25 August 2010

Sex and IT and Rock and Roll

In what other area than drugs do we talk about 'users'? Right. I've recently noticed some strange personal habits. Usually the first thing I do when I wake up is check my mail. If I mishear anything in a conversation I want to spool back a couple of seconds and replay it. I send myself emails. I've been reading my email on the toilet (efficiency!) for so long that I've developed an embarrassing Pavlov reaction when I get lots of mail. And most disturbingly, I can't seem to concentrate for more than 30 seconds to read anything. I'm still halfway through a book I started 18 months ago. The only time I read anything properly is when I'm writing it myself. Am I alone? Don't think so. I've started asking people about their reading habits and have discovered a trend. Not enough time. The pressure of speed of change and susceptibility to sound bites is seducing us into taking unsound decisions. I blame the IT dealers. Google enticing me with "just another little search, it won't hurt you". Twitter tempting me to RT. LinkedIn luring me to make another contact. Addicted? Not me. I can stop anytime I want. Starting tomorrow. Really.

18 August 2010

CIO’s in exile and the art of the possible

A familiar sight. People discussing the state of affairs in their organization and what they would do if they were the board of directors.

They often have promising ideas but what they don't have is the power to execute. I call them boards in exile. A characteristic of many governments in exile is that they reside in a foreign country. Boards of exile also live in foreign countries, in a metaphorical sense. They live in fictitious worlds and have a tendency to assume that things are as they would have organized their environment. And are therefore often surprised and disappointed when things turn out differently. Apparently it's easier to be in denial than accept that somebody else with other ideas is running the show. Reality check: what world do you live in – the world you'd like to live in or the real world?!

The 'in exile' suffix can be applied to many roles. Take the CIO. I know plenty of architects who live for 90% of their time amongst perfectly consistent information systems. The only time their idyllic world is disrupted is when they take the lift down from the top floor to the company restaurant on the ground floor and overhear what with people who live in the real world are saying. What they hear is obviously an aberration because it isn't in the enterprise architecture. Typical CIO's in exile, who can't grasp the reality of organizations in which it just ain't fair who's got the power and that they just want pragmatic solutions to real world problems. No less and certainly no more. Even if we think they should be investing in the longer term, it's their money so it's their call. The only thing you can and should do is explain the pro's and contra's of the options.

The bottom line is of course that we should all be aware of and accept the imperfect, unequal and downright unfair nature of the world and be more like politicians and exercise the art of the possible. 

11 August 2010

Slightly cloudy – for the time being

My take is that clouds computing is here to stay. But the clouds are still young and much will change. So don't think that everything can be replaced by clouds. Yet. There are plenty of usable cloud computing based applications around. But not for all areas. So it'll be slight cloudy for the time being.

The heavens will become a lot more cloudy as soon as technology (and legislation!) gets more mature. But it's not only about technology. Remember when we started to have the opportunity to buy on the internet using a credit card. Scary, wasn't it?  But not anymore. And yes, security has improved but that's not the point. Just a question of getting used to it. Same with the clouds. Now it seems scary to not have your data storage and processing within reach but in five years same it'll be and – more importantly – feel different.

04 August 2010

Headache prevents stomach ache

RACI matrices are very useful when organizing the IT management function and fathoming out who is responsible for what. A variation that I like to use is a RACI matrix with four columns:

  • System component
  • Business Information Management (Demand)
  • Application management (Supply)
  • Infrastructure management (Supply)

I get people to list the stuff that comprises an information system, like application modules, scripts, databases, user manuals etc. and use the BIM/AM/IM cells to fill in the RACI responsibilities, e.g. R:Roger, A:Arthur, C:Clara, I:Ingrid. You usually end up with a pretty long list and I give people a packet of aspirin because it's usually gives them a headache working out the responsibilities. But it does prevent stomach ache further down the road because sooner or later you're going to have to know who's responsible for what.

03 August 2010

Expectation as a Service

I often approach people for the first time by sending an email. Could be a colleague or any other business contact. If I don't get a response within 24 hours I'm usually disappointed. I used to feel rejected but after some therapy I've got over that now. What would help in managing my expectations is if I knew their mail habits. The nerd in me is telling me that it would easy to track responses to email traffic and compile a digital notice board proclaiming what I should expect. Just like shops have an opening times notice hanging on a bit of string. Look up an email address in www.emailresponsetimes.com. Doesn't exist at the moment but come back in a couple of years time. It would also be handy to know what mood they're currently in but that's probably a bridge too far - or is it?     

Martini IT

Heard someone talking about "Martini IT" - any time, any place, anywhere - just about sums it up.

01 August 2010

IT Truth and Reconciliation

Do think IT will ever have to say "Sorry" for all the problems it's created (and is going to create)?
And will we then have Truth and Reconciliation Commissions to rehabilitate IT'ers back into society?
It happened with the Bankers, so why not with IT?

Application Euthanasia - the last IT Taboo?

Our relatively young IT industry is still growing so it’s not surprising that most attention is paid to building information systems. But the reality is that organizations suffer from too many rather than too few applications. The question is why clients aren’t doing enough about it. The answers I hear are about uncertainty. Uncertainty about shutting down an applications that interface with other applications. Uncertainty about how to isolate a small but essential part of an application and move it to a different environment. Uncertainty about how to approach an application demolition project. So it’s not surprising that clients hesitate - rather the mess they’re familiar with than a leap into the unknown. You get more blame for the consequences of taking a decision than the consequences of doing nothing.
But realise that's it's not a rational process, the are relevant irrationalities and irrelevant rationalities to be taken into consideration.
So consultants, tread carefully, application euthanasia is a sensitive subject.

The IT Servant

Just something to think about - a more humble attITude.

Are you an Application Gardener or an Application Landscaper?

Tower of Babble

Not only do IT people speak in Techno-babble but business people communicate (or think they communicate) in MBA-speak.

Shift from CRM to SRM

The IT-enabled power shift from supplier to consumer will shift Customer Relationship Management to Supplier Relationship Management - as a consumer I'll be 'advertising' what I want and then it's up to the suppliers to fight for my business.

Out of Control, into Collaborate

The old command and control management paradigm is being replaced by comminicate and collaborate - there are so many parties that you simply can't control but can influence.

Non-verbale nerd turns into Interaction Manager

IT is getting complexer and success factors are moving from technical stuff to functional and organizational competences - managing the interactions and not the interactors.

Disney Service Level Charters

Traditional Service Level Agreements are unwieldy. Service Charters are a step in the right direction to getting customers to take us seriously. We could learn a lot from Disneyand managing the customer experience.


IT’s all about speed

The main challenges in application management are:

·         Keeping up with the speed of business change;

·         Dealing with the complexity of hybrid application landscapes;

·         Communicating with the business;

·         Management of application knowledge.


From an application management perspective, a new application is just the first release. 

Escape from escapism

IT has to deal with hybrid system landscapes in which old and new co-exist. Alongside traditional custom and packaged applications there's increasing use of Open Source, Mash-ups and SaaS. The underlying infrastructure is a mix of classic in-house infrastructure and remote clouds plus an increasing diversity of devices that are IP-enabled and often location based, creating  an internet of things to deal with. It's now less about individual systems and more about interaction.


IT still seems to be in denial about the relevance and sometimes even the existence of systems that are more than couple of years old, fleeing towards new technologies that give the illusion of a perfect system but which inevitably – often before the system is launched – have turned into something unmanageable.


 21st century IT will have to grasp the nettle and learn to cope with both existing systems and new technology. Fundamental issues in this transformation are:

·         Lots of little bangs instead of an unrealistic big bang.

·         Mindset change from 'perfect' to 'essential'.

·         Move from Greenfield to brownfield architecture.

·         Not only Application Development but Application Demolition.

This is going to be a tough transformation for IT organizations who are still in denial and there'll be plenty of grieving before the realities and opportunities of the hybrid world are embraced.

Agnostic artists & Intelligent integrators

IT organizations are specializing into two kinds of organizations. With Google as an example of a organization that produces innovative products but that doesn't concern itself at a company level with how their products are used. In this sense they are agnostic and engage in 'one-to-many' relationships. And on the other end of the spectrum there are IT organization that engage 'one-to-one' and create combinations of these products to make solutions that exactly fit the needs of user organizations: the intelligent integrators.

Infrastructure – Elastic clouds & Dynamic devices

§  Clouds, grids, virtual machines

§  Generic infra & application specific infra

§  Lots of intelligent devices – 'internet of things'

§  With GPS built in

Applications – Slums & skyscrapers

§  Number of applications and interfaces

§  Custom, Packages, Open Source, Mash-ups, SaaS

§  Hydbrid, complex landscapes, old and new

§  Integration challenge 

Sourcing – Long-term charters

§  Supplier consolidation

§  Lifecycle services

Information – Just enough for me

§  Unmissable

§  Relevant

§  Consistent

§  Personalized

Sensitive nomads in a dynamic jungle

IT has flattened the world, enabling individuals, society and organizations to engage in increasingly complex and rapidly changing relationships. This marketplace is constantly changing and the pressure for organizations to perform today is equaled by the need to continually change in order to survive tomorrow.  IT plays an essential role in supporting day-to-day business and business change.

·         Many organizations feel powerless to change the complex system landscapes that they have accumulated.

·         There's an overload of information and knowledge workers need personalized information in order to act effectively.

·         Increased availability of information has shifted the power in the supply chain to the consumer and B2C organizations need engagement technology to attract and retain customers.

·         A different kind of loyalty applies in this global world, giving organizations a challenge to be transparent while retaining their competitive edge. 

Application Management Haiku

Your Applications 

Are Up and Running, 

Up to Date, Under Control

Power to the Combiners

People who oversee the multitude of available 'services' and can see and create innovative combinations will fulfill important positions in value networks.

Are you sure?

Responding to the increased speed and volume of information will challenge effective decision-making progressively at all levels.

Internet of Things

There will be more things communicating with each other via internet than people communicating with each other.

Always On

People will find it difficult to 'turn the outside world off' and ICT is likely to be so pervasive that people are permanently connected to a network; being disconnected could be considered suspicious.

New Truth

Truth will not always be based on objective analysis but what Google says.

Functional analphabetics

10% of the population can't understand what they read.

‘Better’ is the new ‘more’

Challenging the axiom of economic growth.


Advanced dynamic relationship management systems will encourage use of unknown parties and independent agents.

The Flexibles

Knowledge organizations are moving from stable to dynamic, from simple to complex. Getting smaller, componentizing and making use of ecosystems of independent agents.

Cloud Powered

As IT-components get standardized and cloud powered, a new IT management paradigm will emerge: IT Component Suppliers, Generic IT Service Providers, Organization-Specific IT Service Providers, Demand Management and IT Service Consumers.


What is your Customer Experience?

 What emotions should our clients have when we work together? Think about Customer Experience Management.

Customer IT Challenges

Reliability, keeping up with speed of business change and managing complexity of both organization and IT.

Application Portfolio Spaghetti & Architecture Allergy

Most organizations depend so heavily on their applications – both operationally and strategically – that they are afraid to touch them. Just like reorganizing a pile of Mikado sticks. IT offers them portfolio scans and architectural designs of a future perspective, but not plausible capabilities to execute the change. Many business owners suddenly develop a rash when the word architect is mentioned.

(Our Controlled Migration offering is a realistic alternative to the traditional "Let's ignore the existing systems and build a new world" approach but only when substantial knowledge of the landscape is combined with rigorous discipline in the modeling process". The $64.000 question is "Who actually understands how this IT ecosystem works?").

Virtual Infrapplictions & Service-Oriented Application Management

The notion of 'application' is shifting. The divide between applications and infrastructure is melting. Applications are no longer owned by one organization but are made up of various components that are provided by other parties. And application landscapes or ecosystems overarch organizations. These changed give considerable challenges to Application Management organizations that are used to having full control of their (monolithic) applications and not having to rely on third parties. The challenges are Architecture, Ownership/Governance and ('adhocratic') Organization.

Strategic Dialogue between Business & IT. Not.

Despite many well-meant efforts, Business and IT are still not on speaking terms and are missing opportunities to build solutions that contribute to the business top-line instead of the IT bottom-line.

The Reluctant Business Owner

Board members are still avoiding the IT issue. Corporate Governance of IT is slowly gaining traction but we've got a long way to go.

So what about the poor IT Service Consumer?

IT Service Providers have invested gazillions in improving their processes (CMMi, ITIL etc) but how often do IT initiatives fail because the business has difficulty in fulfilling their side of the bargain? And how often are they blissfully unaware of their roles and responsibilities? Sound familiar? This neglected domain – Business Information Management – is finally being addressed from a business perspective. Only then will the true potential of IT be liberated.

Demand - Supply Network

The IT Demand - Supply Chain is changing. It's more of a network than a chain. The Command and Control paradigm is shifting towards Communicate & Collaborate but it's a struggle for shift focus from managing the whole process to just managing the interfaces. Who manages the playing field?

Spending Shift to Brown Field

Spending is shifting from Infrastructure to Applications and from Green Field to Brown Field (getting more out of existing systems).

Legacy is for Wimps

When someone says "Legacy" they're saying more about their inability to deal with real systems than about the systems themselves. Professionals don't blame others for building systems differently from how they would have but just get on with it, accepting imperfection as a fact of life. Application Entropy: applications have a tendency to disintegrate; just like the rest of the world. The modeler's illusion: perfect systems for an imperfect world.


IT and ICT are old hat. We’re now talking about ICET. Information Communication and Engagement Technology that helps organizations build and maintain better relationships with their clients, partners and employees.