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Reinventing Brands for Generation Y June 14, 2006

Posted by poseidongroove in Bazaar, brand, Chaos, Collaboration, Edge Thinking, generationy, Social Software, Web Culture, Weblogs.
2 comments

It’s becoming apparent over the last couple of years that participative architectures or Web 2.0 will bring seismic changes to IT, the workplace and the way companies engage with their target market using their brand.

Here are some good indicative links, Dion Hinchcliffe’s Five Techniques for Using Web2.0 to Reinvent the Customer Relationship, Deborah Eastman of Biz360 recorded a podcast with podtech.net about measuring the impact of blogs and mainstream media on the value of the brand.

I like this article about Enterprise Valuenetworks. It’s important, because in IT we tend to think that implementing process oriented applications is all about analysis, the old fashioned way top down bottom up etc, I’ve covered all the grounds.

Yeah right, the problem with this approach is that you tend to have the most important bits falling through the crack because, people oriented activities do not lend themselves to data modelling or use case modelling for that matter. Meaning we invariably exclude these fuzzy processes. An evident effect might be corporate sites rarely deliver any incremental value to the brand.

Why ? We forget real people in all the mad rush to encapsulate process automation on sites or brochure-ware. participative activities are random and amorphous.

Generation Y and their younger sibling that have grown up with social networking platforms such as facebook and myspace to define their identity will subsequently engage emotionally with companies or brands that identify with their outlook on life and provide positive aspirational means to express these identity.

These values could be social, fashion or health related. If these were the case, I can imagine a situation in the future where businesses that provide quality syndicated feeds related to my lifestyle will get more of my attention. The feed content might include Blogs, Videos and forums. These content might also be user mediated.

So the Advertising model we have today will surely go away. Why waste your money advertising to folks that aren’t interested. RSS feed subscriptions may one day become the real measure of brand value and loyalties. If businesses spend more time providing really valuable content that encourage user feedback and participation you’ll be onto a winner. I’m not talking about posting a Nike shoes video advert on a site for customers to watch. Feeds might be the best indicator of group intention.

It’s exactly what Lego are doing now with Lego Factory. If I can design my own Lego bricks to order, I’d be more inclined to value the brand and pay more attention to their message board.

So think about it, is it not better to empower your customers to have a real say in your products? rather than a feedback buttons on your site. If any industry needs it more than any other, I think banks could do with a human face. For too long in this industry, the computer has been saying yes or no….. Here’s my mind map of what’s wrong and how to put it right.

UserExpectations

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Paradigm Intelligence – A Manifesto for Enterprise IT May 12, 2006

Posted by poseidongroove in Absolutism, Bazaar, Chaos, Collaboration, Edge Competencies, Edge Thinking, Microsoft, Paradigm, ParadigmIntelligence, Politics, Social Software, Web Culture, Weblogs.
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Finally, my PSP, Metal Gear Acid and a Spanking New Sony MDR-NC50 noise cancelling headphone turned up yesterday from my insurance company eSure. They're not going to replace the stolen laptop because of the cost of a T42p over £2000.00, they're going to send a cheque for £1500.00 better than nothing I guess. I've actually not had much time to look at the gear been busy with start-up related work. I've actually missed the PSP a lot. It was my replacement for the Radio. Even the freebie iPod Video I got from signing up for a new phone plan can't match it. All that trouble of Synching with iTunes before I listen to a podcast is annoying. At least with the PSP I can stream Podcasts over WIFI !!

 Anyway, for the past week, I've been thinking about a way of describing why Enterprise IT just can't handle or understand Web 2.0, this is a follow up to my previous post about Dynamic Languages. I stumbled on this link, What is Web 2.0 ? a poll of readers of the Register. Honestly, I've found the feedback in the poll fascinating. For a lot of people struggling with every new thing/buzzword under the sun I can understand.

Fundamentally, we have a problem with how we as humans process information or things we come into contact with. I think it's all about Paradigm Intelligence, the ability to stay above the fray in your respective perspective, mind map or profession and see things from the other camps perspective. It's a very rare skill indeed. Our attitudes and behaviours all flow out of our paradigms using our self awareness and rose tinted glasses to examine them. The last bit paraphrasing what Stephen R Convey said in his book. What's even more striking is the ability to see through the waffle and identify the excellent opportunities to redefine your existing paradigm for the better. All we get today is reactive language judging by the comments in the poll above.

We all talk about emotional intelligence, no one really talks about Paradigm Intelligence, if an Ulster Protestant can see things from the perspective of his Catholic Ulster-bretheren and vice-versa then they're paradigm intelligent.

This morning I was listening to Dr Moira Gun's Technation Interview of Dr Amartya Sen it suddenly struck me that India is perhaps the best example of a nation that is exhibiting Paradigm Intelligence tendencies. The UK is also an excellent example in parts. I especially like what Dr Sen, a Nobel Prize laureate of Indian background said about radical Islam plays on fear to whip up hatred against the West. I've therefore come up with a series of phrases to describe what it means to be Paradigm Intelligent and otherwise.

  •  Paradigm Intelligence is recognising that social networking and participative architectures present an opportunity for IT to engage real users and re-energise enterprise architecture,
  • It's not reacting negatively to every thing even though it starts up looking like another buzzword, it's your job to identify the substance,
  • Paradigm Intelligence is not your race, colour or creed taking over your common sense and appreciation of another person or their culture,
  • Paradigm Intelligence is there for everyone to see in a Nation with a Sikh President, an Italian Born female party leader and a Muslim Prime Minister,
  • Paradigm Intelligence is not scare mongering and acting in a protectionist manner when a foreign company attempts to take over a crown jewel,
  • Paradigm Intelligence is not voting on tribal lines and blind ethnicity as is the case across Africa,
  • Paradigm Intelligence is not blindly buying everything from IBM, SAP, MSOFT or any other supplier for that matter regardless of the stupidity of your judgement, Who told you no one ever got fired for buying from these guys. Well, some day you will !!
  • Paradigm Intelligence is not sniffing at Dynamic Languages and calling them crap and chaotic, I've been there, I was once guilty of this !
  • Paradigm Intelligence is not rubbishing everything from Apple, okay most of it is good albeit every Apple product is hyped to death, (Guilty)
  • Paradigm Intelligence is not Blair and Bush invading Iraq without a plan B,
  • Paradigm Intelligence is not Pastors or Religious leaders being brazenly richer, rotund and looking healthier than their congregation in third world countries,
  • Paradigm Intelligence is most certainly not putting street signs and council leaflets into ethnic languages in an English speaking country. Thank you Mr Council official we don't need you wasting tax payers money. If you can't speak English go back to wherever you came from.
  • Paradigm Intelligence is not DRM'ed music and films, hey guys, we're not kids your epoch, era or whatever type of control you're imposing will not last,
  • Paradigm Intelligence is being pragmatic about using whatever tool is best for the job in the context of IT as opposed to being dogmatic and bigoted. (Very difficult one, I'm guilty of this sometimes).
  • Paradigm Intelligence is not believing everything you hear or read in the Fox News, Mail or the Guardian (UK Newspapers, masters of polarised views),
  • Finally, Paradigm Intelligence is understanding the relevance of open source bazaar software development approaches in delivering really useful solutions that end users use for play and work.

If you can think of anymore, go ahead and add your own or write about it. The more you ask yourself are my paradigm intelligent looking at this issue, the more likely that you'll be able to understand things better and not get too arrogant about your reactive clouded absolutist views. Remember, no one, is totally, paradigm intelligent !! 

Architecting e-WorkPlace Applications for Participation March 10, 2006

Posted by poseidongroove in Bazaar, Chaos, Collaboration, e-WorkPlace, Edge Thinking, eMail Management, eWorkPlace, Mashup, Mashup SOA, SalesForce, SOA, Social Software, Web Services.
2 comments

I’ve had a very busy last few weeks practising what I preach. Before I launch into my muse, a friend asked me why I don’t go deep and dirty into technical details on the blog. If anyone else is wondering, it’s because I also have a business audience trying to understand our thought process as it relates to application design, expressed in a way they can grasp(Even though sometimes, I forget about this). So I’ve been integrating Salesforce.com into a Global Marketing Collaborative WorkSpace for an Investment Bank in the City.
In summary, the sales guys use salesforce.com to create sales opportunities on the road with multiple devices, (Micro View). Managers and sales support team use their Global Marketing Collaborative team rooms to review, approve and discuss the macro issues related to each specific marketing request (behind the corporate firewall).
The integration piece is relatively straight-forward, I call it “Right Coupling” Salesforce generates an email of the captured opportunity in simple xml tag name value pair format as each request is being created.

Each unique request is sent by email to a specific context in the Global Marketing Workspace. The context, in each case, is a regional dashboard of Marketing Requests RFP e.g. Japan. A Jython scripting event is subscribed to each context listening for incoming emails. The event is simply a “Search Agent” looking for anything that matches specified criteria.
The Jython event picks up the incoming XML name value pair metadata in the email and creates a team room for that specific opportunity using the values in the email as attributes.
The team room includes a discussion forum, document templates and task list. All cases are viewable in a dashboard. They can be sorted/filtered by status and whatever else anyone fancies.
This simple integration solves a problem most companies might be facing today when faced with integrating several applications that on the surface have similar features. As an architect, you need to pay attention to the following:-

  • Context of Use – What categories of users love using a particular application and why? You simply can’t implement new technology for technology sake. It also applies to design patterns. If email is sufficient use it.
  • Macro/Micro View – It’s important to appreciate where detail and summary information needs to reside. In this case, it was obvious that it needed to be in SalesForce.com The managers only need access to summary dashboards, sales support need access to emails, tasks, documents and everything else related to the case.
  • Confidentiality – Even though On Demand platforms are brilliant at what they do, there is a segregation of duty between externally hosted applications and internal applications. In the case of banks and pharmaceutical, it’s easy to tell what belongs where.
  • Creating a Context for Exception Management – Very few companies pay attention to exception management when implementing applications. This is where the most value is created and significant knowledge about process exists. A collaborative environment is better suited for managing the conversation thread around any exception that relates to that opportunity. Think of forums, WIKI, and Document Templates Library.

Why am I writing about this? I’m a big fan of top heavy command and control architecture, reference architecture name it as James McGovern described it in a recent post. However, what I’ve come to appreciate in my entire career in IT is that creating an inclusiveness culture in application design invariably makes them pervasive. You will quickly realise a return on your investments in these assets. I’m not talking about machines when I say assets, I mean people. People in companies increase the value of the brands. You need their collective assets, Organisational Memory to give meaning to your business. It therefore follows that you need to architect for participation. An environment where thoughts and ideas can flow sits comfortably with command and control applications such as ERPs, CRMs and Sales Force Applications.
For this customer, it would have been easy to say use an ESB/Web Services/SOA whatever to mediate the messaging between the two platforms however, as with everything else in our sphere of work, a pragmatic approach might often be a better approach. It’s also possible that the customer wants to move to a more secure alternative that assures guaranteed message delivery.
Everyone including moi knocks emails. As you can see in this example, email is not only a powerful medium of communication; it’s also a low cost and effective integration mechanism.
When architecting enterprise applications, think about barriers of entry for end users. User adoption and user participation invariably decide how pervasive any application is. Our mission now is to take SOA beyond UDDI directories to become browser icons. My next post is on Collaborative Services Description Language. (CSDL) an idea I’ve been working on that I believe will enable end users to compose and orchestrate services from their favourite applications. (At least that is the hope). I would also call it a unified service interface for social networking. AKA mash up SOA!

Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Approaches To SOA. No! There is a Third Way. February 24, 2006

Posted by poseidongroove in Bazaar, Chaos, Collaboration, e-WorkPlace, Edge Thinking, ESB, eWorkPlace, Graveyard Portal, Mashup, Mashup SOA, SOA, Social Software, Web Services.
7 comments

I was passed a link to a Gartner Report report (Sorry you need to have an account to view the report) recently by my CEO, Dan French. The Gartner article claims there is a process war being waged by a “Top-Down Brigade” who are process centric, that see SOA as a framework that underpins the notion of representing business processes in composite applications, that access functionality decomposed into a set of services. The other group, “Bottom-Up” camp are essentially the integration brigade. They see SOA as an improved way for creating interfaces between application. I think I’ll describe this category as adaptive vendors or companies that started off flogging EDI, EAI, Web Services technologies. You might also include Application Server Vendors trying to move up the food chain with so called Enterprise Service Buses.

The article also goes on to compare the two camps as the battle between the purist versus the pragmatist, the value generator versus the cost saver and the Business Evangelist vs IT implementer.

Even though the two camps have good points they still don’t get what SOA really means. Rearranging the Powerpoint Diagram is not enough. I have to take anything Gartner says with a pinch of salt. I don’t respect any company or bunch of analyst for that matter that constantly rig their reports based on which vendor pays the most tip. If they don’t rig or be easily swayed by particular vendors, how the hell does a bunch of unrelated APIs by any vendor suddenly become Enterprise Service Bus or Enterprise Content Management Hence, I call it the “Magic Quadrant Syndrome” I’m glad I’m not the only one that is suspicious of Gartner, James Governor has also bemoaned the problem caused by groups like Gartner and their “hommie” relationship with vendors. If you want any evidence of rigging, checkout this post and the threaded comments from a few years ago. Funny enough, I think the most lucrative job in IT might be Vendor Qualification and RFP/RFI Consulting. I think I’ve decided to go into this line of work!

The challenge that is facing us today is missing in this whole arguement. Where is the third way? I’ll repeat this again. Until SOA grafts on collaborative social networking services it’s going to stay in IT. Hard core processes locked into SAP, Siebel, PeopleSoft are meaningless. The word process drives me nuts. Even when they’re broken we persist with them. No wonder creativity is dying in organisations today.

SOA needs to bring that mash up revolution outside the firewall inside the enterprise and into our homes !!!. The Process Brigade need a social context. e.g. make mash ups become services in SOA, The fact that an activity is undefineable doesn’t mean it can’t be called a process. If you’re looking for good examples, you only need to look at Government Department IT Projects. Total waste of our taxes. There is no real process in government departments. All they really manage is exceptions. How can an exception become a process. You’re more likely to need to converse with a human being somehow to resolve most exceptions. The Bottom Up Brigade need to recognise that Integration for it’s sake is useless unless the integration brigade delivers the services into pervasive end user technologies forget it. A possible reference platform for this mash up is already out there checkout ServiceMix Talk about being Open Source and built from ground up to be Service Oriented. A word of caution, just like App Servers were plumbing so are platforms like ServiceMix. However, the potential exists to build something pervasive on such an open platform. My ideal reference services architecture looks like this. I think this is a starting point.

nextgen-eWorkPlace.GIF

Next Generation Services Reference Architecture

Here’s a checklist of the Third Way:-

  • Focus on Context of Pervasive Use not UDDI, RSS didn’t become useful overnight. It wasn’t until the word didn’t matter that it had a context of use.
  • End User Presentation Services will drive adoption of SOA technologies. How? By infiltrating everything they do at play, at school and at work.
  • Manage Chaos. Social Software and Mash-up needs horizontal and transparent means of control especially behind the corporate firewall. Remember, there can be Order in Chaos. SOA can be just that. If you focus on what people can’t do you’ve already lost the battle.
  • Build Trust not suspicion, Security Groups in Enterprise IT are out of control. They’re stifling innovation.
  • The word SOA Governance in SOA is being abused. So is the word compliance!
  • Aggregation Services are not as useful as they seem. If they were useful enterprise portals will not be Graveyard Portals today behind your company firewall.
  • Focus on multiple channels of interaction, e.g. email, fax, sms, etc can be service oriented as well. If I can orchestrate in Blackberry or iTunes you’re on to a winner.
  • Mash Up SOA needs an appropriate orchestration language similar to RSS, Something users can click on, browsers can orchestrate, what ever, I call it Collaborative Services Descriptive Language. (CSDL) a possible combination might be a more useful version of BPEL, I’m not comfortable with all the implementation examples I’ve seen so far because it’s not expressed in a typical grandma Josie or Uncle Harry’s context of use.
  • Uncle Harry, for example would like to create a multi step mash up service that monitors the cheapest and best locations based on specified criteria for his next cruise holiday. Think about car hire, guide, villa, golf, flights etc. These types of service need to be available for end users. Not some lonely sandal brigade UDDI Flunkey kicking tyres at an Order Process Orchestration!!!.
  • If you can’t affect the price of fish forget it. Metaphorically speaking.
  • I passionately believe in the vision above hence, I’m diligently going to pursue this vision with or without any help until I see it come to pass.
  • We need a Mash Up SOA Icon like the Universal RSS Icon, The RSS icon now easily recognisable, SOA needs to become like that!!!