Thursday, October 23, 2014

Have You Designed a Car without an Engine Today?

Half baked ideas? No, they were completely baked and ready to go....except for a strategic piece. Lost in translation or just lost in space, hard to know sometimes where to assign the lack of accountability.

A Cloud solution that is not quite ready for the Enterprise or an application that you are working on when you suddenly realize no one thought about who would use the solution, let alone, why they need it.

Governments, countries, airports and many organizations run into this it seems more often today than ever before. The site, Why Projects Fail, might be useful to you.

Imagine if in walks your business leader with an announcement of a cool new car they dreamed up for the company to produce. It's just a drawing right now, maybe a clay model, but they have a vision!. They have searched out some vendors that promise to make everything nice and clean, like never before, and they asked to let them do everything so the leader can focus on the end game. Agreements are made and a date set to expect everything to be ready for the "1st auto show of the year".

Shortly before the eagerly expected date, the leader calls the vendor and asks if everything is ready. They reply, yes, of course, we made sure you have roads from your office to the show. The leader is confused and asks, where is the engine for the car we designed? The vendor replies no one said anything about the engine, we provide the roads for you to drive and look how nice they are all black and smooth topped."Where's my engine!?" screams the leader. Engine? Replies the vendor, we don't do engines.
I have been in numerous meetings over the years where parts of these discussions went on and I wondered why it happened in the first place.

Would better meetings help? Would an ESN like IBM Connections or Microsoft Sharepoint or Jive? Was there a problem in Microsoft Project? Not enough project managers? Too few? If you had used a different email system none of this would have happened.

It is easy to be carried away by the excitement of a new project and just as easily to be led astray. Just because the client asks to go to the Cloud does not mean you should block it, or help, without some clear logic and information.

Last night I wrote and compiled a two page list of questions for a client that wants to migrate mail systems... to Domino. I broke up the questions, some 60 or so, into 3 groups, the "old info" , the "future info" and the "co-existence".

The actual list could be 80 pages, like an SUT document I worked on previously, or one page. The questions and answers will come but being prepared is more important.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Niche SEO Worked for Us

We ended up here, didn't we because of SEO?

This is the revelation that occurred to me recently when looking at how we ended up in a city in Israel that is not on most people's vacation itinerary. Rehovot was the home of Ubique, a little company IBM bought to include inside their Sametime offering. They still retain offices here for Sametime development.

Many people spend tons of money to increase their exposure and search ranks which boils down to SEO methods that are a mix of data analytics, black arts, html coding, content writing, luck, algorithms and Google's daily whims.

People ask why we moved here and it is because when we searched for qualities of life that were important to us and our family, Rehovot kept coming up in our searches. Neither my wife, nor I, had been to Rehovot in the 9+ years we had previously lived in Israel. Now with kids, we wanted good schools, welcoming community, arts, sciences, location, transportation and other not unusual items.

About a year or two ago, an influential website, Nefesh B'Nefesh, literally translated as a soul for a soul, helps people making Aliyah to Israel. They added and updated some cities and areas for people to move to in Israel and one was Rehovot.

Naturally we did not just rely on this one site, but what we did not realize then was the bigger puzzle. People in Rehovot had started to make some websites, in English, for other people looking to move here. It was grass roots, but sometimes your niche is a niche within a niche and in this case it works.

What were we searching for, and found? Here is a partial list:
  • Industrial Park filled with startups and established companies 
  • a synagogue that is mixed with Israeli, US, European, South African and Australian members
  • some of the top elementary and high schools in the country
  • reasonable living conditions and costs
  • local train station accessible
  • weather similar to Boca Raton
Bonus: A highly technical/scientific community because of the Weizmann Institute

Most people know of Tel Aviv, Haifa and of course Jerusalem which all have benefits to living there (and IBM offices). When you did deeper and find out eBay, Google, Facebook and many others are in the Netanya/Ra'anana/Herziliya areas but I livedin Manhattan and London, and Jerusalem twice, to know I wanted to live in a more relaxed part of the country that my kids can grow up and enjoy the fields and parks, not just the nightlife.

If I was looking for a place to build solar powered hovercrafts this may not be the best location, compared to say gene splicing to help people become more collaborative instead of selfishly silo like which friends of ours work on at Weizmann.

What we all want is out there and your product or idea has a place on the internet and it is up to you to decide if the market is large enough for you.

The synagogue we belong to is the only one on the area that is growing and while 15 new families over the last year have moved here. The number may sound small to some of you, but historically 1-3 families moved to Rehovot a year. That is some serious growth!

The ripple effect of this growth, coupled by exterior influences, like growing anti-semitism across Europe and the US, has led to an increase in housing costs as more people look to purchase property. Various city events and services are being expanded as well to accommodate the foreign immigration.

SEO doesn't solve or provide all of your leads or growth, but sometimes a little bit here and there is all you need.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Captain Kirk, to the Bridge! No! Wait, Go to Engineering!

Apologies to +William Shatner (@williamshatner) for the title but let's talk about V'ger (@_vger), I mean The Cloud.

Cloud discussions may not come from IT, in fact, it seems IT is the last to know about the idea sometimes. While asking some fellow consultants and Business Partners, we are seeing an interesting situation arise and hope this example helps you to not find yourself in the same predicament.

Business leaders are making choices, then telling IT. The opposite of the way things have been done in the past. Not a bad thing entirely.

Is this a step forward for business and one back for IT? Have we finally reached the tipping point where the next generation of business leaders are technically proficient enough to make their own decisions? (If your decision makers at your company are not including you, that is another blog post.)

Let's presume you get included in a decision making meeting about moving email, IM, collaboration or whatever to a Cloud. But you are not invited to provide options and ideas, rather to be told,  "we are moving to this vendors Cloud".

Huh? What? You are knocked across the head like a hangover the morning after drinking some Saurian Brandy. Questions come to your mind, ideas fly from your tongue. All you can say is "Is this a done deal"?

Sound familiar? Is this how your company is going to The Cloud for mail and collaboration? Around you entirely?

When did the business leader get all technical? Or is this a case of someone handing you a carburetor and saying you need one of these because they heard cars have them? When did the leader become Captain Kirk? Let me explain.

Kirk, as many will know, could often be found doing engineering work on the ship, or patching a rocket launcher out of sticks and stones. I did not attend Starfleet Academy, but from my reading, it seems that a Captain does stints in all types of areas of the ship. They also get  class room training time, not just the Kobayashi Maru simulation, and first hand knowledge about other areas as time moves along once the cadet was shown to be captain material. Once you are a captain, evidently you know every Jefferies Tube in your ship and every panel/wiring circuitry in case you need to do some amazing things and save your ship, usually, all withing 50+ minutes. 

Surprisingly, the business leader is not a captain, although they may have the ability, does not have the depth of knowledge of all of your infrastructure to know what is or is not running. Making a decision to go to The Cloud should not exclude your trusted and knowledgeable IT staff or partners/vendors. Each situation is different but moving your email, may or may not break numerous applications.

How can moving your email break applications? Many ways! Here is just one example. 

If other applications rely on a specific directory of your employees for security, how will you access it once it is in the Cloud? If you can access it, what will happen to the application, if the Cloud is down? Or your ISP is down (Spock says this is statistically more probable) how will people work? Is there a size/usage limit for the number of requests sent back and forth before you get charged some exorbitant fees? It is not always about the money, sometimes a little planning goes a long way.

All we ask of you business leaders is you keep us in the loop and work with you.

Let us help you reach your goals without causing problems to your services.

May your company live long, and prosper.