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Archive for September, 2012

by: Bsomich
28  Sep  2012

The Open MIKE Podcast: Episode 04

We’ve just released the fourth episode of our Open MIKE Podcast series!

Episode 04 features key aspects of the following MIKE2.0 solution offerings :

Information Asset Management: openmethodology.org/wiki/Information_Asset_Management_Offering_Group

Metadata Management Solution Offering: openmethodology.org/wiki/Metadata_Management_Solution_Offering

Check it out:

Open MIKE Podcast – Episode 04 from Jim Harris on Vimeo.

Want to get involved? Step up to the “MIKE”

We kindly invite any existing MIKE contributors to contact us if they’d like to contribute any audio or video segments for future episodes.

On Twitter? Contribute and follow the discussion via the #MIKEPodcast hashtag.

Category: Information Development
1 Comment »

by: Phil Simon
24  Sep  2012

The Seven Deadly Sins of Information Management, Part 1: Wrath

Most of us have heard of the seven deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. Inspired by Simon Laham’s book The Science of Sin, I’m kicking off a seven-part series in which I look at these sins in the context of information management (IM).

Today’s installment: wrath. Think of wrath not as the final sin in the chilling movie Se7en, but as the equivalent of anger. As any psychologist can tell you, anger manifests itself in one of two forms: passive and aggressive.

Let’s cover each from an IM perspective.

Passive Anger

In order for just about any large-scale IM project to have a remote chance of being successful, people need to work together. To be sure, collaboration is essential (although I’d argue that it’s a necessary but insufficient condition for success). Yet, for whatever reason, often individuals have axes to grind and won’t work with consultants, vendors, colleagues, and even senior leadership. Rather than outwardly defying others, these folks vacillate. They make excuses. They ensure that other, more important (at least, in their view) priorities take precedence. Or perhaps they’ll do nothing. They’ll ignore an email or not return a phone call.

Without question, this is the more common of the two forms of anger. Now, let’s move to the counterpart of passive anger.

Aggressive Anger

Aggressiveness and outright defiance are much, much less common on IM projects. Rarely will an employee be so recalcitrant that he will flat-out refuse to do something, raise his voice, or physically threaten another person. The reasons are obvious. While employment laws vary considerably by country, in many parts of the world you have no right to a job. For instance, in the United States, at-will employment is the norm with two important exceptions:

  • employment contracts with clauses outlawing certain types of behavior
  • certain unionized environments (both public and private sectors)

Translation: those that behave in a manner not conducive to workplace tranquility can be terminated.

Yes, intraorganizational aggression tends not to take place very often. That’s not to say, however, that interorganizational aggression rarely happens. On the contrary, many organizations have lamentably bad relationships with some of their suppliers, customers, vendors, and other third parties. Many times, the very of source of this conflict is (you guessed it) data.

For instance, organizations implementing new systems often need to receive special attention from insurance and financial institutions as they test new interfaces. Fair enough, right? The problem: those third parties often have to service thousands of other equally important clients, making it nearly impossible to devote exclusive resources to the organization replacing its legacy systems. The end result is often yelling and screaming.

Simon Says

I’d argue that aggressive anger is actually better for IM projects for one simple reason: you know where the aggrieved party actually stands. With passive anger, you have to guess if John or Jane is really overburdened with other work or is just angry about the tasks asked of him/her.

Feedback

What say you?

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Category: Information Management
1 Comment »

by: Robert.hillard
21  Sep  2012

Digital disruption – short fuse, big bang?

Over the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with a range of my Deloitte colleagues on a report into the “digital disruption” of business. The result brings together the impacts of digital technologies, with the explosion of information and the enabling capabilities of cloud.  For me, the most important aspect of the collaboration has been the separation of digital from its purely technical connotations.    While focused on Australia, the report’s findings are largely applicable to all geographies.

Hear the word “digital” and your mind races to the latest internet or mobile device.  Over the past forty years many new technologies have been introduced which have caused disruption and met this definition of digital.

Some examples include the wide introduction from the 1970s of the “digital computer” a term which no longer needs the digital preface.  Similarly the digital mobile phone replaced its analogue equivalent in the 1990s introducing security and a raft of new features including SMS – who recalls the number of scandals caused when radio hams listened into analogue calls made by politicians?  Digital communications over the internet are simply another example of various analogue predecessors being digitised.

Digital business separates its constituent parts to create independent data and processes which can then be assembled rapidly in a huge number of new and innovative ways.  Airlines are a good example.  Not that many years ago, the process of ticketing through to boarding a flight was analogue meaning that each step led to the next and could not be separated.  Today purchasing, ticketing and boarding a flight are completely independent and can each use completely different processes and digital technology without impacting each other.  Passenger handling for airlines is now a digital business.

What this means is that third parties or competing internal systems can work on an isolated part of the business and find new ways of adding value.  For retailers this means that the pictures and information supporting products are independent of the website that presents them and certainly the payment processes that facilitate customer transactions.  A digital retailer has little trouble sharing information with new logistics, payment and mobile providers to quickly develop more efficient or new routes to market.

If you don’t think that this is going to impact you in the short-term, then the report’s analysis should convince you otherwise.  32% of the Australian economy (and by extrapolation the economies of other countries) will experience a major disruption in 0 to 3 years and a further 33% will be similarly impacted in 3 to 5 years.  Impact is one thing, but this report leaves you with a sense of just how much work there is still to be done to respond to the digital challenge.

Tags: ,
Category: Information Management
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by: Phil Simon
17  Sep  2012

The 70-30 Rule

Up until four years ago, I made all of my money on large-scale IT projects. Many of these informed my first book, Why New Systems Fail. Since that time, I gradually made the break into speaking, writing, publishing, and website design.

As a result, my P&L statement looks nothing like it did back in 2008. Yet, in a way, absolutely nothing has changed. For years, this dude has abided by the 70-30 rule. That is, whether it’s a multi-million dollar enterprise system or open-source software like WordPress, I consider myself 70 percent functional. Note that the 70 percent rule applies to both Waterfall and Agile projects.

This means that I learn about the front-end a software application works because that’s where most users spend their time. It doesn’t matter if you’re paying vendors or employees, entering sales, or writing blog posts. Most people spend the vast majority of their hours in an application as functional users, not technical ones.

The Importance of the Other 30 Percent

Yet, at least for me, the other 30 percent is key. At times, functional users will have technical questions about how an application works, where its data is stored, how to change or customize something, and the like. The purely functional consultant or web designer can only get you so far. I’ve never met anyone completely satisfied with a vanilla application after using it for any substantial length of time.

I can tell you that forcing myself to be 30 percent technical has actually increased the depth of my “other” 70 percent. In other words, if you understand a good bit of the technical side, then you will augment your appreciation and knowledge in the functional side.

And I’m hardly the only one who feels this way. I asked my friend, entrepreneur and WordPress designer Todd Hamilton about this.

There are quite a few steps in knowledge from simple end user to developer.  To do either job really well, a person needs an overall knowledge framework of the system on which she is working with from both perspectives.  For the WordPress simple end user, this requires understanding several things: 1) a bit about what a database is; 2) that the WordPress admin is for putting stuff in the database; 3) that the WordPress theme displays that data.

For the WordPress developer, that means understanding: 1) how users intend to interact with the data; 2) what makes sense to them; 3) what is too complex. A good dynamic is where both the developer and the end user share that knowledge framework and then the focus becomes execution instead of achieving understanding.

Hamilton’s exactly right here and his WordPress lessons can be extrapolated to other applications.

Simon Says:Find the Hybrids

When hiring a consultant for any type of technology project, ideally check his or her technical credentials. A purely functional consultant probably isn’t up to speed on the application’s data model–something that might have enormous implications down the road.

Ditto on the technical end. Someone without a lick of functional or application knowledge isn’t going to appreciate the legitimate challenges of most of the audience for that very application.

Feedback

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Category: Information Management
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by: Bsomich
14  Sep  2012

The Open MIKE Podcast: Episode 03

We’ve just released the third episode of our Open MIKE Podcast series!

Episode 03 features key aspects of the following MIKE2.0 solution offerings :

Enterprise Data Management: openmethodology.org/wiki/Enterprise_Data_Management_Offering_Group

Data Quality Improvement: openmethodology.org/wiki/Data_Quality_Improvement_Solution_Offering

Data Investigation: openmethodology.org/wiki/Category:Data_Investigation_and_Re-Engineering

Check it out:

 

 Want to get involved? Step up to the “MIKE”

We kindly invite any existing MIKE contributors to contact us if they’d like to contribute any audio or video segments for future episodes.

On Twitter? Contribute and follow the discussion via the #MIKEPodcast hashtag.

Category: Information Development
No Comments »

by: Phil Simon
10  Sep  2012

On Airplanes and Project Management

An oft-used metaphor in the project management arena is that of an airplane. Put quite simply, enterprise systems (read: ERP, CRM, and others) are supposed to be implemented and activated in a way that allows for a smooth landing. See below:

At least, that’s the theory. Lamentably, because of a cauldron of reasons, delays and cost overruns force most organizations to attempt to “land their planes” as follows:

The result (more often than not): a crash.

The Tension between Short-Term and Long-Term

As I know all too well and have seen far too often, many short-term sacrifices are made to make a go-live date (hence the term package slam). Band-Aids are liberally employed. Data is bastardized. Issues are put on the back burner to be addressed in the future.

Unfortunately, however, those issues are all too often left unaddressed, making them exacerbate over time. Overworked and stressed-out employees often view data considerations as pesky annoyances. (This problem is particularly pronounced in organizations that have yet to recognize the importance of data governance.) Day-to-day realities trump intelligent long-term information management. The future never comes and organizations have to scramble to respond to an internal crisis, legal challenge, or regulatory inquiry. Consultants are called in. Meetings are held. Blame is cast. Consultants are fired. Software vendors are sued.

Sound familiar?

Simon Says: Don’t Attempt the High-Risk Landing

I completely understand the pressure for an organization to activate a new system–even if prematurely. (The same holds true for upgrades and enhancements.) Resist the temptation.

The drawbacks with the high-risk landing approach are two-fold. First, there are the immediate consequences. These include incorrectly paid vendors and employees, manufacturing gaffes, and the like. These are messy enough.

Long-term, however, the consequences are often more severe. As we learned once again with Knight Capital, some bells simply cannot be unrung; some errors just can’t be fixed. The very confidence that employees, partners, investors, and creditors have in your organization may erode because they don’t think that the organization can effectively carry out its operations.

Don’t make that mistake.

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Category: Information Development, Information Management
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by: Bsomich
05  Sep  2012

MIKE2.0 in Action: An Interview with UWI

At MIKE2.0, we strongly believe that there is a great benefit to working with academic institutions. The University of the West Indies recently utilized our omCollab platform and was kind enough to share their experience with us.

Below is a Q&A with Dr. Maurice McNaughton, Director, Centre of Excellence at Mona School of Business and Management which highlights their unique project, experience and outcome:

Q: What was the project you were working on?

A: In an effort to increase collaboration between academic faculty, and ultimately the quality of scholarly output, the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus is seeking to strengthen the support systems to foster improved research and innovative outputs from faculty and postgraduate students. One need identified was the establishment of an electronic collaborative platform that would enable Faculty to:

- share and critique early stage research and academic papers

- establish common interest research clusters through the sharing of academic interests and expertise

- collaboratively build a scholarly research knowledgebase to guide young researchers

This initiative, called UWIPapers, initially targets the Faculty of LAW and the Mona School of Business & Management at UWI

Q: How was MIKE2.0 used on the project?

A: We decided to use OmCollab, the technology platform on which MIKE2.0 was built, to develop the UWIpapers environment because the integrated components gave us the tools to establish a kind of “Enterprise 2.0″ Academic collaborative platform, with the following features:

MediaWiki -collaborative content development and knowledge management

WordPress -sharing and internal peer review of academic abstracts and early stage article ideas

Social Bookmarking – sharing, discussion and rating of web resources

Social Networking – sharing of academic interests and expertise in order to build common interest communities

Q: What was the overall outcome or result and how do you feel omCollab and MIKE2.0 contributed to that result?

A: Overall the outcome has been a positive one, resulting in the UWIPapers platform (http://uwipapers.info). The Mike2.0 OmCollab platform was readily (with minimal code-hacking) adaptable to meet the requirements that we set out to support the academic community. Initial response by Faculty has been positive and we are in the process of deploying the facility to a wider academic community. The best attributes of the OmCOllab platform was the relatively seamless integration between the core Open-Source components (i.e. MEdiaWiki, WordPress, omBookmarks/Scuttle, etc.)

Q: Do you have any suggestions for improvement for the MIKE2.0 framework or community platform?

A: The biggest challenge was finding technical information about customizing OmCollab. Although the Mike2 forum appears quite active content-wise, we didn’t find much information online about customizing OmCollab, nor an active support community , so were hesitant at first about adopting the platform, as It would not have passed our standard Open Source Maturity assessment process. However the strength of the individual FOSS components (MediaWiki, WordPress, etc.) gave us sufficient assurance to proceed with the project.

Additional Developers perspective:

Although the Integration across the component modules was relatively seamless, two areas with some challenges were, theming, and authentication which in some cases required configurations to be replicated in multiple places to achieve the desired result.

The most significant challenge in configuring/customizing the OmCollab environment was the theming, because of the granularity, finding the places to actually make those changes proved to be a challenge at times

Finding technical support information online for some of the individual components was quite easy, (i.e. wordpress and mediawiki). However the documentation for OmCollab integration modules needs to be improved. The installation itself was one such example, key details are left out of the documentation, which significantly impacted the quality of the setup.

We recommend developing better technical documentation as well as fixing the issues with integration mentioned above. We believe it would be useful to develop a set of “HowTo’s” for OmCollab and will contribute our own experiences to the knowledgebase in this regard.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Read additional case studies, learn more about omCollab or how to get involved with the MIKE2.0 community.

Category: Information Development
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by: Phil Simon
01  Sep  2012

One Small Step for Data Liberation

There’s very little doubt that we are generating more and more data every day. How much? Well, let me use images rather than words.

The following infographic comes from Fliptop:

Click for the originally sized image.

In a word, wow.

While we know that there’s a boatload of data out there, we are much less certain about who owns this data. That’s why this TechCrunch article on the resurrection of now-defunct content sharing site Digg is so interesting.

To make a long story short, Digg on August 31st of 2012 “launched the Digg Archive, a tool to help users of the old Digg (before July 2012) retrieve a history of their Diggs, Submissions, Saved Articles, and Comments.” Digg had help from Kippt and Pinboard. From the post:

We believe that people own the data they create, so while we work to determine if and how this data makes its way into the new Digg, we wanted to provide a way for users to access their history. It took some digging through the old infrastructure, but the complete Digg Archive is now live.

To be sure, Digg is hardly the only company or organization to feel this way. Google’s Data Liberation Project also comes to mind. In short, the DLP enables users to move their data in and out of Google products.

Thorny Issues

It’s hard to discuss data ownership today without addressing the corresponding issues of privacy and security–and this leads us right to the elephant in the room: Facebook. Facebook doesn’t exactly make it easy for users to remove their data from the site.

Surprised? Don’t be. As I write in The Age of the Platform, companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google try to make their platforms as sticky as possible. And I can think of few stickers ploys than “locking” user data into a site. For that very reason, many people won’t move off of Microsoft Outlook into a cloud-based alternative. There’s no native “transfer to Gmail” button in any version of Outlook I’ve seen. And, again, this is by design.

Well, the forces of data freedom aren’t standing still. Computational knowledge engine Wolfram Alpha is at least letting users see the specific data Facebook keeps on them. Note that Facebook can at any point turn off the API that Wolfram Alpha uses to pull this information. Translation: the forces of data liberation are not without their obstacles and opponents.

Simon Says

Stay tuned. The Data Liberation Wars are just heating up. I firmly expect Twitter, Google, Amazon, and other platform-based companies to face this growing issue in the near- and long-term.

Feedback

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Category: Information Development, Information Management
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