Archive for March, 2009

Architect Insight Conference 2009 – May 8th 2009

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Architect Insight 2009

Just got the word that we’re up again for presenting at the Architect Insight Conference this year.  The conference has been trimmed back a little in line with the rest of the economy, but it still looks like the guys organising it are hoping for it to be as big as last year in terms of overall impact.

I’m really chuffed to get another slot and will be working on the presentation (based on the material you’re reading on this blog) over the next few weeks.

If you can carve out the time I can really recommend the event – hope to see you there!

(Organisational) Agility

Friday, March 20th, 2009

agilityOK, I’m not going to spend too much time on this blog talking about Agility but I thought I should at least position it a bit and explain why it’s important enough to be considered one of the 6.

In our personal lives, many of us have become quite agile without ever realising it (or without the pain and humiliation of attempting yoga). Every day, we accept changes in the way we do things without thinking about it, yet somehow, the minute we cross the threshold into work it changes – why?

Just as in other areas, the changes that happen outside of the workplace are increasingly going to permeate inside. Think about the potential for “mash-ups” for how we as employees carry out our role within the organsation. What will the empowerment of consumerisation bring to our roles?

Again, we need to be organisationally agile and increasingly resilient to change. We have to move from big (monolithic?) projects that span multiple years to lots of little initiative focused on delivering change on a much smaller timescale (30-90 days). I know what you’re thinking – “Chaos!” Right?, well possibly, but what it does, is puts incredible importance on you all agreeing on what it is you want to be.

If the organisation is aligned along a few key principles and values, you can take away some of the rigour and process that needed to ensure alignment.

So what is it that makes us agile outside of work and inflexible inside? Or is it just that our expectations are just so wildly different?

Institutional Innovation

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Insitutional Innovation

I’ve talked to you before about how innovation is the key to an organisation’s success and I meant it. Without innovation, we’re never going to be able to achieve the kind of gains (or savings) we are looking to make.To that extent, we’re witnessing another great industry transition as we move from the Knowledge Economy to the Innovation Economy. As people become increasingly aware of how crucial Innovation is, people are becoming increasingly sophisticated in how it is managed within their organisations.

Innovation has become the #1 goal of every major organisation, primarily due to the reason that we simply can’t continue as we have been if we are to make significant changes to our success for whatever reason.

As it turns out, actually having the idea is the easy bit, it’s being able to respond to it as an organisation that’s hard. As a result, organisations are increasingly reaching out for tools that help them manage the process of innovation.

To be truly successful, Innovation has to be something that is at the very essence of both the organisation and the individuals within – Microsoft is a great example of this. OK you can argue that releasing Office Suite after Office Suite isn’t exactly the pinnacle of Innovative success, but a lot of what Microsoft does is a direct result of true innovation much of which has been instigated by a single individual or small group of people and acted upon by the entire organisation.

Innovation has to be in your organisation’s DNA, it sounds a bit over the top, but it’s true. Rightly or wrongly, you have to believe you can all make a difference and feel empowered by your organisation to make a difference.

How does your organisation treat Innovation? Is it simply a suggestion box or is it more fundamental to the operation? The answer will tell you a lot about your organisation (and your prospects for the future…)

Explaining Twitter

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

This seems to be a conversation I’m hearing more and more these days, but maybe it’s because I’m too old, too uncool (or both).

God bless Geek & Poke…

Geek & Poke - 18 Months

Security and Privacy – Give and Take

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Security & Privacy

So the last thing I’m going to try and do here is to attempt to talk to you about the principles of IT Security and Privacy.

But what we do need to understand is that people are increasingly willing to sacrifice elements of privacy in return for something we find valuable, grocery store loyalty cards for example are the gateway to a whole range of profiling and targeting that we subject ourselves to in return for some cheaper petrol and a few savings vouchers – it’s going to continue, especially as (through innovation and transformation) organisations get increasingly sophisticated in how they collect, analyse and use the data that we leave in our wake as we travel through our every day lives.

The good news is that despite the scaremongering, people are really waking up to privacy and security issues and are increasingly able to make informed choices about what information they disclose and how to protect the information they seek to remain private.
Perhaps the best example of this occurred a couple of years ago with Facebook when Zuckerberg changed the status updates to a newsfeed service.

Zuckerberg faced a massive backlash from his user base, almost 300,000 users got together to revolt but then something happened. Surprised by the reaction, Zuckerberg implemented a privacy feature that enabled people to designate which information was private and which was public (and would therefore be sent out as part of the news feed update to friends). The reaction was incredible and transformed the usage of Facebook and ultimately set the standard for a bizarre conflicting standard for personal privacy that is simultaneously vigilant and laissez-faire.

But societal changes aside, lets return to the job at hand. In light of the other topics I’ve talked about today, Security and Privacy are no different. Traditionally, these concepts have been thought of as constraints to productivity, disablers of the possible, barriers to progress. I don’t think we’re there anymore. IT Security is an integral part of everything an organisation does and just like the others, given the other opportunities that both technology and society are presenting today, ultimately, our increasingly sophisticated needs and understanding become the catalyst for truly transformational change.

However, the biggest issue I’m left with today is our own organisational view on risk, I just can’t see how we can achieve the kind of transformation that’s going to be required without being forced to revisit some things that are obviously the very cornerstone of our operation and culture.

Ultimately, we are the only people that can answer this, but I’m hopeful that by continuing to collaborate through this blog (and other forums), both we and our other strategic partners will be able to provide you with pieces of the puzzle that make what is necessary, possible.

IT Sustainability Pop Quiz

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

IT Sustainability Pop Quiz

You know, I just love this slide, but sometimes I wish I’d think more before wheeling it out.  I presented this last week to our National Railway provider and didn’t think for a minute about how their electricity bill “slightly” skewed the answer.    Lucky for me they humoured me and let me get on with the rest of the conversation.

Anyhow, there it is folks, stop worrying about virtualisation and power saving PC’s – start worrying about how to transform the 98%…

The Cost Reduction Movie

Friday, March 6th, 2009

costreductionWe’ve collectively been reducing IT costs in organisations for years, and it is the obvious default state for most organisations, regardless of the current prevailing economic climate.

The easiest thing to do when looking to reduce costs is to spend less, trying to maintain current service levels. In my experience, this rarely works. At best, you maintain your current service levels, but slowly, the organisation begins to asphyxiate as it is unable to keep up with changes in conditions, demand and technology.

The challenge of course is that, as Bill Gates once wrote, “… if you’re too focused on your current business, it’s hard to look ahead and even harder to make the changes you need to …”

The real opportunity of course, is to think about the potential of tomorrow whilst being realistic about the savings of today.

Increasingly, (and because we’ve seen the “Cost Saving” movie more times than the Wizard of Oz) significant savings are becoming incredibly hard to identify and achieve and this, coupled with the increasing pressure for us to do more to change the way in which we do business is leading us to the _only_ way forward – Transformation.

Transformation is the cornerstone of the current CIO’s dilemma, get it right and you can have your cake _and_ eat it. Get it wrong and your organisation will begin to lose effectiveness and in your case, relevance as you struggle to keep up.

The good news however, is that the gateway to Transformation are controlled by attributes that are really strong cultural values in your organisation that you have great pedigree in exhibiting. I’ll cover these in more detail later, but ultimately it’s about your ability (both as an individual and an organisation) to be innovative and agile.

6 Themes for Comtemplation

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

The catalyst for the birth of “The Envisioners” was the emergence of 6 key themes that seem to be effecting everything we do with IT today (and why mostly, our understanding of these issues is not as it should be).  What better a way to start this blog than with an overview of these themes as they form the foundation of the work The Envisioners do, and will be core areas of focus as we continue along this journey of discovery, helping us all reach a better understanding of the true value of IT in a modern society.

We’ll be coming back to each of these in much greater detail over the coming weeks, but for now let’s get to meet them:

Cost Reduction
costreductionMore than just today’s bandwagon, the current state of the global economy offers a real force for change. It is absolutely vital we understand how to harness this to our advantage rather than treating it as a constraint to progress. Being respectful that the current economic crisis has a devastating effect on many people’s lives, we need to be bold enough to avoid the mistakes that “easy” answers for cost reduction will bring – we’ll be looking at examples that help to unpick how we can make the biggest difference without sacrificing our future.


Yesterday’s news? No, I thought not, but as with Cost Reduction, this is a considerable force for change that we need to understand properly before we can figure out the best way for us have the biggest impact. Please, this is _not_ a discussion about bottled water and virtualised data centres, this is about how we identify and embrace the systemic change that is required if we are to make a real difference in our own lifetimes.

Security & PrivacySecurity & Privacy
No broad discussion about technology would be complete without a conversation around security and privacy, this one however, is focused on how we need to understand more about the evolving boundaries of privacy and the changing way in which we need to think and apply security principles in all that we do. Like it or not, this is going to require some really difficult conversations about our definition of “risk”, but these are conversations we can no longer choose to ignore.

Like it or not, the world is changing around us. Technology is (or has) become a pervasive part of most peoples lives and is no longer the “special” thing it was when I was a lad. This is big, treat IT as something special and “complicated” and you will fail. Why? Because no-one really cares anymore – it just has to work and we as individuals just have to get on with making it work. Don’t believe me? Ask your kids.

As individuals, we are incredibly resilient, we cope with significant change every day and mostly without blinking. There’s something about the work environment that changes this and we need to understand why. Why is it that we resist change so much at work when at home we just suck it up and move on. Ultimately, the more agile we are (as individuals and organisations) the greater our chances of success.

Innovation ManagementInnovation
All of the other themes point towards the need and drivers for transformation in both our personal and professional lives and innovation is the only way we can make that transition happen. But most people will tell you that having the ideas is actually the easy thing, it’s doing something with them that’s the difficult bit. Above all things managing Innovation effectively is the most critical thing for your success in the future, we’ll be looking into how other organisations approach this problem and offering ideas (and asking for yours!) on how it can be done to best effect in any given situation.