Friday, December 07, 2012

Industrial Internet - GE's Grand Renewal?

Recently, GE announced its new strategy called 'Industrial Internet'. Its based on well-known trend 'Internet of Things'.

By using Industrial Internet, GE intends to offer smart software services over their existing hardware product lines across various sectors - healthcare, aerospace, energy. They intend to do this by gathering massive amounts of data from those devices and then utilize the data for further analysis and subsequently towards the optimization of GE's own product configurations as well as the processes involved in those products. GE projects that a mere 1% of productivity achieved out of this initiative could lead to billions of savings. That's astonishing!. 
For example, a General Electric power could transmit valuable data about electricity usage that can then be optimized in isolation or along with other parameters/interrelated devices!.
Couple of aspects in this initiative are really interesting!.

- A Company articulates a strong conviction for future. In today's volatile times, by all means, this is a brave attempt by GE!.
- GE being a industrial conglomerate, articulates its strategies in terms of cutting-edge technologies - Big Data, Analytics, Data Visualization using Natural User Interfaces. The whole Industrial Internet idea is driven by GE's R&D
- At times when leading social/online startups are struggling to find their business value, GE articulates a compelling business value proposition of its new idea
- GE takes a architectural-approach to the solution. In one of the sections in the recently released report, it says traditional ERP products encourage only local optimization - optimization at product level or transaction level. Taking a industrial internet approach that gathers data from a variety of sensors and devices will have the ability to integrate and encourage a systemic approach to problem solving!. To me, that's profound value that was not possible before!.
- Declining cost of sensors and computing infrastructure, affordability of communication networks, increasing capabilities of statistics and algorithms all have been put to form a cohesive story that delivers a business value.

GE is going to rally around a large ecosystem of technology and service provides to pursue this vision in coming years.  To me, it sounded like GE's vision has lot of similarity with SAP, when it pursued Enterprise Service Oriented Architecture along with its partners as its Grand Vision a few years ago. Not that, GE could potentially reverse this direction or fail, but there are certainly significant challenges to overcome in its journey:

- All GE's products may not have the capability to emit data as required by the new ecosystem. Some products may need to be re-engineered / redesigned altogether to support this vision. Customers need to upgrade to new products if they need to avail smart services!. 
- Once hardware devices support emitting data, the next challenge is Quality of Data. All downstream activities such as analytics, visualization will be of value only when the underlying data is useful.
- GE's taking an architecture approach which is extremely difficult to implement. We know why - it is very similar to the challenges that I articulated in the post Why Enterprise Architecture is fundamentally failing. Though GE's vision is no where related to Enterprise Architecture, both are similar in terms of applying systemic thinking. And systemic thinking is hard, especially when it comes to siloed organization models.
- Is it GE's Grand Renewal?. Is GE attempting this whole thing only because it reached a saturation in its traditional businesses?. Is GE trying to move up in the value chain further?. Is GE moving into Services business?. Of course, its not trying to become a IBM global services or a SAP product vendor?. Of course, Not.  It pursues this vision purely an organic growth strategy, that builds on its own products/services targeted to their existing/new customers. 

In one of the interviews, a GE executive said - When it comes to devices, We are reaching the end of Physics. The next phase is to integrate digital information technologies to those devices to offer smart services to the client.

The future possibilities look very interesting!. And its all hybrid and versatile - mechanical with electronics, electronics with information technologies, information technologies with physical spaces/natural user interfaces.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Continuous Clients - Holy Grail of Mobility and Cloud Computing!

Recently came across an interesting article by Gartner – differentiating apps Vs applications.  Most of the organizations are simply taking the ‘appification’ route by creating the miniature versions of their corporate applications to support Mobility.  Is it the right thing to do? Of course, NOT.

What is the fun in accessing online banking from mobile when you can comfortably access account details online. You wouldn’t want to heavy-lifting usages from your mobile, not just from security point, but also from usability perspective.

Some other companies prefer to deploy bare minimal, marketing apps onto the customers’ mobile devices.   Is that the right thing to do?  May be. But, it’s certainly underutilizing the potential of mobile devices.

Then, what’s the right thing to do?  Per Gartner, it is best to create ‘apps’ that are personalized and provide proactive services to the customer. In short, ‘apps’ should function like ‘virtual assistants’/’agents’ installed on their mobile devices which act as customer advocates to the organization. The traditional ‘applications’ provide ‘reactive and canned’ services to the generic customer base. And that’s the difference. How many ‘apps’ have you seen or used in your mobile devices, which truly understand your needs and wants?

In my view, Banking and Retail were the first few verticals to embrace multi-channel strategies. They were the ones started servicing customers by providing multiple delivery channels. Customers felt empowered and they could choose the channel based on the transaction/service needs or their personality/convenience levels.  People who were not comfortable interacting with technology can walk-into the branch and perform the transaction.

Few years before, when I worked in Banking IT, one of the key dream use case that was prevalent in Multi-channel was to provide the ‘continuity’ feature – continuity across channels.  For example, a person who starts an ‘Account Opening’ transaction in Branch should be able to continue in online banking and complete by Phone Banking. Isn’t that amazing?  Yes, it was a dream.  I have not personally come across any bank that claims to provide that kind of continuity across channels. 

The dream that the industry had in last decade has the potential to be realized NOW. I spoke about the reality of multi-screen customer experience in InformationWeek few weeks ago.  One of the key tenets of multi-screen user experience is to provide continuity across channels/ screens. 

I sometime think our daily lives are nothing but sifting through multiple screens during the course of the day – mobile in morning, PC/Laptop all through the day, TV or Tablet in the evening and mobile late night. Isn’t it true?

Now, all  through this day, you are shifting from one device to another. But, you wouldn’t want to explain your preferences to each device individually. Or you wouldn’t want to stop and restart your work on every single device that you use…including TV.  Nowadays, TVs are coming with processors.

And that’s exactly called as – Continuous Clients.  In my view, Continuous clients is the Holy Grail of Mobility and Cloud Computing. Why Cloud? – Because the continuity can actually be provisioned by managing the user state in the Cloud. And mobility in this case, applies to all kinds of devices that we use throughout the day.

The term Continuous client was coined by Engadget Blogger – Joshua Topolsky – and it’s widely referred in several implementations.  

More than this underlying concept, the scenarios and applications that can benefit from this capability would be more interesting.

How many times you have felt – you are watching a movie in your TV and you want to continue later in your tablet later in the day in different location?.  All this needs to be done without major plumbing!. And that is the wonder delivered by Continuous Clients.  Continuous clients need not span just devices. They can span across locations and platforms and media as well. All that matters is the user's state continuity across these transits.
Continuous Clients are the way to build Boundaryless Experiences!.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Analytics and US Presidential Elections!

Have you observed the statistics or mathematicians views on Big Data or Analytics?  They probably wouldn’t stress those jargons too much in their conversations.   Checkout Political Statistician Nate Silver’s interview and a question on Big Data.

In the world of Enterprise IT, there is no dearth of jargons – Business Intelligence, Analytics, Big Data, Insights, Data Mining, etc. There is good amount of time one needs to spend NOT on applying these techniques, but to get a perspective on what is real and what is not.  In Nate Silver’s words, in analytics world, one needs to have the ability to differentiate noise from the real signal, ability to differentiate real data from insignificant information.  I believe, in the World of Big Data, its lot more critical to understand and differentiate noise from the signal. Else, we could be easily misled in our decisions.

In the upcoming US presidential elections, Nate Silver predicts President Obama has a 73.6% chance of victory. Yes, 'Chance’ of victory, even though the number 73 is far more significant. Nate Silver humbly claims that he is by no means certain and that his analysis is a mere probability of a given result.  As this article points out, If a Weather forecaster tells you there’s an 80.9% chance of rain, she is not guaranteeing rain. But she is saying you should probably take an umbrella when you step out.

That’s exactly the perspective we should take when we approach Analytics in Enterprise IT – As Nate puts it, any model of real world is an approximation.  He also adds Data driven predictions can succeed or fail. Its when we deny “our role” in the process that the chances of failure rise.  To me, “our role” indicates the magnitude of organizational changes and people behaviors required to adopt analytics successfully.  We discussed about it in my previous post – Big Fat Truth behind Business Intelligence.

The need of the hour is to have a more people-centric, personalized view of analytics that doesn’t blindly believe in data, but to blend in people’s confirmation biases (based on social context – We find what we generally search for and We like to stand confirmed with the data that we find) and big picture (The same data could translate to a different interpretation in a different context) in which data is analyzed and interpreted.

Another news that caught my attention this week on analytics was around disaster modeling. A company named - Eqecat - does catastrophe risk modeling that helps to forecast losses from catastrophic events such as Hurricane sandy. This forecast helps government agencies and insurance companies for further planning and action. 

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Visual Web - Rising Trend in 2012 and in Future!

What is common in modern platforms and devices - be it Windows 8, Apple iPhone/iPad and Android devices?

Very simple - Visual Appeal & Presentation.

All the latest devices such as Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Note are designed and marketed to the visual senses of end customers. All major platforms are researching and adopting design innovation in user interface/interaction.

Is this the next big thing?. Not really. The next big thing in user interface and interaction is claimed as invisible interfaces - meaning technologies will become embedded in real-word objects so that there is no specific or separate interface designed for it. Designing a separate interface to activate actions on the computing platform brings a separation in cognition and leaves an impression of operating on a secondary medium. Its not fully immersive!. So, We will soon be moving away from fantastic graphical user interfaces to invisible, natural user interfaces. But, I believe, even with the advent of immersive/natural user interfaces, graphical user interfaces will not go away completely.

With all your computing requirements can be addressed by cloud platforms, what do service providers do?.
If you have so much of computing power in edge devices - dual cores in mobile devices and tablets - what can you possibly do with such abundant compute power in the hands of end users?
When there is red ocean in the industry, and too many competitors, how do you stand out in the first place?. How do you make yourself deserve user attention, even for couple of minutes?

By designing visually appealing and useful services.

This decade belongs to visual design. Access any medium - be it newspaper, hoardings or main roads, websites - all are designed to appeal to your visual senses. The saying 'a picture worth 1000 words' is taken pretty seriously.

Have you observed the marketing campaigns of McDonalds and KFCs?. It is so flawlessly designed that you would feel the food is so good. That's the point. It may or may not taste good. But that's different. But, it looks stunningly good.

Going by its signature design, Windows 8 advises clients to invest in designing a good 'Tile'.

Going by the reality shows like American Idol, Indian Idol, one critic says 'Music is more seen than heard today'. Yes, everything is seen today - be it Music or Food - that are typically heard or tasted.

Why do you think Facebook acquired Instagram, a photo sharing site, for a billion dollar?

Why Pinterest, a visual intensive bookmarking and sharing site, gaining millions of visitors in couple of years of launch?

When I say 'Visual Design', its not the conventional, linear,navigational, user interface design. It is so web 1.0. The new Visual Design is all about Creative Design.

The new phenomenon is called as Visual Web.

Apu Gupta, CEO of a startup - Curalate - a marketing suite, says - "Images provide a visceral emotional reaction. Emotions drive discovery. Discovery drives clicks. Clicks drive revenue".  

Hence, investing in good images/visuals is actually designing for reaping greater ROI in user's emotional reactions and eventually greater financial returns.

If you are designing any new application for large scale users in 2012 and in near future, this is one aspect that you cannot afford to ignore!.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Calm Computing - Need of the Hour!

We have heard about Cloud Computing. I have written about Klout computing. I said in my LinkedIn status that my next post would be about Cognizant Computing. But, before that I found this ‘Calm Computing’ intriguing and need of the hour.

Before I start discussing about the term, would like to narrate few scenarios that would set the context.

Have you ever wondered why you end up spending more amount of hours in Internet than planned?

Have you ever started searching something specific in Google, clicked on a set of results and then you navigated from Google and you kept your reading / scanning on and on and lost the time and intent on where you started?  In search results, any hyperlink that you click ‘initiates’ or leads to a diversion.   

Have you ever clicked on the links recommended for you on news sites  (e.g. Harvard Blogs) and spent good amount of time without actually noticing the time lost?

Have you noticed the Facebook’ design of displaying your contact’s recent updates?. It will show the picture of yourself followed by a text box, waiting for you to add your comments. Pls note the ‘initiation of update’ is already done for you. All you need to do is to ‘complete’ the same. That’s good enough stimulant for the end user to add his comment.

Am sure most of us would have had these experiences. Internet sites are inherently designed to be ‘sticky’.  Sticky experiences help to generate relationships and transactions for the business. That’s the key. But, the flip side is that the end user ends up spending quite a lot of time involuntarily.

Distractions are everywhere. Email beep, Blackberry buzz, facebook social updates, advertising messages, phone calls – interruptions are pervasive.

While the biggest boon of today’s trend is abundance of technologies and devices, the bane is the attention deficiency. People are constantly distracted and there are tons of books, tools, techniques to help them to get focused on their work.

Have you ever wondered why so many to-do list apps are there in the industry?. Just search for a perfect to-do list app, and you will get tons of them.

I believe people want to get focused. And To-do list app does just that.

I believe today’s web user interface design is meant to facilitate constant information flow and constant feedback loops.  Starting from Google’s all-white web page design with list of clickable search results to Facebook comments update - all commercial internet sites apply the same principles.
This phenomenon may not apply to business applications. But with advent of Consumeration of IT, We may apply these practices to business applications as well unknowingly. 
So, if someone is addicted to Internet, its no surprise. The design leads to constant use and potential addiction.

So, What’s the solution?.

If User Interface design experts are helping to design ‘sticky’, same geeks are giving ideas to design for the opposite – to design for focus, to design for user attention.

Before getting to the solution, let us see what are the alternate user interfaces that we are used to, that helps us to focus our attention?

-          Conference rooms in offices which have small window and rest of the wall in the rooms are either covered with tinted glass or sealed. This helps the participants to focus on the meeting without getting distracted by the outside noise and whenever the participant wants to get the view of the office outside the room, they can always look through the small window.

-          Have you been to meditation halls where the hall is devoid of all unnecessary objects except one or two objects of focus?. (e.g. a glowing candle)

-          You can add lot more here… J

Is there anything that we can take from these physical interface designs and apply in our virtual world? This should help us to design user interfaces that would help users to focus and converge their attention on specific tasks/actions.

I have thought about this problem and potential solution a while ago and believed it was innovative. Not true. As the saying goes – Innovation happens elsewhere – and there are user interface design experts who have formalized this design paradigm and identified certain design principles for implementing encalming experiences.

They  call it ‘Calm Computing’. Its all about designing or engineering user interfaces for calming the human attention, helping to achieve focus. Search for this term and you will get tons of links that will direct you to more information on this topic.

Charlie Bess of EDS has been blogging about it in the topic of ‘Attention Engineering’.

With the abundance of devices and services, the critical need of the hour is to design applications that will apply Calm Computing principles that help the users to achieve their objectives without loosing too much of their precious resource – Time!.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Social Analytics and Relationship Management!

There is a good amount of traction on Social Analytics from Marketing departments. CMO Teams are experimenting their discretionary spending in listening platforms, sentiment analysis, campaign impact measurement, amplification rates and competitive intelligence metrics.

The mainstream investment is yet to kick-in in Enterprise IT space. In my view, Social Analytics is all about Qualitative intelligence whereas traditional analytics is all about Quantitative intelligence.

Where do you typically need Qualitative intelligence?  When I say Qualitative intelligence is all about something that is not measurable, not explicit, lies as tacit knowledge in people's minds, often not expressed in numbers, generally not quantified, subjective. By means of subjective, the intelligence also largely depends on cultural bias as well.

Now, Where do you seek and use such intelligence?. We all know Quantitative intelligence is something that everybody seeks in structured financial investments/reviews or operational improvements. But, Where do we use Qualitative intelligence?

Hitherto, We seek Qualitative intelligence from people. We talk to people our inner circle and our networks to figure out what is subjective opinion on certain individuals/institutions/products and services and then We decide.

But, with arrival of social networks, its much easier to capture such information from Social Analytics tools.

In my view, Qualitative intelligence is lot more applicable in relationships whereas the numerical intelligence is applicable in transactions. What do we mean by relationships and transactions?

I remember reading the following saying few years go...

"You focus on transactions. Relationships will not grow.

 You focus on Relationships. Transactions will grow naturally".

Unfortunately, with intense competition and scarcity for time, everything is a transaction now. The responses are almost instantaneous and the relationships are volatile, as choices are too many.

Then, When do we really have relationships?. I think Relationships are a must-have in long-term associations...or a series of short-term engagements. CMO team approaches relationships from the second perspective – series of short-term engagements.

In that context, I see social analytics are lot more relevant in relationship-centric environments such as

- Measuring customer feedback in services' firms Offshore Delivery centers

  (I recently gave a survey to my car dealer on their recent car service.  They asked me to force fit my rating into only three categories.    For example, the service executive asked "Do you want to us rate as Excellent, Good, Bad?"    I said "Average". I explained the reasons for the same opinion.   Unfortunately, they couldn't complete their survey, because their system expects only one of the three above mentioned ratings!.  That's crazy!. I could still force fit my survey rating. But, it would mean the auto dealer will lose the value of my feedback. That's exactly the Qualitative intelligence I am referring to).

- Measuring Employee Performance for Leadership roles (Largely deals with perceptions)

- Measuring the perception of say, a real estate firm, based on its past deliveries/customer services (again perception driven), before somebody makes a huge investment

In all these scenarios, stakes are high and data/information is scarce while decision making.

In all these examples, I am not saying Quantitative metrics doesn't matter. But, Qualitative information weighs a lot more, which is often overlooked.  In fact, Qualitative intelligence with corresponding quantitative metrics, it could be a winner metric all the way!

In some of the scenarios, Social analytics is also used to compute the impact in short-term transactions such as measuring the impact of time-bound marketing campaigns (internal/external).

Its very valid, but using social analytics in relationship management will create greater impact than transactional scenarios.

Today, Social Analytics is all about Marketing because that's where it gets funded and largely public data focused such as Twitter, Facebook, etc.  This is required. But, let's not get skewed that public social is the only social.  

There is good amount of social activity happens in Intranets (beyond Twitter, Facebook, etc.). There is good amount of social activity happens in non-digital world as well (Phone, In-person meetings, word-of-mouth opinions)

If we depend and derive our opinions based only on pure-play social analytics that monitors public facing sites,  We should also be aware of their boundaries. And there are tons of opportunities to employ social analytics in lots of business and social scenarios.

Insights from Social Analytics should ultimately help us to improve our relationship management actions!.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Social Engineering in Action - by LinkedIn!

Am not a big fan of Social Networking sites. Have ranted about my perspectives on famous social networking sites in my earlier posts. But, a recent initiative by LinkedIn really got my attention. Would like to share my observations on this initiative and some of the key take aways in this post.

In all my previous companies, the HR department typically chases employees every six months to update their individual skill sets and certifications. This information is used by Resource Managers to identify the best people required for the upcoming business opportunity, be it consulting or application development or system integration. Obviously the HR initiative falls flat consistenly with meagre employee engagement resulting in incomplete / inaccurate data.

Then IT department changes the look and feel of those competency management tools and releases a simplified new version to appeal to its employees. Assuming employees would embrace the new system, there would be new set of internal marketing / evangelization undertaken within the company. Guess What?. The pursuit falls flat again with discouraging results!.

The reason for failure is simple. Employees don't see value in return for submitting their individual skill sets/expertise/certifications.  There are no organizational incentives that compliments the IT systems to encourage the employees to submit their individual information.

LinkedIn has solved this very issue in capturing the skills data for individuals who have registered their profile with LinkedIn.  This blog post is all about the idea LinkedIn has applied in achieving decent results.

If you have been a observer of LinkedIn in the last few years, you must have seen the company morphing itself from a Professional Networking solutions provider to a Social Job Portal. Nothing wrong with that!. Its the business model that LinkedIn has adopted. Its definitely better than a business model that is completely dependent on pure-play advertising!.

Guided by its business model, LinkedIn was pestering me to provide details on my skills sets for quite sometime.  It sent me email reminders. It tried to influence me that providing details would help me to land great opportunities!.  Of course, I didn't budge!. and LinkedIn also gave up after few weeks.

Now during last week, I received about 10 emails from LinkedIn stating that one of my ex-colleague has endorsed my skills in several areas.  I received one email per skill set that is endorsed by my connection. What an Idea?

LinkedIn has cleverly applied the idea of nudging my connections to endorse my skill sets. And it really worked!.  Have also started receiving periodic emails from LinkedIn stating various conenctions of mine endorsing me in different skill areas.   Whenever a connection of mine visits my profile, LinkedIn asks the question to them if they would like to endorse me in a variety of skills areas.  If they are interested, they could endorse it and the number of endorsements appear in my profile.

 A very complex challenge that enterprises have been struggling to tackle for a long time has been solved by a very simple social idea.

The key observations that I derive out of this idea are:

- Your social connections may know little more than what you think they know about you. Of course, some of these could be mere perceptions or inaccurate information.   But, Please note having some data with less accuracy is always better than having no data at all (like the HR department example)

- By having connections endorsing your skills, LinkedIn has pulled the right levers in the interest of its business model.    It had an insight that connections would have some knowledge about an individual's skill sets.

  It also had an insight that connections would be willing to help the individual by doing the simple act of endorsements.   By helping the individual, the connections also help LinkedIn to gather more data that would be useful in its job / candidate matching.

- The unintended side-effect is that the individual may feel happy about the endorsements and may also like the connections who did the endorsement.    This could nudge the individual to renew their connections and reopen the communications with the people who have endorsed.

- Above all, the intiative helps to generate 'more' data that is decent and useful in a business and social context.   It helps to keep the system 'live' and 'fluid'.
[Would also like to add another example here by LinkedIn itself. In initial years,when somebody registers their profile with the site, it would ask certain set of information under pre-defined categories. And it would also let the user know how much percent the profile is complete with information. (e.g. 80% or 70%).  Letting the user know and indicating the completeness would potentially nudge the user to provide more information and make it complete. Pls note here the user is influenced to provide information in favor of LinkedIn's business. But the individual perceives its towards the benefits of his own interests.  Initially when I created the profile, I made it 100% complete. Now if I look at my profile again, it says 90% complete. I was wondering why?. Because, LinkedIn wants my resume also to be uploaded to make it 100%. Isn't that a great idea?. If I am a novice user, I would certainly upload my resume and make it complete. Unfortunately for LinkedIn, am not!. :-)]

This is a classic case of Social Engineering, where you are subtly nudged to do certain things in favor of an individual or a business, without major effort.
Am sure We are going to see lot more examples not just from LinkedIn but from other leading companies in near future!.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hollywood: Inspiration for designing Next Generation Workstyle?

Recently, IBM bought a company called Kenexa.
SAP bought successFactors.
Oracle acquired eTaleo.
and now its IBM's turn to pickup a HR technology company.

The reason this news caught my attention is that Kenexa is not only a technology company that has HR solutions, but also provides HR services such as Hiring/HR consulting, etc. Now, that's interesting. Initially, I was thinking its a innovative idea from IBM perspective. But later, I had to change my mind and hence this blog post. Read on to find out why!

IBM has acquired not just a software company but a services/operations company as well, in HR space. Essentially, its a vertical integration of IT services business, where the IT services organization delivers the complete business operations enabled by technology.

Now, lets take a small detour...Go thru the following list and try to figure out what is common

Prosumers (Integration of Producers/Consumers)
Sellsumers (Consumers who sell their data/insights to corporations)
Tasksumers (Consumers who make money by doing small tasks for other consumers)
Single point of contact
Single window clearance

All these are examples of vertical integration where couple of responsiblities are fused to single individual or  organizational entity. The fact is single window clearance in Govt context is so attractive not because its accountable and delivers results, but because coordinating with multiple entities within the Govt is time consuming!.

We live in highly-networked, Globalized World. We live in times where we have the unique opportunity to network with
virtually anyone in the World, thanks to advanced communication technologies.  Still, the irony is We believe vertically integrated business models succeed!.

Vertically integrated business models indicates the degree to which a firm owns its supply chain, either upstream or downstream. Irrespective of the outcome - products/services - of those vertically integrated business models, people perceive  those models are highly reliable, accountable and products are superior and world-class.  It could be true!.
But, the question is - with the far reaching capability of social/professional networking, are we losing the opportunities to create world-class products/services by leveraging vertically disintegrated business models?. Unlike integrated business models, in a disintegrated model, the scope gets partitioned across several organizations that have their own specializations that gets finally integrated to deliver a product/service.
The more we disintegrate the responsibilities, the more we co-ordinate & co-create with diversified stakeholders in a network. The more we disintegrate and unify the capabilities in the network, more innovative the end products/services would become.  But, does it also mean 'more chances of failure, more failure points?'. Possibly Yes.
Do we have examples?. Of course - What do you think 'Open Source Movements' are?.
There is no integration, There is no reward/incentive, There is no measurement criteria, There is no single point of contacts, There is no raci chart, Still the movement created a tremendous amount of impact in IT industry. The essence of open source development is all about 'coordination'.

Unfortunately, We couldn't replicate open source models within enterprises. Will we do the same mistake in Enterprise Social Networking?. We need to wait and watch.

In the industry, we constantly oscillate between integration and disintegration or centralization/decentralization. The question is not to ask - Either this or that, but to ask when to apply what?

But, as we have access to abundant data/computing power/professional knowledge across the globe, following a vertically integrated model would be a lost opportunity where we give the entire control to a single entity!.

What is another example of Vertically disintegrated model?. - Very simple - Hollywood industry.
Making a movie involves involving professionals from multiple business entities and they all work together to create a successful movie. The entire team gets dismantled once the movie is complete.  Remember, with a variety of stakeholders from different entities, Intellectual property is still managed and results get delivered. The essence is 'Coordination' across entities, not just individuals.

While the traditional project management works under the premises of 'integrating' resources to deliver reliable services, breakthrough innovation can only happen by 'willingly coordinating' individuals/entities.

Soon, some pockets of our workplace could get transformed to the way the Hollywood works!.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Unpredictable Analytics!

This is my 200th post! :-)

Thanks to all my readers who continued to frequent my blog for all these years and encouraged and shared similar perspectives!

When it comes to digital media, We have the problem of abundance. That's the reason we have so called 'Big Data' solutions. 

Abundance everywhere - be it mobile devices, its features, social media, its humungous lifestream data, and other typical web 2.0 channels such as blogs, wikis, etc. With abundance, people end up having too many choices and often challenged to seek clarity when trying to identify the best thing that suits them. 

To top it all, We have new generation professions called 'Data Scientists' and 'Social / Big Data Analytic' solutions which promise to give some of the unique insights that were never available before - be it competitive intelligence, customer sentiment, persona analysis.

Again, Analytics opens up a floodgate of opportunities which again businesses have to figure out which one is the best to take advantage of.  Regarding Analytics, I came across a very interesting perspective shared by HP-EDS fellow Charlie Bess - who says that analytics should enable us to contemplate on questions that were never asked before, rather than answers/insights. In my view, its a profound statement!.

He goes on to explain - Don't analyze the transactional data of your own customers, instead ask why the similar customers in the market are NOT buying your products/services?. What are their preferences which you are not addressing?. 

The moment you identify a question that was never asked before, you have a innovation opportunity. Today's marketplace has tons of answers seeking questions - be it all new technologies/solutions/devices/services.

But, Identifying the question is not so easy! :-). It's a integrative competency that encompasses many aspects including business acumen, customer insights, technology trends and product/service leadership.

Would like to give another example...I am choosy when it comes to shopping. I dont mind visiting multiple shops/malls when it comes to shopping a product/service that meets my quality requirements.

The Retail store can do lot more data mining and analytics when it comes to analyzing the purchasing pattern of its customer base. But, What happens when an existing customer has a preference, visits the store, doesn't make a purchase, but walks out simply. That's a missed opportunity. I have done that couple of times. Am sure, many shoppers do that especially when they have a clear expectation of what they want to buy.

Often, these opportunities go unnoticed because the customer doesn't make a digital interaction with the business/store. Hence, it goes unnoticed and becomes a missed opportunity!.

If you've observed, in small pharmaceutical shops, if the same scenario had to occur, the pharmacist prompty takes a note of the unavailable prescription and even offers to deliver when the stock arrives in a day or two. But, it doesn't happen in all kinds of retail. 

The question to be asked here - Is there any loyal customer who visits our store and doesn't make a purchase?. If yes, why?

I firmly believe the future service innovations deeply depend on mining the innovative questions. And that requires a unique capability!.

In my previous organization, as a Technology/Architecture practice lead, I was also running Innovation charter for one of the lines of business. In those days, when we run out of good ideas from conventional Innovation workshops, my Director used to challenge me saying - 'The recipe for innovation doesn't lie in analyzing tech trends and coming with cool ideas. The recipe lies in identifying unique business problem statements that are yet to be solved'. Very True!.

In summary, as my other favorite blogger Vinnie says - The idea is not to find out just 'Why'. Creativity is all about asking 'Why Not'.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

IT Architecture Meltdown - Agile is NOT the answer!

In the last post, We discussed about the diminishing role of IT Architecture in Enterprise IT.

The meltdown was mainly attributed to couple of reasons:
- Implementation/Development of Business systems are complete or consumed as a service
 (The business systems include system of records, system of transactions and even systems of engagement)
- IT costs are constantly scrutinized for business value. In understaffed and underfunded IT projects, Architecture would be the last thing that gets focused.
- Continuous Disruption in Technology space opening up a huge but uncertain canvas for experimentation and business innovation.   Experimentation / situational solutions calls for spontaneous processes.

If traditional IT architecture practices dont match up to the needs of today's requirements, what is the alternative?. Would 'Agile' help?

We have been discussing about the role of 'Agile Architectures' or 'Agile Methodologies' for coming up with solutions quickly. But, they have their own caveates namely.

- Agile methods are suited for building systems where there is uncertainity in underlying technology or uncertainity in business requirements. However, In today's times, the customers are lot more smarter. They are pragmatic, incremental and absolutely clear about their next 2-3 steps.
- Agile Architectures / Agile modeling concepts largely thrive on 'emergent architecture' patterns. The philosophy here is that 'Architecture' evolves as the business requirements evolve. Again, an expensive assumption to make in these times.
- We have also heard a lot more on 'Agile' Systems where the systems would be flexible enough to be responsive to changing business needs. This means the systems could have been over-architected to accomodate multiple unforeseen scenarious in advance. Yet another expensive approach.
- Agile methods also require the product owner to spend quite a lot of time with engineering team to continuously review and refactor the requirements and the software. All this was acceptable in a development life cycle where you have several sprints/several interim releases. Today, fully functional releases are expected in weeks not in months. So, Product Owner would rather like to spend his time with his own customers/end users than with engineering teams.

In my view, the traditional IT architecture as we know it, is dead!

If 'Agile' is not the answer, What is the next best alternative?. In my view, the next best alternative doesn't exist yet in proper shape and form and it needs to be invented/designed.

Would like to highlight some of the critical considerations for the next best alternative:

1. The traditional architecture practice focused on 'business requirements', 'static structures' and 'runtime behaviors'.    If traditional architecture is closer to 'software engineering' and 'management systems', new age architecture is expected to be closer to 'end users'. (not the sponsors)
2. The past decade focused on building 'systems/solutions', while today's expectation is build 'meaningful experiences'.    The 'ends' are far more important than 'means'. It doesn't mean that processes can be ignored, but they are taken for granted.   Unfortunately, We focused too much of our efforts on 'processes' in the past decade that we are poorly prepared to build 'experiences' in coming years.

The olden days architect thrived on his own technical strengths and political ability in internal organizational ecosystem. This is no longer adequate.  To be a successful architect today, it requires a lot more understanding on markets, trends, business, technology and more importantly end users and their social context.

An IT architect from past decade can morph into a new form to address these new requirements. But, We may not call him as 'Architect' anymore. Probably, a 'Service Director' or 'Experience Director'. The Director would be responsible for the overall creative outcome of the project.  I wish to see the traditional Project Manager role to morph into the role of something like a 'Production Manager' who manages all non-technical/non-creative aspects but critical for delivery such as logistics, resourcing, finances, stakeholder management etc.

In order to effectively leverage IT architecture in Enterprise IT, it is absolutely necessary to categorize/tier the systems in the order of importance as we discussed in the last post. For example, System of Records and Transactions need a lot more stable IT architecture than systems of engagement and systems that deliver experiences.

In summary, We still need traditional architecture methods and practices, but to 'maintain' our business-critical/supporting systems 'not' to address the new age business requirements.  What we need today are the frameworks, architectural processes and project management methods that would enable us to deliver 'amazing IT services & experiences spontaneously'.

Would like to stress upon some of the significant aspects of the above statement:
- We are not going to build systems and solutions - but services. Services by themselves are co-created by consumer and producer, short-living experiences.
- We live in times of plenty. To differentiate truly valuable services, they have to deliver 'amazing' experiences/results. Mere functionality is not enough.
- We need to deliver services 'spontaneously'. We should be able to deliver expected/instinctive results almost instantly.
Are we prepared?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

IT Architecture Meltdown - Are we prepared?

If you are an IT Architect, Am sure you must have come across a similar situation in your career..

Few years ago, in my previous company, I used to lead Architecture practice. During those days, One of the senior program managers came to me asked - 'Bala - As you know, We are developing this application for an internal need, do you think we need to go all nine yards in Architecture?. Is it even worth it?. Can we do it in some scripting langauges like cold fusion? Would that suffice?'. My answer was a resounding 'Yes'.

In most of the unstructured scenarios where a new custom application gets developed, it may be worthwile to watch out for following scenarios:

- The so called new app may be for a non-critical internal business need
- The app may be an interim arrangement till a suitable solution becomes available in the company / market.
  For example, most of these custom apps may get replaced by a huge ERP or a cloud service or COTS package in near future
- The underlying business process itself may be temporal / short-living in nature
- The app can be an 'early-bird' experiment in a specific technology - for example, a mobile application for a specific platform.

In all these cases, the app is not expected to be built for durability. I would like to stress the word 'durability'.
Durability calls for high-commitment, high reliability, huge upfront costs/investments, plan for future support (example - versioning). In short, durability means 'built to last'.

In the absence of durability, we are referring to a low-touch, low-commitment application. You may say, it may of of low-quality.  And Customers are perfectly fine with that, purely because of the fact that those apps are not expected to be durable.

Only when you build a highly durable software, you will need the 'Architecture'. Having a robust architecture will address all the non-functional requirements of the software.

In my view, we are at the 'tertiary' phase of Enterprise IT applications, where the core apps that form the foundation & custom apps that form the differentiation were all built in the last few decades. We have now entered in to the decade of discontinuities where architecture multiplicity has become the norm, not the exception. Business is flooded with abundant of choices in disruptive technologies with their own architectural choices - be it mobility, social media, cloud and analytics.

And We live in highly uncertain times where predicting the business climate for next few months itself has become a huge challenge. For the first time in many years, Indian IT services company Infosys has suspended its quarterly revenue guidance, owing to uncertainities across its global customers across many verticals.  In those conditions, businesses are forced to take tactical, incremental and sometimes non-durable/experimental steps to sustain and grow the business. Of course, not to mention with least upfront costs. In another story, most of the IT outsourcing companies are holding around hundreds of thousands of people on Bench - without utilization - due to decline in demand.

In times where just-enough functional outcomes are valued lot more than durable qualities, Architecture would be underutilized. If done in force, unvalued by the business.

And that is exactly happening in the industry right now - be it Enterprise IT or outsourcing / IT services industry.
For Architects who have not come to terms with this reality, finding themselves misplaced and misunderstood. And businesses end up underutilizing Architecture in places where its not appropriate.

The whole reason that triggered me to write this post was an article on the traditional civil architecture called - Architecture Meltdown - that talks about the fate of building architects post recession.  For hundreds of years, art and architecture usedt to be the symbolic representations of a city's prosperity.

Ok, If this is the issue for the Architecture meltdown in Enterprise IT, what is the solution?

Is the role of Architect dead and not required any more?. If not, what are the options in leveraging the best of Architecture and Architects in these uncertain times?

Have some suggestions...Stay tuned for my next post.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Marketing Blue Ocean Strategies!

Am sure most of us must have come across the bestseller business strategy book Blue Ocean Strategy. Blue Ocean Strategy is all about achieving high growth and profits in business by creating uncontested market space and making competition irrelevant.  This is essentially accomplished by coming up with innovative products/services. In contrast, Red Ocean is all about competing head-on in traditional marketspace with conventional or rapidly commoditizing products/services. And in the book, you find several examples of companies that have demonstrated the benefits of Blue Ocean Strategy.

If you observe the examples, you will find the likes of Apple, Nintendo, Air Asia and others. Of course, being big and daring to take risky market adventures is no small feat!  Some of these companies also have the advantage of an established brand by having competed in red ocean products/services. Hence, when they enter into blue ocean (such as introducing something like iPod), they demand attention regardless of the merit in the new product.

The question is - How can small fishes enter and succeed in Blue Ocean?. For one, startups & small companies may not have enough clout/marketing budget. Second, by virtue of being innovative, none would be able to understand & appreciate the new product without enough marketing. So, How could they be successful in marketing their unique products/services?

As Jack Trout says there is no objective reality when it comes to marketing. There are only perceptions. Marketing when undertaken purely on product merits regardless of perceptions is sure to fail.

However, When it comes to startups/smaller companies, there are no market perceptions on the company.  People neither love it nor hate it, because they may not know enough yet. That's not a nice situation to be in!.

When it comes to Online Marketing, We are still in light bulb stage!.  Would like to quote couple of examples here.

1. The social analytics tools such as PeerIndex, Klout and Twitalyzer report the most influential people on the Internet. They are highly reputed, established and successful in the offline world as well. They report people like Deepak Chopra, President Obama as top most influential people. Come on!. They are and would continue to be influential and successful
even without Twitters/Social Networks and other online tools.  We dont need analytics tools to report these findings.

2. Digital Marketing thrives on keywords, search and celebrities. If you dont have a presence in any of these, you are lost.
   For example, if some one comes up with a new vocabulary, new word (example - web 2.0), it wouldn't be successful and top the listings unless its quoted by an online celebrity or gains enough traffic.   Recently, I was introduced to a new word called - Filter Bubble - by Venky, who is a regular reader of my blog.   Though Filter Bubble is a brand new word, Search engines will get you plenty of results because it was coined by a reputed online activitist (who has klout) and there was a TED presentation on the same.   Keyword based marketing takes a mechanistic approach and limits the possibilities of innovating / discovering and amplifying new concepts!.

3. All Internet marketing efforts are based on quantitative analysis of content such as page ranks, klout computation, number of hits, retweets, etc.  Keywords and traffic hits rank humans?. Excuse me! :-) They are not based on qualitiative assessment or the merit of the content.   Unless this happens, We wouldn't be able to unleash the potential of the Internet and its Innovation diversity.   Using Online tools, you would only be able to find what you would like to know. How will you discover something radical which you dont know, but that exist online?

   May be, the next generation online tools could leverage semantic technologies assisted by Human intelligence to qualify the content and reach the required audience.

I was trying to understand how Facebook and Twitter became popular despite being new & small in the market. Facebook became popular because it was launched and grown in universities till it gained a significant mass. Twitter grew significantly by having celebrities signing up for the service.

But, Marketing innovative concepts/products/services pose a unique challenge given the top limitations. This applies to marketing products/services born out of Blue Ocean Strategies as well, especially from Startups/smaller companies.
So, What is the next best alternative?. The best way to amplify an innovative product/service is to first create a 'local density' - a small group of people who would turn as advocates, salesmen, tribes who communicate and support each other in the community around the new offering. And they would need to connect with 'Connectors' who can bridge them to larger communities. (like Facebook did) as mentioned by the 'Tipping Point'.

Apart from online efforts, TED conferences were widely recognized as platforms for spreading ideas. Some of the TED ideas are worth listening to and has the potential to influence the audience. However, there is another dispute here that talks about what influences the TED conference sessions themselves (including celebrity sessions) and their usefulness in recent times!.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Facebook's Mobile Conundrums!

Read an interesting article in Economic Times of India yesterday on Facebook IPO.

Two interesting facts caught my attention:
1. The Headline itself was quite staggering - Wall Street Struggling to find Facebook's intrinsic value
2. Facebook has warned its investors in IPO prospectus that its business is facing challenges in mobile

There is a general perception that Facebook is not doing great in mobile.Wanted to really understand in detail the issues Facebook has been facing in the mobile space. Here is the deep dive:

1. Facebook's major revenue as of today comes from Advertising.
   Direct Advertising that is supposed to be much more effective and cost efficient compared to search  advertising. The advertising has been much more effective in Web/Desktop systems, as there is enough real estate in the screen to encourage the day-to-day social networking and the advertisement snippets side-by-side. The moment this paradigm comes to Mobile, there is a scarcity of screen space and either one of the aspects need to compromised (either social networking experience or advertisements). Apparantly, business users/marketers wouldn't want to compromise on advertisements. This leads to a challenging situation for Facebook to manage advertisements in mobile devices.

2. Unlike conventional Web/Desktop architectures, Mobile brings lots of choices in Technology/Architectural choices.   Efforts to standardize the multiplicity will go in vain. On the other side, producing multiple versions of the same application for variety of platforms will lead to fragmentation of user experience.  I have used Facebook app in my earlier HTC Wildfire and its HTC's own app called FriendStream. Similarly, there is one published by Microsoft for Windows Phone Facebook app. 

One aspect of standardization could be use of HTML5 and allowing users to access Facebook via Phone's microbrowser environments. Unfortunately, HTML5 is not so mature and not widely supported in variety of devices as of today.  

Facebook's app marketplace equivalent environment - App Center - could potentially have to compete with Android Marketplace or Apple's App Store from Developer ecosystem perspective. (not necessarily from consumers perspective)
Third and final technical option - using voice/sms mediums for reaching mobile users - require Facebook to form new relationships with Telecom Carriers. Facebook has been doing something innovative along with carriers in couple of countries, but not across the world. Again, here the challenge is to establish relationships with multitude of carriers worldwide and innovating consistently across the board.

3. Location based advertising. This has been discussed for quite sometime now.
   However, there are caveats for this solution as well - Revealing a person's location information may threaten his privacy/safety. Second, Some of the startups have started to offer 'Virtual Checkin' Options as well - which means user can mention that he is in a specific place, without even physically being there.   That brings a whole new set of opportunities/solutions. And Location specific 'push' for marketing messages/offers may drain your phone's battery as well, with the use of GPS.

My general reading in mobile space is that I am yet to come across a company that has 'Mobile First' Strategy. What I mean by 'Moble First' Strategy is not treat mobile as simply an extension of existing Web Sites, but reimagining the product/service exclusively for mobile channel.

Most of the companies just dilute their existing websites and make it accessible to mobile devices. I dont think that is going to be enough, considering the fact that such an approach would underutilize the mobile device's capabilities.

So, the companies need to 'rethink' fundamentally their product/service and monetization options. In this case, Am starting to think if Facebook's real value propositon of social networking would be still relevant in mobile space?. If yes, Would it have the same user experience as Web/Desktop?. Why can't it be fundamentally different?. Would mobile devices fundamentally change the way people network? I am thinking 'Yes. It would be radically different'.

As I read somewhere, Facebook has grownup and its now facing the market to demonstrate its real business value. It would be interesting to see how it overcomes the looming challenges in moble. Not to forget the fact that this phenomenon is not just applicable to Facebook alone. All the companies that had a successful story in Web would need to reimagine for Mobile.

Why? - Users are migrating from Desktops to Mobile devices to access the Internet. Is it a Post-PC era?. Not necessarily. Its primarily for web content consumption.

Monday, May 21, 2012

War for Talent or War for Jobs?

Few weeks ago, I was in US and had the opportunity to read the local newspapers, specifically one of the columns authored by reputed columnist & nobel prize (equivalent) winner - Paul Krugman - for his contributions in economics. The column is about unemployment. It projected the serious concerns around unemployment among young Americans. He quotes the unemployment rate among American youth is around 16.5 percent. In spain, unemployment among workers under 25 is more than 50 percent. This is the scenario for people who are just graduating out of college and expecting jobs.

If this is the case for fresh graduates, on experienced professionals front, I am reading HP planning to layoff  close to 30000 people - 10 times the staff strength of Facebook.

On other front, there is a growing war for talent among much hyped, overvalued Tech Startups in Silicon Valley. The hype is so much that people are even speculating Tech Bubble 2.0.

In India, in IT service sector, the average tenure of employee is thinning year after year and its a growing challenge to deliver results with scarce resources. (Of course, you have access to plenty of resources. But here I mean ondemand access to quality resources who can make meaningful contributions)

In non-IT sector, especially in semiskilled/unskilled sectors, I hear from businesses that its lot more difficult to attract and retain loyal employees with their organizations.

Two diagnally opposite situations - Which is true?.

The key question that I would like to discuss in this post is - What is the role of Technology in the overall scenario of Employment Generation?

Let's accept - Technology does take away jobs!. Period!. The question is - How do we create new ones?

Would like to quote an interesting example that one of my ex-colleagues shared. When my ex-colleague tried to convince the management of deploying a technology that would enable an industrial automation, the management rightfully agreed with the solution, but didn't eventually deploy because doing so would take away the jobs of certain semiskilled/unskilled workers. In India, it could be considered socially irresponsible, though rightful from business perspective. Its upto the competitiveness of the respective industry in which the company operates, to decide whether to deploy the technology or not.

In recent times, people in India, especially in Bangalore would agree that as more and more technology workers get their jobs, the demand for semiskilled/unskilled workers is only increasing. Yes, the demand for domestic services, labor-intensive - people centric services have shot up.  There is enough demand and increase in their wages/prices.

Hence, Technology actually takes away jobs in certain segments and creates demand in other segments. In this case, it creates demand for tech-savvy workers and unskilled workers.

The question is - Is this sustainable?. Companies like HP are getting disrupted by Facebook/Cloud business models. The moment tech workers get crashed, it would have a cascading effect in their supporting unskilled worker base as well.

With Technology advancements like Robotics and Highly competitive Intelligence accessible to everyday computing systems, a lot more preparation is required to retain/grow jobs. This article by MIT - winning the Race with Ever-Smarter Machines - articulates the various ways where the humans and ever powerful computing systems can co-exist peacefully and still create unique value propositions for the customer. The author states, even if technology progress froze today, we would have enough things to do.

As mentioned in this eBook, the key message is "key to winning the race is not compete against machines but to compete with machines".

And its going to be far more critical in coming years. Here is an another interesting study that reinforces  this point of view. Workforce Planning and Job Creation is going to be fulcrum of everthing that we do, if we want to create sustainable institutions!

Social Engineering: Next Big Threat or Opportunity?

This topic has been pending for long...

I was quite fascinated with this topic and been doing some research and collecting some background information for the past few weeks. If you search for this word - Social Engineering, you will find tons of definitions that are associated with IT security.

The essence of the definition is that how much ever robust technical infrastructure you may have to protect to your IT systems/infrastructure, the weakest link in the entire security infrastructure is the Human being. Social Engineering exploits the good or vulnerable aspects of human beings so that they are persuaded to reveal the security information which they are not supposed to. As per techtarget, It is described as non-technical intrusion that relies heavily on human interaction and often involves tricking other people to break normal security procedures. Social Engineering is also called human hacking - exploiting their emotions such as fear, obligation - to break into security infrastructure.

These social engineering tactics could be embedded & designed in line with pop-up advertisements, email attachments and persuade you to do things that are malicious to the underlying system, often without the true awareness/knowledge of the persuasion.

For example, an intruder without an access card can request a benevolent/kind enough employee to open the door for him in the office. In this case, the intruder would know that specific employee is kind enough, but not assertive enough to ask the reason for opening the door. Social engineering in the context of Security is a big topic by itself.

As techtarget states, social engineering will remain the biggest threat to any security system, as our cultures become more dependent on information. I was trying to explore the reach of social engineering beyond Security. If it can be used for hacking and malicious purposes, why not use the same for benevolent needs of an organization? That's the starting point.

The other extreme I was thinking about is - How to use Social Engineering for inculcating constructive/positive new values into the system?. How can we leverage the Social Engineering aspects and weave them into the workplace/social fabric for making positive changes into their lives? By saying so, I mean - Engineering changes, Engineering the Society (need not be at large, but to a small group of people), Engineer the values of the system explicitly? How can these new concepts enable people to accomplish their personal/organizational goals?

By thinking too far in this topic, i felt it need not be difficult.

All our social life is getting digitized...- Our friends, Our interactions with friends, Our interactions with brands, Our aspirations, Our emails/messages, comments/feedbacks, purchases, interests, career choices - everything is digitized.

As old saying goes - Someone can derive a person's personality/behavior if they know enough about his/her friends.

If this is true, in digital world, it’s going to be lot more easier, because you don't just have information to his/her friends alone, but whole lot of other information. There are even tools available that could derive emotions embedded in your status updates/messages...

In fact, there was a recent research that confirms that none can hide from social network. Even if one prefers to stay away from Facebook, his/her profile can be predicted if any of his/her friends has activity in Facebook/social networks.

For example, if you are following a particular blog for quite a few years, there are chances that you are being socially engineered :-) The theme could be anything - Innovation in Outsourcing, Design thinking, Technology infusion in new business models, etc.. You will start to believe with lot of conviction & agree with those blog themes.

When you are thrown up 'Top news items of today'- there are remote chances that you are being engineered as well. What is the guarantee that they are indeed 'top' news items of today?. The news headlines and their priorities can be ordered to tweak your thinking and value systems.

And we are going to see more and more of that, in this information intensive digital society.

We are already witnessing - TV/Traditional print media has been doing doing this for ages. Of late, it does with ease because it has lots of insights on the society. If you sign-up for anti-corruption movement involuntarily, there are chances that you might have been engineered! Please note we are not discussing whether the cause is good or bad here.

All we are discussing is that social engineering tactics can be used to persuade or even inculcate new values in the society! And to be precise, it can be done in organizational context as well.

In my view, even agile movement with its 4 bullets Manifesto is a engineering process. People buy those values and stories against waterfall and become the new ambassadors to signup others.For example, Lean Manufacturing insists culture change first. In other words, it is social engineering.

The good news is, we have tools that enable Social Engineering implementations. For example, Gamification can define new means of success, rewards and collaboration. Charlie Bess of EDS advocates that we may see new DLLs/Libraries for common scenarios of gamification across industries. Good idea!

And this morning, I was reading Peter's blog from Australia and it highlights a very important point - Culture is going to be only competitive differentiator for next few years. Everything else can be replicated – be it processes, assets, IP, capabilities, etc. (The challenge is how do organizations create a sustainable culture when the average employee tenure is thinning dramatically)

Social Engineering holds an enormous potential in shaping up an organization's successful culture.

I know its a long post..:-) Hope it was interesting!