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Apple continues to make waves with the iPad and the iPhone. The iPad is probably already a US $2 billion line of business in a scant 80 days. Name another product that generated so much revenue so fast. I am finding how Apple pulled off that feat to be a more significant lesson in the design and engineering of a businesses than the glitz and splash of the iPad usability. Apple is adept at building business models perhaps more so than devices, at least for now. But I think we haven’t seen anything yet. All the competitors — such as Dell, HP, phone manufacturers, and others — that were caught with their pants down when …

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The e-Government movement has taken the IT industry by storm as new and emerging technologies are being used to enhance the delivery of government services between agencies, and to the public and private sectors. The anticipated outcome of e-government is better collaboration, transparency, and efficiency of government interactions. Join the debate in the November 2010 Cutter IT Journal — with Guest Editor Mitchell Ummel — as we examine the opportunities and challenges presented by the application of emerging technologies in this new era of e-Government. To share your perspective with us, send us a short article abstract by September 3. For the full Call for Papers, visit here.

 
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In a recent e-mail exchange with Cutter Fellow Lynne Ellyn (SVP and CIO of DTE), she mentioned that one characteristic of agile leaders is providing focus and clarity for an organization or team. Her comments sparked my thinking about why it’s so hard to be a good agile leader. We tend to create lists of what leaders do or their agilelike behaviors, but these lists and the item descriptions obscure the difficulty in actually being an agile leader. Consider providing focus and clarity. It sounds simple, but it’s not. Why do we embrace agility in the first place? Agility helps us manage change and uncertainty. Turbulence — business, economic, and technological — creates change, which …

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When EA originally emerged, it was a thin layer of technology and methodology sandwiched between two large buns: business applications on the top and infrastructure on the bottom. The bulk of the headcount and budget of an IT department would be devoted to the acquisition or development and support of applications and to the investments in data centers, user PCs, network connections, and security.

 
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The Scrum v. Kanban debate has been relentlessly raging for the past eighteen months. One could only watch with fascination as polarized camps formed around what is after all a fairly dry software method issue. The intensity of emotions this debate generated could almost be compared with those expressed in the debate about abortions. As a practitioner who uses both methods, I tend to view them as arrows in my quiver. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses. The important thing is suitability to the target environment, not the theoretical pros and cons. For example, one could prefer to use Scrum in development and Kanban in service delivery. A macro trend is starting to change …

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The trends are clear. There will be more and more outsourcing as we proceed through the 21st century. On-demand, “pay-by-the-drink,” and related models will dominate technology delivery for the foreseeable future — and very likely permanently. Lack of expertise in the US is accelerating this trend. So where does this leave us? With a new requirement: vendor management. Vendor management is a broad area. Let’s explore the strategic highlights. First, you need a comprehensive sourcing strategy and inevitably a strategy driven by the results of a core competency assessment. (Yes, you have to do this again.) The essential questions here revolve around the core/noncore relationship between technology and your business models and processes. Put another …

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In First, Break All the Rules,1 management consultants Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman report that an employee’s relationship with his or her manager is key to that employee’s success and long-term happiness in the organization. Moreover, if people have friends at work, they are more likely to be successful and happy at work. In an agile team, it’s easy to build camaraderie among team members. But if a technical person’s primary affiliation is with his or her colleagues on an agile team, how does a manager build the relationship key to retention? [...]

 
Semantic Challenges Through the Looking Glass and in the Real World

In workshops on semantics, I’ve used the example of the conversation between Lewis Carroll’s White Knight and Alice in Through the Looking Glass, of which the subject is a reference to “a song.” As an illustration of the upcoming challenges of information semantics, in that conversation, we find (1) the name of the song, (2) what the name is called, (3) what the song is called, and (4) what the song actually is, to be all quite naturally, but somewhat surprisingly, different: Alice was walking beside the White Knight in Looking-Glass Land. “You are sad,” the Knight said in an anxious tone: “let me sing you a song to comfort you.” “Is it very long?” …

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A few years ago, Cutter Fellow Bob Charette wrote about the travails of BP in this ERM&G E-Mail Advisor, and warned that, “if any more bad news erupts in the near future, BP’s current crisis of hubris will be perceived instead as being cynical, self-serving organizational hypocrisy. And once tarred with that brush, the time required for rehabilitation will be counted in decades, not months or years.” Bob may have been optimistic, given what has happened and what has come out in the way of BP’s abject risk mismanagement of the whole affair. “Tarred” indeed. We think Bob’s piece is remarkably prophetic, and worth republishing. Don’t Make Out Checks You Can’t Cash 31 August 2006 by …

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Upon reading the The Rugged Software Manifesto, I decided to summarize my thoughts on what good software should and should not do. In the spirit of “keep it simple, stupid,” I’ve somewhat condensed the 10-item manifesto to three: The software should do what it’s advertised to do. The software shouldn’t create a portal into my system via every Chinese and Russian malware package that hits the Internet virtually every minute of every day. The software should protect the users from themselves. Let’s dive right in with the first item: software should do what it’s advertised to do. Hey, antivirus vendors — BOO! Yes, that should scare the pants off the the antivirus world, since for …

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