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Should Corporate IT Be Afraid of the iPhone? Wed 27 Jun 07

Jobs_iphone_2The iPhone is coming!  The iPhone is coming!  Is this the modern day IT equivalent of the "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"?  Personally, I don't think so.  It is however, a lot of hype and rhetoric which is what I assume Apple wanted all along.  The whole discussion is just more of the Macophiles vs. the Macophobes debate.  From what I've seen it really is cool but in the end it won't be that big of a deal for corporate IT.

From the Macophile side we are told resistance is futile.  Over at Apple 2.0 in their post  "The Coming Battle: Apple's iPhone vs. Corporate IT Departments" they argue "But what both these articles also concede is that resistance may be futile. Increasingly, it's users who drive the adoption of new technologies within corporations, not IT. And when the user is a VP or maybe even the CEO, all bets are off."  Their absolutely right although I'm guessing they maybe over estimating the CEO demand (wishful thinking perhaps?).  I haven't found a lot of articles or blog posts written by the Macophiles (maybe I'm looking in the wrong place) but if you read some of the comments in the articles below you'll get a sampling of the religious fervor surrounding this.  On Tuesday afternoon NPR did a story talking about people lining up at the Apple stores 3 days in advance to get an iPhone as soon as they become available.  It would appear that a number of people have "drunk the kool-aid" that Steve Jobs is pushing. 

From the Macophobes it is one horror story after another:

Again, this all may be true but irrelevant.

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IT's Weasel Words Mon 25 Jun 07

Weasel_chuquiLast Friday Jonathon Babcock had an interesting post called "You Know It's Getting Deep When .  ." talking about the weasel words we hear from developers in regard to our projects.  He was referencing a post from the previous day by Chris Woodill called "Developer Weasel Words".  Chris has a pretty good list of phrases we often here.  Fortunately, Chris didn't just stop with providing a list.  He also made some excellent recommendations on how to reduce the amount of excuse making.

The one set that Chris had that has always been a pet peeve of mine (it also made Jonathon's favorite list) is:

It Worked on my Machine!: programmers use this excuse to downplay a bug. The reality is actually the opposite - it means that you have an intermittent bug which is by far the worst kind of bug to have in your application. You want bugs to fail quickly and consistently - any variant such as "That's Weird", "That didn't happen yesterday", "That must be a data problem", etc. is admitting you have a bug that cannot be easily duplicated.

This is such a classic that it's gone beyond just the developers.  For example, calling the HelpDesk and reporting problems accessing the Internet or starting a package program and a getting a "It works okay on my machine" just sends me through the roof.  I guess the problems are all in my head.

I do have an additional one I'd like to add to the list:

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The CIO as Salesman Thu 21 Jun 07

Clam_salesman_malaga_audrey_scott_3IBM just issued a press release based on a survey of 170 CIOs and reports: "According to the IBM CIO Leadership Forum Survey, 84 percent of CIOs believe that technology is significantly or profoundly transforming their industries, yet only 16 percent feel their companies are taking full advantage of IT's potential."  IBM goes on to report:

"CIOs surveyed believe they can begin to address this gap by:

  • Getting involved earlier in the strategic decision-making process
  • Forging stronger relationships with CEOs and other business leaders
  • Leading high-profile transformation projects
  • Being measured more on innovation and growth versus more traditional performance and cost metrics"

This is all good stuff and we really should do this.  But the big question is - How?

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What can we learn from our favorite technologies? Mon 18 Jun 07

So_lost_maqusita The other day I over heard someone talking about Tivo, the digital recording device that allow you to easily record your favorite TV shows.  They excitedly proclaimed how much they liked it.  It was easy to use and allowed them to watch their favorite TV shows whenever they wanted.

That got me thinking about what were my favorite technologies.  The ones that I really think work great and appreciate the thought that went into their design.  The ones that really help me accomplish what I set out to do.  Two came immediately to mind.

Neverlost The first is the Hertz NeverLost system.  This is the GPS navigation system available in Hertz rental cars.  There are a lot of GPS navigation systems available and admittedly I have not tried them all but for me the NeverLost system is the standard I'd judge all others against.  I love it.  It is easy to use.  The graphics are simple and easy to follow and the the directions are timely and accurate.  What more could you ask for?

A few years ago I rented a car from Avis and got there system.  It was horrible.  It use a Nextel cell phone and the screen was hard to read the audio was garbled.  Looking at there web site it looks like they've changed systems but I don't know how there current system compares.

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What Keeps You Up At Night? Thu 14 Jun 07

Yawn_248am_051206wiseacre_photo_3 Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in a CIO Roundtable put on by Kaylin Olson at HireSynergy.  It was a great discussion around the theme of "what keeps a CIO up at night?"  We started out with an interesting list of possible topics including:

  • Outsourcing
  • Developing a customer service attitude in IT employees
  • Employee retention
  • Do more with less
  • Security and dealing with spam, malware etc.
  • Developing critical thinking skills in our employees
  • Balancing the goals of the business unit
  • Over promising and under delivering
  • Users getting "seduced" by IT vendor promises
  • Getting IT employees to think in business terms

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SaaS and the End User Experience Mon 11 Jun 07

Tonights_waiter_blmurch CIO Magazine had a rather interesting cover story, "Get Smart About SaaS" by Galen Gruman in its June 1st issue.  It gives a great overview of SaaS (Software As A Service) and answers many of the basic questions about SaaS but like so many other articles I've seen on SaaS it is eerily quiet about one aspect.

  • It describes what SaaS is - "With SaaS, there’s just one code base for the software, used by all customers, in what’s called a multitenant architecture. While the software might be configurable by users to their individual needs, the code itself is the same for all and is not customizable for any individual customer."
  • It describes what SaaS isn't - just any hosted application accessed through the Internet
  • It describes where SaaS does and does not make sense. Gruman present a good analysis of things to consider such as integration, strategic functionality, the need for rapid deployment in deciding if SaaS is appropriate.
  • It discusses issues of service levels, security and risk management that all have to be considered in a SaaS implementation.
  • It provides insight from an number of CIO's on their experience with SaaS.

I liked Gruman's article.  It is actually one of the better ones that I've seen on this topic.  But like so many of the other articles it noticeably seems to be quiet on the end user experience with SaaS.

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What's In a Name - CIO or CBT? Thu 07 Jun 07

Hello_my_name_is George F. Colony the CEO over at Forrester Research has been suggesting that we stop calling what we do "Information Technology" and instead call it "Business Technology".  He makes his case in an August, 2006 article available at Forrester Research (free registration required) called "My View: IT to BT".  Brian Gillooly over at Optimize Magazine Blog reports that his was also a theme at a Forrester IT Forum and cites it as "More Evidence The Shelf-Life Of The "CIO" Title May Be Shrinking".  Along with this is some discussion of changing the Chief Information Officer (CIO) title to Chief Business Technologist (CBT).

The thrust of this argument is that the focus has shifted from simply operating the mechanics of information technology to being an integral part of the business.  Colony states "business is technology and technology is business".  While I do certainly welcome more focus on the business aspects I'm not sure I completely agree with Colony.

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A Few Belated Birthday Wishes Wed 06 Jun 07

Happy_birthday_foobean01_2_4I guess I've had my head in the sand the past month or so and missed a couple of important blog birthdays.  Oops!  Well better late than never.

On May 15th Jason Alba over at JibberJobber celebrated his first blog birthday.  JibberJobber for those of you who don't know is a great  job search tool that helps you organize your job search.  It allows you to organize your contacts, keep track of your appointments, follow-up on interviews and other useful stuff.  Much of the functionality is free and a there is also a very reasonably priced premium service.  Check it out.  Jason has done a great job in developing this tool and is constantly upgrading  its capability.  This a great tool for any job seeker (a perfect birthday present).  Jason also runs a very good blog with a lot of practical advice. 

On May 30th Kent Blumberg's blog also celebrated its first birthday.  Kent is the one that got me started blogging and also introduced me to Jason Alba.  Kent's blog is about leadership, strategy and performance and provide useful insight into succeeding in business as a leader.

Both Jason and Kent have become good friends and were instrumental keeping me sane during my job search.  They're the kind of friends you always hoped you'd have.  I wish I knew how to say it better but words fail me so I'll simply say - Thanks guys and happy birthday!

"Happy Birthday" photo by foobean01

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Enjoying Spring Mon 04 Jun 07

Spring_scene_kruggg6_2 Two weeks ago I wrote that Bruce Kingwell had sent me 2 stories and now it is time to write about the second one.  This story perfectly illustrates the concepts that I wrote about when I reviewed a book by Frank Luntz - Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear.  I don't know if it is a true story but if it isn't it ought to be.

One day, there was a blind man sitting on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet and a sign that read: "I am blind, please help.''

A creative publicist was walking by and stopped to observe. He saw that the blind man had only a few coins in his hat. He dropped in more coins and, without asking for permission, took the sign and rewrote it.

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The End of Spam? Fri 01 Jun 07

Spam_computers_thalling55 Some good news.  The feds have indicted Robert Soloway for his alleged spam activities.  Jeffrey C. Sullivan, U.S. Attorney, Western District of Washington issued a news release stating:

“Spam is a scourge of the Internet, and Robert Soloway is one of its most prolific practitioners.  Our investigators dubbed him the “Spam King” because he is responsible for millions of spam emails.”

A quick Google search reveal a lot of articles regarding spam and Soloway.  Apparently he has been getting a lot of attention in this area for quite some time.  Sullivan's press release indicates that Soloway sent out "tens of millions" of email messages.

So if Soloway is stopped does that mean we will finally see an end to spam?

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