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PC Makers’ Unrequited Love Tue 29 Sep 09

Why Dell and Xerox are going after services companies.

Recently hardware firms Dell, HP and Xerox made a flurry of announcements about combining selling hardware and providing technology consulting services.  Dell said it would acquire Perot Systems for $3.9 billion. HP's announced it will re-brand consulting firm Electronic Data Systems as HP Enterprise Services. Not to be outdone, Xerox said this week that it’s buying Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) for $6.4 billion.

There may be some sound logic behind the Dell and HP moves, but frankly I just don't see it. Judging from how the stock market reacted to Dell's announcement, I may not be alone. Xerox's move does however present an interesting opportunity.

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How To Measure Anything Tue 22 Sep 09

Hubbard's Book A Good Guide To Measuring Business Intangibles

CIO_Insight_China A friend recently recommended that I read "How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of "Intangibles" in Business " by Douglas W. Hubbard.  I found this very interesting and thought provoking and you may want to take a look if you are faced with questions such as:

  • what is the value of the increased security from investing in a particular system
  • how do you measure how much downtime might be prevented by putting in an UPS (Uninterruptible power supply)
  • how do you measure the change in customer satisfaction or increased sales from implementing a new system.

All these are seemingly "unmeasureable" or "unquantifiable" which makes justify the expenditure of time, resources and effort such a difficult sell to management.  However, Hubbard does an excellent job of showing how you a way you can approach these questions that can help you better decide if the results justify the investment.

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Making Exceptions to IT Rules - Follow-up Thu 17 Sep 09

Comments And Links On "Making Exceptions To IT Rules"

The great thing about writing a blog is the comments you receive and the discussion that ensues.  Often this is better than the original post.

Such is the case with my last post, Making Exceptions to IT Rules. So far I've received 3 comments and they are fantastic! Each one makes an excellent point(s) and is well worth going back and reading. They are so great that I wanted to highlight them and recommend that you read them.

In addition, Chris Peters provided some links to a new way of thinking about PC deployment that can help break the paradigm of a "standard" PC. Peter Thompson, provided a link to a video from TED of Barry Schwartz talking about "our loss of wisdom" which decrys the blind obedience to standards.

These comments are well worth going back to the post to read them.

Thanks to Doug Goldberg, Chris Peters and Peter Thompson.

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Making Exceptions To IT Rules Wed 16 Sep 09

Treating standards as absolutes can be counterproductive.

IT folks often see things as a choice of two absolutes. It suits our way of thinking. It may have started with the days of binary coding where everything was either a 1 or a 0 and only a 1 or a 0. We like the simplicity and elegance of only having a choice between 1 or 0, right or wrong, yes or no, black or white. This black or white perspective would be nice if it could truly be achieved, but the hard truth is that we live in a gray world where absolutes are rare.

So we write our policies and develop our standards. We make them iron clad and air tight. And then inevitably comes an exception. One of the vice presidents at your company wants a special cellphone or new style of laptop. Or perhaps it's an engineer wanting to purchase a new software package that IT hasn't approved.

After a lot back and forth, we may give in begrudgingly or hold fast and have a customer grumble about the poor customer service. Either way we do a slow burn and say to no one in particular, "Don't they know what we're trying to do? Don't they understand we have standards?" The simple answer is "No, they don't."

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CIO Insight - China Profile and Interview Wed 09 Sep 09

CIO_Insight_ChinaLi Xiaohui with with CIO Insight - China wrote a profile and interview piece about my non-traditional IT career, customer service orientation and interest in social media.  Translations from the Chinese are available via Bing or through Babelfish.  Neither translation is perfect but do manage to convey the general intent.

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Avoiding The IT Death Spiral Wed 02 Sep 09

Four Tips For Better IT Budgeting

Many pundits are indicating the economy has hit bottom and we are starting to come out of the recession. I don't know if this is true, but I certainly hope so. At the same time, no one seems to expect a rapid climb back, which means controlling costs will remain an important factor in our operations.

Death_spiral_glovsky225As you prepare your budgets for next year, you'll no doubt go through many iterations. You may start out with plans for new systems only to be told to come back with a budget that stays flat. Top management doesn't like what it's getting for their money--or believes it is out of sync with what the company is trying to do. Or management may simply not understand IT, and so demand you lower your costs. To appease top management, you produce a number of different plans that include more and more cost reductions.

Budgeting this way, however, can easily lead to a classic death spiral. We dutifully reduce our costs by cutting services where we think prudent; this leads to more dissatisfaction and more demands for reduced costs--and so on and so on, until the cost that is ultimately reduced is you.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid this.

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CIO.com Interview Tue 01 Sep 09

ForbesA few days ago Kristin Burnham with CIO.com published an interview with me for her article, Expand Your Brand.  In this article, Burnham also interviewed Kirsten Dixon, online reputation management expert and coauthor of Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand along with Chris Curran(@cbcurran on Twitter), CTO and partner at Diamond Management & Technology Consultants and creator of the "CIO Twitter Dashboard" and me on the use of social media.  As Burnham states, "The benefits of social media outweigh the downsides. It's time for CIOs to reach out."

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