Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Did you think Enterprise Architecture a joke?

Think again!

Its heartening to see InfoWorld and Forrester identifying some of the best Enterprise Architecture initiatives happening in the IT organizations for 2010 and enlisting how those organizations are benefitting from those initiatives. I would recommend this article to anyone who is interested in the concept of Enterprise Architecture.

Interestingly, most of the companies that are listed in the article are Financial Services companies.

More than anything else, what I would like to highlight is the following piece that is the opening line in the article - "In large enterprises, the barrier to increased efficiency and business agility is almost never technological. It's organizational". I would say this statement is the holy grail of Enterprise Architecture. Beyond a point, technology alone will not solve organizational / business problems. You will need different set of tools and skills to achieve improved efficiency and effectiveness. An Enterprise Architect, if not skillful, atleast needs to be aware of those dimensions to deliver his duty.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Technical Leadership - Steve Jobs shows the way!

This morning, one of my colleages commented that Google is talking to some of the low-cost mobile phone manufacturers in India to make Android available for sub 150$ phones. This would eventually result in proliferation of android and its increased market share. He in fact quoted a nytimes article that believes Apple iPhone's market share may shrink like the way Mac Desktops' market share was eaten away by Ubiquitous Microsoft Windows. Indeed the argument was persuasive!. And anyone who reads both the articles would believe that Apple is under threat!.

In the afternoon, this perception is completely rebutted by none other than Steve Jobs himself in Apple's Quarterly earning call. He goes onto say that Apple's integrated architectural approach would be much more valuable to end users compared tofragemented Android Approach. It was a fitting response!. As Steve Jobs himself has stated, its pretty unusual that he joins the earnings call after couple of years.

But, Am not going to talk about iPhone Vs Android in this post. That's pretty much self-evident in those respective news articles.

What impressed me what the level of technical leadership displayed by Steve Jobs in the call, the number of technical 'decisions' that have been 'consciously' taken by Apple,the 'metrics & dimensions' of those decisions, the 'impact' those decisions can make to end users. It was phenomenal for a chief executive to talk about the nuts and bolts of technology behind the company's products.

Few weeks ago, I had raised a concern that none of the indian IT service company executives talk in terms of technology solutions behind their services in their quarterly reports. And today's Steve Job's presence in Apple's earnings call just demonstrates the Technical Leadership, I was referring to.

Some of the key technical aspects that are discussed:
- Decisions on 7" Tablets Vs 10" Tablets and Technical reasons behind the same
- Twitter client - Twitter Deck - Tested on 100 different versions of Android
- Use of Tablets in Eductation industry

Steve jobs concludes by saying - "Make the best product in every industry that we compete in and to drive down the cost, while constantly making the products at the same time".

Am inspired!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

End of Powerpoints?

Do you hate Powerpoints?

One of the CIOs whom I had worked with, doesn't like Powerpoints. He just doesn't believe in Powerpoint based presentations. Neither he uses one when he makes a Townhall meeting.

Am aware of many such people who just dont like canned thinking. Those people are typically spontenous, experimental, shape the goal as they go, discover new opportunities as they explore new avenues. Of couse, this approach could be extremely uncomfortable to top-down/plan-oriented thinkers. But, We are not going to discuss the pros and cons of people in this camp or the other.

Instead, this post will focus on - Are there any real good alternatives to Powerpoints?

When the whole world, especially IT, gives very little room for top-down planning/strategy/enterprise architecture, Powerpoints don't make any sense. Because thoughts and deliberations don't shape actions. Actions-first approach takes the lead here. Those Actions eventually shape the thoughts and evolves the destiny.

If not powerpoints, what other media could be used to communicate issues/options/solutions?

And the alternative is - Games!

Yes, Serious Games.

IBM has announced Serious Games to promote its Smarter Planet Theme. The Game helps the City planners to understand and solve some of the complex issues like water/energy management. While gaming, the participants will also have the opportunity to identify suitable technologies that can be leveraged to solve those issues. [Of course, in this case, IBM products] IBM believes its a unique way to solve complicated problems. And Here people learn by "doing" it not by passive listening to canned presentations. And that's the difference! Simulations and Participation would stimulate the thought process of participants and help them to learn quicker.
There are tons of possibilities during the simulation such as introducing real-world constraints, multi-dimensional decision making, gaming rules and goal setting.

And it looks like most of the other companies such as Cisco, Google, Microsoft and GE are also experimenting with Serious Games.

And here is an analyst who is imagining Gaming could be used in Enterprise IT in the context of Business Intelligence and Collaboration.

I wouldn't be surprised if future management consultants package their reports in Games rather than Powerpoints.

Are we ready yet?. May not be. But I believe the time is arriving soon, since Generation Y is joining the workforce.