Aaargh – stop selling me technology

That constant barrage of sales calls, emails and even that occasional snail mail or Fedex package all wanting to talk about a growing set of technologies.  Whether it be the latest software package, servers, flash, converged, cognitive analytics and on and on and on.

finance-tech

Consider the above a list of just most of the accounting technologies out there.  Multiple this by 1,000 fold for all vendors who want you as a customer.  multiple

Now multiple that by the number of companies who are focused on calling directly into your accounting, operations, marketing and other department selling them services.

How do deal with this onslaught of activity is truly incomparable to any other function in the business.  business-function           Here is a process that helps me.

No, not the one where I never ever answer my work phone.

Categorize all activities, projects and strategies around simplify, business process optimize, customer satisfaction and compliance.

  • Simplify – removing complexity from your technology delivery whether it be infrastructure, applications, access… simplify
  • Business process optimizing – focusing on profit.  Removing costs aka waste from business processes optimize
  • Customer satisfaction – my way of saying generate revenue – new net or more per customercustomer_satisfaction-650x300

 

 

 

 

  • Compliance – the one you never have a choice to do or not to do and while you wish it was otherwise always becomes the top priority whether it be PCI, HIPPA, Sarbanes or othercompliance

Not just the IT projects, but I gather input from the finance, marketing and other functions and put them in the above categories.

Finance is easy – almost all Compliance or Business Optimization.  They they are attracted to Simplify.

Marketing yes Customer Satisfaction is their sweet spot, but again Simplify can work especially if it decreases time to delivery new services to Marketing.

Over all this pushes the complexity of cloud/public/private/hybrid, analytics, mobility, security, converged, hyperconverged, SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and so on off the table and focuses your attention, the functional areas and evidentially your key suppliers on talking about business outcomes.

open-for-business

 

 

Buzzy buzzword – business outcomes

In both technology and business buzzwords are an annually right of activity.  From the heady days of GUI to Cloud, Personas and more and more I read and hear Business Outcomes.  outcomes

With IoT, Cognitive Analytics and Cloud along with the growing list of applications as services delivering business processes business outcomes has gone from just a buzzword to what gets us past the separation of business and technology.   b-and-t

Outcomes (business is redundant) pushes technology professionals to fully understand the direct link technology has the business driving out of the data center, past the help desk and align one on one with how the business actually is successful.

Whether it is

  • Customer acquisition / retention
  • Launching a new product
  • or simply shipping and invoicing

conversationIt is a harder conversation to start as we are locked in our old habits of speeds, feeds, storage capacity, security and the dreaded maintenance costs (ugh).

However, do a google search on business outcomes and you will see links from Harvard, Cisco and Forrester.

They will talk about results, desired outcomes and deliverables.

Me I like the simple definition of outcome.  A consequence.  consequences

You can talk about consequences.

What happens is your business does not add new customers or starts losing others?

What would be the impact on your business if you reduce new product development/launch by half?

How would that improve your customer satisfaction and bottom line if you improved shipping and invoicing to 95% or better?

These are consequences – real, solid consequences that we all can understand and talk about.  We have already seen business analyst move out of IT and into the business and vice versa.  Transform or evolve this to alignment by consequences for new successes.  target

Customer acquisition / retention teams or new product launch teams they should have broad cross capability and authority for applications, technology and especially changing processes and roles.

My recommendations to business is identify those in your organization and new hires that have potential for cross-business/technology capability.  Anyone with Lean, Six Sigma or Agile development experience (I will argue with you the value of certifications are low compared to actual experience) are nice indicators to look for in people.  best-people

Also, anyone who has that annoying habit of pointing out what will go wrong with something.  Loath these people, but always want one on my team.

Regardless outcomes are path in one manner to the end of IT, but it is the next step in evolution that is inevitable.

 

 

Book review: BlockChain

Blockchain, blockchain blockchain-consensus  I first heard this term back in 2014 related to bitcoin.  Then again in 2016 with some legal firms looking to it in Europe as a future for transactional data.  Then when I saw the IBM Watson announcement with blockchain, I was like hmmm need to learn more.

So, I went and got Richard Hayen’s book and read it.  Then reread whole sections of it.

411wguyqgpl

Then put it down and picked it up again and realized – nope it is not me the book is not written well.  Sorry Mr. Hayen, if your Fintech book is as poor explaining a topic I will pass. Consider a couple of analogies and you know graphics.

blockchain-usecases-and-startups

Blockchain does have a future, it is a new way to store and validate transactional data, but most importantly share that data with customers and partners.  The most understandable chapter is 6 – Arguments against Blockchain…  That ‘opening a window for cybercriminals’ definitely a concern, but still understand where blockchain could be revolutionary change in business models that require partnerships across commodities, borders and languages.

I have this infographic more helpful – just sayin…

blockchain-infographic

Article Review: Intel CEO – Almost getting fired

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich did an interview which is worth either a full read or listen on the podcast.  The part that grabbed me is Krzanich’s take on who you should fire and why.

‘I’ve had to terminate or fire more people for being difficult to work with than being dumb.’dumb

The story resonates as he was almost fired early in his career for what I could see as a dumb mistake.  We all have made those and some where not lucky enough to have a boss like Krzanich who understands the difference between making a mistake trying to improve the business somehow and just screwing up.

‘I think if you don’t give people the tools and the expectations for success, and yet hold them to some value, then you’re difficult to work with.’office space.png

In my career I have had bosses give me what seemed like crazy tasks and/or timetables, but they let me pick who I could work with and how to get it done which kept me motivated and more often than not I was successful.  Partly because I had a good amount of control, but mostly because I had a boss who believed more in me and the team then I did holding us to their expectation.

Look for these type of bosses (more leader than manager) and to become that type of boss.

crazy

 

 

What is a Data Scientist? I know I am not one…

Below is a lovely infographic of what it takes to be a data scientist.  I can say that I have plenty of the domain knowledge, soft skills and a good amount of communication skills, but bayesian inference – please.

data-scientist

I accomplished my MBA, but I will humbly state that statistics almost made me quit.

The point here is to fully understand that depth of skills and reason these people are rare and in short supply.  Art-template

If you find one – hold on to them because the are like Marino Rivera in your bullpen.  rivera

The closest thing to a sure win against your competition as there could be.

So what is one to do if they cannot find this ‘perfect’ person.  Well a team of 3 would work very well I say.

  1. with the deep business knowledge, real world experience and ability to go toe to toe with c-level executivespower-rangersa number two with the deep statistical math capabilities – a phenom who looks and can talk numbers the way I can about single barrel bourbon or a ribeye
  2. the third is the database/developer who alone with Python and R, is a wise with Hadoop

Number 1 or number 3 could fulfill the cloud and data migration experience or that could be a fourth role.

If you are in retail, financial services or healthcare right now this is a NECESSARY role in your organization do don’t wait.  Other industries for the moment might be able to wait until 2020 before needing this role on a consulting basis every quarter or so.

dont-wait

 

 

 

Always behind the Curve

falling     You just think that you and your company are so behind everyone else.

Behind in technology or unable to get the most out of the technology you have in place.

CIO.com provides great insight into how leaders of your company can decide on leveraging existing or choosing a new technology in this article.

“For a new technology, the most important factor is how quickly its ecosystem becomes sufficiently operational and available for users to realize the technology’s potential.”  old-vs-new

A fantastic point that the article does a great job of explaining and even offers a manner for leaders to measure and compare legacy vs. new technology investments.

 

Comparing RFID’s inability to supplant barcodes is a great example of legacy technology not just resisting being replaced, but expanding as the market found new uses and improved technology.

The examples show in their chart below provide a great way to start listing your legacy technology against considered new technologies like cloud, a new ERP and mobile solutions.

market-framework-100695003-largeIn the end the decision process is less about the promise of the new technology or the age of the legacy technology but the ability of new technology to co-exist with existing technology and/or to supplant legacy technology completely while either adding new functions and/or reducing cost.

Cloud can co-exist with on-premise legacy technologies or it can fully supplant some important functions like backup and add new functions around disaster recovery.

 

 

 

Article review -How to Use the Single, Most Powerful Word in Business

While this article from Inc.com counters my post from a few years ago Rule #3 ask three times to get to a yes, however, I believe both are valid.

noSaying No and having support from your leader to do so is both empowering and as the article states effective time management.

Yes, as my rule #3 recommends and the article “acknowledges that some folks will push and ask more than once, or will pester you to try to wear you down.

Don’t fall for it: Just say no. And mean it.”

I agree with this from both sides.  That if you truly believe the individual should be working on your request, persistent asking is required.  Just as required is if the individual on the other side disagrees that they say no and allow the necessary activity of referring up to a higher level of management.

Lastly cannot state strongly enough my support for not “apologizing just reinforces the idea that you should be saying yes more than you say no and every time you say yes to something you don’t really want, you’re actually saying no to the things you do.”

However for this to be effective for a time they must have clear priorities and have those priorities aligned with the business strategy and tactics.  This will also discourage others from requesting non-aligned tactics.

So it is more than Just Say No, is is a focus on why no makes sense and a recommendation to use it more often than you do today.

focusing-is-about-no