Multicloud, I would rather call it Multiverse

You are a Microsoft house with Exchange and just moved to Office 365.  So Azure azureshould be your cloud option of choice.

If a IBM house with DB2, Cognos, Domino, and the venerable AS/400 (call you want you want IBM is a 400), well ibmIBM Bluemix infrastructure of course.

Mixed environment well AWS, Centurylink or Skytap are solid options to put all of your IT service load on.

Nah.

multicloud      Just as you would either leverage your commitment to one vendor with a large enough dollar spend to get their attention.  You would still have just enough of other vendors around to keep everyone on the proper edge for the best of your interests.

The problem for most SMB’s is they do not have that large spend to get and keep the attention of the Azure, AWS, IBM or frankly anyone outside of a regional player who might not offer the full continuity you should need.

Just as you did with your on-premise infrastructure which statistically is likely to be a mix of a storage, server, network and security vendors you should do the same with cloud.  leverage

But, instead of by segments of technology, think segments of the IT services to the business.

So, I would like to call it multiverse in my tip of the hat to Firefly.  fireflyAfter all, they were not smugglers and thieves, they provide a service for difficult items to transport and security penetration tests for anywhere there was money.

Okay, but why now is the perfect time.  Because you can do it with great visibility to cost and lots of options.  car options  Plus, the tools are available to manage it all and improve that visibility to IT, to finance and the rest of line of business.

We know that we should have a full proof disaster recovery and also a business continuity plan in place.   You may have that in a nice binder, a red one I bet.  redbinder

Do you do a FULL BLOWN test of it.  Or do  you execute a couple restores a month and run on the backup generator for half a day once a week?

I know my finance VP would never approve of me spending $10k once a year to rent equipment to do a full blown test.   So that disaster recover is more hope vs plan.hope vs plan

And more of a business cross my fingers continuity.

TODAY you have the cost effective, highly traceable by line of business option of actually getting it done.  sleepHow well would you, your CFO and CEO sleep at night if once a quarter you ran the full business for a week on the continuity solution.

If along with those facility fire drills several times a year (always in good weather though) you also have a disaster recovery drill that test your IT team, firedrillyour vendors, the end users and finds holes in your plan to continuously update and improve it.

 

Any C-Level executive should understand the critical components of keeping their business processes and customer facing systems up and running.  Furthermore, they should demand that solutions be fully in place to combat cyberattacks, in-house employee errors (have you read about the airline reservation system issues last month) and winwin leverage those same costs to improve agility of systems for speed to market and competitive reaction.

You do not drive your car without a spare do you?

Bet you even pay monthly for the full replacement of your phone on your plan, right?

Why would you not have the same or better with your business?

safetynet

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Digital Transformation, books to consider

In short digital is going to impact your business. distruption        I do not care if you are a diner, a bank, a doctor or a farmer.

There is right now more than one set of individuals building a business to steal your customers by showing them there is a NEW way to satisfy the need/want your business is currently satisfying.

thinking of customer    Thinking of your customer, why do they buy your product or service is key to digital.  You are not selling them a safe place to keep their money or to rid them of pain.  You are lowering their anxiety in a convenient manner to their individual perception of both.

I get this wrong all the time. I asked a question the other day of a very smart group of people.

What would they want the person to lead them to bring to the table?

I had surmised beforehand the answers would be either specific technology skills on cloud, analytics, security or devops and/or deep experience on implementing technologies in their niche industry.

Nope.

resolute-plaque-c2009   Stability.

They wanted to have someone who can come in an manage upwards to provide a path they could work to and deliver so they could feel successful.

What does your customer today need/want from you?  How can you find out?

What can you do/change to convince a brand new customer that you can satisfy their need/want that is NOT what you do today?

The books – 

Digital lipstick on a pig – Vaasa S. Gavarasana   lipstick

A quick read though too high level.  Key points are to –

  • focus on all the interactions with the customer/consumer  Cusomer-knows-what-he-wants
    • sales of course
    • customer service
    • account receivable
    • marketing
    • IT for EDI and compliance
    • operations for special orders/customizations

I would add if you are more distribution focused to add a vendor focus to reduce cost and increase agility.

To do this change you need –

  • A star trek bridge – aka a focused group – not just IT, like a startup business in the business
  • Good basic analytics, but add to it the digital/non-digital connections so everyone sees them
  • A Winston Churchill – well for any change you need Churchill – aka an evangelist.   churchill
    • Being a bit wacky cannot hurt in my opinion.

 

 

 

Digital Disruption – James McQuivey   d disruption

A longer read and focused on being controversial (scare the begegus out of you) versus a guide.

Key points –

  • The power of digital disruption is that it can disrupt any aspect of any product or service
  • Processes that are deep within companies or physical things that govern partnerships, data collection, pricing and management of resources
  • Even non-digital business will be disrupted
  • Digital disruption answers the question – what if it did not take money to make money?
  • digital disrupter default answer is yes – meaning yes, we can do that to whatever the questions is.  I truly believe this with technology today
  • How can we give customers something they really want?
  • To be successful test how ready you are with energy, skills and policies
  • Ask the question will my company’s relationship with our customers will be stronger in 5 years?
  • Again start with the customer, accept failures failure                 and look at the total customer experience

Digital Uncovered – Ian Cox      uncovered

The most guide like of the three, but uses OLD case studies of Blockbuster, Borders and so on.  Gets to more modern cases later in the book and likes to quote Forrester and the like which to me has always been like using The Farmer’s Almanac for planning your vacation.  forecast    If it is right great, but you don’t get to file a claim to recoup your vacation cost from Farmer’s if it rains all week.

Stated that most businesses surveyed state digital transformation will impact their industry in three years.  Three bloody years.  Makes you feel like you are already missing the bus.  bus           Relax – not yet.

Once again – start with the customer, move quickly, take risks and be prepared to fail.

The best definition I have read/heard so far – Digital is enabling people, devices and/or machines to connect and interact (transact business) with each other from any location and at any time.   anywhere

Seven truths, eh.

  1. Customers are in chargein charge
  2. Markets move quickly
  3. Data is a valuable asset
  4. Disruption can happen anywhere
  5. There are NO boundaries
  6. Ecosystems and platforms are key
  7. Technology is fundamental

Okay, 4 and 5, are the same as well as 6 and 7.  So let’s say 5 truths.  truth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What demonstrates your company’s culture?

I was just reading this Inc.com article about Microsoft’s CEO,Satya Nadella and milk cartons.  How he saw “The Orphaned Milk Cartons of the Northwest” – a Yammer and Reddit thread as a demonstration of Microsoft’s culture and not a good one.

milkAs the article states – “They’d take cartons of milk out of the fridge, open them, pour a little milk and then leave the carton out.

The next person who came along would take one look at the open cartons, wonder if they might have gone off and decide that they deserved a brand new carton too.”

 

This got me to thinking about physical signs of the culture of companies I worked for over the years.

  • Headquarters weekly emails on smoothy Wednesdays or flip flop Fridays when 75% of the staff worked remotely and likely were sitting in their underwear in their home office.                          clueless
  • hoppingOver 20% of employees are in their second if not third job at the same company.  Job hopping inside that company by starting in finance or operations, now in IT or was in IT and now work in marketing and so on and on.
  • In the company cafeteria a long 16 seat table directly in the middle for people who do not have someone to eat with.  This is the community table and it was always half or more full.  nooneeatsaloneOften including one or more C-level executives as well as factory workers, accounting clerks, well anyone and everyone.

There are many more as I think about what I want to include here.  I find I am coming up with equal amount of negative and positive signs I remember.  So they are there.cultureAre you aware enough to see the signs of your companies culture that support the stated culture and values?  Or, the opposite signs that show the company has gone off the rails a bit and a course adjustment is needed.

Like Mr. Nadella who simply requested a change from small milk containers to large, big milkbut also addressing it directly with the MS team to express to them what he saw it meaning.

 

Job titles for problem solvers

I saw this question come up on a forum.  mocking ferris Beyond the judging and mocking from several who said every job is about solving problems, this question triggered a thought process in my head about hiring.

interviewYou have the standard questions you can ask.

  • Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem.
  • Tell me about a time when you came up with a new approach to a problem.
  • Describe a time when you faced a significant obstacle to succeeding with an important work project or activity.

With I am sure 101 or more other versions.  101

I like to warm up with one or two of these and then work back to this specifically when hiring roles that will directly impact business optimization with this scenario.scenario

At one of your previous roles, you are given unlimited funds for technology, education, people – employees and contractors, whatever you can spend money on, but only 90 days to solve what you believe would be a huge impacting business issue.

What would have been that business issue?

How would you have gone about creating a new solution?

I have gotten everything from downright confusion of what I wanted confusionto boundless excitement about what they would do.  excitement

The one thing I noticed is this got some candidates who were not very verbose to open up as they sat back, looked up and you could see them envisioning what they are about to start explaining to you.

Yes, ever job has some problem solving part of it.  But, in today’s IT roles they are ALL about problem solving.  Not just the how to squeeze more disk space or performance out of legacy equipment.  But how to deliver more value to the business whether that be through improving profit on process optimization or creating a new revenue generating service for your clients.

new

 

CIO and report roles changing, of course

This article had a fantastic sentence about IT roles.     

“They need greater political skills to deal with senior-level executives who may feel threatened by global business processes.”

I could not agree more.  The CIO and his IT group will be matrixes deep into the organization as IoT, analytics, cloud services along with new mobility optimize legacy processes and create brand new services.

This will create threats.  Optimizing a process by removing inefficiencies may also eliminate control points that line of business executives and managers are not happy to give up or the downsizing of their staff that might be no longer needed.

I recall a manager who over a period of 3 years lost 20 people in their 80 person department in 3 office locations.  When I was hired in the 3rd year, the finance person was explaining to me how my budget got hit for the amount of space my division used in all the buildings globally.    Asking for a breakdown by department for the past 3 years, I noticed that this same department’s salary and other expenses reduced significantly each year, but not their overhead expense or the stated office space utilized.

In speaking to the manager he explained that he had been there for 20 years and they would reduce staff and then 3 – 4 years later add them back in.  If you gave up the space, it would take another 3 – 4 years to get the additional space, so you held on to it. Use it as a storage area, move a contractor over to the desk, stop sharing for different shifts – anything to keep the space.

Oh did I open up can of angry cobras (worms are just wiggly, not mean).  Finance went through each area and found globally almost all departments guilty of the same.

I am sure that still happens today and what IT evolves into will only run up against this more and more.

IT is already a matrix.  Per a prior blog, each line of business area has that tech savvy person or persons.  Marketing has those web and/or analytics hot shots.  Finance has their excel guru’s who became analytics gurus.  Operations application gurus and everyone is becoming cloud based services gurus.

You have to work across all of them.  But, that is merely about application upgrades, new services or changes to the same.  They still see that as changing what IT does.

Now IoT, analytics, cloud and mobile technology can impact the business operations by changing them radically.  Thing Uber and taxis along with retail stores vs Amazon mobile app.  What will happen with self driving cars.

The issue is that protective nature over the status quo.  First you will hear IoT is unproven, analytics is too hard and cloud does not save you money.

 

Hmph.

This is where Harry Truman make some sense.   

If you can’t convince them, confuse them.  

Align your proposal with their specific concerns (illogical as they may be).

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

Make it their idea, give up ALL the credit when it is seeking approval for this GREAT business strategy idea and most of it when you are successful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IBM rolls back remote working – does this mean collaboration solutions don’t work

Back in May it was reported how IBM chose to implement moving workers back to offices. Media reports had it due to IBM executives struggling to be agile and thus stay competitive. AWS is kicking their ass in the cloud.

IBM’s thinking that physical proximity will improve agility through collaboration.  Media pointed to the fact this did not work for Yahoo.

Hmph.

Collaboration is critical to agility, but collaboration was ‘improved’ by all the tools, many sold by IBM, right? 

For me collaboration tools requires 3 things.

  1. Combination of meeting, voice, visual, calendar, task and document sharing for scheduled activities
  2. Combination of voice, chat and presence capability for unscheduled activities
  3. Collaborative search – not just for the two combinations above, but all data sources

Clearly all of the above is readily available.    

So, IBM and pretty much everyone else has all the tools to have FANTASTIC collaboration regardless of whether you are in the next cube or country.

 

 

Like those not so good Fantastic 4 movies (don’t get me started) –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

something is missing.   

Is it this ‘NEW’ work type that IBM states requires a higher degree of collaboration and thus “forcing” them to require workers back to offices so these teams would be more effective?   

Or is it that the tools DO NOT WORK.?  The tools are fine.  Though the missing component is how to lead and manage using the tools.  I see that as a failure of IBM and Yahoo amongst others versus any NEW type of work.

Challenging your workers to both reach and exceed their potential.  Manage the coordinated efforts of teams dealing with emotional ups and downs, unseen obstacles that come with working on tasks/projects over time.  These are fully possible with remote teams.

When a team is physically together the manager can observe body language, overhear conversations (tone, content and frequency of interaction) and get the ‘feel’ of how the team is performing.  A good manager knows when to push, pull or just let things be by seeing, hearing and feeling all of the team interaction.  

This is what IBM wants back.  I won’t go into whether they have ‘good’ managers.  IBM and other companies not effectively using collaboration tools are like pilots who can only fly during day light and in good weather.

Nothing wrong with that – I don’t like flying in storms.  But, REALLY good pilots can fly by instruments and today’s instruments are very good.      

 

Collaboration tools are just as good as a plane’s instruments.  They can easily show the content and frequency of interaction to give part of the feel needed.  Newer tools provide deeper analytics on tone, measure task effective/efficiency against collaboration metrics.  Is it the same as being physically all together, no.  Not better or worse, just not the same.

As a leader you need to adapt your management style and fully enable the power of the tools to maximize remote teams.  Blaming remote working for your failure is weak.

How to REALLY optimize business processes

outcomes

For anyone who has worked with Six Sigma or Lean to drive waste out of business processes, that first year or two of full commitment is exciting and often results in large type savings.

 

 

 

 

mindset

Following that it takes a different mindset.  Kate Tayler captures that well with her article about Panera Bread.

 

 

The simple line that ‘what they found was that there wasn’t one thing that needed to change, but instead “hundreds of little things” to adjust.’ tells it short and sweet.  changes

Continuous improvement will occur not with big changes, but many many little ones.  Be prepared to experiment, fail and experiment some more.  That failing more too.fail

These Six Sigma experiments are greatly improved with current and emerging analytics, AI, IoT and the speed to market of cloud services.

A lot of fun too.