May 212013

There is no doubt that the layering of interactive information over the physical world in real time — aka augmented reality (AR) — has a considerable “wow factor.” Nonetheless, IT decision makers need to take a cold hard look at augmented reality before jumping on this particular bandwagon. There are two key questions that need to be answered. First, can AR applications create real value for your customers, employees, and other stakeholders? Second, can your company overcome the significant challenges facing the relatively young AR community? Over the past few years, the toy manufacturer Lego rolled out interactive augmented reality (AR) kiosks (a monitor and camera) in a number of retail outlets. (You can view one of Read more

May 212013

The latest technology tsunami creates great market opportunities, and simultaneously wreaks havoc on the business world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is all about connecting sensors and other data-generating devices to everyday objects and ultimately to the Internet, generating a wealth of intelligence and real-time data, and merging and blurring the physical and virtual worlds. Already established in the consumer products world, the IoT offers corporations the opportunity to develop new offerings or to reconfigure existing products to collect intelligence. This will drive an increase in big data implementations, cloud, and other emerging technologies as corporations begin to capitalize on this up and coming phenomenon. Every new trend comes with its share of challenges and Read more

May 072013

A recent article in the New York Times describes a New York Police Department (NYPD) pilot program in which approximately 400 officers have been given smartphones to help them fight crime. You can read the full article here, but here’s the gist of the NYPD’s mobile application. The NYPD’s Android-based phones feature an app designed to provide foot-patrol officers with quick, easy access to information assembled from various separate databases. Such sources include databases containing arrest and police incident files, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) records, and parolee and other offender-related information. As an example, upon approaching an apartment building, officers making their rounds simply enter the address in the app, upon which they are presented Read more

Apr 252013

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 Read more

Apr 232013

The more agile software development becomes mainstream, the more often I run into a typical pattern of management mismatch. It comes in several flavors. A recent client CTO who is responsible for the IT of an online store illustrates one example. “We have just raised an additional budget of 1 million Euros for this year to implement this fantastic feature,” he told me. “And now I’d like to talk with you about how to cut the teams.” A management workshop on agile contracts with another client demonstrates a second example. The workshop began with its current situation: “We want to build this platform and already have three Fortune-20 clients on our list. Our mission is to Read more

Apr 092013
Marketects: Delivering Good Enterprise Architecture

Good architects also need to be good “marketects”: they must be able to sell and promote their cause as well as publicize their achievements, outcomes, and results. But how do they do this? What tips and guidelines from the world of marketing can architects adopt to their advantage? First of all, what do we mean by “marketecture”? With a cynical hat on, some might argue that marketecture is about selling something that you don’t really need. In a Dilbert cartoon from 2009, the Director of Marketecture says that “it is better to seem good than to be good. A misleading benchmark test can accomplish in minutes what years of good engineering can never do.” In Read more

Mar 262013

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 Read more

Mar 192013

Recently there have been rumblings within the industry along the lines of “what’s next after agile?” and “what does the post-agile landscape look like?” These rumblings reflect the challenges organizations face when adopting agile within an enterprise environment. Although popular, Scrum only provides a small kernel upon which to build an agile strategy, leaving you with the heavy lifting of tailoring an end-to-end agile strategy that reflects the realities of your environment. Worse yet, the simplistic strategies promoted by agile purists sow seeds of confusion and doubt amongst people still struggling to adopt an agile mindset. Beliefs that agile requires small co-located teams, downplays architecture, delivers no documentation, doesn’t work in regulatory situations, and doesn’t Read more

Mar 172013

Even if you don’t play chess, you are likely to enjoy Gary Kasparov’s recent article The Chess Master and the Computer. Gary writes on the complicated subject of  intelligence  and the human mind in a clear, jargon free language. I would dare say his article is as incisive as the way he plays chess. For the Agilist, (and for anyone who takes interest in knowledge work), Gary cuts to the heart of the matter recounting the following episode: In 2005, the online chess-playing site hosted what it called a “freestyle” chess tournament in which anyone could compete in teams with other players or computers. Normally, “anti-cheating” algorithms are employed by online sites to prevent, or Read more

Mar 122013

Early in 2012 my 12-year-old son ran down to my office after getting home from school and said, “Hey, Mommy, did you know that Walmart can tell when you’re pregnant? And so can Target! Even before anyone else knows! They got a girl in trouble when they sent her dad coupons for baby stuff and congratulated her!” I replied, “That’s pretty incredible, isn’t it?” My son said, “Gee, that’s really creepy. I think you should look into that for your privacy business!” As companies are able to discover things like that about people now more than ever before through analyzing what is called “Big Data,” I’m glad my son recognized this as a privacy concern. Read more