Recently I’ve had an opportunity to spend some time thinking about operations. they are the baseline to which all solutions should be measured – can we operate this.

New solutions:

  • Can the team that exists today operate the solution without net new training
  • Can they operate the solution with some net new training
  • This operation requires a complete retraining of the team

Its funny but those three questions are often not asked during the development of a solution. Why is that? Why wouldn’t it matter as much about operating the solution as it would building and deploying it?

It is something to think about…


Architects, the things dreams are made of

A song I loved in the 80’s “I wanna be a cowboy” should also apply to being a software architect. I wanna be a software architect. Why? Well for the first thing it is a profession in waiting, nearly there. For a second thing, there are an amazing number of cool people in the profession.

But most importantly every career that has a path illuminated and building a future is something you can have a lot of fun doing.

The problem with software architecture is that like doctors, there is a level of experience required. You can walk out of school a teacher, a nurse and many other high level and critical professions. But software architects are a combination of school, learning and experience.

I guess I wanna have a profession.


A vision quest

Upon the horseback the architect bestrode

seeking a vision of technology yet untold

The architect

bedecked in silver

armor shiny

laptop fairly fast and not to hot to hold

Visions from Visio lining the wall

and near the PjM the project plan as well

We seek fair Dulcinia

technology so pure and fair

that it will change our architecture

and, most days validate parking.

We seek a vision

a direction to go.


Bringing the cloud into your life

The other day I was thinking about flying (yeah I know I am a sick person – travel all the time and then sit around thinking about traveling).

Continental airlines recently joined the star alliance. In order to support this change they have had to change their FF system to allow for OnePass (their system) and Star Alliance (United et al’s system) to mix and mingle (and of course vice versa).

Truly this joining of two solutions together is a mix and match cloud solution.

The scope of effort (announcement until fate accompli – 9 months- not sure why i am stuck with French today) was huge.

Amazing – and it works seamlessly.

Cloud computing at its best.


The road to complexity

I would to say that it is a new road, but frankly it has been around for a long time. The Appian way, a famous Roman road is a study in simplististy. More complex roads with larger paving stones and new materials have faded into the memory of history (the time long past).

But the simple road is still there.

Why is that?

Simplicity in and of itself is a long lasting solution. Keep it simple (add stupid and of course you have the KISS rule) is a rallying cry.

But we so often add complexity.

Why is that?

Complexity is the nature of humanity. We are complex creatures. We have communication structures, social structures and even structures that we live in. We are multi-celled complex creatures comprised of billions of cells often working together (although there are times I wonder about that.)

We are complex.

Therefore we seek always the road to complexity.

Sometimes to our own detriment. If you look down and see the Appian way, you are probably on the right track with your solution.


Transformational Services (transitional services applied)

Building a Services Incubation team:

Why the change? For those of you who grew up in the 1980s you may remember Alfred E. Neuman of Mad Magazine and his iconic tagline – “what, me worry?” Most traditional services organizations can in fact throw this book away – the change that is rolling in will force you to react as the internet forced organizations to react in the late 1990’s.

In reality traditional services organizations will find that their business will change over the next 5-10 years. The reality of the world today is that most people have requirements to get at the information they need quickly and anywhere. This change will force organizations to plan or to react. With this book we hope you are planning.

In most cases product companies would welcome services organizations helping them build out the potential market for some of their greenhouse solutions. Products that are not part of the traditional offerings the product company has today.

The other side of incubation is that product companies can bring new solutions to market that may not be a “full installation” product. The solution may in fact be a product that requires services. If an incubation team can build a connection with those early product there may be significant market advantage for both organizations.



Transitional Services impact on process

Impact on Process:

Process becomes the most critical change component as there are a number of organizations within the business that are impacted by the changes in process. These would include (but are not limited to)

· IT Security

· Security

· IT Operations

· End users

· IT Administration

· Business Process Owners

How each of these will be impacted is covered later in the book. But a couple of critical notes:

· Security has ruled the past few years – concerns about the placement and safety of data has driven many cloud solutions

· Delivery (speed) is as critical as security going forward. The ability of a user to work on a cellular phone, cable modem, air card or the wireless connection at Starbucks is critical

· Availability of business based services becomes critical

· Because it is a multi-platform solution there has to be a little of the LCD process in this today

o Organizations can build common custom applications that host the data and allow it to be presented to the user in the same format regardless of device

o Http and the presentation of web pages is another method of having a single data set and an open number of devices consuming

· It is important to do two things in building out this process:

o Allow SME’s to interact with data quickly and effectively

o Allow users to expand the scope of a solution without direct SME intervention you can have the SME review it post, but for the initial solution it is critical that the information gets elevated quickly.

Note: Calvin Coolidge at the time of this statement, president of the United States said “The business of America is business.” If we consider cloud services this still applies. In no way are we changing the consumer processes that businesses work through. People will either purchase or not purchase the goods and services offered by other organizations. What we gain with the Transitional Services is the ability to reach deeper into what people are doing and minimizing processes. Sometimes the process of a solution can be more of a limiter than a growth factor.



Another Transitional Service template!

Template 3: recording

Do you record meetings today? Should you? Starting every meeting with the statement “we are recording this” is critical. Since this book is about simplicity and improving process there is of course an easily automated method that can be used.

1. Automated Meeting Dial in Number

2. Online Meeting Services (WebEx or Microsoft Live Meeting)

You can even have devices (cellular phones and recorders) in the room that will support eventual translation from speech to text for notes.

Template 4: sharing

Collaboration is more than simply building a series of templates and throwing them out in the wild. Collaboration is building an environment where people feel they can build and share with the people around them. It is more than simply throwing out a series of templates. But the other side of collaboration is that you have to have a platform that facilitates sharing.

The obvious choice is a web page. Which if of course what many companies do with their collaboration solutions today (throw that bad boy up on our intranet and watch the ducks talk about it). But that is limiting both in the scope of collaboration as well as the overall collaboration itself.

In this scenario right or wrong the ducklings follow the mother duck because that is the way things have always been. The reality is that collaboration is more than what can be shared on a web page. It is what-ever and how-ever that particular team wants/needs to work.

A better metaphor for collaboration would be the game Pictionary. If you present information to your partner that they are able to understand and grasp you win. If you are not, then you don’t win but you sure have a lot of fun trying. So what are the ways people like to get information?

· Aural – tell me what I need to know

· Tactile – let me manipulate what you have to see if it fits into what I know

· Oral – let me talk about what I know

· Visual – let me read/digest what I know so that I can share it

With these four styles you can see an issue with a simple web site. It misses the Aural and Oral learns completely and is really only built for the Visual information gathering processes. In fact the tactile, oral and aural learners may be very frustrated with the solution you provide.

How can you build something that fits what everyone needs to be successful?

1. Don’t be limited by what is.

2. Don’t let the system be the restriction.

3. Allow for free flowing information

In an earlier chapter we introduced the concept of DLM© which we will build on in this section. The concept of DLM© is leveraged here in building the initial IP (napkin idea) and moving it up the formal IP/IC system.

Now we are building the collaboration system that represents the funnel that builds the ongoing IP/IC additions to the SME managed IP solution.

Figure 25: Collaboration Solution feeding DLM system

In this diagram we see how the collaboration system (represented as a web page but that isn’t a requirement) would be able to build and generate IP/IC of a variety of types. These would then filter down to the SME managed IP solution. The filtering process is a concern. In the past KM solutions have attempted to build these types of filtering systems.


Transitional Services

Traditional services orgs sell repeated services to their customers (let me upgrade you to windows 2000, let me upgrade you to windows 2008) and so on. Or they sell transformation services (strategic services and other considerations) around the building and deployment of software solutions. With Cloud computing that original services market begins to disappear. In fact, within the next five years as Cloud computing offerings expand – the traditional consulting services models will have to change.

Note: “The irony is that in the old days, the base tech wasn’t advanced enough and needed all the services people… now, it’s getting advanced enough to the point those old-school services are not needed. Hence the defensive position from above comment, but resisting the imminent change only hastens the legacy service org’s ability to finally make the shift…it might be too late for them. Technology is cannibalizing the services market that the tech itself needed & created to achieve its current status. Binary Evolution.” Christos Fotiadis President and CEO of Protogroup

To this issue comes the concept of transitional services. With transitional services the services group Is able to offer a series of transitional and transformation services to the companies they work with:

· IP Publication and management solution

· Business rules to support IP Publication and Management

· Business rules to support data placement and replication

· Creating the neural network within the business services to build and deliver managed IP.

From a business perspective this allows the organization to consider the relevance of the IP they are moving around as well as offering the prescriptive rules and processes to enable the publication, retrieval and construction of the overall cloud based solution. Some organizations may even use this as an opportunity to force the adherence to business rules for all IC.

There are a number of terms that will be addressed in the glossary section of this document. A critical term to note however is the use of the phrase Managed IP. Managed IP is not truly a Knowledge Management system in the long held tradition of what a KM solution truly is. Managed IP is a SME driven IP validation system that will allow the organization to provide users with a simple response process for their IP use and reuse:

· Did this answer my question?

o Yes

o No

o Simple decision tree for users to leverage when evaluating the IP in the system. They can choose to pull from the managed and unmanaged IP in seeking a solution to the question they are asking.

· Could this answer my question?

o This comes from the unmanaged IP world

o The solution may in fact apply, it may not

· Does this solution have a known work[1] around?

o Now this is where we leverage the concept of managed IP. In this scenario we evaluate and build a SME set of solutions to known specific problems. These are the top returned or best guess returns in the search engine

o The value proposition of this is that there are situations where users may seek a solution to a problem that is “similar” but not “the same” as the solution and problem set for the managed IP. This allows the solution itself to expand if it is able to handle more problems than the originally created problem. Additionally this can be done in an automated fashion leveraging the user’s interaction with the system reducing the cost of the SME’s in expanding solutions.

Note: As a technologist I put technology as the first bullet. But as a business person you may read this section differently (people, process and finally technology). The reality is the order doesn’t matter. In fact it should probably be impact on the business, people, process and finally technology if we were really building this in a way that made logical sense.


[1] Most support organizations publish the “known” or “best” work around for their end users.

Directed Search – part of transitional services

Best Bets! (or better yet Best FIT!)

Hey – you were looking for this. We found this which we think is really close to what you are looking for.

· The initial SME tagged information that is known good, known right should be presented by the search engine as a best bet.

· I found what I needed feedback that allows the end user or customer to provide feedback to the IP system that they in fact found what they needed.

· What I found is close to what I need, can I try it and provide later feedback>?

Directed Search

Beyond Best Bets would be the concept of directed search. This allows the search solution to return known good answers for specific questions.

· Directed search does not return variables (best bets would)

· Directed search would have a different feedback loop – potentially reducing the set of returned data significantly.

Now the reality of the two types of searches mentioned here would of course fit that old real estate adage “location, location, location”. Let’s think about the who, what, when, where and how of searching.

1. What I am looking for?

a. Type of data

b. Type of “interaction”

2. How am I looking for it?

a. Search

b. Invoking a local application

3. When do I need it?

a. Critical need (ASAP)

b. Request for information that can be returned later

4. Who am I?

a. End user

b. Field Tech

c. High touch user

5. Where am I seeking this information?

a. Mobile device Wi-Fi

b. Mobile device GPRS or CDMA no roam

c. Mobile device GPRS or CDMA roaming

d. Mobile Device Ethernet connection

e. Laptop connected to the company network via wifi

f. Laptop/desktop connected to the company network via LAN/WAN connection

g. Other device (home computer etc.) connected to the network via vpn

h. Other device (home computer etc.) connected to the network via WAN

The first component is the concept presented by the two processes in the “what am I looking for” that being the data being sought and the type of interaction the user is using to get at that data. Users have specific goals when they seek data. As such they leverage things that have worked in the past and are something they know how to use. Their chosen method of interaction may not be the intended method for the solution they are using. While this is an initial training issue it is also something that needs to be considered.