25 January 2010

IT Savvy? Watch out for the IT Explorers!

There has been a lot of focus on IT Savvy over the last few years.

Some are looking at how an IT savvy organisation makes better use of its resources to employ IT in the successful pursuit of its objectives. To follow-up from the 2005 paper by Peter Weill and Sinan Aral, Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross have recently written a book targeted at business executives discussing the merits of an IT savvy organisation, IT Savvy – What Top Executives Need you Know to go from Pain to Gain. Here is a link to a December 2009 interview with Dr. Jeanne Ross, MIT Sloan School of Management.

Others are looking at the impact of IT savvy on security. This Deloitte article Equipping the Federal Workforce for the Cyber Age, looks at the concept of a cyber savvy workforce to reduce security risks. While others look at the impact of an IT savvy workforce on internal fraud risks.

A recent ZDNet UK article by David Clarke looks at the need to increase baseline level of IT savviness of the public to even out the uneven access to and understanding of information technology. I contrast this view with a look at the potential future workforce. The "Shift Happens" series provides some interesting statistics about the changing world. I particularly like version 3.0 of Did you know? found below.

This video in combination with my experience with my son makes me wonder what the future holds? My son and his friends have no fear of IT. They see it as a landscape to explore. They use social media, videogames and productivity software with the same mindset - exploration. I also wonder about the upcoming generation's ability to take in data. I have found this article on the Spatial Brain and how we use our brains in 3-d videogames along with articles on video games slowing brain development but from my observation, my son and his friends seem to have an ability to suck-in more information from multiple sources simultaneously and react to them then I have any hope of coping with. So what does this all mean?

There has been a concern over the millennial workforce and the security risks from their use of social media on corporate networks as described in Millennial Workforce: IT Risk or Benefit? But looking at my son and his friends, the millennial workforce is the start of a trend towards a workforce of IT landscape explorers that will challenge the conventional IT operations, governance, risk and compliance processes. Anarchy vs. Control? Consensus vs. Autocracy? Barriers vs. Openness? Where will the balance lie in the future? The IT organisation will have unprecedented pressure from the workforce to respond and to partake in the exploration. In the words of Bob Fletcher and Cole Porter "Don't fence me in."

16 January 2010

Visualisation - Ideas for communication

When trying to share ideas across a broad spectrum of stakeholders, information visualisation techniques can be very useful. I recently came across Fantastic Information Architecture and Data Visualization Resources and I found some of the visualisations inspiring.

Another site that brings out powerful world demographic visualisaitons is Gapminder

This talk from Chris Jordan on www.ted.com uses visualisation to help people grasp how our actions affect the world around us.

08 January 2010

Modelling - It's all about communication

UML, BPMN, JML, IDEF, Information Engineering and many more... Looking at software development methodologies there are a number of modelling languages to choose from. Many of the languages are dependant upon the target software technology but the key objective of the language is to communicate.

Many times I see people become engrossed with a particular modelling language and lose sight of the objective to provide a communication tool for all stakeholders. Don't get me wrong there is a place for formals models that abide by the standard when communicating with other people who also are familiar with the model syntax, they allow software engineers to consider design options and determine an appropriate development approach... but sometimes the focus of the modelling effort goes into tweaking models to the nth degree. This search for the perfect model rarely assists in developing better code, nor does it assist in providing communication outlets that engage the non-technology stakeholders.

What techniques do you use to assist with communicating the application design with the non-technical stakeholders? How do you confirm that the design tracks back to the business need? Prototyping and agile development methods look to get the user buy-in through interaction with prototypes but is there a way to blend agile approaches with modelling approaches?

Back in 1998 Keith Harmon and Alan Perkins compared Object-Orientation and Business-Driven Information Engineering and came to the conclusion that the approaches were symbiotic as Business-driven Information Engineering is a technology neutral and reflect the business goals of the enterprise. Similarily, when looking at UML and IDEF Ovidiu S. Noran at Griffith University concluded that there is no one perfect tool that will do everything but it is up to people to select the right tool for the job and Kim found IDEF and UML to be complimentary in the article the complementary use of IDEF and UML modelling approaches.

I share the belief that there is not an obermodelling language out there and sometimes a blend of modelling approaches - some "official" and some that work for the stakeholders will bring together a design portfolio that will enable all stakeholders to actively engage in the design effort.

06 January 2010

Working with Silos

I came across a video from Burton Group with Lyn Robison discussing how silos are here to stay and looking at approaches to bridging the silos as opposed to trying to break-down the silos.

Although this video looked at silos from a technology standpoint. You could look at business silos where you could apply Service-Oriented concepts to bridge business processes gaps as well as knowledge silos where you could apply social networking concepts and solutions to assist with exposing "tribal knowledge", bringing together people with shared interests as well as mining for subject matter experts that may previously have been buried within a business unit and lost to the overall enterprise.

IT has spawned many methodologies/approaches/modelling techniques for analysing business needs from an IT-perspective, organisations have implemented/developed multiple business process improvement methodologies and each industry vertical or function may lend itself to different methodologies. The challenge for us now is to embrace the variety and bridge these methodology silos. Any ideas?