Homogeneous Environments

Dear IT Vendor,

Don’t show me presentations that are just about your eco system of tools and how well interconnected they are and how all are problems are solved with your complete set of tools or systems.

You need to understand that nobody has an IT environment that is 100% your systems. You might want us to have only your ‘stuff’ but it isn’t going to happen. And I’m not going to write a check for you today to replace all my other systems with just your systems. You don’t know all my constraints and prior decisions and poured concrete so don’t show me a magic fairy tale.

Instead, you’ve got to talk to me about interoperability. You must talk to me about how I can connect your messaging tool with the one I already have in place. Further, you’ve got to show me examples of where this is working. And you’ve got to convince me that this is what you want to support. You’ve got to talk about openness, open standards, APIs, etc. And don’t try to steer me in a direction that is going to lock me in. I’ve got enough of those lock-ins and I’ve grown tired of them so I’m on to you.

If your story is only about you, then I’m going to tune out.

Thank you,


[wrote this post long ago and it never got published for some reason…]

ERP and the Innovator’s Dilemma

A few weeks back I made some notes as I was thinking about the Innovator’s Dilemma and its relation to ERP and the big ERP vendors of today (SAP and Oracle). The Innovator’s Dilemma comes from Clay Christianson’s book entitled  The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business which develops the idea of disruptive innovation.  A disruptive innovation is a new idea or innovation that disrupts or destroys or replaces an existing market.

The existing leaders in the ERP space make a lot of money on selling licenses and maintenance for their products. Most of the major companies of the world are running on their software quite successfully and many a CIO have risen and fallen based on projects with these systems.

The problem is that as new technology comes along (Salesforce.com, Workday, etc.) it is hard for these leading current companies to make the shift to these new ideas. The reason is that they are getting their income and their leadership from the old way of doing things and the new way brings risk and uncertainly and perhaps not a leadership position. The old ways created careers for the people who need to make the decision to pursue the new.

I figured someone has to have written on this before and sure enough I found several posts online saying the same. See Techcrunch’s article entitled Great Acquisition! Now Put A Fork in ERP and Innovator’s Dilemma at its Finest – SAP, Oracle and the Cloud. And I wrote about the Changing Landscape of Enterprise Software before too.

The same thing is happening in storage with existing large storage vendors seeing lots of start-ups and new ideas being developed. Perhaps the same with PCs and the rise of tablets and smart phones.

Disruptive innovation.

[wrote this post long ago and it never got published for some reason…]




pablo (2)

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?

Get the right information to the right people at the right time

A really great post over at e2open about what CIOs should be focused on at work. I’ve thought about it a lot since reading this yesterday. The only thing I might add is that CIOs should also be focused on keeping information out of the wrong people’s hands. Get information to the right people and keep it from the wrong people. Is it that simple?

What do you think?

Clay Shirky at Gartner Symposium

This past week I heard Clay Shirky speak at one the keynotes at the Gartner Symposium. Here are some of the thoughts that he shared:

  1. Business is changing due to social media. Social media is about everything, not just business.
  2. People and machines and companies are intertwined and the lines are blurring. He told funny stories of individuals being upset with a bank’s new policy and fees and starting a grassroots campaign on Facebook critical of the policy and the bank then reverting the policy back.  Unhappy customers in the past could complain but now they can coordinate their campaigns and complaints.
  3. This is both a threat and an opportunity!
  4. Business needs to understand that in the past communications were between individuals and the company. Now it is between all parties simultaneously. The network and connection possibilities are huge.
  5. Access to information has changed in regards to amount, availability, speed and cost.
  6. Amateur public speech is now real and powerful.
  7. Individuals can network and form groups locally or around the world.

The impact on IT is huge and IT needs to recognize that social networks and media are being dragged and carried into the workplace.  IT needs to figure this out proactively, as many firms are doing. He told the story of the DARPA challenge to find 10 red balloons deployed around the country and how people at MIT solved the problem by attacking it with brillant social network thinking.

The idea of cognitive surplus being harnessed to solve problems was terrific. He told funny stories about blog policies at companies the amount of time spent on wikipedia vs tv and a funny story about a reusable camera sold by a drug store. Good stuff.

He closed by saying the companies can likely find out more about the drinking habits of their employees than their work habits.

Lots to consider. I’ve not read his book yet, but will soon.