Change

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Seems to me that lots of change is about to happen in corporate IT. There has been chatter for years about everything moving to the cloud and disk drives are dead or everything must be mobile or the like and most of those brash predictions are just nonsense. They might be true in a corner or in a niche or in some limited applications, but in general, they are nonsense. Few things in IT change overnight or even in a year. Many times is takes decades.

WSJ just posted an article about things we’d like to see die (fax machines) and it is mostly about right. The bulky ERP on the list is right and wrong. Yes, we’d like them to go away and magically be in the cloud, which means someone else’s computer, but it just can’t happen quickly for big organizations. The shift to some of these platforms is really, really, really hard.

However, this time it feels like change is happening. Incrementally. Here are some thoughts:

  1. There is going to be turmoil and turnover in applications used and deployed in the coming years. It is likely that apps installed and put into production last year will be replaced by different applications next year. There are new SaaS solutions appearing weekly and some vendors are integrating lots of functions into a suite (ServiceNow, Salesforce.com, WorkDay, etc.).
  2. Data growth will continue with no real slowdown in sight. Storage is cheap and the engineers want to save everything forever. The data scientist types will want the data saved forever too.
  3. Turmoil will continue with hardware and software vendors. The current wave of M&A activity will continue. Suites gobble up small application companies. Infrastructure companies gobble up other infrastructure companies. Others just won’t make it. The hype cycles will continue.
  4. Security or information protection is getting harder. No easy end in sight.
  5. Lots of stress in IT. Do all of the above, spend little or less, keep everything secure and be faster.

What else?

How I Think, Mostly

evernoteEvernote posted this huge blog post about how to use Evernote to capture, store and use the information and ideas one reads, finds, thinks about, receives, discovered, stumbles upon, has recommended to them, and otherwise crosses paths with in the day-to-day.

I’ve written before about how I keep everything in Evernote. I’ve gotten into the habit of just storing everything there. A while back a friend asked for notes I had on a particular topic and in about 15 minutes I gave her about 10-12 resources that I had collected over time on that topic. I can’t tell how times I’ve wanted to go deeper on a subject and I’ve just search in Evernote and found where I’ve already saved a bunch of articles on the subject.

This blog post entitled, “Evernote and the Brain: Designing Creativity Workflows” completely nails it for me. This is how I think and work. I don’t use the tags feature as much as this article suggests but instead use search. I’ve written about my thinking on search a while back. I use folders in Evernote, but even that is perhaps no longer as useful as what I thought when I began. I’m mostly convinced I could combine all the folders into one (or a small number) and just use search to find what I wanted. I do use a tag called, ‘favs’ for some articles that really connected with me. Rarely, I’ll create a tag or folder for a specific, short-term project but that is not the norm.

A lot of things cross my desk and if something catch my eye then I will likely post a tweet about. If it is particularly good or in an area that I want to keep thinking about, I’ll also send it to Evernote. Related, I save my Kindle highlights into Evernote so I can find some quote or nugget that caught my eye one day, perhaps years earlier.

Over time, this collection of articles and notes, now over 2400 in size becomes a priceless resource to me on things that I find interesting or useful. This is what computers are really all about, helping us connect the dots and helping us see insights that wouldn’t otherwise be as easily reached.

 

 

 

Privacy

Earlier this month I had the chance to speak to 3rd year law students about technical issues around privacy. My contribution to the class was to point out the impossibilities and the rough edges around rules and laws that perhaps are not well thought through or well understood by those who create the laws.

The Right to be Forgotten in the EU being a good example where the search engines are required to take down search results, but the underlying content on the web pages is not necessarily changed at all. And, while this applied to search engines, it didn’t seem to apply to corporate search engines or ‘paper archives’ like newspapers.

Encryption debates in the EU and worldwide are other examples where it is possible that secure, encrypted communications will be outlawed for everyone and as such, the good guys, corporations, families, etc. will lose secure communication while the bad guys will just resort to open-source alternatives. The bad guys will still encrypt but the good guys will have it taken away. Flawed thinking.

Privacy of meta data in all the apps we use on our smart phones will be another battle ahead. As we move around town with our smart phones we record, share and broadcast:

your location, your search habits, who you call, who calls you, who you IM with, perhaps what you buy, what you look at, what you listen to, how fast you are driving, if you are home or not, perhaps your Wi-Fi credentials, what you are looking for, who your friends are, who you associate with, where you work and live, where you are taking pictures and perhaps with whom, dining choices (loyalty cards), what you are reading, where you exercise, how fast you can run, your heart rate, calories consumed, food choices, arrival and departure times, stocks you are interested in, things you needed to be reminded about, favorite sports teams, shopping lists, music preferences, weight, blood pressure, perhaps your family connections…

This data is being stored all over ‘the cloud’ on computer systems using who knows what security practices. Good luck getting all of that forgotten.

These are going to be strange years ahead where technology is tracking more about us, encryption is getting better on some services, hacking is exposing more data and the world is in conflict (as it always has been) between nations, groups and individuals.

I don’t know where this is all going to end up.

Customer Relationship Management Fail (or Success)

thumb_CRM-ButtonI’ve been thinking a lot about CRM lately. About how some organization seem to get it and some simply don’t. And those who get it appear to be fantastically better than than the ones who don’t get it. I don’t understand why some organizations aren’t better at this(or don’t seem to be trying) when I perceive the return to be huge.

I have season tickets with two nearby sports teams. One gets it and ones doesn’t.

In the one case, I needed an extra ticket at a certain level to get a visiting family member into the club space. I called my contact there and asked if I could buy another ticket (they don’t sell single game tickets) and the reply was that ‘he would take care of it and there would be a ticket at Will Call under my name.’  No questions. No hassle. No charge. The same organization has done other great things for us that were not needed or even expected.

The other team, despite much more expensive tickets, barely knows my name. I once asked about getting a guest’s birthday posted on the screen at half time and I was told they would take care of it. Didn’t happen. Wasn’t there. Never heard back from my contact afterwards either. They also seem to take better care of their business customers better than their individual/family customers.

Another organization that I interact with bends over backwards to help me get things done. If I need help, they just take care of it. Even things that they shouldn’t have to do for me, they take care of it because they are great service providers to me. Yes, they make money selling me services but they bend over backwards to help me be successful.

I will routinely have sales executives come to visit me and I find that some know a lot about me and some know nothing. Some have read this latest post here which is funny and interesting to me. They comment on it. That is almost creepy, but it means they are doing some research and they are trying to better understand their customer.

Someone sent me an email recently commenting on my LinkedIn profile in a funny manner. They made the attempt to connect with me from that description. Another person a few years ago noticed my ‘donkey handler’ skill on LinkedIn.

Related, there was an article a few months ago which said the following about sales,

By providing personal, determined, and honest service instead of the hard sell, it’s possible to build long-term relationships instead of quick, one-time sales

Much to think about here. I think I could do sales (but I don’t want the travel).

Interview

Back in June, I was interviewed by Peter High of Metis Strategy about IT where I work.  The resulting interview was posted this week on the Metis site as a podcast. It was also posted on the Forbes property here.

Take a look or listen. And I recommend you follow Peter’s other interviews. Fun experience.

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