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Showing posts from October, 2010

Why Nokia and Blackberry should be scared ?

I recall working at Motorola at a time when we were gaining significant market share in the mobile handset market. Yet the gains were precarious, we produced some very attractive phones (the Razor was a first of a kind) and although the user interface and software reliability was not 100% there, the phones looked the part. Looking back, I was always concerned about the software reliability (since it was part of my job) but in fact we should have much more concerned about the usability and the Interface. Something the Microsoft has always been aware of. When I look at the Nokia and Blackberry offerings currently on the market, the phones look ok, they work ok, but somehow there is something unfamiliar about the user Interface. It is almost as if the User Interface Fashion (UI-Fashion maybe) has swung - very much in favour of the Android and iPhone. Even though the target markets for the Nokia and Blackberry phones may be slightly different than that of the iPhone or Android, this doe

Socio-mapping

In the very influential book " Organizational Patterns of Agile Software Development by James O. Coplien and Neil B. Harrison, they discuss the use of socio-gram which map the communication relationships between people within an organization. This, they use to determine the health of a project, i.e the socio-gram should not indicate that there are silo's in communication. The same principles may be applied to Enterprise Architecture, and the socio-gram becomes a useful tool to analyze not only communication between individuals but also potentially between systems. The concept may also be used to establish a companies or individuals social networking "effectiveness" if we could create a tool to import all ones social networking contacts and map out the interactions with these over a period of time, we would certainly gain some insights into the effective network that we have built up.  I am interested in pursuing this idea, and starting to develop software to do jus

Android - Has apple missed a trick ?

I remember getting my first Android which I got shipped from Google via the UK to Brazil. I was amazed by this device until it's amazing demise in a tropical rainstorm. I walked around the streets of Rio showing anyone who would look ... I continue to be amazed at the applications of this OS and the OS business model. Everyday there are announcements of new Android Phones, tablets and now playstations, TV's and e-readers which are going to be using the Android operating system. It is a compelling proposition for hardware manufacturers who now don't have to bother with the very complex task of writing software. They have to simply build a computational device and get Android to run on it. Software, particularly writing an OS is notoriously difficult and requires significant skill for complex devices. I remember arguing with Professor Nogueira and Coppead Business School who was very pro-Apple and thought they would grow beyond imagination at the time (2007). Although, as

Outsourcing has its place, but not everywhere

Outsourcing and offshoring are two very fashionable approaches to reducing cost and ramping up resources. Whilst logically it would seem to make sense to hire skilled workers at a fraction of the price somewhere else in the world - in practice great care should be taken before embarking on such an endeavor. Firstly, numbers mean very little without a quality outcome. Many projects have positive outcomes, however, they are not the best of quality - just because something works, does not mean that it was designed well (with e.g. the customer, values and future in mind).You must know not only how to judge success, but also the quality of the artifacts that are created. As I have written before, communication is one of corner-stones of any organization. When projects are outsourced or offshored the first thing to suffer is communication - although it is often the most ignored. Time and time again, the value and importance of face to face and non-verbal communication has been written about

Cloud Computing - is it Just a buzz word

Wherever I go lately, I hear the term "cloud computing" or "hey, I am involved in cloud". One would think that this is revolutionary technology a far cry from the way we work today. The reality is that it might be a buzz word. Firstly visualized environments have been around for some time and many of us have been using them for some time now. Smaller companies have been using 3rd party hosts to host their websites etc for years too, almost since the beginning of the Internet. Really there is nothing so amazing about "cloud computing" , except that as a system the Internet along with the providers of hosted services are now advanced enough to offer commercially reliable and stable offerings. I guess a major change is the fact that big corporations are starting to use these services, this creates a number of issues for them - mostly in terms of process and security. I would like to see the term used less for "buzz" and more for what it really is ..

It's all in the naming (language)

"It's harmful ... when naming leads the mind to think that names alone bring meaning close" - Marvin Minsky, Society of mind If one breaks down the nature of organization into it's component parts, what comes out is communication. Communication drives standardization, co-operation and co-ordination amongst other things - which are all needed for an organization to function effectively and grow.  There are oral and written artifacts. Direct , real-time and delayed communications. In-direct communications and those that are current and others that are historic. Furthermore there are bi-directional multi-directional communications. All of these happening at the same time, and depending on the parties involved and the culture of the organization they have varying degrees of impact and credibility. Starting with clear definitions is essential for any form of communication to convey the intended meaning in a reliable manner. Very often as a consultant I find that the

Organizational excellence and learning : lessons from Brazil

Anyone who has visited Brazil and moreover done business in Brazil would probably not associate Brazil with organizational excellence. While in general this may be true, I would like to share my exposure to an element of Brazilian culture which I believe exhibits many of the elements of organizational excellence that major organizations would wish to emulate. This unique cultural gem, resides in the unlikely domain of music. To many, this would not be that surprising considering the high standard of musicality in Brazil. In particular, the style of music I address initially is known as "chorinho" and might be considered to be a pre-cursor to modern day Samba. The interesting aspects of this music for organizations is the way in which "chorinho" groups are structured and the way in which learning occurs within the wider "chorinho" community. I will be writing a series of articles relating my first hand observations of the mechanisms within the "chorin

Communication in the enterprise

Many of the issues we face in our day-to-day lives center around our inability to communicate effectively. This is especially true within the organization. The way in which we organize ourselves in the modern world is in organizational theory termed the "bureaucracy" (not to be confused with the use of the term associated with government red-tape). It is the nature of this form of organization - hierarchies of authority, separation of the office from the person and creation of common organizational goals (to name a few) - that inherently cause communication to be paradoxical. Many paradoxes are discussed in the literature: Merton, for example highlights the fact that organizations need to produce a high degree of reliability of  behavior. Devotion to behavior leads to them becoming absolute; they are no longer conceived as relative to a set of purposes, this interferes with adaptation, thus the very conditions that conduce efficiency produce inefficiency in certain instance

Archetypes of bureaucracy

In recent research I wrote about 3 archetypes of bureaucracy, based on research on entrepreneurship in Brazil. Brazil provided an interesting context for this research as the business environment exhibits some extreme cases of bureaucracy. The 3 archetypes I arrived at, based on previous work by organizational theorists were: productive, unproductive and destructive. Productive bureaucracy is generally well designed and serves to benefit all parties in the bureaucratic process. It exhibits, the correct balance of incentives, co-operation, trust and co-ordination. Unproductive bureaucracy is generally that which is ill-designed and simply put, creates unnecessary problems for one of the parties in the bureaucratic process. This might be a government agency which becomes swamped with paperwork or an individual who cannot easily adhere to the process due to lack of information or lack of available documentation. The third archetype is destructive bureaucracy, which is ironically usual

Visually Designed Software

As I continue to look around, work and consult for various companies, I have begun to realize that the visual element of software design in perhaps more important than functionality. Humans are visual beings, we like nice furniture, nice buildings and beautiful people. The same is true of software. The recent success of the iPhone is an example, Apple makes attractive devices that have attractive user interfaces. This I believe is the key to their success. Years ago, we all put up with Microsoft, not because their software was robust, efficient or reliable but because they had the best user interface by far. As mentioned in a previous article, Linux is now maturing into a desktop operating system that can finally compete with Microsoft, this is mainly because the user interface is attractive. The new Gnome and KDE windowing user interfaces are easy to use and attractive. The same can also be said for web development. I believe it is more important to have the user interface looking e

Digital Footprint

So, you're sitting at your computer oneday, you've got 10min free and you think "hey let me google myself." You open a your favorite browser and type your name as a search term, your name is either common in which case the chance of finding somthing that is relevant to you is not that likely, or worse your name is very unique and a wealth of information pops up in the search results. You find blog posts, forum posts, book reviews, entries in public records, maybe home adress and phone numbers, details of direcotrships and legal proceedures, maybe 5 years ago you posted a sexy picture of yourself. You are shocked at the volume and depth of information out there on you ! You ideally would like this information to be private. "Hmm", you think, I wonder if I can write an email to Google, Yahoo and Microsoft asking them to remove me from thier search database. Think again, you are online, you have a digital footprint whether you like it or not. If you lucky y

What Digital Convergence means for Enterprise Software

The digital world, which now is all around us, is converging. This means that television, Internet, telephony and a host of other services are starting to use the same mechanisms for delivering the service or delivering customer management. I have written about smart metering, how using some form of the Internet - our energy usage will be made more efficient and tailored to our specific usage patterns. Television is being delivered over the Internet, Internet televisions, iPlayers and the like are becoming the norm (creating huge demands on bandwidth). I would like to address the question of enterprise software. More and more in my day-to-day consulting I encounter companies who are diversifying their businesses to provide a wide variety of services over the Internet. After-all, if you can provide television over the internet, why not sell music, why not offer broadband and maybe even throw in a mobile phone or fixed line phone contract. If you have the systems to do all of that you m