Thursday, April 28, 2005

So - how was it?

So, the conference is over, and I took a lot of notes. Rather than post them all here, I've compiled my own Gartner Research document that I think sums up being at the conference. Normally, these kind of research documents sell for US$95 - but you can have this one for free:

Build a Virtual Team to consolidate success in the Real-Time Enterprise

28 April 2005

Gordon Taylor, Maverick Gartner Analyst, Asia Pacific

The pace of modern business today is accelerating. Customers are demanding more immediate, dynamic business solutions that meet their expectations. Organizations can no longer engage with previous models of interaction - ones that take time to interface with the supply management chain. Instead, they need to actively improve customer relations through one thing: Better Business Flexibility.

Virtual Teams are frequently being proposed as a solution to this all-too-common problem. Virtual teams can be thought of as the central hub of an Enterprise Nervous System - taking advantage of the full process lifecycle to facilitate better business agility. Coupled with a dynamic, flexible, standards based approach, virtual teams are an excellent way for a modern enterprise to increase responsiveness.

But where is the real business value? Virtual teams can be implemented efficiently, and when sufficient Business Activity Monitoring is applied, in a cost neutral way. Modernizing our approach to obtaining the correct metrics at implementation time is crucial to determining the success of virtual teams.

Improving team dynamics is a frequently overlooked component of the push to refine and improve business Processes in today's modern IT application environments. Take the case study of a major vendor (name withheld) who faced the innate challenges of trying to unify diverse silos of information across their enterprise. Discreet Legacy systems (and their corresponding underlying business processes) weren't able to provide the flexibility that the current business imperative warranted. The solution was clearly to move to a Service Oriented Architecture, through a consolidated process of wrapping, consuming and exposing legacy business data through the web services model - thus allowing a platform neutral, technology independent interface to serve as the information broker.

However, building this interoperability based, XML powered Enterprise Service Bus was clearly going to impact on one core resource that is critical to every enterprise: Revenue.

That's where the Vendor chose to build a multi disciplinary Virtual Team. Collaboration, integration and the other underlying tools that are crucial to the success of such a project are much easier to mandate (and to manage!) in virtualized abstractions of the team, as opposed to the traditional actual teams that have led us to the architectural spaghetti so prevalent in modern enterprises today. The results were immediately evident. Host integration work didn't impact on the day-to-day operations, The political debates always evident in legacy system integration didn't occur. An End-to-End Matrix of the service contract showed clear service improvement right through to the top level of the executive.

In conclusion, Virtual teams should be considered as a real alternative to relieve the business and resource pressure that enterprises are under to increase responsiveness. Gartner predicts that the source of available resources currently not available to deal with virtual teams will increase by 30% by 2015. (0.7% probability) Think Strategically, Act Tactically.

Anyway, it was all pretty much like that. And no, I didn't make up any of those phrases. Every one was used at least once. I'm available for any other research tasks at a hefty fee :^)

The twelve minute post

Bored and wandering around the sydney airport, waiting to go home after the gartner ADIWS conference. Internet connectivity was really hard to come by at the conference, so I wrote posts offline, which I'll post later - suffice to say that, while there were some really intriguing and useful elements, there was also a ball-bouncing amount of unadulterated architecture wank like I've never heard.

It was interesting to realise that most of the people who deploy TRIM (there are lots of customers on the attendee list) have architects who are dealing with all these big IT system problems, and more importantly, have the power to chuck out, integrate or replace legacy systems. I'm not sure if TOWER has a marketing strategy for these enterprise architects (very few of the ones I spoke to were aware of TRIM), but if not there's possibly some imperative to do so sometime soon.

Curse this crappy internet kiosk! Some engineering genius at webpoint decided to prevent people from resetting the shabby windows box under all this shiny plastic, they'd glue down the control and alt keys! Control + Z just prints rows of zzzzzzzz's. And who knows how many creepy fingers have poked slime all over this seedy thing. Ew. Time to go....

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Big City Blues and Purples

Sitting in a fancy hotel waiting for room service, and feeling rather lonely. There’s something about a house with 4 (sometimes more) screaming kids that creates a lovely homely familiness. It also drives you bonkers, but in a nice way.

I’ve arrived in Sydney to attend the Gartner Application Development and Web Services Summit. I don’t want to be one of those negativity pants guys who bemoans everything, because that’s just too easy, so I’ll just say now that I’ve never met a single Gartner analyst who impressed me much, and that I’m hoping to have that view rectified by this shindig.

The flight up was okay, although there’s something terribly unnerving about being strapped into a big metal thing and hurtled through the air like that…

Anyway, I’ve been reading Seth Godin’s Purple Cow on the way. Seth asserts that there is an additional P to the standard marketing rules (Product, Price, Position) and that that P is a Purple Cow. (Obviously he went looking for something else that started with P, but the point is still valid.)

The Purple Cow is about being remarkable. About having a product that is in and of itself, the marketing. For instance, something must set the iPod aside from all those other mp3 players. For some reason, Krispy Kreme Donuts are super popular (and super profitable) , despite the fact that they are just relatively boring donuts. That italic something, says Godin, is the Purple Cow. Built in remarkableness that makes people want to eat or buy it or both.

Furthermore, the theory goes that the days of mass market appeal are over. You can’t just spend a fortune on TV, Radio and Billboard advertising, ship a product, and then have the entire market go bananas to buy your thing while rake in CASH with your greedy money hungry claws. Nowadays, the acceptance curve for a product starts with innovators, progresses onto early adopters and then (and only then) do the larger, tastier mass appeal markets start to buy your thing. I kept thinking about the iPod – about a year ago Lindsay was the only person I knew who actually owned one. Nowadays, there are easily twenty of the things around the office. Those white headphones are a meme waiting to spread - That’s the hype curve you need to harness to get the power of the cow.

So, I got to thinking – what makes Tremble remarkable? It’s a very easy to use web interface, and it has some great zero footprint integration technologies. The document management tools we’re providing to users require users to change their behaviour, but only a little, and once they change, they’ll see how useful the new tools are.

In and of itself, that still is a bit boring. But then, so are the donuts. The thing that we need to make this application delight it’s users is a really sexy interface that people actually want to use. That’s remarkable. Enterprise Document Management that people want to use. It’s also really, really hard to do. I think we can do it.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Can filling in forms be fun?

I just opened a Flickr account.

Now, I'm nowhere near the photographer that my brother is (as is clearly evident from this picture of mount painter sunset taken on mobile phone:)

But the signup process was actually fun. Easy, and actually fun. Without doubt the best internet signup thingy I've ever done. Every single other internet account based service provider should take note.
The Writ Large ability to totally skip the "identity rape" section meant that I actually filled some of it in. With real information!

If you're looking for an excellent free service to host your photos on the web, (which is kind of an odd thing to be looking for, I suppose), it comes highly reccomended.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Deploy the GSR2S!

I spent some of today reviewing resumes for a position at TOWER Software. I also devised the GoodGord Shabby Resume Rating System.

The GSR2S is a scale of one to five, with one being good and five being bad. I don't know why I did it that way. That's how the top forty works, but maybe that's not the best model. Anyway.
in the unlikely event that I'm hiring you one day, here's the good oil on how it works:

  1. Looks like a potential hire. Will Interview.
  2. Looks like a potential hire, but something is in the way - work permit, other hassle, or something else that would basically make them less attractive than a 1
  3. Had the right skills for the position, but something about the resume or portfolio made me feel creepy. Wrote their entire resume in Comic Sans MS, for instance. Their blog bitches and moans about everyone they know...
  4. Had limited exposure to the required skillset, or no supplementary evidence. Had a really long boring resume that was over 5 pages long and had a table of contents. Couldn't proofread an application or spell.
  5. Appeared to be some sort of deranged person. Can't construct sentences that make any sense.
It's weird, but the kind of spelling errors you get in this era of spellcheckers mean that everything tends to be spelt correctly, but the sentences get stupid. I got two people today who knew "how to calibrate well in a team" (Some reverse engineering of the Word spellchecker led me to "collaborate"). One guy even told me that he "was proficient in common software development mythologies" (Hey - that's funny and true - Microsoft should hire that guy for the longhorn team...)

Why doesn't the blogger spellchecker know how to spell 'blog','blogger' or 'spellchecker'? Possibly because they're not actually words...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Line these blocks up

Do you suck at Tetris?

Ever wish you hadn't built a big monolith, waiting for the long thin red bit to fall from the sky?

Well Here's the solution you've been waiting for...

I can't believe it's not regurgitated weasel coffee!

Alison is a huge coffee fan - but I wonder if she would balk at this:

Prepare for weird...

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Oh No - that's just his arms...

After two solid days, of car-fixing, I've had enough.

Saturday was replacing the radiator in the Nomad with an extra expensive, non-leaking model, and Sunday was changing the drum brakes on the Excel. Filthy, and quite exhausted, I solemnly cross my fingers in the hope that nothing goes wrong with either car for at least three months.

Enormous thanks have to go to Chris, who is my candidate for human-most-likely-to-be-the-new-messiah-that-nobody-has-noticed-yet. Think about it. Chris seems to know everything, is polite and kind to everyone, and had no trouble removing most of the interior of a car in less than an hour. That's not the miracle, the miracle is that when we put it all back together, there were no screws left over! It's true. (I'm sure Jesus would've been able to change a radiator in a Nissan, no worries.)

It may be that Chris has some competition though. My Stepfather Terry came over today just as I was cursing and swearing at the (unbeknownst-to-me) upside down brake shoes I had just installed. Terry just sat down and fixed them, fixed the other side, adjusted the handbrake and that was that. In fact, If I had a dollar for the number of times Terry's saved me from my own mechanical skill, I'd have about fourteen dollars.

Maybe there could be some wannabe messiah miracle-off, where they could get together and try and do all kinds of funky mechanical miracles to impress everyone. That might be fun.

But the thing that plagued me the most this weekend was the ultra painful aural puke that was broadcast all over my neighborhood. At one point, I had Hotel California on the left of me, Culture Club on the right, and the guys over the road playing Justin Timberlake at 100 dB. Justified? I think not. I don't mind loud music, but not bad loud music! I mean, when you're scraping the skin off your knuckles under a car and that annoying part of your brain is singing along:

"Shoop, Shoop, Shoop Shoop, Shoop, Shoop Shoop - It's in his kiss - that's where it is!"

Really. It's hard enough as it is.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

A Convincing Story needn't be the truth

From Lindsay's response:

"We actually *are* thought leaders in this field. What we're try(ing) to do now, is be less shy about it."

Agreed -we are.
But, one of the tools that we'll use to promote this fact is publishing authentic stories that, while entirely true, create impressions in the minds of people that may not be. We've done it in the past. If I read Lindsay's case studies, they sound as though every single person using TRIM absolutely loves it. But we all know that that can't be true - it's just the impression that we get from reading the document.

As I said, I don't have any qualms about this approach - we need to create a context where our product is attractive. It's a whole new skillset, and one that I don't understand.

Is it ethical for a doctor to prescribe somtething like homeopathic remedies for a particularly easily influenced patient when he knows that they are absolute bollocks?

I think that it is, because the doctor's job is to cure the patient. Taking advantage of the suggestiblility of people to provide them with the best product available is okay with me. Taking advantage of people to sell them crappy stuff is another thing...

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Everybody plays guitar

If you're like everybody, you might dig this complete beatles songbook. It's got every song from every album. Man - If I'd found one of these when I was fifteen , I would have got much worse cramp in my hands...

Marketing - Not all just lattes and skivvies?

One of the things that I find really fascinating is the whole concept of marketing. The fact that most perceptions of quality are no more than illusions, put in your head by skilled teams of people who's job it is to change the way you perceive something.

Lindsay's post about the new world of marketing is encouraging, but it's hard to not believe that it's all just more lies. Check out Seth Godin's new book for proof...

I spent a bunch of today working with our marketing team on where to position our new product, and I have to admit, it was really quite fun. I felt like one of the kids in Enid Blyton's Secret Seven - meeting in secret to determine which messages we would send (that's market speak for lies we will tell) to establish "Thought Leadership" (which is marketspeak for people who other people follow)

Once upon a time, I would've believed that you could trust people to get the right impression of your product based solely on it's innate quality, and that thought leadership could only be attained by recruiting people who were actually thought leaders in any given field How naive...

That's not to say that I don't think our new product is revolutionary or substantial - I honestly do. (I wouldn't be posting this if it wasn't, I'd still be in the shower trying to scrub myself clean.) It's just that, after my experience to date, I've come to realise that building an amazing product is only half the battle - getting the acceptance it deserves is just as important, and equally difficult...

Oh - and having finished Al Ries and Jack Trout's 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, I on-leant Cam's copy to Lindsay (don't worry, she'll give it back!) - you can read Eric Sink's commentary on the 22 laws here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Get thee behind me, fairy!

Man... ever have those times in your life where everything just seems to go pear-shaped? I'm in the middle of one of them right now. My Dad affectionately refers to these periods as "a visit from the Fuck-up Fairy".

First I decided to replace the carpet in my house, and paint a room, and replace a cornice, and a skirting board, all in the space of a weekend. This led to consecutive trips to the hardware store, breaking things( lots of things), cutting and bruising myself with various sharp and/or blunt instuments, torrents of profanity, my dear kids asking me heaps of very reasonable questions while I tried not to swear at them, and me generally getting really, really irritated.

The network at work has been up and down like a yo-yo - causing all my carefully laid out systems to break in bizzare and unexpected ways, and probably costing me at least two days worth of precious schedule.

Then, both family cars decided that that was about long enough to function correctly , and promptly broke down, one pissing oil all over the road, and one leaking profusely from the raditator. So, the long and short of it is that my house is utter chaos, with sawdust and plaster and furniture strewn all over the place broken cars in the driveway leaking, and me in a filthy mood most of the time.

It's funny how when you're in such a foul mood, you notice all the crappy things that happen and get really pissed off about them, but you never notice the things that go right. For instance, I drove to work today, thoroughly annoyed, and got every green light between here and work. But I didn't really notice. What I did notice, was my bag handle getting stuck on my handbrake. "!@##%$!" swears me, "That would be %!@#n right."

There are only two things in the world that matter:
1) What happens to you, and
2) how you react to it.

One of them you can control. One of them you can't.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Gotta Do a Biggy

Happy and high from playing music with my band, it dawned on me that blogging is a bit like poo.
How so, you ask? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway.

Sometimes, you just gotta do one, and you rush to the blogger and squeeze one out.

Blogs are internet poo.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Puffball Credit

Our bank is insane. They've just given us another 10 thousand dollars credit. That's a lot. Now the dangerous thing about this is, that it increases the probability of us being an extra 10 thousand dollars in debt (with 0 being no chance, and 1 being every possible chance) to around 1.

The reasons behind this are not very hard to understand. If I gave you a big wad of hundred dollar bills, and put them in a pile next to your front door and said - "You can spend all of these if you want, It's probably not a great idea though, because of... blah blah trailing off into the distance some boring crap about interest and financial responsibility..."

When I came back there probably wouldn't be many bills left. Ali calls it "Shopping". I jokingly refer to it as "contributing to the impending financial crisis", but I'm just as bad.

The reasons behind my inability to manage money in a responsible, accountant-like way are somewhat more interesting, and in my head are interconnected with fungi, my Dad and Dunlop KT26 Sneakers. If you'd like to share this synaptic association, read on...

One day when I was about 14 and waiting for the school bus on the Congo Road, I plonked my brand new KT26 sneaker down onto the dirt and an enormous cloud of snot-green powder flew up into the air, soiling my shiny shoes. "Hey!" says me "What's that?" Looking down, there was a squashed piece of what used to be a mushroom left in the sexy tread mark of my shoe.

"That's a puffball!" said my Dad (Dad was teaching at Moruya High that day, and was taking the bus with me. )
"That cloud of dust was it's spores."
"So what does a puffball do exactly?" Says me again, wiping green slime off my shoes.

"Well, it doesn't do anything much. It gets stepped on, releases it's spore and that makes more puffballs."

Perhaps I was feeling particualrly reflective for a teenager, or perhaps there just wasn't an awful lot to do in Moruya, but I rode the bus to school that day thinking what a futile thing it must be to be a puffball. And then, as I ambled up the brown path to Moruya High, I got to thinking - what's so different about being a human?

We're born, we make other humans, we die. The only thing I could come up with that was different,apart from the fact that sex isn't dependant on an enormous KT26 stomping on you ( but if that happens to be what you're into, then good for you) is that bunch of stuff in the middle, that we call our lives. That largely includes a whole bunch of silly posing and carrying on about things that are so very important to us. Love and art and culture and relationships and entertainment and delight and tragedy and status and other such social oddities. Oh, and finance.

That idea kind of stuck with me all my life. It's the humans that make the rules for our world, and determine our "success" or "failure". But realistically, as long as we make other humans, we're successful. At least as successful as a puffball, and they're stilll here after who knows how long...

So, I guess that puffball attitude lies latent in most of my decisions, but really comes out in decisions that bore me. And man that financial management thing bores me. But getting new stuff is fun.

Hey, maybe my bank isn't insane at all. Maybe they wish everybody else was as crazy as me...

Maybe one day I'll be listed on the alumni section at Moruya High...Mind you, I've never heard of any of those guys...