and also dispelled some myths I had around how talented people rise to the top or not as the case may be.

Happy New Year

Brummie

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A Christmas ‘Prezi’

Its Christmas Eve and I have already had my present or more accurately – Prezi.

It is a really neat ‘cloud’ presentation tool.

So I had a go and created a ‘Where should my blog go in 2013’ Prezi.

This is what my simple first attempt looked like but to see what Prezi can do for you look at the YouTube video below.

Prezi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxhqD0hNx4Q

It could really change how you see staid and dry Powerpoint presentations – imagine revolutionizing your next pitch rather than staring at your audience staring back at you as they count the slide counter !!!

Anyway I used Prezi as a way of presenting what my blog should be focused on in 2013 – so any ideas, suggestions – most welcome.

Note I didnt have an option to GIVE UP AND FIND SOMETHING BETTER TO DO – before anyone suggests it 🙂

Merry Xmas

Brummie.

WYOD – What? Your Own Device!

BYOD is the default tag for the evolution of how organizations allow and/or provide certain users access to corporate IT assets using their own personal device of choice. Many flavours of this strategy have emerged. For example, HYOD – Heres Your Own Device is one I particularly like.

But WYOD is my interpretation of many conversations taking place right now as people come to terms with this ‘new’ wave of technological transformation. It depicts the often incredulous statement ( often in a high pitched squeal )  from senior people in organizations from CEO to CFO through to IT and HR and finally Security Officer – “WHAT?YOUR OWN DEVICE!”  – when they realise that the strategy they were reviewing has actually arrived – surreptiously! Ouch.

The traditional argument for BYOD goes something like this.

The cost of providing mobile devices ( phones and tablets ) to fit the work profile of a number of corporate staff ( field workers, knowledge seekers etc ) does not scale well as organizations look to save capital costs and improve service and productivity for their internal customers. The management overhead, the cost of support and the impact to the CAPEX and OPEX models is hurting a modern IT organization – a lot. Why buy a laptop for someone who could buy their own device using a stipend from the organization to access their own stuff ( photos, sites, apps ) whilst still accessing corporate apps and data through a virtual desktop interface or similar. The flavours of BYOD is endless ( a bit like cloud computing )

My version of the BYOD debate actually comes from people who are ALREADY using their own device to connect to corporate assets. These are the guys in the shadow. They happily traverse the corporate network using corporate assets like the network, a PC or notebook, printers, scanners whilst at their choice, access similar resources from a shadow device that they bring into work. The WYOD therefore comes from incredulous colleagues ( typically in IT or security departments ) who find out by accident that such people are using their own kit to access the network. They just can – and no one can stop them.

Let me give you an example.

Someone I know worked for an organization that made a decision ( outside of the IT department – massive clue ) to implement a public cloud Facebook style solution to improve the way its workforce shared ideas, made new contacts, developed knowledge and overall improve collaboration across the traditional boundaries of teams, departments and divisions. Within days this solution had gone viral. You are kidding me right? Of course it would. You give someone a free and easy way to quickly promote their own skills and expertise and invite people to make friends then absolutely hundreds and thousands of people will sign up. My friend like many others fully embraced this and immersed himself into this new ‘innovation’. In fact he thought it a good idea to configure his iPhone to connect to the solution so he could collaborate while he travelled.

Then he left.

He had gone 4 weeks and from his iPhone he still have seamless access to the solution. He could see all the communications, documents and ideas his ex-colleagues continued to share.

Another 4 weeks went by. From his iPhone he still had access.

A month later. Still had access.

Today. Still has access.

You see the strategy to go for the Facebook style application was taken outside of the IT department. The decision makers were probably ‘sold’ on the concept of easy access and seamless collaboration across the organization that other tools had failed to land successfully. Costs were low and startup almost immediate. What they hadnt factored in were the people who automatically would use their own device (WYOD ) to access the tools. Why wouldnt they? Its a bit like people who bring their own milk, cheese, butter into work when the company installs a fridge in the kitchen. People bring their own. And you cant stop them. Well you can if you had realised that there was no process to remove my friend from the corporate tool once he had left the organization. Yes we have leavers policies for handing in laptops, mobiles, shutting down remote access, wiping Blackberry etc but no process to shutdown public cloud services that have spawned through non IT decisions. Perhaps it was the CEO’s office that made the decision to go viral. Or the Communications Director. Or HR Director. Marketing are also a good source.

This is the thing. Sensible organizations are considering all the implications ( legal, HR, technical, security ) of a formal BYOD policy. It has many benefits and many pitfalls. Lessons are being learned such as organizations who dont have a wireless strategy ( a sort of prerequisite for BYOD dont you think!! ) or dont have mature tools to manage the devices ( MDM ) to protect corporate assets on personal assets they dont own. Do they have access policies that embrace BYOD. Do they have tools to track access? What about working out the costs of a BYOD strategy versus traditional routes like laptops?

But the point of this post is this.

While people debate the BYOD thing and go through the usual checklist of Fors and Againsts, there are people who are using their own devices to access tools that touch the corporate network in a SHADOW nature and unless the IT organization wakes up and engages their peers in the CEO Office, HR or Communications there is a massive risk that cries of WHAT? YOUR OWN DEVICE! will echo more and more up and down the corridors of many large enterprise organizations.

Off to check my iPhone 🙂

 

Brummie.

 

 

Applications? Love them, hate them or understand them

Applications. We need them. We can’t communicate without them. We lose patience with them. We baulk at the cost of them. We crave to replace them. We go mad when we need to reinstall them. We struggle to control them. And we wish we didn’t need them. But we do and we will need them for a long long time.

Seriously though, it is applications that really run a business in terms of its relationships with all its consumers – internal and external. Applications define how we do business. How we market ourselves. How we trade. How we communicate. How we protect our systems. And how we ultimately stay ahead of our competitors.

But is this true?

  • A building architect of a building realises that the components that make up the environment will change at different speeds.
  • A IT Architect will also realise that the applications ( components ) in use by the organization will also change, evolve and be replaced at different speeds.

In fact for both architects they realise if they didn’t then the components and applications would require replacing at the same time which would mean two things; an inconceivable replacement cost and subsequent disruption impact to trading and brand or demolition! Like replacing a small tent, or a mobile phone. You don’t bother replacing individual components – you buy a new one. We don’t fix these items anymore.

Getting down to brass tacks you can look up at how Gartner quantifies the ageing of applications for a modern organisation, and the more I looked into this, the more I really started to see the synergy between how a building learns and how an IT organisation learns about its applications.

Consider three buckets. Each bucket represents the pace of an application change and therefore its relative importance (and cost of ownership ) to an organization today. Let’s call these buckets ( because Gartner does ) the following:

blog2

Look at your own organization. Consider the timeline above measured in the typical replacement cycle for applications. Think about how each of these categorises are working today for you. Perhaps you can easily identify a System of Record application for example. It may be the backend sales order processing application that it is incredibly old ( high legacy )  but is given almost religious status because without it the business cant process orders, send invoices and recover payment. Ever so often the organization considers alternative strategies but it always comes back to you ‘if it aint broken why fix it’. Such applications lack any opportunity to innovate. All organizations of a certain size will have the same applications and the competitive advantage is negligible.

What about the Systems of Differentation. Lets say you work in the health sector. There will be applications that you can only find in your sector because they are supplied by specialist providers who enable you to develop your own tailored processes.

And finally, what about Systems of Innovation. Most likely these will be some form of social tool you may be using to provide a niche service to clients or a mobile application developed to give your customers a much more user friendly experience. Development of these Systems is low cost and you will leverage cloud services to reduce the infrastructure requirements. You may have setup the application to meet a specific business event and will take down the application afterwards.

So lets put the building concept into this discussion. Take a look below.

blog1

In conclusion?

Well if I was running an IT infrastructure today I would be less interested in the hundreds of applications deployed across my infrastructure. Sure I will need tools to count the applications, meter their usage, control the licensing and measure the compatibility to my device strategy. Sure I will need to make sure my business critical applications are conforming to legal and security considerations.  All these actions are vital. I would call this ‘part and parcel of running the IT organization’.  And lots of organizations understand their ‘application estate’ very well. They use tools combined with process and people to keep abreast of their environment. When they look to change their device strategy ( as many are doing now with the demise of Windows XP  ) they eagerly spend a lot of money discovering and assessing their risk to the migration project. But how many truly understand how their applications fit into these three categories. And why should they?

Well I maintain that few organizations can articulate their application strategy. Sure they will have some words around improving customer collaboration or building new markets in their business plan with veiled references to how IT and IS should develop new applications and processes to support these decisions but getting down to understanding the pace of how the applications change and adapt to the people and environment around them it too often overlooked.

In my head I tie together the service management capacity to support these three distinct buckets of applications with the underlying core infrastructure to support these applications and how a faster moving workforce and market conditions demand that the pace of application change keeps up. As all these things are happening I often wonder whether the traditional IT organization is coping with the speed as they get stretched from the back office  to front office, and through to the shadow office. The typical IT organization does not see their applications in the way Ive posted. My fear is that without someone in the organization owning the enterprise architecture ( many do have an IT Architect on their books ) organizations will make ill-informed decisions ( cloud is a great example ) with their applications and rue the day.

BTW .I need to create an image of all this stuff that explains how I see all these anecodatal posts recently actually work together. One day I will crack it.

Anyway thats it. I hope you understand what Ive written!

Brummie.

Want to sell technology smarter? Then remember this number 2.9013

The list of reasons why people do and dont buy technology is endless – cost, suitability, competition, compelling events, other things to buy, indifference, desire, fear and on and on and on.  Not just technology of course. Cars, holidays, homes, clothes. And it is against this background I stumbled upon something researched by business consultant – Marcial Losada. I cant remember how I did though? ( I have just read the Happiness Advantage however 🙂 – clue )

Losada conducted an extensive mathematical model and concluded that 2.9013 is the ratio of positive to negative interactions to make a corporate team successful. Through studying 100’s of corporate teams, this turns out to be the ratio of positive to negative interactions necessary to make a team successful. Bottom line. it takes three positive comments, experiences or expressions to fend off the languishing effects of one negative comment.

It is called the Losada Line and it separates people who are able to reach a complex understanding of others from those who do not. Mmm.. this got me thinking. Losada is really talking about how corporate teams work together and how the mix of positivity overcomes negativity in team working situations. Not for technology decision making but I thought it might work? This is the basis for this post tonight.

When we think about our discussions with people about buying our products and services we will always pull up a list of benefits ( positives ). We will take the generic benefits and potentially add in a few of our own. We will fire up a table or list of the Benefits ( Pros ) to the customer if they were to buy our stuff. We will also produce a list of Cons ( negatives ) to demonstrate to our client that we are being balanced and fair.

Like hell we are!! The last thing we want is to give any excuse or reason to our customer to say ‘hang on I think this Con is a big deal for me and I think I will stay where I am’. So why do we do this balanced Pros and Cons approach. Well often we are having to ‘rubbish’ a competitive product or service so we think that if we are up front then we are winning the customer’s trust  by being honest and open minded.

You see the customer really does want to buy our goods and services ( if we have done a good job with them of course ) but they have a negative thought. Now if we take Losada’s Line we need to come up with at least 3 positive thoughts to counterbalance the negativity otherwise the deal is off. Now Im not going to critique the research to get to the 2.9013 number ( though privately I could equally come up with a number like 7.459 ) but I am going to say that I like what Loasada is saying. Why? Well its simple. Selling technology better is not an easy job. The number of barriers facing us today are numerous and because organizations are making IT decisions a lot harder to get passed, then having a ‘plan’ to deal with negative comments is not a bad one. In fact. A compulsory one.

My blog has often pulled vendors and others up on their ‘naievety’ in how they expect a customer just to ‘buy their technology’ without any business rationale or governance. Of course we all overcome this through our marketing and communications of our propositions. We run events. We run blogs. We use the social stratosphere. We win awards. We get accreditations. We basically follow the 101 CookBook of how to win business through doing everything everyone else is doing. Its called the channel. Everyone knows the rules and quite often people hop betweeen companies engaged in this channel business.

None of this is wrong. it is the best possible plan you could do. But there is a but. When you are in the room with a decision maker all your channel stuff is left behind. There is you and the customer and he or she has just made a comment that is a negative statement. what do you do?

Lets examine.

Do you turn the negative into a positive? For example. The customer says “the cloud is not secure enough”. You say “More and more companies are now using the cloud and have overcome security worries”

The customer says “I will not let people bring their own kit into work”. You say “in 2015 50% of top organizations will have a BYOD policy”.

This ping pong of negative and positive comments is the natural approach we take. BTW Im making up the data in the positive comments.

Now according to Losada Line the conversation may go slightly differently.

The customer says “the cloud is not secure enough”. Now you say “there are 3 reasons why you should consider the cloud. These are (1) a much more transparent cost model (2) a platform that enables agile development work to meet peaks and troughs and ( 3) your biggest competitor has recently moved all its CRM to the cloud”. One negative comment smashed by three positive comments ( 3:1 )

The customer says “I will not let people bring their own kit into work – too risky“. Now you say ” there are 3 reasons why you should consider a BYOD strategy. These are (1) the cost of managing a BYOD device is 65% lower than that of a standard employer owned laptop device” (2) organisations who introduce a BYOD strategy have a 20% higher staff retention ratio (3) the use of tools can control a portion of the device where corporate data is held but stills allows central IT to remote wipe the device in any potential compromise situation.One negative comment smashed by three positive comments ( 3:1 )

What have we learned? Probably not a lot other than a very slight nuance which may help us next time confronted with a negative comment.  After all we know about positive thinking. We all know how to sell. And  before you ask – “if a customer has 3 negative comments about your stuff does it follow you need 9 positive comments?”

So my advice. Consider a particular deal or discussion with a colleague or client. Are you above or below the line?

Oh and the more positive comments you have then the better 🙂

Brummie.