Category: Current Events (Page 1 of 3)

Westpac Launches Databank

“Organisations will be able to store their customer identity data in Databank, in the knowledge that it stays with the Bank, even during multi-party data shares. This significantly reduces the risk of identity theft, customer data breaches, or security, privacy and consent issues that can occur with identity data storage and sharing.”

From: Westpac Media Release

Amazon opens its first real bookstore — at U-Village | The Seattle Times

Amazon opens its first real bookstore — at U-Village | The Seattle Times:

Amazon is betting that the troves of data it generates from shopping patterns on its website will give it advantages in its retail location that other bookstores can’t match. It will use data to pick titles that will most appeal to Seattle shoppers.

Reminds me of banks and branch networks, the doubters when Apple announced retail stores, and how things both change and stay the same.

Cloud-First Policies vs. The Real Impact of Cloud

What a slow process it is to watch jurisdictions implement “cloud first” policies.  State and federal governments are all doing it and in the end they all look pretty similar.  Some might say it’s a policy of considered common sense, or a policy not to exclude the obvious.  At least the process is getting done.  
 
Though as I was reading the latest commentary on the Coalition’s new “cloud first” policy it struct me that this drawn out response is hiding some of the real impacts that Cloud will have. Not just as an obvious technology choice, but as a real disruptor to business and government.  
 
Of course, this “cloud first” mandate is always qualified – but it’s the nature of these qualifications that is telling.  In the case of the latest policy, the qualifications are simply that the Cloud solution also needs to be fit for purpose, competitively priced, and met the Protective Security Policy Framework.  So it’s a mandate to use the best approach even if it’s cloud. You’d wonder why you need a mandate to use the best approach so I’m sure the policy doesn’t fundamentally change the existing risk aversion, lake of knowledge and vision, or whatever else was stoping Cloud adoption in the first place.
 
As we know, the problem with mandates is that they tend to reduce individual accountability.  So the very real data governance and privacy issues relating to Cloud are likely to lose some attention for a while; particularly when paired with the removing of the need for double ministerial sigh-off for storing data off-shore.  I personally don’t see the problem with requiring double-ministerial sign-off to do something.  The only problem might be if I were one of the ministers who signed off and then something went wrong… Oh, hang on, I get it.
 
Problem is, like everything else, decisions are not just made by getting the right sign-offs.  You actually need to make the right decisions.  So policy that does nothing but try to gate decisions or make somebody accountable isn’t as useful as policy that actually helps decision-making.  There must be better uses for policy development effort than the use of Cloud as a technology choice.  Say for example as a disruption.  
 
The impact of Cloud on ICT strategy is that application architectures will be made up of silo’ed by highly functional applications that support a particular business function or customer touchpoint very well.  
 
These applications will also have imbedded analytics which already cover the management and operational decision-making relevant to the area they support.  
 
Integration will be achieved only where there is a business case to do so.  Except the integration imperative will be so strong – as its absence reduces enterprise agility – that there won’t be individual business cases for each integration.  Instead, a top-down approach such as enterprise information management (EIM) will be used to build a single cohesive business case for integration as part of a program of driven by information governance, analytics, business intelligence, and the recognition of what I call “core shared information”.
 
The impact of Could on organisational design is that the functional organisation is dead.  The ability to acquire cloud-based services that provide not only the application services, but in the case of business functions the backend management of the function itself, means functional organisation is no longer viable.  
 
The management trend where everything of value is being managed as “a cross-functional team” is now the norm.  The only thing left is to remove the functional organisation that created that language in the first place.  Functional organisation made it easier for managers (i.e. to shift across organisations, and also because they only had to understand how their function fits + strong stakeholder management) now managers have to be better at managing.  Though they also have better [cloud-enabled] management tools to help deal with this.  
 
Impact of cloud on information governance is that it’s time to disconnect Cloud from information governance and privacy issues.  Dumping the off-shore data double-ministieral sign-off policy because it happened to be inconvenient to Cloud initiatives is simple baby-with-the-bath-water stuff.  
 
Sending personal data off-shore is still a breech of Australian privacy legislation if this hasn’t been agreed with the individuals who own that private data.  Organisations are still at risk of legal action if damages occur due to mis-handing of personal data.  So this shouldn’t have ever been mixed up with Cloud.  
 
Impact of cloud on business strategy means that your differentiation cannot be based on what is easy to acquire – because value comes from scarcity not from abundance.  Actually this has always been the case but the impact of Cloud is the breadth and depth of things that are now easy to acquire.  
 
Your ERP was never going to differentiate you from your competitors.  But because it was expensive it was able to provide a competitive advantage at a pinch (as long as the business case held up after the inevitable cost overruns).  Now that ERPs and significantly more valuable targeted services are available in the cloud they are much easier to aquire.  So they have value, sure – but don’t have value as a differentiating feature of your organisation.
 
The impact of Cloud on government is that there are so many things that peer-to-peer markets can do better than government.  The government shouldn’t just be shifting the services they offer to cloud-based solutions. The government’s Cloud policy should be how does a cloud-enabled market solution remove the need for this government function?  How do we ensure services are more effectively targeted by using Cloud services to manage the market for services?
 
In a way, the impact of Cloud is nothing more than the impact of lower transaction costs played out on the acquisition of services.  Sure, it’s probably bigger than that be it will be called something else by the time it become outcome-as-a-service.  So for now “Cloud polices” are the place to ask the disruptive questions.  
 

Industrialised Adhocracy and The Future of Work

Excellent overview on Industrialised Adhocracy and The Future of Work:

http://www.procurementandsupply.com/resource/David%20Moloney%20-%20Industrialised%20Adhocracy%20-%202nd%20CPO%20Exchange%20-%20July%202014.pdf

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Rats participating the markets

Okay, so this has the scientific due diligence of an art installation rather than an actual proof of utility.  But it shows why market-based management is so important.  

One project is Michael Marcovici’s Rat Trader. The book describes the training of laboratory rats to trade in foreign exchange and commodity futures markets. Marcovici says the rats “outperformed some of the world’s leading human fund managers.” The rats were trained to press a red or green button to give buy or sell signals, after listening to ticker tape movements represented as sounds. If they called the market right they were fed, if they called it wrong they got a small electric shock. Male and female rats performed equally well. The second generation of rattraders, cross-bred from the best performers in the first generation, appeared to have even better performance, although this is a preliminary result, according to the text. Marcovici’s plan, he writes, is to breed enough of them to set up a hedge fund.

From http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/09/hedge-fund-rats.html

If the above scenario actually works it means a dramatic change in the way we think about the “decision-making” part of the management process.

If the stream of data (think “big data”) can be processed by an arbitrary meat-based neural network – and proven to be effective – what is the point of performance management on the rats?

BYOD: Goodbye Simplicity by Conformity

A familiar anti-pattern to anybody who knows anything about security is “security by obscurity”. The idea of security by obscurity is that you can rely on withholding details of how a security protocol operates to increase the security of the protocol.

The simplest example might be if you store passwords “encrypted” but you don’t tell anybody that you are only decrementing each letter by one – so if your password is “IBM” it becomes “HAL” when “encrypted”. This isn’t a true, nor secure encryption; and keeping the details of the encryption secret don’t make it more secure.

This brings me to the “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend. This is basically the idea that employees, rather than using company issued work stations, could simply bring their own computing device and access corporate systems from that.

Too many people are focusing on the risks of BYOD rather than the opportunities. Do we have to code for multiple devices? What about security on their device? What happens when they resign? What right does the company have to the personal property?

But the reality is this is just like security by obscurity. We have been living in a world deluded into thinking that things would be simpler, and more efficient, if we all conformed. If only everybody had the same desktop environment, and we didn’t let anybody change anything without calling (and being told “no”) by the IT help desk.

We were living with the illusion of what I call “simplicity by conformity”. We choose an arbitrary object – our work stations – and decided everything would be better if they were all the same. But this simplification never happened. People had to find work-arounds to the rules that tried to create this conformity. And they weren’t finding work arounds for the fun of it. They were finding work arounds in order to try and simplify areas that actually mattered: servicing customers, working efficiently, collaborating with their teams.

So I see BYOD as the end of “simplicity by conformity”. By taking control of the device out of the equation we are forced to create rules that simplify things that actually matter. Real simplicity.

One last point – people working on their own device expect it to operate like their own device. If the attention economy has taught us anything it’s that we’ll shift our attention to things that are more entertaining – or those that have greater usability. Imagine how difficult it is to keep yourself from distractions as you work on your computer at work – and then magnify that by each distraction you’ll find on your own device.

The challenge of distraction is another hidden false assurance. We can no longer pretend that boring, meaningless work will be done efficiently because there is nothing else to do. BYOD will reignite the need to create engaging work. Conformity by engagement, perhaps?  Perhaps not.  But engagement around things that actually mater.

iCloud and the death of document-centric computing

It’s disturbs me a little that everything in the Apple ecosystem, from App Stores, to App icons on iPhone home screens and on Launcher for Mac, to application specific file systems, is stepping backwards from a document centric view of computing back to an application centric view. The iCloud experience appears to confirm this direction. I’m not sure what I think about this.  
 
iCloud isn’t just an Apple branded Dropbox.  The difference between iCloud and Dropbox based sync is application versus document-centricity.  Earlier in the history of computing there was a push away from application based computing, where the focus was on which application you were using to the idea of using multiple micro applications to edit documents. Microsoft’s object linking and embedded was an example  of this.  The old Microsoft Binder was in a way also a step towards this idea. Most explicitly, the Apple lead consortium developing the OpenDoc initiate had this idea at its core. 
 
All of these products are now dead.  More recently the dream of document-centric computing itself has died.   Perhaps to be replaced by synchronisation and mobility.  
 
The difference between Dropbox and iCloud synchronization is that Dropbox is theoretically just a file system. Multiple applications could easily edit the same files – as long as they pointed to the same file in Dropbox.  This was also true across platforms. If you have a document that you edit on your iPad and sync with Dropbox you can edit that same file, using a different application, on your PC. 
 
The iCloud experience is completely different.  The only way to edit a document across platforms or devices is to use a version of the application for each device. Not a compatible application. Not a micro application that uses the same file format. But the equivalent application from the same vendor.  Usually this additional application is purchased at an additional cost. 
 
This is the most interesting part of the iOS5 experience. Not because it’s any easier than Dropbox based synchronization but because it may actually make me change the desktop application that I use purely based on iCloud support.  It may also make me buy one application purely for synchronisation while I might use another for specific editing on a particular platform (after manually “syncing” on the platform). 

McKinsey notices that management models can be impacted by technology!

McKinsey, ten years after I started saying that we should be focusing on using technology to change how we manage rather than over complicating how we manage technology, is now saying companies that integrate Web 2.0 technologies into their work flows perform better:

http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Organization/Strategic_Organization/The_rise_of_the_networked_enterprise_Web_20_finds_its_payday_2716

Shame people have to wait until the data is available before they believe this 🙂

Some extracts from the Collaboration Architecture sections of the MWT book which talk able Collaboration Architectures – which is what we are really talking about (not Web 2.0):

– link coming soon –

“We glorified finance, we privileged finance, we even subsidised finance”

ABC radio’s PM programme has a good little interview with Jim Standford regarding how people incorrectly think of economics as part of the finance industry rather than the finance industry being just a part of the economy:

JIM STANFORD: … I mean the financial sector is a part of the economy but it’s not the most important part of the economy. In fact in many ways it has very little to do with what the true economy is about, which is about average people getting up, going to work, producing something useful, a good or a service that has inherent value, and then how we pay people for it and how they buy stuff.

JIM STANFORD: I think that this meltdown in some ways is the culmination of say three decades or so of a trend where we glorified finance, we privileged finance, we even subsidised finance through a tax system that favours paper investments over real production. And we came to equate the ups and downs of the markets with what the real economy was all about and that was wrong.

The financial sector doesn’t produce anything of real value in and of itself. It is supposed to facilitate investment and growth in the real economy but it ended up serving its own purposes. It became the tail that wagged the dog and as a result of 30 years of over-financialisation we had this inevitable breakdown and now we’re all paying the price.

Des Moore on Central Banks

Interesting:

First, contrary to popular interpretations, the blame for the panic cannot primarily be placed on irresponsible bankers: they responded rationally to the subsidy for credit created by central bankers.

But what’s this in the very next paragraph?!?!:
Second, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is clearly wrong in attributing the crisis to policies that reflect the neo-liberal views of free marketeers. Few if any supporters of free-market policies believe there should be no regulation of monetary conditions. (emphasis added)
Both from The Age.

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