In what other area than drugs do we talk about 'users'? Right. I've recently noticed some strange personal habits. Usually the first thing I do when I wake up is check my mail. If I mishear anything in a conversation I want to spool back a couple of seconds and replay it. I send myself emails. I've been reading my email on the toilet (efficiency!) for so long that I've developed an embarrassing Pavlov reaction when I get lots of mail. And most disturbingly, I can't seem to concentrate for more than 30 seconds to read anything. I'm still halfway through a book I started 18 months ago. The only time I read anything properly is when I'm writing it myself. Am I alone? Don't think so. I've started asking people about their reading habits and have discovered a trend. Not enough time. The pressure of speed of change and susceptibility to sound bites is seducing us into taking unsound decisions. I blame the IT dealers. Google enticing me with "just another little search, it won't hurt you". Twitter tempting me to RT. LinkedIn luring me to make another contact. Addicted? Not me. I can stop anytime I want. Starting tomorrow. Really.
18 August 2010
A familiar sight. People discussing the state of affairs in their organization and what they would do if they were the board of directors.
They often have promising ideas but what they don't have is the power to execute. I call them boards in exile. A characteristic of many governments in exile is that they reside in a foreign country. Boards of exile also live in foreign countries, in a metaphorical sense. They live in fictitious worlds and have a tendency to assume that things are as they would have organized their environment. And are therefore often surprised and disappointed when things turn out differently. Apparently it's easier to be in denial than accept that somebody else with other ideas is running the show. Reality check: what world do you live in – the world you'd like to live in or the real world?!
The 'in exile' suffix can be applied to many roles. Take the CIO. I know plenty of architects who live for 90% of their time amongst perfectly consistent information systems. The only time their idyllic world is disrupted is when they take the lift down from the top floor to the company restaurant on the ground floor and overhear what with people who live in the real world are saying. What they hear is obviously an aberration because it isn't in the enterprise architecture. Typical CIO's in exile, who can't grasp the reality of organizations in which it just ain't fair who's got the power and that they just want pragmatic solutions to real world problems. No less and certainly no more. Even if we think they should be investing in the longer term, it's their money so it's their call. The only thing you can and should do is explain the pro's and contra's of the options.
The bottom line is of course that we should all be aware of and accept the imperfect, unequal and downright unfair nature of the world and be more like politicians and exercise the art of the possible.
11 August 2010
My take is that clouds computing is here to stay. But the clouds are still young and much will change. So don't think that everything can be replaced by clouds. Yet. There are plenty of usable cloud computing based applications around. But not for all areas. So it'll be slight cloudy for the time being.
The heavens will become a lot more cloudy as soon as technology (and legislation!) gets more mature. But it's not only about technology. Remember when we started to have the opportunity to buy on the internet using a credit card. Scary, wasn't it? But not anymore. And yes, security has improved but that's not the point. Just a question of getting used to it. Same with the clouds. Now it seems scary to not have your data storage and processing within reach but in five years same it'll be and – more importantly – feel different.
04 August 2010
RACI matrices are very useful when organizing the IT management function and fathoming out who is responsible for what. A variation that I like to use is a RACI matrix with four columns:
- System component
- Business Information Management (Demand)
- Application management (Supply)
- Infrastructure management (Supply)
I get people to list the stuff that comprises an information system, like application modules, scripts, databases, user manuals etc. and use the BIM/AM/IM cells to fill in the RACI responsibilities, e.g. R:Roger, A:Arthur, C:Clara, I:Ingrid. You usually end up with a pretty long list and I give people a packet of aspirin because it's usually gives them a headache working out the responsibilities. But it does prevent stomach ache further down the road because sooner or later you're going to have to know who's responsible for what.
03 August 2010
01 August 2010
IT has to deal with hybrid system landscapes in which old and new co-exist. Alongside traditional custom and packaged applications there's increasing use of Open Source, Mash-ups and SaaS. The underlying infrastructure is a mix of classic in-house infrastructure and remote clouds plus an increasing diversity of devices that are IP-enabled and often location based, creating an internet of things to deal with. It's now less about individual systems and more about interaction.
IT still seems to be in denial about the relevance and sometimes even the existence of systems that are more than couple of years old, fleeing towards new technologies that give the illusion of a perfect system but which inevitably – often before the system is launched – have turned into something unmanageable.
21st century IT will have to grasp the nettle and learn to cope with both existing systems and new technology. Fundamental issues in this transformation are:
· Lots of little bangs instead of an unrealistic big bang.
· Mindset change from 'perfect' to 'essential'.
· Move from Greenfield to brownfield architecture.
· Not only Application Development but Application Demolition.
This is going to be a tough transformation for IT organizations who are still in denial and there'll be plenty of grieving before the realities and opportunities of the hybrid world are embraced.
IT organizations are specializing into two kinds of organizations. With Google as an example of a organization that produces innovative products but that doesn't concern itself at a company level with how their products are used. In this sense they are agnostic and engage in 'one-to-many' relationships. And on the other end of the spectrum there are IT organization that engage 'one-to-one' and create combinations of these products to make solutions that exactly fit the needs of user organizations: the intelligent integrators.
IT has flattened the world, enabling individuals, society and organizations to engage in increasingly complex and rapidly changing relationships. This marketplace is constantly changing and the pressure for organizations to perform today is equaled by the need to continually change in order to survive tomorrow. IT plays an essential role in supporting day-to-day business and business change.
· Many organizations feel powerless to change the complex system landscapes that they have accumulated.
· There's an overload of information and knowledge workers need personalized information in order to act effectively.
· Increased availability of information has shifted the power in the supply chain to the consumer and B2C organizations need engagement technology to attract and retain customers.
· A different kind of loyalty applies in this global world, giving organizations a challenge to be transparent while retaining their competitive edge.
Most organizations depend so heavily on their applications – both operationally and strategically – that they are afraid to touch them. Just like reorganizing a pile of Mikado sticks. IT offers them portfolio scans and architectural designs of a future perspective, but not plausible capabilities to execute the change. Many business owners suddenly develop a rash when the word architect is mentioned.
(Our Controlled Migration offering is a realistic alternative to the traditional "Let's ignore the existing systems and build a new world" approach but only when substantial knowledge of the landscape is combined with rigorous discipline in the modeling process". The $64.000 question is "Who actually understands how this IT ecosystem works?").
The notion of 'application' is shifting. The divide between applications and infrastructure is melting. Applications are no longer owned by one organization but are made up of various components that are provided by other parties. And application landscapes or ecosystems overarch organizations. These changed give considerable challenges to Application Management organizations that are used to having full control of their (monolithic) applications and not having to rely on third parties. The challenges are Architecture, Ownership/Governance and ('adhocratic') Organization.
IT Service Providers have invested gazillions in improving their processes (CMMi, ITIL etc) but how often do IT initiatives fail because the business has difficulty in fulfilling their side of the bargain? And how often are they blissfully unaware of their roles and responsibilities? Sound familiar? This neglected domain – Business Information Management – is finally being addressed from a business perspective. Only then will the true potential of IT be liberated.
The IT Demand - Supply Chain is changing. It's more of a network than a chain. The Command and Control paradigm is shifting towards Communicate & Collaborate but it's a struggle for shift focus from managing the whole process to just managing the interfaces. Who manages the playing field?
When someone says "Legacy" they're saying more about their inability to deal with real systems than about the systems themselves. Professionals don't blame others for building systems differently from how they would have but just get on with it, accepting imperfection as a fact of life. Application Entropy: applications have a tendency to disintegrate; just like the rest of the world. The modeler's illusion: perfect systems for an imperfect world.