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IT Management

Insight into managing the IT organization.

 
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For decades (generations?) methodologies for creating systems have commenced with some form of requirements gathering. These tactics tend to be a rather clinical and emotionless harvesting of stated needs and wants. These nuggets are typically bundled together into some collection of features and functions. Eventually this evolves into a “system.” In spite of our best intentions and process reinventions, this approach still seems to fall woefully short far too often. Why, and what can be done about it? For years we have built products and services that are “working as designed” and that “meet all the requirements.” Yet we’ve struggled to “crack the code” in delighting the recipients. In some cases we have sought refuge …

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IT to Secure its Role in Selecting/Implementing Cloud Solutions

Here’s what I see coming in the new year: Enlightened CIOs will regain a key role in the acquisition and implementation of enterprise Cloud solutions, including Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) computing resources. They will not only put policies in place that will encourage end-users and business units to include IT in the procurement and deployment processes, but will also enable IT to play a more proactive role in the evaluation and selection process. Corporate end-users and business units will be forced to enlist greater IT involvement and support in the acquisition and implementation of enterprise Cloud solutions because they will face greater challenges integrating them into their existing systems, software and data sources, …

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Dec 152013
 
Workforce Challenges

With the work force continuing its shrinkage, there’s going to be serious influence purveyed by the “do more with less” crowd.  Entrepreneurs who can find ways to leverage smaller and smaller staffs will be seen as the prophets in the year ahead, with an ability to make businesses (and whole industry sectors) thrive with what once would have been considered bare-bones staff.  This is bad news for the underskilled, as they will find fewer and fewer positions available to take advantage of their trainable strengths. Some of the smart executives will find ways to control their work force challenges (and the increased disparity between the very well-paid highly-skilled crowd and their less-skilled counterparts) by looking …

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We Will Forget the ACA Web Site Fiasco

In a few months, the Affordable Care Act enrollment system will finally be working well, millions of people will have enrolled, and the debate will return to the basic policy and political question of whether the whole program is good for the U.S. or not. By 2015, the IT profession as a whole, government procurement services, and the contractors will forget the lessons of the October-November fiasco and will largely or completely return to the same practices as before: unrealistic deadlines, lack of testing, big waterfall lifecycle models, tell-me-what-I-want-to-hear practices, etc. Why am I being so pessimistic? Because we’ve been here before. The Y2K effort consumed a lot of resources, and contrary to many people, …

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Oct 012013
 
A Cheesy Invitation

Imagine you’re at a party. You’re standing near a cheese platter admiring the selection. That 2-hour cheese tasting class you took last week has made you think differently about the way you look at that plate! A man approaches and you begin chatting about the cheese. Turns out, he’s a Professor of Food Science at a top university, and has written the definitive book on goat’s milk cheese. A woman then joins the conversation; she’s from Wisconsin, home of the Cheese Heads – her perspective on cheese is a little less serious than yours! After sharing information, the 3 of you walk away with knowledge, insight, and a few ideas about wine and cheese pairings …

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Truly savvy managers know the value of information. It’s the stuff intelligent decisions are borne of. But in recent weeks, the international community and the US Federal Government have been howling over the data collection efforts of the National Security Agency, making arguments as to whether or not those efforts are in the interests of US national security and whether or not data mining is an invasion of individual civil liberties. The concerns being raised may be misplaced. The major concern may not be with the data, but with the information being derived from it. Information is distilled data. Distillation is a process that profoundly alters the natural state of the data. Anyone who has …

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Jul 162013
 
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An agile enterprise is a flexible, robust organization that is capable of rapid response to unexpected challenges, events, and opportunities. Agile enterprises achieve continuous competitive advantage in serving their customers by following strategies that facilitate speed and change. Enablers of enterprise agility include diffused authority; flat organizational structures; trust-based relationships with customers and suppliers; and, of course, an agile information technology strategy. In this post, I focus on what it takes to have an agile IT strategy. IT departments that are truly agile, or are at least on the path to becoming so, exhibit several key characteristics. First, the majority of their project teams are taking an agile approach to the full delivery lifecycle. This …

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Making Profits Using API Economy

How much have you paid for your last home phone? Probably 10 euros, dollars, or whatever is your currency. It is likely that 20 years ago you would have paid a higher amount, even without taking into account the inflation. Still, imagine a world where you are the only phone owner, what would be the value of such phone? Probably zero, or even negative, since it would be a useless device that occupies space in your home. Here we appreciate two concurrent and conflicting phenomena that are at the root also of API Economy. The first is the so-called Network Effect: the phone has a value that depends on the number of users of the …

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Where is IT headed these days? With technology at the core of everything we do, and “traditional web” software moving on to mobile devices faster than one can say “mobile”, does this make the need for a fully-staffed IT department less critical? What is/will be the role of IT in our technology-driven era? How will IT attain a cross-departmental competitive edge? One prediction is that the typical in-house IT department will go up in the value chain, combining its expertise with the domain expertise of the CMO, COO, CFO, etc. IT will no longer be heads-down, technology- and operations-only focused, but will be collaborating with the business side at a higher level than currently being …

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In November 2012, the US Air Force finally decided to cancel its Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS) modernization project after spending US $1 billion on it. ECSS was intended to replace more than 240 outdated Air Force logistics computer systems, some over 40 years old, with a single, integrated system. The Air Force deemed the effort critical to the successful modernization of its antiquated and operationally costly logistics infrastructure. However, in April 2012 the Air Force’s comptroller told the US Senate Armed Services Committee, “We’re now approaching seven years since funds were first expended on this system…. I’m personally appalled at the limited capabilities that project has produced relative to that amount of investment.” The Air …

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