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Dispatched to Saigon in 1963, a fact finding mission reported back to Washington in two voices. The military envoy was quite optimistic on the prospects for success in Vietnam. In contrast, his counterpart from the state department was very pessimistic. Puzzled by the variance between the two reports, JFK inquired ”You two did visit the same country, didn’t you?” A variant of the question often comes to my mind during the interviews I do in preparation for my executive workshops. The variance between what I hear from one exec versus what I hear from another makes me wonder whether the two are actually working for the same company. For example, the past week an interviewee from a company …

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We seem to invest heavily in IT service management solutions that are highly dependent upon agent technologies for the visibility needed to “drive” (i.e. access, secure, manage and control) the desktops, laptops and servers within our IT infrastructure.  Are these applications so compelling that we trust traditional agent-based management models which are inherently vulnerable to the same risks as the endpoints they manage? Is it wisdom to introduce the resultant IT operational handicaps of being unable to identify over 15-20% of our infrastructure’s endpoints1 due to issues of hidden, missing, outdated, or misconfigured agents required for anti-virus, inventory and patches? Given the significance of the functionality of these mission critical IT management and security applications, …

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May 172011
 
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On one of the LinkedIn groups I belong to, someone just posted this discussion item: “Is Open Compute for Everyone? I guess the cloud is no longer technology’s darling. All the IT buzz now surrounds the Open Compute Project. If you are not familiar with the Open Compute Project, take a quick look at http://opencompute.org. You will see that this is really the brainchild of some bright engineers at Facebook, and the results are impressive.” Here’s the comment I posted in reply, and I think I missed several more points in the heat of the moment: “‘The cloud is no longer technology’s darling?’ Nonsense. If you look at the blogs, the conferences, the papers by …

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Back in December, when making predictions for the upcoming year regarding important BI trends, I wrote that we could expect to see use of text mining and analysis increase in 2011, just as it has almost every year since we’ve measured its adoption (see “What Lies Ahead: BI and Data Warehousing Predictions for 2011,” 14 December 2010). A major driver behind this trend is that organizations are now faced with more and more unstructured data sources that they want to use to optimize their BI, marketing, and various performance management practices. In particular, Web, contact center, surveys, maintenance logs, sensors, and consumer social media sites are all contributing to the exploding amounts of unstructured data …

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May 112011
 
Quality is Personal

My friend Gadi got himself an FN Automatic Rifle. I, on the other hand, picked the Uzi submachine gun. Both of us were content with our choices. Gadi liked the superior range of the FN. I, on the other hand, was going for the reliability of the Uzi in desert conditions. I was still traumatized by my experience with the FN six years earlier during the paratroop raid on Umm Qatef in the Six-Day War [1] - the rifle choked on me in the sands of the Sinai desert. Other than potentially serving as a kind of a club, it was completely useless after I fired a few shots in anger. We were hastily picking and assembling our …

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Since October of last year I have been spoiled rotten by an engagement in San Francisco. The client is great to work with, JetBlue flies non-stop from AUS to SFO, I have a view of the Golden Gate bridge from my hotel room and I really enjoy Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the San Francisco Symphony. The only complaint I have is that I added a few pounds due to the eclectic cooking of San Francisco restaurants. Not a bad way to make a living… As car rental and parking rates in San Francisco are murderously high, I subscribed to zipcar. I am now able to pick a car for a few hours and meet with …

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Our research indicates that interest in predictive analytics and data mining has never been higher, and that organizations are increasingly turning to the technology to take their BI capabilities to the next level (i.e., the ability to predict who will be their best customers, which customers are likely to churn, and optimum performing suppliers, etc.). Moreover, organizations are not only using predictive analytics to analyze structured data, but are also applying text mining and analysis tools to analyze unstructured (text-based) information. (Please do let us know your opinion on the use of text mining and analysis by taking our survey at www.keysurvey.com/survey/347516/e8e2/ .) A number of factors are driving the use of data mining and …

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In the US and in industrial countries around the world, the recent economic crisis has triggered the first serious consideration of national spending priorities for more than a decade. Supposedly, every option is being explored and unfortunately, in many cases deficits are being balanced out by reduction in long-term investments in existing infrastructure. There are a few bright spots, however. For example, in the US, President Obama has included new money for high-speed rail. But what about roads and bridges and dams? Well, things are pretty bleak. A dam safety study in 2009 showed that out of 84,000 dams listed in the database, 4,000 needed remediation and 2,000 were classified as “high-hazard,” meaning that the …

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Large, complex organizations regularly struggle with the pros and cons on each side of the centralization/ decentralization argument — and then they reorganize, usually to the opposite extreme. If you are looking at decentralization, the argument is that business unit executives need IT resources under their direct control to better achieve their business goals. Under this approach, the organization will typically maintain a small central IT group with limited responsibility, perhaps related to architecture and standards. If looking to centralize control, the argument is that this is the only way to ensure economic efficiency, and it may be absolute. These arguments have merit, but not absolutely, in either case. Both extremes create an environment for …

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Apr 162011
 
The Equipoise of Technical Debt

Over the past few years I had the privilege of carrying out numerous technical debt engagements for Cutter. The typical makeup of these engagements is: A) align the various stakeholders through a one day workshop on technical debt; B) measure the technical debt; C) devise a plan to reduce it; and, D) work with the client to implement the debt reduction plan. The Cutter Consortium case study here describes how we simultaneously addressed the strategic, tactical and operational needs of one of our clients through such engagement. These days we are starting to break new grounds in technical debt research, analysis and field work by integrating technical debt techniques in the fabric of Cutter’s client companies. …

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