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Sunday 26 September 2010

Has Vulcan been swept away with the Wave ?

The publication of the demise of Google Wave triggered a tsunami of comments, blogs and tweets tainted with cynicism or candid speculation of the future of social networking according to google. I seems to me that semi-failure is on the critical path to successful innovation. Their culture is cast in risk taking and one can rest assured that google will tryin again – with hope and reward this time !

Anyway, my point is not so much to draw up lessons to be learned but to ponder over another reality. Indeed this reminded me of another blaring announcement made at Lotusphere in Orlando in January2010 about the Vuclan Project - a brand new concept. I was lucky to take part in this event and I was most impressed by the long-term vision, the new dynamics drawing from the portfolio of existing solutions, the continuity offered to QuickR, Sametime, Connections, Portal,… this was Lotus Notes next generation at its best !

There was a little agitation in the blogosphere throughout the following days with extactic comments, a huge enthusiasm, and then, nothing apart from a few comments that the product will be available in a beta version in the second half of 2010 on Lotus Live. On the IBM websites, there is more information to be found about an old parallel computing project, also called Vulcan at its time.

So, what is to be made of this ? Google Wave is flat, Facebook is still growing, Sharepoint 2010 has now caught up on competition and seems to be willing to deal with all social and collaborative topics in the enterprise. IBM is fueling no suspense on their project, no buzz, no enthused developers are leaking any screenshots and there is no published detailed timeframe. IBM have developed a highly legitimate Cloud Computing approach but on the Lotus Live website, in the Coming Soon section, there is only on mention to a Concord project, a well-worn name.

IBM will then have made the choice to drop limitless innovation, now the priviledge of the Apple, Google etc… of this World to ensure a brighted future based on solid products, known and understood by the market in pre-defined but ill-connected silos such as enterprise content management, company social networks, unified communication ofr collaboration. Have IBM missed the train of convergence ? Or is it me, missing out on the branding shift arount LotusLive ? Where are my dreams, help ?

Tuesday 17 August 2010

BI and CSR ? Does these to go together ?

kpi2My close co-workers often moan that I keep rambling about Business Intelligence. I agree with this ! When you have run a global, all-encompassing ERP strategy for your information system, the next thing you want to do is get insight on your business performance and get away from the just financial information reporting.

Non-financial data are the most difficult data to aggregate and give a meaning to. I am refering to human resources data, (age pyramid, training, skill assessment,…) or health & safety (accident rates, occupational diseases ) and last but not least sustainable development information such as carbon foot print, energy consumption, recycling ratios,…

A few days ago I received from a member of our Executive Committee a list of sustainable development KPI's generally agreed in our business segment (engineering & construction) to see whether our information system would be capable of producing them. That reminded me of a paper on Corporate Social Responsibility I wrote for a French influancial IT magazine a couple of years ago so I thought it useful to share some (translated) parts of it here.

The IT contribution to a CSR strategy lies on several levels. We have first to make sure that our own activity is eco-friendly, that is, we have to minimize the impact of the IT carbon footprint, that is understood. Second, IT shops have to proactively idenfity and promote solutions for the entire company to manage its emissions, that is, telepresence, web-conferencing, electronic invoice and document processing, we're in the process of doing …

But first and foremost, the key strategic position for the Information System will be to structure and measure the processes around CSR and sustainability. Very much as SoX requirements have structured the information systems over the past 8 years, CSR needs will structure our systems in the future. Systems will have to be versatile since CSR reporting is still greenfield, they will have to be auditable since the market will want to see year-over-year trends in the annual reports. The overarching approach will make Master Data Management even more crucial. After, purchase-to-pay, order-to-cash, ship-to-bill, … this is a new integration approach : comply-to-report.

We are seeing some frameworks being developped, some vendors developping offersto meet new market opportunities. Consequently, the cross-business specificity of the CSR will put the CIO in the unique position of owning the CSR reporting process. Who else can ? His/her business IT team will know across all silos of business intelligence - finance, HR, marketing… - , what will pertain to this new vision of business performance and transparency. The CIO will proactively contribute to the environmental policy of the company, support the corporate social responsibility and provide the means for a consistent and reliable communication on sustainability policies.

This may well be seen as treading on someone else's turf, but in the years to come, I see this as a major shift in Information System governance. BI has just landed right in the middle of these new business essentials.


Thursday 22 July 2010

Is the iPad at home in the enterprise ?


Using a small part of my innovation budget, I purchased an iPad to have a play. Here are some thoughts, from a geek and an IT professional's perspective.

I have to confess that I was most impressed with the power-up time of the device. Being used to Tablet PC's, this is simply just magical ! The battery life duration is also breath-taking, just unknown for a laptop user….

I found that the ergonomics was extremely intuitive, navigating on the internet or on iPad apps was just so easy.

Socially speaking, I found it much more acceptable being seated on my sofa with the tool on my lap rather that seating at my desk, turning my back to the room. Okay, I did not quizz my wife on this but at least she was not blaming me to be sitting at my PC. The backlighting of the screen is in my opinion very well designed and my eyes did not get sore by reading an e-book and I even enjoyed flipping pages of a few other ones.

After a week-end on it, my favorite applications is the Worldwide geo-localisation of public restrooms with route calculation and user feedback, this is web 2.0 at its best ! However, I would have had to walk for 800 km, letting a few trees passing by.

On the downside, I found that the lack of a webcam, a USB port, Flash support are unacceptable limitations. Being iTunes-captiveis so irritating and I see is as an huge obstacle to corporate usage. The virtual keyboard is designed for illiterate people writing without accented letters and special characters. This is just not acceptable.

If I had to find an enterprise raison d'être for the iPad, that would be an application with limited data entry, a quick availability and a high visual content like a simple configurator for sales people in front of a customer.

Having said that, I am very excited with the tool and I will definitely make it a home device for internet access, available throughout the house. In this respects it beats the laptop PC by far. I am waiting with bated breath for other manufacturers to release poorer copies of the device with a much more open approach.

Monday 21 June 2010

Take home from the Forrester IT Forum #itfe10

it-forum-for-web.gifAfter a hectic couple of weeks I wanted to sit down and put in writing my thoughts and take home about the Forrester IT Form EMEA 2010.

The location was great, convenient to get to, but did not hold to its promise : the weather in Lisbon was awful : cold and rainy. The food was great, the wine made it a happy discovery etc… And even better, there was more to this event, I mean the content.

I attended many sessions, all of them I have to say were most interesting, educational and triggered some great thinking on what to do or not to do in my organisation back at work. I would only name a few here.

To start with, the opening session nicely set the scene and George Colony, Forrester CEO, was very helpful to put us CIO back to were we should be with some very relevant recommendations. He talked about a change in the language : since CEO's cannot provide leadership and guidance in our hundred's of projects, they need to be bundled up in about twenty business capabilities that will speak to senior management, opinion makers and stake-holders. On the priorities of those capabilities is that the CIO should develop a point of view to get out of the order-taking mode. I can picture myself in this new situation and would make our technology endeavours much more relevant to the business.

Moving on, Ted Schadler made two remarkable presentations talking about empowering employees. He asked the one most important question : "Who owns employee productivity ?

Ted's point is that employees will do whatever it takes to get the job properly done, "It is easier and faster than what is provided at work and give better results…". This is the situation that the non-empowering CIO ( like me) will have to face. Ted's analysis focused on the four technologies that will empower users in a more stronger fashion : Social, Video, Mobile and Cloud. About which usage he says that the CIO will "be at risk if he does, curse if he does not". That positively struck a chord with me : I am definitely not empowering my people and I must sit back, look back, think back and move forward.

  • Mobile : we've done a lot but the iPhone pressure is building up - Benjamin Gray's talk was enlightning and is helping me defining an approach - employee-owned tools are a revolutionary move
  • Video : clamped down for the time being as a desperate attempt to save the network - cannot hold on to that one for long…. I'd love to use it for IT change management purposes as well
  • Social : I am like a prophet preaching in the desert, it is my role to promote it. I need to find champions
  • Cloud : at least here, I am ahead of the pack since no one knows what it is about (that includes the IT guys too)

My context is not so much about empowering employees facing definitely empowered customers since we are in a B2S business (I have just coined that one, S meaning State as in gouvernement and local authorities). It is very much providing people relevant capabilities to build the information workplace. In this way, Ted's HERO speech led nicely into Tim Walter's presentation - though I find daunting the work I have yet to undertake in order to climb a few steps up the intranet maturity level. At this stage of wrting, I would start getting very depressed about the magnitude of the task ahead, that would be without Andrew Bartels keynote on Smart Computing. Andrew sends us with a mission, or a game plan as he calls it : the CIO must understand the critical items in the balance sheet - that makes an excellent conversation topic with the CEO - Then he/she must understand what business technology can do to address these C-level topics , identifying which aspects of the Smart Computing stack can help. Andrew's presentation was the homecoming of the CIO, his review of the past upteen years to finally take us to where it matters most : taking the foundation technologies of Smart Computing to apply the 5 A's to process applications and vertical solutions. A great piece of IT-losophy.

Friday 18 June 2010

Expanding my views on Twitter

Further to my initial post on Twitter, I wanted to write more. My attendance to the Forrester IT Forum was an opportunity to use Twitter in a more intensive fashion and therefore the opportunity to discover new benefits and new uses. Here are some additional thoughts.

The pre-requistes were fulfilled : WiFi was available free of charge everywhere and I had my long-life battery so that my PC was on always for note taking in OneNote. Forrester strongly encouraged every participant to tweet about the keynotes, breakout sessions and showcases that they would attend, using the hashtag #itfe10 standing for IT Forum EMEA 2010. So we did. The first incentive was also the display outside the confernce room, faithfully relaying the tweets with pictures in a nicely animated fashion, the second incentive was the What the Trend page tracking the hashtag and ranking participants. I was #2 after Forrester !... I guess it was just a way to exist and get some recognition and a free drink. But more intersting than the basic perf was the content of the tweets. They varied from simple jokes, to quotes, to comments and criticism. They were also tributes to the speakers : it4afkl  #itfe10 was a great show. Thx to the organizers i am looking forward for the next one and how BT has evolved SimonYates  #itfe10 Thanks to guest speakers, clients and analysts for a great forum in Lisbon! RT @manuel_dias Had a great day at Forrester IT Forum. Confirmed how #Agile Platform can help IT making Biz Technology real! #itfe10

Some tweets were just ideas floated around. From my perspective, it sometimes boiled down to mere note taking for my sake and that of my friends/followers. Twitter is made for mass publishing, talking to the World, chatting with the entire planet but I found an innovative use of tweets : local logisitics for the event. Twitter was used as a reminder for sessions or locations, adds for special events at some demo booths etc… One even more innovative usage in this respect was using Twitter to gather and feed questions during sessions. A faciliator was monitoring the feed. Since every repectable Twittos has got mobile access to the service it's easy to use, universal and better than mobile email since everyone could see the questions and they are accessible after the event to be later addressed by all parties. Twitter is a barrier-breaking, global conversation system but in a situation like that of th IT Forum it turned out to be an easy-to-use community tool, creating close links between attendees, speakers and analysts with durable connections.

I felt I got a lot using it and will endeavour to do so, please follow me, or preceed me SCROUSS.

Sunday 30 May 2010

Is the Blackberry smart enough

This is it, I am now under pressure to provide something trendier, smarter and funnier than the Blackberry to my corporate users ! It's interesting to see that RIM is doing very well in the US market as well as amongst the European teenagers but still, its robustness, reliability, excellent integration with Lotus failed to seduce non IT professionnal.

Earlier this week I was caught off-guard by one of the Board members who was feedup to be mocked by his proud iPhone-owning wife whilst he was using is Blackberry. As has was pointedly waving it in front of me, he inadvertently dropped it on the floor and split it open. I was so pleased to show him that it was still working !

I have the feeling that the truce is over and that the smartphone battle has started in the Enterprise. I have set out my IT teams to assess :

  • Security
  • maintainability
  • supportability
  • Training
  • integration
  • Apps dev and roll-out

and alternatives as well !

I am not sure where this is going to lead us, but definitely to a lot more work ! On the otherhand, this may be a great opportunity to enhance personal productivity, push more data and business information technology to staff out in the fields and provide value and recognition.

I'll report back where we stand and where we are going to go. Challenges lie ahead, innovation and progress as well.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Is cloud computing the next best thing since sliced bread ?

Unlike SOA, which was 90% hype, 10% content, Cloud computing seems to be a real step forward for us, CIOs, tasked with bringing more with less and f aster.

I am just exiting a 1.5-day session at IBM, where world-class IBM top notches gathered some large and influencial customers (that's me) to talk about this subject, not in what it is but in how it should be addressed. In the positioning of the session, it is already clear that cloud computing is happening and there is some strong substance in it.

So, what is it first ? I would define it as unlimited computing assets priced on usage. It was presented as an all encompassing set of solutions : storage, network, processing, application, administration and security from which you can pick and choose, depending on your needs and buying power. It comes in all different flavors : private, public, hybride, on or off premises.

Stepping back, it raises three questions :

  1. What is the problem to be solved ?
  2. Where to start ?
  3. How about security, compliance,… ?

To cut short the controversy on the last item, I like the marketing positionning of IBM which, in my understanding, I can summarize as follows : this is an opportunity to do what you have never done in terms of security, hence it is an improvement to your current state. Well, this may even be right !...

So, what would be my problem ? Desktop administration, governance of development and test environments, urgent needs to manage peaks of data volume ? Everywhere in the cloud, there is a silver line and an answer to those very different concerns.

The question for a CIO is really where shoud I start and definitely not should I go for it ? Storage seems to me an excellent entry point to test the water : it is intellectually fathomable, reversion can be handled, ROI easily measured, and as IBM said, it brings financial transparency to end users. The high-end of cloud computing which I would identify as being desktop cloud, will require a lot more techno agility and run the risks of shifting the need of inexpensive PC technicians and support engineers to smart and savvy server admin guys. I have to think at where is the cursor of the critical mass to get an ROI on this.

With cloud computing, CIO are even better positioned to be technology integrator as well as promoters of information technology solutions to meet business challenges, in a faster, stronger fashion. With its cloud computing strategy, IBM is in my mind, positioned to be the major player in the years to come.

Saturday 3 April 2010

Twitter - a threat or a promise

I have been tweeting like a little bird for a few months. As a CIO, I did it first as an experiment, as a 2.0 geek, I did it for fun. Here are some thoughts and feedback.

Twitter is a two way street, you talk to people, you get yourself known, you have a voice. However, you are part of a global conversation and you get to gather a lot of exciting and up-to-date information. Some say that having more followings than followers is ill-balanced, I personally reckon that it is irrelevant but one should care to tweet in a regular fashion. You can just si there dumb in a conversation.

Followings and followers are linked by an interest : they form a community of interest. This link would be a hobby, a friendship, a family relationship or a professionnal interest. The latter was my choice as whenever I need / want to air my feelings about the World or in a more mundate fashion, what I spent my week doing, I have Facebook for this and friends are responsive. I use Twitter for Business IT related topics.

At this stage, I find that I have been using Twitter as an RSS feed : people whose opinion I am interested in tweet their latest posts on blogs and I follow their short URLs if I feel like it, if the 140- chars tease (should I dare tweaser ?) is attractive enough or relevant to my concerns.

I am not a compulsive blogger so I do not tweet my posts so much but I do retweet those of I deem worthwhile. This is probably as much as I tweet.

There are additional dimentions to Twitter which I have not explored yet : the #FF Follow Friday, the #tagging, exploring timelines, lists and so on.

One other dimension has not revealed its full potential to me, is the marketing aspect to it. Yet, as a CIO, it is not my primary concern in the type of business my company operates.

I would summarize this initial experience as - select your followings carefully with an shared interest and not too verbose - as a courtesy to others, retweet rather than re-use and thanks for being retweeted - be there and be visible - un-follow when you are not interested, it will make your visits worthwhile - bookmarks the tweeted URL, you'll loose them otherwise - explore, look around and try the features - before adding real-life friends or collegues, make sure you have enough tweets and feel comfortable with the concept. You'll make a fool of yourself otherwise

And use Twitter for a purpose, otherwise you could be gobbled up by the tool and miss out in the real life !

So, follow me on Twitter and I'll follow you and we can exchange about IT perspective and trends.


Wednesday 24 February 2010

Skiding away from the technology ?

Enjoying a (maybe well deserved) family vacation in family-type skiing resort, I was happy to get away from all the tech stuff and I found myself pondering, somewhat mesmerized by the technology around me on the snow-capped mountains and the high-level of integration there is.

Before departing, you dig out your old ski pass from last year. You reload them over the internet, no big deal everyone does this. When you show up at the gate, the attendant check you picture (that you digitally sent in advance) on his wireless PDA to make sure that there is no cheating. Pretty smart thoses guys : they can tell from the business look alike picture that the guy with multicolour sunglasses and the wholly hat are the same.

When you think of all the technology involved, this is rather impressive : e-commerce, contact-less badge, digitize picture database, download to each gate, wireless PDA. This indeed impressive until you get stuck behing someone who does not get through. Why was this ? The attendant told us : to avoid cheating, you can go through the gate twice with the same, makes sens, but the poor guy fell and left the pole go so he came back to quickly.

I tried racing down but never quite manage to measure the time limit.

Going back to my fondue,

Cheers everyone !

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Innovation in times of constraints

I thought I should write about innovation. This topic worries me for there are many hurdles in the way in these troubled days and I keep wondering what to do not to lag behind. Not a chance to rely on chance !

I find that :

  1. in times of financial constraints, money earmarked for innovation may be cut off even before training budget.
  2. most business processes are supported by information technology, so innovative processes should be even more so/ Thus innovative solutions are some time hard to be identified and promoted as such
  3. In a traditionnal organisation, IT, as a backoffice service, may not be considered as a vector for innovation
  4. The innovation process itself requires technology for ideas to blossom

So, where does this leave the innovation-enthusiastic CIO ?

Reduced financing may not be a hindrance to innovate, ideas are priceless in every meaning of the word. Money may become necessary when it comes to the pilote phase (suppliers can be draughted in ) but before that stage what may only be required is time, time to think, time to experiment, time to learn and search. Time is alledgedly money but may also come without a price tag when management pushes the organisation around.

I once heard a good definition of innovation as being the intersection of an invention and business process. This is really appealing as this makes the bed of Business Information Technology. Isn't it what IT shops do all the time ? On the othehand the most pessimistic may look at most IT endeavours as energy spent fixing, updating and optimizing but certainly not as breakthrough contributions.

Back to my third point mentioned above, innovation feeds the ambiguous and unusual feeling of "invented-here" syndrome. So, IT organizations need a differentiating factor to be on the competitive edge of innovation. In my opinion, only matured organizations capable of promoting transverse collaboration can foster innovation. Others would see every players keep their cards close to their chests.

My fourth point would be that innovation requires a different way of working, sharing ideas, experimenting from a normal design effort. It can be the yeast for this, allowing people to collaborate in a global, round-the-clock fashion, communicate off-line and on-line without constraints. This is where IT should strive in the innovation process. Keeping the ideas flowing, making brainstorming fun, speeding things up. Background work, so be it, but with a good chance to come in the light.

Innovation is key for any commercial organizations to keep a competitive edge. As long as IT can self-promote as a facilitator to the innovation process, it will be seen as serving the business and may even get a chance to be heard and earn some recognition for what it should be doing : bringing new technology to improve current ways of operating or even open alternate roads forward. Wouldn't this be great and rewarding ?

Wednesday 27 January 2010


Lotusphere 2010 was most educational to me and since it was my first attendance, I was also very impressed. In addition to my key take aways detailed below, I have to confess that my overall impression was excellent.

I truely believe that IBM have made a huge leap forward and have taken a significant advantage over the competition. The maturity, completeness, usability of the latest releases of exisiting products are not to be questioned. In addition, the integration, once their weakness, is now effective and clever. Besides, the strategic moves to the cloud are very meaningful and have turned into a proper offer. Not to mention Project Vulcan which will dwarf any good wave…

So, what I have enjoyed was :

  • Alfresco integration
  • Multi-site video conferencing with Sametime
  • Lotus forms
  • Alloy

And what may have a significant impact on further decisions is :

  • LotusLive
  • iNotes
  • Lotus Connections on the Blackberry
  • External collaboration

I spent a lot of time looking into Sametime Unified Communications and I think that approching UC from a software standpoint is the right approach. The infrastructure will provide the additional level of federation that may be required. I checked with Cisco and they will bridge any gap.

Back to the times of Lotus version 6, I was really wondering whether Lotu Notes was a deadend. Having made the ultimate move to 8.5, before giving up altogether I am now well re-assured and very enthousiastic to build my company's collaboration and communication plateform over a powerful, ergonomic and hyper solid set of tools.

Looking forward to the future...

Saturday 2 January 2010

New techno year

I wish everyone a very happy, successful and prosperous New Year - in the weeks to come I'll try to think about the technos I am going to focus on this year and report bacK. Bear with me...

Monday 21 December 2009

Usage of Social media in the company

I have just been asked to take part in a survey about Social.
I am just so convinced that this is going to change everything in and out of the company.

People just do not have time to get organized, everything happens too fast making it impossible to structure and classify information. Now, there is only one way to share knowledge : Social. In the past, salvation came from knowing where to find the information, with Social the answer is to find someone who knows the information.

I am going to try out Social media and networking at work - the idea is to allow people to talk abou them, their work and experiences and make it easy for everyone to research. Then the link is made. It can be temporary for a brief exchange or more resilient when a community is built.

I will post about this in a few months.

Bear with me !

... and take the survey

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Why blogging ?

I am in the process of exploring all collaboration and social networking tools and it sprung to my mind that using Twitter without a blog was pointless in terms of communication. Owning my domain, I thought I would start a blog on technology. I can be a user, tester and contributor.

I'll try to be focused and add value as I go along exploring the concept. I also opened an account on to be in the mood...

And who knows, someone may even read my blog posts ?

Saturday 12 December 2009

About me


I am the CIO of a large multinational organisation. I am a manager and a geek, a bit of both - more one than the other...

Follow me on Twitter : #SCROUSS