Organizational Technology Lifecycle (OTL)

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The reality that we wake up to. Things are complex. Sometimes things are doubly complex for no reason other than they simply don’t fit together.

For example, if your project is struggling you need to examine why. That is normal. You do a root cause analysis and determine it is a single person.

Why?

  • Sometimes that person lives in an ego tower and can’t be bothered with your project. (it isn’t there project – it should have been there project ask them and they will tell you).
  • Sometimes your project is off to a rocky start because it is simply harder than expected.
  • Sometimes it was never on the rails and getting it on the rails will take more energy than you have.

In SDLC discussions we always talk about the lifecycle of software. We talk about the lifecycle of projects as well in a project. But sometimes we forget that a project may fail on the surface but in the end make the changes needed for the organization to move forward.

So the question that is rattling around inside my roomy expanded (and mostly empty head) is the concept of the lifecycle of an organization.

Enterprise architects spend time building a framework for an organization. They consider the requirements, the deployed solutions and the best way to solve a problem. For example they may say the best way to create a PDF file in an organization is to use EZPDF (a printing device) or possibly Adobe or event just save as a PDF in office. They tailor this guidance to what the organization has, needs and in the end wants.

The question I have is how do you move an organization forward? Its easy to upgrade a technical workforce (software is here, license is here have fun). Its harder to take a workforce that isn’t technical and move them quickly – and you also have to consider the what of the migration. if everyone stops what they are doing to upgrade there is a cost for that.

What is the lifecycle of technology in an organization?

.doc

The dawn of a new age.

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I’ve always wanted to write that line. It doesn’t mean much but it has a certain cache. The reality is that we actually are already in a new age, the digital age. We are expanding the digital world as fast as humanly possible today.

In fact, if you look around what you can do with an iPad today you would have struggled to do with a very high end computer just 10 years ago. Editing video, writing a blog and integrating content from a variety of resources would have taken more horsepower than probably even two or three servers could muster.

We have achieved our initial digital platform (power). The next phase is to add simplicity to the process. The problem is encompassed in my recent blog series – from the cloud dating game, the cloud whisperer and the Ego Tower series. We are in at time of great confusion. We have 100’s of solutions that solve 100’s of problems. There isn’t a clear or right way to do things, often.

The cloud dating game and the cloud whisperer talk to the problem of misrepresented functionality and capabilities that plagues the cloud business startup today. The Ego Tower represents the steadfast the way things are is the way things are attitude of many organizations. Change is coming, reality isn’t however what you see in the house of mirrors.

I hear an interesting theme right now in the industry. Its not easy to monetize mobile devices. I worry about that. Mobility is actually the easiest thing to monetize, what we have created in an artificial free economy. Hotmail and Gmail aren’t free because it’s the right thing to do, they are loss leaders (get people in the door). The problem is that people are also aiming for FOSS (free and open source solution) answers to problems as well as COTS (commercial off the shelf solution). Add free (which by the way isn’t ever free) to reality and you have a problem.

The economics of free (loss leaders).

  • you have to connect to them (which means a computer – rented at an Internet café or free in the public library (but free in the library isn’t free for everyone, if you pay taxes some of that money actually goes to the library). There is a cost – its not free.
  • Free applications – normally limited in what they can do – still require a computer to use.
  • Free applications in the three mobile application stores (Google Play, ITunes and Zune). Many of them have the concept of free to download but the advanced functionality has a cost. Mostly you need the advanced functionality so it isn’t free. Plus you had to buy the device you are running it on so it isn’t free. You also have to pay for the cellular service so free is out here as well.

Free costs you money. My grandfather used to tell me be careful when they offer you something for nothing. Normally nothing costs more than paying full price for the something. Sometimes it’s a loss leader and traps you into making a larger than expected purchase. Sometimes it simply costs more to keep it running (a free inkjet printer with expensive ink costs way more to run over time).

The other side of simplicity is the concept of portability and neutrality. I believe that those two concepts will drive the next evolution of cloud and actually of computing overall. How many vendors today are truly neutral? Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, HP, CITRIX, VMware, EMC the list goes on – they all have a solution to sell and in the end a vested interest in your money. They won’t create a neutral cloud coalition because it doesn’t benefit them. The same can be said for the various FOSS camps out there today – they have a vested interest in promoting their solution overall. Add to that the reality of portability (can you see Oracle, IBM or Microsoft allowing you to easily pull data out of their data solution and move it to their competitors? Not likely).

Neutral vendors who support true portability will be the next wave that drives simplicity. When you can safely put your solution in anything (see the book “The Syncverse” for a description of the transaction layer process) and move it at anytime with no cost the new age of computing is upon us.

So close but so far…

.doc

What can we do?

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Financial reporting is an interesting thing. Most companies report on a quarterly basis. Every quarter they scramble to show the results of the previous quarter. An economy and economic reality can’t be measured in three month chunks.

But that is the system we have in place is. A reality based on overall reporting structures and processes that have been in place for 100 years. Companies live and die by that. It’s a future number of course, what is projected against the future potential.

It is an organizational challenge that many companies struggle with. Recent tech company announcements related to their earnings show this as they were pounded by the market after releasing near misses.

What can we do?

It is easier for a company to build these numbers today, but the reality is its expensive. If you miss your quarterly numbers the market can take millions of dollars (even billions) in market capitalization away from you. Money that can be returned the next quarter.

It remains a scary proposition.

What can we do?

.doc

Our computerized course is taking us in the wrong direction…

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Self correction.

One of the value propositions of cloud computing is the reality of elasticity and redundancy (you pay extra with most providers but they do offer dual data center options). That functional reality of scalability gives your solution not only more head room but also the ability to cost effectively serve more customers in a shorter time period. You can explode to 1000 servers and then drop back to the 10 you need, or if you are lucky explode to 1000 servers and keep growing. The value here is that your business expands at a cost basis that is more effective for your business.

Reality is that applications have to catch up. Some are well written and handle this new reality. Many do not and that is part of the problem. The other problem as I wrote about is SOA. SOA 2.0 should move us closer to the reality of breaking services out of a complex architectural framework and moving them into a more agile and elastic development environment. To the future where services are offered as services. The solution itself becomes a collection of services harvested from other orgs.

Today you can’t really do that, create a solution based wholly on services. Part of that is the onerous reality of SOA solutions. SOA experts turn small projects into massive and overwhelming solutions way to big to implement. (can a project ever be to big to fail?). Obviously I am exaggerating to make a point, but the point is there. SOA projects tend today to be large projects.

SOA 2.0 as I introduced in my blog a month or so ago would allow for small more agile implementations of solutions. The concept of the solution consuming services that already exist rather than trying to recreate the existing solution as a set of services (SOA 1.0).

SOA 2.0 solutions would offer a new way to build applications in the cloud. The first part would be the ability to link services regardless of origination. Say for example you wanted to build the accounting and business package for a new company. Today you would purchase depending upon your companies size a solution to create invoices, manage accounts payable and manage your sales force and their activities. This combination of CRM and ERM results in a fairly large implementation of a solution. In the cloud of tomorrow you would be able to connect to a series of solutions that solve your business problem without implementing the large ERM or CRM solution. You would simply connect to the service your organization need (AP or AR).

Time to self correct.

.doc

A business model for mobile devices

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Can you monetize mobility?

More than a year ago now (although only released about a year ago) I wrote a book called the Syncverse. In that book I built a system that was designed not only to improve the information on mobile devices but it also has (copyrighted) a number of ways organizations could make money off the Internet and cloud computing more effective.

I won’t go into details now, some were on this blog 18 months ago and the rest are in the book (now on Amazon). The reality is that there are a number of ways to monetize mobile devices, you just can’t forklift the way you make money on PC’s into the mobile world.

Its about the reality of the experience.

How a user interacts not only with the device but the application is as important as how cool the application is. Cool factor gets you initial sales on whatever mobile device you are hoping to support, but a consistent user experience gets you the rest of the way.

The future of cloud computing lies just ahead of us. A return to centralized and managed processing power resulting in a core set of solutions that are abstracted from both servers and the user. (we can argue of course that having one large hidden server is still a server but everyone loves the cool factor of “no more servers.”).

Today is the front door step, let’s open the door and step inside.

.doc

What if technology went away?

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The more things change the more they stay the same. Well I keep telling myself that. But the reality is that simply isn’t true. What I can do today is not what I could do yesterday.

I’ve been watching the new show revolution. It is a scary story for a technologist to watch in that there is no technology in the show (other than the magic amulets). It is our world 1 second in the future where power is gone.

Let’s put away the Disneyesque “Wall-E” message in the premise of the show (waste not, want not). And focus for a second on what technology does today. We can now fix things medically that we couldn’t even consider 50 years ago. The images that 50 years ago launched what was the closest the world has ever come to Nuclear War (The Cuban Missile Crisis) can be created with a 99 dollar camera now. We can using the Hubble Space Telescope peer beyond the edge of the galaxy – something that is simply amazing when you think about it.

Technology is an integral piece of what we do. Farmer’s use GPS to more accurately plant their fields and to know what is planted, what’s been used on that field and when/where.

So if it went away, what really would happen next?

.doc

Getting from here to there matters…

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Does a straight line matter?

It doesn’t if you have a GPS.

Saturday I mapped out a new course to walk with Dylan, the Boys and occasionally Barb and Jordan. The course was easy to map out on a Bing map (ok you can take the boy out of Microsoft, but there are still some Microsoft things I really like). I then moved it over to TopoUSA a Delorme product and was able to quickly calculate that going one extra turn would actually add about 200 feet of total hill climbing.

That is something that while we certainly had the capability to do when I was a kid (topo maps have been around for a long time) the calculations, changes and process took a long time then, it took me about three minutes yesterday. And I made roughly 9 different route changes.

You can capture, track and manage where you are going via a variety of devices. You make built the route and actually be ready to go on that route in a very short time period (less than 10 minutes once you are familiar with the products).

So, my recommendation for easy and simple to use products that make it easier to find out not only where you want to go, but how you get there.

Mobile GPS:

Delorme PN60 – best device I’ve ever used for this purpose. There are a number of other portable GPS’s on the market including a number from Garmin but overall I find this one to be the best.

Mobile Phone GPS:

I have been a co[-pilot user on virtually every device I’ve owned since 2005. I have to say however the newest version of the Magellan and the Tom-Tom software are vastly improved on the mobile devices.

PC Based:

I have to stick with Delorme here. I was a huge streets and trips user for many years but the newest Delorme stuff that includes either TopoUSA or their street map product that includes a GPS USB dongle frankly are significant improvements over anything else on the market today.

Best Workout Device:

Garmin Forerunner series – hands down. There are a number of other devices you can buy but in my opinion you would be wasting your money.

.doc