Monday, December 29, 2014

Gartner's 2015 Strategic Technology Predictions: Trivial, Over Estimated and Interesting

In a previous post titled: Technology Predictions for 2015: Trivial, Over Estimated and Interesting, I analyzed  IDC's 2015 Technological Predictions. This post is dedicated to Gartner's top ten Strategic Technology Trends for 2015. In addition of reading Gartner's prediction hyperlinked above, I read TechRepublic's article: Gartner's top 10 technology trends for 2015: All about the cloud.

Methodological notes
1. Classifying of a prediction as Trivial does not imply that it is not valid and does not imply that it should not be included in analysts' prediction.

2. A prediction could be classified as Over Estimated in different circumstances:

a. The Technology is not so important as the analyst classified it. 
It may vanish in Long Term or its use will be less prevalent than the analyst predict it will or its use will provide less Value than predicted so it will not be so important.  

b. It is so immature that it will take longer time than speculated by the analyst, until it will be Interesting or Trivial. 

3. Do not ignore mainstream mature technologies, which will never appear in Next Year Trends Prediction. For example, read: SOA is Dead again

Wearables in Gartner's trends predictions vs. Wearables in IDC's trends predictions
The difference between the predictions is that Technologies appearing in Gartner's trends predictions are described as Strategic. The predictions are about Technologies strategic to Organizations.

IDC's predictions are described as "IDC Worldwide Predictions 2015: Accelerating Innovation on the 3rd Platform". IDC's predictions focus on Innovation. "The 3rd Platform" is a term coined by IDC in 2007, referring to the next generation of software. It is applicable to Enterprise Software as well as to mobile devices and social media. The context is not limited to organizations: Consumers software is included as well.

Gartner's predictions does not have a dedicated prediction for Wearables. They are mentioned in three sections.

The first is titled: "Computing Everywhere" It is about mobile devices including phones and wearables. I assume that Web connectivity of computing everywhere is implied.  

The second is titled: "Cloud/Client Computing". The context is clearly Web related. Wearables are only one type of Cloud Clients devices i.e. Wearables in this context are subclass of Internet of Things.

The third is titled: "Advanced Pervasive and Invisible Analytics". 
It is about analyzing a large amount of data from Embedded systems such as Internet of Things (IOT), social media and wearable devices.

The bottom line is Werables are not Over Estimated in Gartner's predictions as a dedicated trend. It is only included as one of the devices used for enabling other trends.  

TechRepublic point of view
TechRepublic compares Gartner's trends predictions for 2015 to its predictions in 2012, 2013 and 2014. A trend may be a new trend or a trend appearing in 2014 or in 2013 and 2014 or in 2012 and 2013 and 2014. 

It is possible to use this data together with my classification: Trivial, Interesting and Over Estimated.

For example IOT appeared in Gartner's top prediction in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. 

In the Methodological notes section of this post, I discussed two types of Over Estimated trends: those which will mature and those which are not so important. 
It seems that IOT of 2012 and 2013 was Over Estimated. However, it was than immature. In 2014 and 2015 it is Interesting trend. 

Trivial Predictions
I think that the following Gartner's predictions are Trivial:

Cloud/Client Computing
According to Tec Republic it is a Gartner prediction in the last 6 years. The assumptions of no computing power at Client Devices was a wrong assumption in previous Technological Generations, why should it be correct assumption in the age of strong and capable Pavlets? 

Risk-Based Security and self-protection 
Nobody can take care of so many Security threats so Security measures taken should be Risk based: Handle threats that are high risk threats.
Handling low Risk threats could cost more than the damage caused by the risk.

It is not a new approach. Security should be implemented according to this principle. For example, I participated in a consulting project for a large customer based on this assumption 8 years ago. We classified the Security threats according to Risk Severity and Risk occurrence Probability and the customer decided which Risks to take care of and when.

Web Scale IT (second year)
Nothing new. The trend is obvious. The degree of its implementation is less obvious.  


Computing everywhere (first year)
"Mobile device proliferation is obvious". What makes this trend interesting is that it is about "a shift of focus from devices to how the user and device interact in different environments and contexts". 

Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics (first year)
It is not just Analytics and Big Data. it is related to other interesting trends: Context-rich Systems (first year), Computing everywhere and Smart machines (second year).

Smart Machines (second year)
A vision of machines which are context aware and are able to learn. It is closely related to Context-rich Systems and Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics

Interesting or Over Estimated

3D Printing (second year)
It looks like 3D Printing technology will be important in the future. I am not sure that in 2015 it will be matured enough to be labeled as Interesting and not as Over Estimated. 

Over Estimated
Software-defined applications and infrastructure (second year)
It is very ambitious: "Agile Programming of everything from applications to basic infrastructure is essential to enable organizations to deliver the flexibility required to make the digital business work". The vision of controlling every infrastructure  by software, instead of a mix of Software, Microcode and Hardware, is far from being realized in 2015.
Will it be a reality in 3 years or 4 years? in my opinion probably not.    

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Digital Human Beings: Vision or Risk?

Artificial cardiac pacemaker

Source: Wikipedia
Wearable Computing is a new Buz and/or new Technology. The vision of human beings with permanent Computing device is beyond wearing it. The vision is of a an electronic chip implanted in our body i.e. Computing device inside every one or a Digital Human Being. Each Digital Human Being will have an IP address. An Internet of Human Beings beyond The Internet of Things.

The device can record and transmit body measurements and control and regulate them. Unlike Wearables, e.g. Apple Watch, which you can get rid of, you are not able to get rid of a chip easily: you will probably need a medical operation in order to take it out from your body.

Actually a limited version of that vision is already a reality. For example, the Artificial cardiac pacemaker, which maintains an adequate heart rate. Wearable cardiac pacemakers are available since 1958. Modern cardiac pacemakers are implantable and are externally programmable. 

Some people see the bright side of this feature.
I would like to discuss less bright non-technological aspects and one technological issue.

Lack of Privacy is a major problem in an Internet driven world. You can read a post I wrote in 2010 titled: Your private data is Unforgettable. That was the motto of Prof. Victor Mayer-Schönberger's keynote presentation in Israeli Wikimedia Academy 2010 conference. Once your private data is in the Web it will be there forever. 

The Privacy issues of a Digital Human Being (this is the term I will use for someone with implanted computing device connected to the Web) is more sever than the Web Privacy issues. 

For example, his location is always known. If you are a lost child, it is good to know were you are, but if some authorities in a totalitarian country or some criminals do not like you, you have no place to hide.

"He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past." George Orwell, 1984

This issue is closely related to Privacy.
Big Brother will be watching you all the time.

Is the radiation a risk to the health of a Digital Human Being? I do not know, but the risk of damage to health condition should be checked systematically.
For example, Would there be sleep disorders due to implanted devices? I do not know but it should be checked.  

Risk of Dying
I am not joking. I am discussing Security issues. Nobody is happy when somebody gains remote control over his PC and can do what ever he likes in his PC. 

Controlling you PC is nothing in comparison to controlling your body via the device implanted in your body. 

If he will manipulate the body measurements data, it could even cause death. This could happen if the device regulates body activity based on data, same as Artificial heart pacer is regulating the heart pulse rate. 

If the risk is similar to the risk of distorting heart pacer patterns, why is not the risk similar to the risk of distorting heart pacer patterns? 
Artificial heart pacer are implanted if and only if the heart does not function properly. Probably the people carrying it have no other choice. 

The vision is about device implanted in everybody including many healthy people. Healthy people should have a choice.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wearable Computing: New Buzz or new Technology?

Holter monitor
Inventor: Norman Holter
Source: Wikipedia

About 15 years ago I fainted. It was the only time in my life that I fainted. 
The reasons were probably, blood donation a day before, Work from 7:00 until 19:00 and participation in the the thirty-third day of the Omer period ceremonies of my children (I stood for a long time beside the traditional fire). 

No problem found during The Medical Check up, I performed. 
The Medical Check up included wearing an Holter Monitor recording my heart activity for 24 hours.
The Holter was a Wearable computing device, however nobody used the word Wearable.

If we exclude the enhanced computing power of current Wearables in comparison to the old Holter monitor, we can find two factor differentiating current Wearables from the Holter Monitor.

The size of current Wearables is smaller than old wearables.  
This differentiating factor is not important.

This is a significant difference. If a device is connected via Internet it is part of Internet of Things.
The Data collected by a wearable medical device could be loaded to a server in a Data center or in a Public Cloud. 

The data could be analyzed in Near Real Time. If  an immediate action is required, as a result of the analysis, e.g. finding dangerous patterns of variables recorded, the system could notify the one who wears the device immediately. 

Operational Business Intelligence
Operational BI is used for Near real Time events analysis. For example, Fraud Detection in Banking. Every Bank has a Data Center (or is using a Data Center of a larger bank or is using another Company's Data Center). 
A back Hand Server software is usually responsible for data analysis and actions required as result of the analysis.

A human being is not connected to a Data Center. A Wearable device which is connected to the Internet and sends the measurements frequently, is enabler of Operational BI of human measurements. 

In many cases the measurements are Health Care related. The Back End Server is capable of analysing the data and alerting events, similarly to a fraud detection events in a bank.

Rethinking my previous posts
In my previous post titled: Technology predictions for 2015: Trivial, Over Estimated and Interesting, I was sceptic about IDC's Wearable Computing prediction and classified it as Over Estimated. 

Unlike Wearables, I classified Internet of Things as revolutionary and interesting. 

Be sure that I noticed that Wearables connected to the Internet are sub-class of Internet of Things, because I mentioned it in the post.

It seems that I think that Wearables are less important sub-class of Internet of Things and many of them are doomed. 

During the days between writing the previous post and the current post, I read few articles that made me change my mind slightly. 

The most important of them is: Wearable technology is breakthrough for Parkinson's.
The article is about Intel's advanced analytics team in Israel's new device for collecting, analyzing and transmiting a wealth of symptoms data.  

My Take
So it seems that Health Care related Wearables, which are Internet Connected are not doomed. They can provide useful Operational Business Analysis functionality together with Analytic Engines placed in a Back End Server.

I do not know if a Pavlet could provide or will be capable of providing similar information.

If a Pavlet will not be capable of providing that type of information, Health Care related Wearables are useful and even life saving devices.

That does not mean that Wearable devices like Apple Watch or Google Glass, which do not provide any Value, will not fail.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Technology Predictions for 2015: Trivial, Over Estimated and Interesting

Picture source: Wikipedia
It is an annual ritual: predictions for next year. After a year, two years or 5 years you discover that some of the predictions were right, some were wrong and nobody is sure if other predictions were right or wrong. 2015 is not an exception. 

Recently I read two article  about IDC's predictions. The two articles describe the same predictions. The articles phrase differently the same predictions. 
I will refer to the first article titled: IDC's top ten predictions for 2015.  

However, the first article omitted an interesting point about Internet of Things Vendors. I will refer to what was written in the second article titled: IDC: top 10 technology predictions for 2015

No one, including me, could be sure to which category (right, wrong, unknown) a prediction will fail.

I divide IDC's predictions to three groups:

1. trivial
I am not going to discuss trivial predictions such as "Wireless data growth", "Pablets will rise", "Clod Services", "Big Data and Analytics", "Security and 3d printing", "Cloud services will become the new data center". Many others write about them. You can read what they write. All of them will probably belong to the category of right predictions. The only exception is the last prediction in the list: "Cloud services will become the new data center", which probably will belong to the unknown category.

2. Over Estimated
The list of trivial predictions includes only the first half of the prediction "Pablets will rise"

I think that the second half ("wearable will underwhelm") is over estimated. It is more a buzzword than mature Technology. I agree with IDC that "wearables will seen an explosion in innovation that will not translate to market value yet". But will it ever translate to market value or will it end like Virtual Worlds

will Google Glass be another Second Life?

As far as Apple Watch and similar initiatives are concerned, I am skeptic. 

The new world is full of multi-function devices instead of single function devices. Not all of them will be successful devices. The Pablets are multi-function devices whose success is almost guaranteed. 

The young generation usage of watches is limited. Many of them do not wear a watch at all. Almost All of them carry Smart phones anyway. 

It is possible to divide wearables to two categories: stand alone and connected (via Internet). 

The connected are more promising. But aren't they a case of broader category: Internet of Things?

3. Interesting
IDC's predictions not mentioned in previous sections could be classified as Interesting.

I will not discuss "The 3rd platform will become industry specialized" prediction.

"New Technology will take over the market"
"Nearly all the spending growth will be focused on 3rd platform technologies. 2nd platform technologies (PCs) will continue to see decline spending". 

Most of the new development is for Smart Phones and Tablets. It is trivial and well known. These devices gradually will replace many of the Personal Computers. 

What is less trivial is the fact that Information Technology is far from  being Mature. Expect a lot of changes in future years. Phil Morphy's Winchester Mystery House analogy is still relevant as it was more than 10 years ago.

The Internet of Things
The illustration in the beginning of this post depicts the Internet of Things (IOT). You can guess (correctly) that I think that this technology is significant and important.

In my opinion it is a revolution. I do not know if IDC's Internet of Things prediction is right for 2015, but I am sure that if it is not, it will be right prediction for 2016 or 2017 or 2020.

In my opinion IOT is a fascinating new technologies based on Hardware (not limited to traditional Information Technology Hardware) , Software and Artificial Intelligence. 

It could change our life in the future and it will be a very large market. Successful vendors' revenues could be high. 
Google Car is not Google Glasses. It could turn into a significant growth engine.

IOT vendors 
IDC predicts that some of the traditional IT vendors will form "an IOT solutions company". Possible candidates for forming an IOT solutions company are IBM, Intel and Cisco.

It is not surprising that these vendors are not pure Software vendors. They have significant Hardware Business Lines. 

Those three vendors are not significant players in the Pablet Hardware market.

Intel (Intel inside PCs) missed the promise of Intel inside mobile devices.
It could miss the IOT opportunity if it will focus in wearable devices.

I do not know much about Cisco's IOT efforts. 
I think that IBM could be successful in the IOT market.

"massive Growth in China"
According to this prediction "China Will experience skyrocketing influence on the global market in 2015".

Expect to buy more Chinese products. Expect new or local Chinese companies as major Global Market players.

Will the Chinese influence change the Global IT Culture if the prediction will be realized? 
I do not know. But if it will change the IT Culture, it will be a fundamental change in Consumers practices. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

IBPMS: Updated Vendors Positioning

Few days ago I published a post titled: BPM - Agility is a Must. In that post I explained why Agility is important in BPM Programs and Projects. I quoted two analysts firms: Aberdeen Group (ten years ago) and Forrester Research (2013).

I did not quote the largest analysts firm: Gartner. I did not quote Gartner, not because their analysts' opinion is different. The reason was no quickly available source to quote.

Today I read Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Intelligent Business Process Management Suites dated 17 March 2014. This Research Note was written by: Teresa Jones, Roy Schulte and Michelle Cantara. 

Now I have an handy quote supporting my opinion: "IBPMS addresses the increasing need for Business managers to react quickly to event that impact their business and to gain better insights into business operations so that they can take the right corrective actions. Business change is inevitable, and leading organizations will require the ability to dynamically make changes to business processes to maintain competitive advantage."

IBPMS Vendors Positioning
It is interesting to compare the new Magic Quadrant to the 2012 Quadrant, I discussed in a post: BPMS Next Generation: IBPMS.

No vendor was added to the Leaders Quadrant so there are still only three Leaders: Pegasystems, Apian and IBM.

All vendors in the Visionary quadrant remained in the quadrant. However, the Ability to Execute of most vendors improved. No new vendor was added to this Quadrant. 

The Challengers Quadrant remained empty, as it was two years ago.

Two vendors were added to the Niche Quadrant and Cordys was removed.

I already read a Case Study of Newgen Software Technologies, but I new nothing about Kofax.

Newgen Software Technologies is a Document Processes company evolved recently to IBPMS.

Kofax is a Microsoft centric vendor. It acquired Singularity in 2011 (now I know something about Kofax because Singularity is a company I read about). Their Total Agility IBPMS suite based on two other acquisitions, in addition to Singularity: Altosoft a Business Intelligence vendor and Kapow Software. Kapow is an Automatic Information integration company, especially Web Information. Its product capabilities also include Legacy Information Integration. Legacy Integration is Kofax and Singualrity weakness.

The Buttom Line
Do not extrapulate the minimal changes in IBPMS Vendors Positioning. The market is still immature. Expect changes in vendors positioning in Mid Term future.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

BPM: Agility is a Must

Agile Methodologies are used frequently in modern systems development. Readers of this blog, as well as many people who do not read it, know that the rate of Business changes was accelerated and Information Technology systems should be flexible in order to adapt quickly to the Business changes.

Agile Methodologies focus on high priority requirements. If you would use classic Waterfall methodologies, probably the requirements will change before you complete the Analysis.

According to an old Aberdeen Group's survey, published a decade ago, the time for implementing BPM is more important than the implementation's costs. The results of the Aberdeen Group's survey implies that Agility was required in implementing BPM. Those days, it is required more than it was required ten years ago.

Forrester's analysts Clay Richardson and John R. Rymer wrote in 2013: "The Mantra for BPM has always been "start small, think big, move fast!" However, most teams hit a brick wall when it comes to the "moving fast" of the equation"  (The Forrester WaveTM: BPM Suites Q1 2013).
This citation is actually a call for Agile Methodologies implementation in BPM Projects and Programs.

In the following section I will explain why BPM Agility is required now more than it was required 10 years ago. 

BPM's Evolution
In previous posts I described BPM's evolution until 2012.
In the post titled: BPM Market Growing Rapidly but still Maturing and Changing I discussed the relationships between BPM and Case Management and Software as a Service (SaaS). I also discussed the leading BPMS vendors. 

In the post titled: BPMS Next Generation: IBPMS I discussed a new BPM Use Case, Intelligent Business Operations(IBO) and the immaturity of the BPMS market.

Ten years ago most BPM implementations addressed Automatic or SOA Processes. The Processes were composed of Systems and/or Services executed one after another. Process Flow depended upon conditions. 

The next evolutionary step was Human Processes
Human Processes include Automatic sub-processes, however the human steps or human sub-processes are more complex. Addressing them requires more complex development than addressing the Automatic sub-processes.

The development required for addressing the next evolutionary step, Case Management, is a lot more complex and consuming a lot more resources. The next step addresses less structured Human Processes handled by Knowledge workers. The illustration at the beginning of this post depict the structure of a process of that type. 

Intelligent Business Operations(IBO) emerged afterwards. This new Use Case changed vendors position and only three vendors remained in the Leaders part of Gartner Magic Quadrant. Some of the former Leaders such as Software AG acquired smaller vendors of technologies they missed in order to improve their position. 

BPM and SOA alone are not sufficient: Other technologies such as Content Management, Knowledge Management, Complex Event Processing and Business Intelligence supplement them.

BPM for Case Management and IBO could turn into a large development project. Use of Agile Methodologies could help.

The consequences of BPM's Evolution are more Use Cases, higher number of Processes and more complex Processes handled by Human Processes, Intelligent Operation Processes and Case Management. Agility is necessary in order to cope with such complex environment.

Recently I read few articles and Research Notes on BPM trends.
The problem of Moving Target requirements, I mentioned in the context of systems development, was cited in some of the articles, but not in the context of developing systems. It was cited in the context of Processes development.

The next sections will focus on some of the Technological issues complementing Agile BPM Development usage, by shortening BPM development time. 

Low coding or Zero Code Processes
Less code means shorter delivery time. According to Forrester Research's Research Note written by Clay Richardson and John R. Rymer, titled: "New Development Platforms Emerge for Customers Facing Applications" (June, 2014): "Firms often Adopt Fast Delivery Practices with Low-Cost Platforms". 
The need for dynamic processes reflecting rapid changing Business is a must. 

The trend of Low Code Platforms is  especially relevant for Customers Facing Apps.

I recommend reading this excellent Research Note about  a paradigm change in Customer Facing Applications including: the Demand for new App Delivery Thinking, new Culture, Practices and Design approach. 

Unified Development and Execution Environment for all BPM Use Cases
a Unified environment eliminates the need to manage different environments for Automated Processes, Human Processes and Case Management Processes. It also eliminates the need to learn multiple environments, multiple tools and deciding which environment should be used. Unified environment also saves the time and effort of switching environments.

Seem less Integration with completing Technologies
Processes Development requires other technologies completing BPM. More complex Use Cases require more technologies than the simpler Use Cases. The BPM suite should provide easy integration or common operation between tools of those technologies.

If easy integration is not guaranteed, forget Agile Development. You will spend a lot of time and efforts in developing APIs and other integration mechanisms. 

a decade ago Multi-Channel  was crucial for successfully implementing CRM (read: The Marriage of Customer-Centric and Multi-Channel).

It was also a good practice to include adequate Multi-Channel Architecture as part of SOA Architecture.

Today Multi-Channel is required for BPM , Case Management and IBO, as well. Human Task performance should be independent of Channel. The implementation should enable usage of any Channel. No coding or minimal coding for addressing multiple Channels and variety of channels is a key for quick Development and rapid Deployment.

The term Multi-Channel denotes something slightly different from the same term ten years ago: It includes Mobile devices and Social Networks Channels.

Vertical Industry Specific Applications and Processes
Russell Keizere, a Senior Director in Pega Systems argues in a presentation: "The Platform should come with pre-built applications for your industry that you can quickly and easily extend and customize" The words quickly and easily were not highlighted by me. They were highlighted by Mr. Keizere. 
The principle of Agile and short time Development is presented again. 

his approach is not a new approach. More than ten years ago I was responsible of BPM Vendor selection in a Telco company. IBM, Tibco and Web Methods presented pre-built Industry specific processes.

The principle is not new but the solutions are more mature than they were ten years ago.

BPM in the Cloud  
Ovum believed on 2012 that Cloud Computing will not be BPM's dominant delivery model.
According to Ovum, BPM implementations invoke Systems and/or Services and the amount of code and data in them is minimal. 

Forrester's survey results on 2012 are different: The title of a the results graph is "Many BPM Programs Either Plan to Use Software as a Service or Already Do So". 
The results:
15% - "Already replaced most/all with SaaS" or "Plan to do so in two years".
33% - "Plan to Complement with some SaaS within two years or "Using some SaaS to complement" 
46% - No plans to use SaaS

The difference between Ovum's opinion and Forrester's survey results is probably because of the amount of code and data in BPM systems is no longer minimal. The more sophisticated Use Cases may require more coding and a lot of data. 

It should be noted that Servers and Software Infrastructure Installation and Customization takes a lot more time and human resources in the Data Center than in SaaS based Public Cloud implementations.

As BPM matures and addresses more complex Use Cases, usage of Agile Methodologies is a must. The long implementation time is a major barrier. 
I discussed some of the issues and some of the approaches and technologies enabling shorter development time. 
Short delivery time was important in BPM projects ten years ago. It is a must today and probably will not be less important in 2024.   

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Consultants Typology: The Consultant who Knows Everything

The post: Two Types of Consultants: Niche vs. All Around, was the first post about Consultants typology. The post differentiated between Niche Consultant, whose knowledge and experience is focused in a Niche and All Around Consultants, who know and understand a variety of Niches and topics.

If you read the Customers Typology posts, you probably read: Customers Typology: The Customer who Knows Everything

The behavioural patterns of the Consultant who Knows Everything resemble the behavioural patterns of the Customer Who Knows Everything. 

The only difference is that the Customer is capable of making decisions. The Consultant is only advising. 

Is there a Consultants who knows everything?
No, but I had worked with All Around Consultants who know and understand a lot about large number of topics. Some of them have the Capability of learning quickly and understanding deeply new topics.

Of course, the number of theses extraordinary consultants is limited. However, other good All Around Consultants know and understand many topics. 

One may know 7 topics, another 10 topics etc. It is a continuum.
Even some of the Niche Consultants' knowledge could be in two or three different topics. 

It should be noticed, that an All Around Consultant's knowledge and understanding level may vary: In one niche his knowledge could be similar to the knowledge of the best Niche consultants. In another niche his knowledge and understanding could be limited.   
Two types of Consultants Knowing Everything
The best All Around Consultants are not included in the group of Consultants Knowing Everything.

In a meeting with one of them (and about twenty Customer's employees) he said: "You should know what you do not know".

The Consultant Knowing Everything do not know everything. They know and understand less than many other consultants.
Usually they label themselves as the best All Around Consultants.

There are two distinct types of Knowing Everything consultants.

The First type: Impressive Past
The first type of The Knowing everything consultant was a CXO years ago. Sometimes he was a successful CIO.  
Information Technology is dynamic and changing. He is no longer a CXO. However, he thinks that he knows everything because of the good old days.

Sometimes the Customer's CIO was his subordinate ten or twenty years ago. The Consultant believes that he knows more and understands more than the CIO. Well, that was true 20 years ago...

The Second type: Sales experts
The first type has impressive past. The second type of the Consultant who Knows Everything could not be proud of his past achievements. 

A second type consultant main qualification is sales. Due to mastering Sales he may convince a Customer that he is the leading expert in any topic, niche or subject.

The Customer may not discover the truth even after a failure. The consultant could find someone else to blame for the failure and convince the Customer that the failure is not because he lacks the skills, but despite of his enormous contribution.

What should The Customer do?
If you can avoid of a Consultant who Knows Everything , do it. 

Ask for recommendations and experience and verify or deny his claims.

The risk is in following his recommendations in a topic he knows nothing about.

Even if you hired him, do not hesitate to hire another Consultant, as soon as you discover that Knowing Everything stands for not knowing the topic, the Niche, the Technology, The system or the Architecture you are trying to get help for. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Customers Typology: The Captive who Knows Everything

One of the posts in the Customers Typology series was titled: Customers Typology: The Captive. I described The Captive as: "The Captive Customer's opinion is that someone else is the Oracle. He will do whatever the Oracle will say". Frequently the Oracle is a Software and/or Hardware vendor.

Another post was titled: Customers Typology: The Customer who Knows Everything. I described customer of that type as: "This Customer type is sure that he knows more than anyone else. He is also sure that his understanding is better than any body's understanding".

Would you imagine that there is another customer type combining both types? 

You probably hardly believe that this type is not a fiction story.

If he is a Captive, he will do exactly what his Captor will recommend.   
If he Knows Everything, he will follow only his opinion.

The best way to describe this type is by example. The example is of a long time ago Case Study.

IT Consulting Assignment 
A non-Information Technology friend called me. He is performing an Audit for a CEO. Is it possible that I will join him in order to address the IT aspects?
I accepted the challenge.

The Background
The most Business Critical Application was developed many years ago. The IDE is obsolete. Only one employee has the skills required for maintaining the application.
It is clear that the system should be developed from scratch using a Mainstream IDE.

A Large development Project was initiated. After two years the development completed. 

The IT department built the same functionality and the same processes included in the old system without functional changes. They thought that it is only Technical transformation: usage of a new IDE instead the obsolete IDE. 

Unfortunately, The Business Customer, who was not participated in the development process (and probably was notified about the Development Project after its completion), thought that the new system does not address his requirements properly.

How should the CEO solve the problem?

1. The organization built a new system. 

2. The organization spend a lot of money and human resources. 

3. The new System probably do not address the Business Customer needs. 

The key questions to ask are:

1. What should the organization do in order to minimize the damage?
Should it rebuild the system again? should it adapt the system to the Business users needs? or should it ask the Business users to adapt to the system?

2. What lessons should be learned from the failure?

The CEO decided to do an audit by external Subject Matter Expert. He chose my friend as the external  Subject Matter Expert.

A note about Business and IT Gap
SOA is about Business and IT Alignment. Every time I am lecturing on SOA, I talk about the Business-IT Gap before diving into technical details. If you read posts in my blog, you may find that I repeat and repeat this idea. Read for example:

Will Business and IT Aligned?


STKI Summit 2011 - SOA Perspective: Business Services or only Integration 

This Case Study is an example I am using to describe to my students Business-IT Gap as part of my SOA lecture.

My Role
My role in the audit was to evaluate the Information Technology aspects of the system.

When my friend told me which IDE was selected, I told him immediately that it is a wrong decision.
I also told him that I am capable of bringing the vendor's employees and they will support my viewpoint about the IDE their company developed.

Why would employees recommend not to use their company's products?
The company already developed a lot better IDE. They prefer that customers use a good product and not a limited product. I guess that in 3-5 years the vendor will not support the old IDE.

The customer was a Captive Customer. I would surely recommend usage of the new IDE developed by the same vendor. 

How come that the Customer was a Captive and a Customer who Knows Everything simultaneously?
The answer is simple: If he were not a Customer who Knows Everything, he would ask for the Vendor's experts recommendation.

I am 100% sure that anyone working for the Vendor and any good external Consultant will recommend usage of the new and better IDE (under the assumption that it should be an IDE developed by this vendor). 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Two types of Consultants: Niche vs. All Around

Leonardo da Vinci (probably self-portrait). source: Hebrew Wikipedia

It is time to classify Consultants after so many posts about Clients Typology (e.g. Clients Typology: The Stealth, The Captive, The Paralyzed Analyzer). 

I do not know if the terms I am using: Niche Consultant and All Around Consultant are the best terms to use. 

If you think that other terms are more accurate, please comment. Anyway, I am trying to distinguish between two types of Professionals, Consultants, Scientists or Experts.

Most of them could be labeled as Niche experts: They know almost everything about a relatively narrow subject matter.

Leonardo da Vinchi (1452-1519), whose portrait appears right after the heading of this post, could not be depicted as a Niche expert. he is a classic example of The All Around type. I will quote the English Wikipedia: " ... Da Vinchi was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer". 

Most, if not all, of the All Around Consultants'   knowledge Subject Matters are very limited in comparison to the vast knowledge areas of a genius like Da Vinchi. However, usually their knowledge is a lot wider than the Niche Consultants' knowledge. 

The difference between the two Consultants types could be roughly described as Wider Knowledge vs. Deeper Knowledge.

Advantages of Niche Consultant
The obvious advantage of a Niche Consultant is his experience. He acquired tremendous experience in the specific domain in which all, or at least most of the tasks, he performed are part of. 

Another advantage is the knowledge he acquired while learning the Subject Matter and during execution of assignments in this Subject Matter. 

If, and usually only if, the assignment is well defined within the boundaries of his expertise niche he could be a good candidate for performing the assignment. 

Advantages of All Around Consultant
The main advantage of the All Around Consultant is his wide perspective.

Another advantage of the All Around Consultant is the capability to learn and understand new topics, systems, technologies etc.

This requirement is embedded in his Role. He will face new topics and new connections between topics and 
has no other choice than learning them and acquire a certain level of understanding of them.

The Niche Consultant is obliged to learn only new approaches and technologies related to his narrow niche. 

The assignments which are best fit for this Consultant type are assignments related to multiple domains, multiple Business issues and multiple applications and IT technologies.

It is not as simple as described above
It is not as simple as described above. I used the term "roughly" in the first paragraph intentionally.
Not every Niche Consultant knowledge is deeper than the knowledge of every All Around Consultant, even in his domain of knowledge.

Not every All Around Consultant is capable of generalizing  from one case to another case and from one Niche to another.

Not every All Around Consultant us capable of grasping the "whole picture" i.e the relationships between domains, architectures, processes and Business issues which are related to a wide range  assignment.  

The Value Proposition of a Consultant is not determined only by individual differences. The assignment could be handled by a team including more than one consultant.

Another consultant could complement the skill set of a Niche Consultant and/or All Around Consultant.
In that case the Consultant's ability to work in a team could be a factor favoring one consultant or another consultant.   

 A Personal Note
 I was fired in the age of 44 after more than twenty years I worked for a unit of a governmental ministry. When I was fired, the unit of the governmental bureau was completing a Privatization process. 

After working as a Systems Group Manager, Systems Programmer and a Programmer, I started to work as an Independent IT Consultant.

I was a Niche expert in Mainframe MVS Operating System

It was not easy to find assignments in my Niche, due to the following reasons:

1. People believed that the Mainframe is Dead. For more information read the post: Mainframe and the Dinosaurs Myth revisited. If you would read that post, you will probably discover that the Mainframe is not dead yet. At 2014 it celebrated its 50th year.

2. I was considered as too old for Information Technology assignments. Read the post: Information Technology: Are you out of Business if your age is above 50?

3. I was considered as overqualified for technical assignments

In order to earn money for the daily needs of my family (including three children) I had to work.

I found Consultancy assignments in other Niches. Each time I learned new Subject Matters, technologies, Architectures and various Organizational Cultures.

I adapted to a new form of Pareto principle:  In few months understand and know more than 80% of the Niche Consultants working for years. This principle is applicable to any Niche you happened to get an assignment.

After few years of working according to the new form of Pareto Principle cited above, I was no longer a Niche Consultant but an All Around Information Technology Consultant.

About Me

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