On agreeing to a vocabulary

Here is what we joke about conferences, everybody (audience, speakers, and event managers) starts with ‘a need to agree‘ on something early morning. This could range from “innovation is critical to success of business/India”, “gamification is revolutionizing business process”, “stories are the next strategy” or something like that. By end of day after speakers speaking, audience listening and event managers buzzing, the host notes that ‘all have agreed‘ on what we began with as a need, marking the successful close of the conference.

What happens in between is forcing a choice between competing sets of vocabulary, and each trying to push the other out. Even within one vocabulary, speakers/participants lean towards a specific sub set.

Here is where the conflict lies, and below examples as I noticed in a recent conference.

1. Visibility versus viability, while who ever is on stage successfully runs a viable business or used to, everyone else is simply looking to be more visible, like a 70 word intro before a 15 word question to speakers, or other plugs.

2. Cost versus price, this one is common even while the discussion is about pricing, most participants confuse it with their costs, and unable to rephrase / appreciate a concept for price. I think this is a genuine psychological inertia that is exhibited.

3. Revenue versus capitalization, most speakers agree that while the real deal for any valuation should actually be the revenues, most tech ventures are traded for capitalization. And who decides this price, the banker / investor / startup / someone else. In any case the switch to the higher number (usually capitalization) is towards resolving the first conflict of visibility versus viability.

4. Sales versus marketing, even if a session is about writing an advertorial or sponsored tweet, most confuse it with sales, this chunking of ‘sales and marketing’ is a way to avoid any responsibility in it, “…see I am techie…, the other guy in my team does all that”

5. Problem versus opportunity, not much of a conflict in this one, but still this comes to play when you are inside an already running business, best resources are staffed in the largest / most profitable current account fixing issues to keep the customer and not the most promising opportunity of acquiring a new (possibly less painful) customer. (the ‘strategic account’ conversation for another day)

Point I am trying to make is simple, to choose a field means adopting its vocabulary and its conflicts, and with changing fashions/fads if your vocabulary does not evolve as well, you are outdated even before you started.


Evolution and speed measures for innovation

I keep hearing “becoming more nimble“, “quickly responding to customer needs with ideas”, “rapid prototyping” that inherently speak of a speed metaphor in innovation. But what if we were proceeding in the wrong direction but very fast. An independent speed measure without looking at the evolution direction is meaningless and risky from an investment perspective. Very similar to running a project that is on time, under budget but for the wrong requirements.

It would be useful to look at the evolution within a space as ideas get developed using different methods.

For speed of course the measures will have some form of time in the denominator like

  1. Ideas per month per area
  2. Prototypes completed per month per technology
  3. Investments per year per portfolio

These can be plotted easily for comparison of speed across a time frame.

But what about the direction, here I feel directly tying business alignment on longer term goals and strategy comes in. A simple evolution potential is a web plot touching multiple different evolution directions usually within a single portfolio or in some cases many portfolio. It is a relative figure that gets plotted across the dimensions comparing against the maximum possible limit or an ideality (usually a scientific limit, like speed of light,  mobile internet reach, maximum load etc or the Ideal Final result we talk in TRIZ). All the axes are equidistant and same scale as the values are normalized as below

Normalized plot value ={Actual value – minimum need} / {Maximum/Ideal value – minimum need}

For example dimensions of a CRM system evolution you may have

  1. Communication / engagement frequency
  2. Revenue per sales staff
  3. % sales from new technology / service
  4. customer service satisfaction index

each round of innovation around maximizing these dimensions will be tracked on a single plot like below, giving you a sense of progress from those ideas. (Try and imagine what your head of sales told in last quarter analyst meeting on any of the metrics)

EvolutionPotential (2)


EMC Trends 2013 TRIZ overlay

As eleven EMC executives offer their predictions of which technologies and trends will transform cloud computing, Big Data and IT security the most in 2013, my aim is to find the underlying triz trend and possibly push one more evolution round. I assume a time frame of 1 year, basis is 8 TRIZ evolution trends applied to Mobile, applied on EMC executives predictions.

Prediction quote (emphasis and few links are mine)

My warped explanation of the underlying TRIZ trend

What can happen next on this trend

an intelligence-driven security model…will require multiple components including:  a thorough understanding of risk, the use of agile controls based on pattern recognition and predictive analytics, and the use of big data analytics to give context to vast streams of data from numerous sources to produce timely, actionable information

Law of completeness exemplified with the ENGINE understood as risks and risk related information originating across the board with a TRANSMISSION visualized as streams of information flowing to WORKING UNIT where actions are initiated from the information to contain risks and its effects and having some CONTROL on the above elements including analytics

Law of uneven development on above will mean the 4 elements will evolve in different speeds.

Within the same time frame, I feel the engine element will evolve the slowest with not many newer risk categories getting added but we may have to deal with geometrically higher number of information streams, with big data analytics playing a super system role. Governance at working unit level will go through changes as well with many tasks getting automated.

For CIOs, the common theme is “now.” Rapid time to value is the leading driver. In many cases today, the business unit holds the money and determines the priorities, but they don’t care much about platforms, just the best solution for a specific problem…movement to cloud solutions is only going to escalate

Transition to Micro Level will mean that instead of a single cloud solution at enterprise level, each department or project will begin its own adoption independently. Budgeting and allocation as always and the experiments and trials of solutions, both in size and time will shift to micro level. i.e. smaller projects with shorter time cycles to try. You can check the free trial offers from HP, Google, AWS, vmWare to see how micro this has actually become already.

Adoption rates will most likely be at the beginning of the sharp rise in the S curve (with X axis linear time, Y axis cumulative % of adoption of a cloud solution).

IT will begin its delayed policy making role later in the year with governance as the central goal after many micro-level cloud solutions get adopted in the enterprise.  Possibly negotiate with popular choice vendors for supporting internal laggard/late adopter needs.

The transformation to hybrid cloud environments, and the need to move data between corporate IT data centers and service providers, will accelerate. The concepts of both data and application mobility to enable organizations to move their virtual applications will become the norm.

Already the roles and responsibilities of the different channel entities are blurring. SIs are becoming resellers; resellers are becoming service providers; and even end users are becoming service providers. Over the next three years, it is probable that the traditional mix of end-user, channel, alliance and service organizations will change, merge or disappear.

Transition to Super system will mean aggregation and unification of the entire service procurement including licensing, integration, migration, channel management etc

More sub systems and services of the past will move to the super system and will be on the path to become ubiquitous.Most partner ecosystems these days already include license offers, marketing support, education support and account management for partners. Examples could be GoogleVMware partner programs

The emergence of the Hadoop data ecosystem has made cost-effective storage and processing of petabytes of data a reality.  Innovative organizations are leveraging these technologies to create an entire new class of real-time data-driven applications

IT will continue to see abstractions with more intelligence in the data center moving to a software control plane that uses Web-based technologies to access compute, networking, and storage resources as a whole (e.g. software-defined data center). Cloud model tenets like efficiency and agility will expand to include simplicity as data centers look for easier ways to consume technology.

Law of Conduction will mean emergence of standards for data and application portability this year.  de-facto standard is my expectation and de-jure standards especially from EU region is also possible as governments can step in to decide and declare norms from the “jungle of standards”

Law of Harmonization will necessitate smooth transitions at application and portfolio level and will mean newer services especially in migration and testing to make sure business continuity.

Simplicity, agility, portability testing, or <<other cloud tenet>> services may emerge as key sellers from offshore.


On Reading Notes and Ugly Deprecation of Google Reader

What you see as Reading Notes in the right side column of this blog is a snapshot from Google Reader, auto refreshed as I read and comment on Reader.

With some limited period notice (i.e. 1 day), Google released the following

What this means now is most of the functionality that I was using with bundles and shared items from Google Reader will no longer be available.

All this is done in favor of Google+ with the assumption that my network/a circle in Google+ and the human readers on this modest blog are portable across.

That is so not true.

Anyway with such grand user demography and usage data at click level that Google has,

even a mature product’s evolution seems to me as a victim of some arbitrary decision.