Get Ready to Compete on Price, Delivery and Customer Expectations

Presuming the economic forecast provided by the Beaulieu brothers holds and we have a growth expansion through 2017 with a hard recession in 2018, I predict the following: Companies will continue to build up technical debt at a dizzying pace to stay competitive In 2018, those with cash and an elegant code base will be able to charge lower prices due to their response efficiencies In 2019, companies dependent on software will not be purchased (too much financial and technical debt) – they will just go out of business. The keys are to focus on competitive advantage, reduce technical and financial debt, and be ready to outcompete on price, delivery and customer expectations. In other …

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Role of IT to be Turned Inside Out by the Internet of Things

Historically, IT’s role has been to ensure that hardware systems and software applications properly support the day-to-day needs of an organization’s executives, end-users and business processes. More recently, IT has been asked to help business users more effectively gather and interpret an escalating volume of data from internal and external sources. The end result was adopting better analytics systems for internal purposes. The Internet of Things (IoT) will push IT to become a part of the company’s product development and support processes as hardware and software become embedded into the products and services companies manufacturer and deliver. In many ways, this new role will really be a fulfillment of the past promises that IT become …

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The IaaS Battleground

The uncertain future of cloud computing and the plethora of frowny CIO faces of a couple years ago are rapidly giving way to the acceptance — if not embracing — of infrastructure as a service (IaaS), at least among IT leaders. The good news is that this shift is without the typical knee-jerk and shallow skepticism or naive Panglossian enthusiasm for the next new thing. This mental shift is tempered, real, and comes with more “buy” questions than “hold” or “sell” ones. In short, buyers and sellers are rolling up their sleeves and making plans. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are in what looks to be an all-out race to zero as they take oxygen out …

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Still-shrinking Workforce will Bode Well for Those in Risk Community

Last year, I predicted the work force would continue to shrink. I was right. Relative to the population, the work force continued to dwindle, and it will continue to do so in 2015. The percentage values will become even more dramatic when considering the migrant workforce (legal and otherwise). As such, it’s still a good year ahead for those who can find ways to leverage smaller staffs in 2015. Tragically, this will lead to a greater divide between the rich and the poor. Any industries marketing with a “we care” strategy that applies across the “have/have-not” divide will be seen as philanthropic and societally beneficial (in a time of increased political turmoil). Turmoil bodes well …

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What's in Store for 2015?

It’s that time of the year again —the annual Cutter Predicts … series. Watch this blog over the weeks to come (consider subscribing to our feed) to see what Cutter Fellows and Senior Consultants envision for 2015 (and in some cases, beyond) as business technology continues to morph. We hope you’ll weigh in: do you agree with a prediction? Strongly disagree? Do you have evidence that supports one of the hypotheses? Evidence to the contrary? In any case, we’d love to hear what you have to say and what you see unfolding next year on the business technology landscape. (You’ll find the last several years’ predictions tagged 2014 predictions, 2013 predictions, etc. Predictions will also be posted on the Cutter website.)

Nov 242014
 
What really is an MVP?

In his highly influential book, The Lean Startup, Eric Ries introduced term “minimal viable product” (MVP). As Ries rightly points out, firms putting out new products typically spend too much time and money on features that miss the mark somehow in meeting customer needs or are simply unnecessary. The result is a delayed over-expensive product that is more likely than not an economic failure. Reese proposes a better alternative: put out the least function (minimal) product that you can that might meet customer needs or at least will draw customer attention (viable). This way the team can test the market with different feature sets, get customer feedback, and commit development resources to the expensive activity …

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It is becoming clear that the prevailing piecemeal approach to security is no longer sufficient to thwart increasingly sophisticated attacks. Gaps in coverage provide possible entry points, blended attacks in several sectors can mask the actual threat, and sophisticated attacks involving multiple targets and approaches can find their way around many current defenses. Interest is growing in unified threat management (UTM) for small to medium-sized businesses, which centralizes all network intrusion response in a single device, and next-generation firewalls (NGFs), which defend against most of the same things but are aimed at the enterprise. Although some currently define these as separate product areas, major vendors are now providing this form of protection as a continuum. …

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If you only adopt one practice of Agile, adopt retrospectives. The rest will emerge from that. This is old wisdom among Agilists, and back in the early 2000s, Cutter Senior Consultant Alistair Cockburn boiled down his Crystal Clear method to “Iterate and Reflect.” I thought everything of interest had already been written on this topic — until I was involved recently in a mostly failed transition during which this was a major topic. Looking at leadership models, you find the concept of post-heroic leadership where the heroic leader solves problems by either being the expert him or herself, or an “achiever” who pushes others to solve the problem. The post-heroic leader works by providing the …

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Every historical era has its lessons, such as Don’t trust totalitarian dictators to respect diplomatic niceties, Avoid land wars in Asia, and You know what’s going to happen to Sean Bean in this movie. One of the lessons of the last decade is certainly Information is not intelligence. Unfortunately, many people who do software requirements, or depend on them to build and test software, have not seen the relevance of that maxim in their own work. Requirements in software development serve much the same purpose as intelligence in national security: they are supposed to provide actionable, reliable insights. “Actionable” is largely a question of format, which software professionals can control directly. Older questions like, What …

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There are many theories about what Enterprise Architecture is, and there should be. But ultimately, it is not the theory that matters. The make-up of the people, the organizational structure and the circumstances of the enterprise drive what people end up doing, and what architecture looks and feels like. Prefixes are free: The “x” Architect EA practices within different enterprises look and feel very different. For example, one enterprise may have a Content Architect but not a Security Architect. A different enterprise may have a Payments Architect, reflecting a specific domain within that company. Just imagine if medical professionals were as free with prefixes and specialization tags as we have been in architecture! I get …

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