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Leverage Talent through Master Data Management

Who are you? Not philosophically but digitally. What is your identity within your organization? Not just for authentication purposes but for informing others what you have to offer and what you want. This is not a trivial question, at least from a software point of view. Each of us is likely to have many different digital footprints at work. Who you are on the enterprise social network, through email, or even on external services such as LinkedIn cannot be divorced from who you are in the company directory. Your transactional work product, usually recorded in a System of Record is also a part, but an incomplete part, of the total

Taking One for the Cloud Team

The quarterly earnings announcement season is in full swing for large tech companies. This past week IBM announced its quarterly financial results and SAP issued guidance. Oracle did the same a month ago. Each of these companies is still showing reduced overall revenue due to the shift to cloud computing. On the surface, this would appear to be a big problem. When companies undergo radical changes that drop revenues, everyone has to worry that their favorite supplier may become the next Sun, Palm, or worse, Novell which is only a shadow of its former self. I, for one, am not worried. Yes, these quintessential IT companies are taking it on

The Real Danger of Cloud Applications

This week I ran into an interesting problem. My email stopped working. That is, my Microsfot Outlook and Lync could no longer communicate with our cloud-based Office 365 Exchange server. Microsoft support was flummoxed. I eventually found the solution and it lay in system updates. By applying an optional system update to my laptop, not an Office update, I was able to get back to normal. Certainly makes you wonder what the word “optional” means in this context. If it is necessary for applications to work, it’s probably required not optional. Although Microsoft never admitted it, it is very likely something changed in the back-end. Nothing had changed with my

Je Suis Charlie

I make it a point to never be overtly political in my posts, blogs, article, and other writing. That’s because I write about technology not politics or art. Art and technology have one thing in common though. Both are creative pursuits that require a free environment in which to thrive. What the awful people who attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo did not seem to understand is that the writers and cartoonists were not satirizing Islam per se. They were not trying to insult Muslims or the Prophet Mohammed. Nope. They wanted to insult the very same extremists that killed them. The staff, the artists, writer, editors, and other members

Social, Mobile, and Cloud Trends 2015

It is traditional to spend some time at the beginning of the year to take a quick look ahead. That’s a great practice since it helps to set the stage for the strategies in the new year. To help with that, I’ve put together a short representation of those trends that will impact organizations in the coming 12 months. Social, Mobile, and Cloud Trends 2015

Leverage Talent through Master Data Management

Who are you? Not philosophically but digitally. What is your identity within your organization? Not just for authentication purposes but for informing others what you have to offer and what you want. This is not a trivial question, at least from a software point of view. Each of us is likely to have many different digital footprints at work. Who you are on the enterprise social network, through email, or even on external services such as LinkedIn cannot be divorced from who you are in the company directory. Your transactional work product, usually recorded in a System of Record is also a part, but an incomplete part, of the total view of who you are within your organization. The sum of your activity in the company systems such as the CRM system along with your interactions in the social and collaboration systems of the company help to create a fuller picture of your capabilities and value to your organization. Unfortunately, these operate in separate realms making a complete picture difficult to impossible.

Master Data Management (MDM) tries to create a unified view of some type of data. Typically, MDM is used to create consolidated views of customers, products, and transactions for reporting, business intelligence, and increasingly advanced analytics. It’s time to do the same for employees. With the rise of enterprise social networks, enterprise chat, file sharing, and other collaborative systems, we create different personas of our work selves. Our titles, positions, job descriptions, and place in the organizational hierarchy tell a very shallow story of what we, as knowledge workers, can do to meet company goals. It’s our work and our interactions with our coworkers that tell the deeper narrative about our value to an organization. This value, however, is often spread around a bunch of different transactional and social systems that don’t paint the complete picture of what we do. This is why there needs to be a master employee record based on our interactions that informs the organization of our activity and accomplishments and what effects of those actions have on the goals of the business.

This discussion raises the question “Why is this important?” Why does it matter if I have a complete picture of what my employees can do and the value they bring to my organization? It’s not what you might think. It’s not about evaluating job performance. Job performance is a measure of attaining goals that have been assigned to a person and not a true picture of value. Instead, it’s about waste and risk.. It’s about wasting the most precious resource any company has – its people’s talents. By having a consolidated view of the interactions and effects of employees, you can understand where to best leverage their talents for the good of the organization. With a consolidated view of employees, organizations can reduce the risk of bad assignments that both doom projects and ruin employees. Along with this confidence in team choices will be more flexibility. By reducing the risk of a bad assignment, you also make it easier to make seemingly unusual ones that have payoffs. It can hedge against the natural conservative nature of employee assignments.

For this to work, you need analytics. Data is not enough. There needs to be a way to interpret what that data means. Without the underlying consolidated view, however, the analysis will be, at best, incomplete and probably wrong. MDM for employees, drawing on all the activity of individual employee interactions, both social and transactional, will surface those who can be used better, help build the most effective teams, and create confidence in your organization.

Taking One for the Cloud Team

The quarterly earnings announcement season is in full swing for large tech companies. This past week IBM announced its quarterly financial results and SAP issued guidance. Oracle did the same a month ago. Each of these companies is still showing reduced overall revenue due to the shift to cloud computing. On the surface, this would appear to be a big problem. When companies undergo radical changes that drop revenues, everyone has to worry that their favorite supplier may become the next Sun, Palm, or worse, Novell which is only a shadow of its former self.

I, for one, am not worried. Yes, these quintessential IT companies are taking it on the chin revenue-wise owing to the shift to cloud computing. Cloud computing is disrupting the traditional on-premises software businesses and wreaking havoc with vendors’ hardware units. Major shifts in a market can cause these type of short-term effects on any business. Just look at how the introduction of shale oil has effect the otherwise same energy business, dropping oil prices precipitously in a year. The current disorder in the IT industry is, however, over-shadowing the future benefits of cloud computing.

See, the problem lies in short term versus long term expectations. On a quarter to quarter basis, less money is being made by IT companies switching from traditional to cloud models for their products. Yet these cloud businesses are growing rapidly versus stagnating software and hardware businesses. On top of that, cloud business are locking in revenue far into the future. The traditional model of hardware and software requires customers to make big upfront investments which generate a lot of money all at once. Cloud business generate revenue over time but that revenue is stickier. Big upfront investments make it hard for companies to make decisions about a product; Subscriptions ease the worry that a wrong decision will be made. When IT products start to age, especially hardware, responsible IT managers reevaluate vendors opening the door to competitors; With cloud services offering constant updates and incremental cost increases, it’s easier to stay with what is already in place.

Of course, these are the strategies of growth companies in the IT sector. Companies such as Amazon, Salesforce.com, and Netsuite are successful because they reduced resistance to sales and locked in customers for the long haul. They act like media companies, worried about innovation and churn as much as scoring big deals. I suspect this is what is messing with the heads of the financial analysts the most. They see companies that should be acting like lumbering dinosaurs, grazing safely in placid waters free of major predators, acting like nimble up and comers. Stock prices are as much a reflection of perceived future value as present value. Financial analysts are used to viewing companies such as IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Oracle act in a certain and predictable manner. That major IT companies are taking steps to ensure they don’t become lunch for some upstart should suggest more value in the future. It’s just not foreseeable what that value will be. The outmoded models no longer work well, as is always the case when big changes are in progress.

So, while market analysts (like me) are predicting accelerated growth in the IT market because of the shift to cloud computing, financial markets will continue to punish the major companies that are embracing these changes. Ours is a long-term view based on successfully delivering superior products and services to customers. Theirs are short-term models based on financial metrics from an earlier age.