Even Content Marketers React to Pay to Play Allegation

August 18, 2014

I find CMS Wire quite interesting. A number of the articles are by consultants and some seem quite vendor centric. In general, it is a useful way to keep track of what’s hot and what’s not in the world of content management. Like knowledge management or anything with the word “management” in its moniker, I am not sure what these disciplines embrace. Like the equally fuzzy notion of predicative analytics, I find that the aura of meaning often at odds with reality. Whether it is the failure of certain professionals to “predict” problems with the caliphate or whether it focuses on predicting which start up with be the next big thing, the here and now are often slippery, surprising, and, at times, baffling.

Not in “How Vendors learn to Play the Gartner Game.” This is a darned good write up and it introduces a bound phrase I find intellectually satisfying: “the Gartner Game.” I understand Scrabble and checkers. More sophisticated games are beyond my ken. I am not able to play the Gartner Game, but I can enjoy certain aspects of it.

The article explains the game clearly:

Now, in fairness, just because someone gives you a wad of cash — even in the form of extra business — it’s no guarantee you’ll write something favorable. Trust me on this: Back when news was still reported in daily papers and reporters were wooed with more insincerity than a contestant on The Bachelor, it was customary for sources to send gifts.

My own brush with Gartner-like firms was a bit different. I did not expect to see a report with my name on sold on Amazon from late 2012 to July 2014. Why? I provided content/research to IDC, a Gartner competitor. IDC took the information, created reports, and sold those reports. I received no contract. No sales reports. When one of the documents turned up on Amazon, I realized that an IDC expert named Schubmehl was surfing on my work.

I wrote a short commentary about the apparent erosion of certain business practices. In that article, I found a thread connecting the HP problem with the post office, the Google executive’s brush with heroin and a female not involved in Kolmogorov analyses, and IDC’s Schubmehl. In each case, executives made decisions that probably seemed really good at the time. Over time, the decisions proved to be startling. I mean the post office and postage. Horrific. I mean the Google wizard who ended up dead on a yacht while his wife took care of the kids. Professionally clumsy. I mean an “expert” who writes reports taking another person’s information and using it to close information centric deals.

I don’t know much about the world of mid tier consulting firms. I worked for a number of years at a pretty good outfit, Booz, Allen & Hamilton. I did some work for other consulting firms as well. I do not recall a single instance of a failure to pay postage, a colleague flat lining from heroin, or a professional on our team using another’s work or name to make professional hay.

None of these actions surprise me. I am getting older and I suppose I am able to cruise forward in Harrod’s Creek without worrying about the situational decisions that produce some interesting business situations. Exciting stuff this world of mid tier consulting and the unbounded scope of action some executives enjoy. Wow. Postage, heroin, and using another’s name to look informed. Amazing.

I will expand on this notion of “loose governance” in one of my columns. This notion of “governance” is an intriguing topic in knowledge management.

As Einstein said:

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

Stephen E Arnold, August 15, 2014

Are HP, Google and IDC “Out of Square”?

August 2, 2014

Editor’s note: These three companies are involved in search and content processing. The opinion piece considers the question, “Is management unable to ensure standard business processes working in some businesses today?” Links have been inserted to open source information that puts some of the author’s comments in context. Comments about this essay may be posted using the Comments function for this blog.

Forgetting to Put Postage on Lots of Letters

I read “HP to Pay $32.5 Million to Settle Claims of Overbilling USPS.” (Keep in mind you may have to pony up some cash to access this article. Mr. Murdoch needs cash to buy more media properties. Do your part!)

The main point of the story, told by “real” journalists, is that the company failed “to comply with pricing terms.” The “real” news story asserts:

The DOJ also alleged H-P made misrepresentations during the negotiation of the contract with the USPS regarding its pricing and its plans to ensure it would provide the required most favored customer pricing.

I suppose any company can overlook putting postage on an envelope. When that happened to me in my day of snail mail activity, my local postmistress Claudette would give me a call and I would go to the Harrod’s Creek post office and buy a stamp.

I am no big time manager, but I understood that snail mail required a stamp. If you are a member of the House or Senate, the rules are different, but even the savvy Congressperson makes sure the proper markings appear on the absolutely essential missives.

My mind, which I admit is not as agile as it was when I worked at Halliburton Nuclear Utility Services, drew a dotted line between this seemingly trivial matter of goofing on an administrative procedure and the fantastic events still swirling around Hewlett Packard’s purchase of Autonomy, a vendor of search and content processing software.

A number of questions flapped slowly across my mind:

  1. Is HP management becoming careless with trivial matters like paying $11 billion for a company generating about $800 million in revenue and forgetting to pay the US post office?
  2. Is the thread weaving together such HP events as the mobile operating system affair, the HP tablet, the fumbling of the Alta Vista opportunity, and the apparent administrative goofs like the Autonomy purchase and this alleged postage stamp licking flawed administrative processes?
  3. What does the stamp sticking, Autonomy litigating, and alleged eavesdropping say about the company’s “git ‘er done” approach?

Larry the Cable Guy for President!!!

The attitude may apply to confident senior managers with incentives to produce revenue. Image source: http://profileengine.com/groups/profile/420722222/larry-the-cable-guy-for-president

I don’t think too much about Hewlett Packard. I do wonder if HP is an isolated actor or if companies with search interests are focusing on priorities that seem to be orthogonal to what I understand to be appropriate corporate behavior. One isolated event is highly suggestive.

But what do similar events suggest? In this short essai, I want to summarize two events. Both of these are interesting. For me, I see a common theme connecting the HP stamp licking and the two macro events. The glue fixing these in my mind is what seems to be a failure of management to pay attention to details.

But first, let’s go back in time for a modest effort penned by Edmund Spenser.
Read more

Changing of the Guard at Attensity

April 13, 2014

Attensity provides social analytics and engagement applications for customer relationship management. Their former CEO, J. Kirsten Bay, has left to take the helm of ISC8, a provider of intelligent cyber solution technologies. Street Insider gives the details in their story, “ISC8 Announces CEO Succession.”

The article begins:

“Succeeding Mr. Joll as President and CEO is J. Kirsten Bay, who has joined ISC8 effective March 19, 2014. Kirsten was most recently President and CEO of Attensity Group, a Big Data analytics enterprise software and services company specializing in customer experience management and corporate intelligence, where she restructured the company improving both operating revenue and margin.”

Will this be a moment of growth or turmoil for Attensity? The newest Attensity CEO is Howard Lau, who has connections to SAP and some investment firms. As a venture capitalist, Mr. Lau brings a different emphasis and expertise to Attensity, which might signal a shift.

Emily Rae Aldridge, April 13, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

CIOs to Gain New Roles and New Pressures

April 10, 2014

If you are a CIO, you probably already know that life isn’t what it was when you started. If, however, you dream of being a CIO, it may help to look into a crystal ball to better understand what the job will look like. Chances are, it isn’t what you think, as we learned from a Computer World article, “CIOs Must Become Technology Consultants.” http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9247121/CIOs_Must_Become_Technology_Consultants

According to the story:

“It’s now contingent upon the new CIO to make the technology sales pitches, not receive them. The new CIO must show how IT services can help business leaders become better within their particular operations, as well as how a cross-departmental, holistic approach raises the tide and lifts all boats. The new CIO must advise and assist on technology adoption, not give orders and mandates.”

This seems a little parental to us, but overall practical. The job is changing. In fact, CIO Insight recently reported that the role will change drastically by 2018. http://www.cioinsight.com/it-news-trends/slideshows/how-the-cios-role-will-change-by-2018.html One of the most interesting was “An Increased Vulnerability to Knowledgeable Insiders.” This means, among other things, CIOs must now be detectives. The role of CIO is among the most important in any company, so expect the role to change and the responsibilities to only grow more serious.

Patrick Roland, April 10, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

US Government Content Processing: A Case Study

March 24, 2014

I know that the article “Sinkhole of Bureaucracy” is an example of a single case example. Nevertheless, the write up tickled my funny bone. With fancy technology, USA.gov, and the hyper modern content processing systems used in many Federal agencies, reality is stranger than science fiction.

This passage snagged my attention:

inside the caverns of an old Pennsylvania limestone mine, there are 600 employees of the Office of Personnel Management. Their task is nothing top-secret. It is to process the retirement papers of the government’s own workers. But that system has a spectacular flaw. It still must be done entirely by hand, and almost entirely on paper.

One of President Obama’s advisors is quote as describing the manual operation as “that crazy cave.”

And the fix? The article asserts:

That failure imposes costs on federal retirees, who have to wait months for their full benefit checks. And it has imposed costs on the taxpayer: The Obama administration has now made the mine run faster, but mainly by paying for more fingers and feet. The staff working in the mine has increased by at least 200 people in the past five years. And the cost of processing each claim has increased from $82 to $108, as total spending on the retirement system reached $55.8 million.

One of the contractors operating the system is Iron Mountain. You may recall that this outfit has a search system and caught my attention when Iron Mountain sold the quite old Stratify (formerly Purple Yogi automatic indexing system to Autonomy).

My observations:

  1. Many systems have a human component that managers ignore, do not know about, or lack the management horsepower to address. When search systems or content processing systems generate floods of red ink, human processes are often the culprit
  2. The notion that modern technology has permeated organizations is false. The cost friction in many companies is directly related to small decisions that grow like a snowball rolling down a hill. When these processes reach the bottom, the mess is no longer amusing.
  3. Moving significant information from paper to a digital form and then using those data in a meaningful way to answer questions is quite difficult.

Do managers want to tackle these problems? In my experience, keeping up appearances and cost cutting are more important than old fashioned problem solving. In a recent LinkedIn post I pointed out that automatic indexing systems often require human input. Forgetting about those costs produces problems that are expensive to fix. Simple indexing won’t bail out the folks in the cave.

Stephen E Arnold, March 24, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, March 24, 2014

IBM Leads in Report on Perceived Capability

March 14, 2014

The article on Bloomberg BusinessWeek titled IBM Named a Leader in IDC MarketScape for Business Consulting Services explains the 2014 Worldwide Business Consulting 2014 Vendor Assessment report measuring client feedback by IDC Marketscape. Using their vendor analysis model IDC studies data to provide information on where a business stands in relation to other business in the same field. The report studied worldwide client perception of 600 of IDC’s clients. The article explains,

“IBM is “seen as the most capable of all firms at delivering value-creating innovation and driving innovation through an organization” when compared to other firms worldwide….”We are seeing that new models of engagement are reshaping the front-office agenda.   Soon there will be no distinction between business strategy and the use of data,” said Sarah Diamond, general manager, IBM Global Business Services. “The IDC MarketScape report reinforces the need for a first-of-a-kind consulting practice such as IBM Interactive Experience to innovate client experience.”

Does pay to play delivers what IBM wants and needs? IBM credits their focused office approach and use of data and analytics for their client’s positive response. Clearly the survey indicates that IBM enjoys an excellent reputation for customer service. This praise for IBM’s consulting services comes as no huge surprise.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 14, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Forrester Wave Available For Public Reading

October 23, 2013

In the world of business process software, it can be tricky deciding which one to deploy at your organization. That is when one resorts to research and relying on opinions and experiences of others to help them make a choice. Forrester is always a great resource to turn to for business matters and in March 2013, they released “The Forester Wave: BPM Suites, Q1 2013,” detailing the top ten business process management vendors. Bitpipe archives the report.

Ten vendors were reviewed: Appian, Bizagi, Cordys, HandySoft, IBM, OpenText, Oracle, Pegasystems, Software AG, and Tibco Software. Each software has their positives and negatives, what is really interesting is if they are compatible with the leading data content managers, such as Kofax:

“All of the vendors in this evaluation can support the three most common use cases for BPM: dynamic case management, human workflow, and straight-through processing. However, this does not mean that all vendors must or can offer exactly the same approach or the same functional depth for each use case.”

They are Kofax compliant, which is wonderful because Kofax owns Kapow Software –the big data integration platform. Big data is one of the primary concerns of organizations and a business management software that does not have the capability to handle said processes is useless in a competitive market.

Whitney Grace, October 23, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Andreessen Predicts Trouble for Traditional Workers

February 8, 2013

Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen has some strong, educated opinions about the ups and downs of technology-related businesses and where the industry is headed. TechCrunch shares an interview with the professional prognosticator in, “Marc Andreessen on the Future of Enterprise.”

Journalist Alexia Tsotsis spoke to Andreessen for her piece, “The Enterprise Cool Kids” (also at TechCrunch), but thought the interview insightful enough to share in its entirety. The piece retains the casual, conversational tone of their chat.

The two cover a lot of ground: an industry focus that continually swings between enterprise and consumer markets; a decrease in hardware investments in favor of a shift to the cloud; the nimbleness of new businesses run by millennials compared to the comparatively bogged-down state of larger companies. The piece as a whole is a valuable read.

What caught our eye most, though, was Andreessen’s predictions for the worker bees among us. He states:

“It feels a lot like in the new economy you will have a lot more contractors. You will have a lot more people with sort of fluid careers contracting on a project basis, and then all this technology is going to be an enabling layer for that. . . .

“For some people it feels great to never be tied to a specific employer and to always be doing contract work and be changing jobs every two years, and it feels like it’s fun and exciting and exhilarating. For a lot of people that’s really scary. And so the lifetime employment promise that the big companies used to be able to make was very compelling for a lot of people because it felt safe.

“So now you are in a world where the big companies can’t deliver — even if they wanted to deliver on lifetime employment, they can’t.”

You have been warned.

Cynthia Murrell, February 08, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

How to Gain the Maximum Value Out of Big Data

February 5, 2013

From the Harvard Business Review comes an article that outlines the results of an interesting survey conducted by NewVantage Partners on how businesses plan to achieve value from big data and the technological solutions that tap into it. In the article, “Getting the Maximum Value Out of Your Big Data Initiative both statistics from the study are shared in addition to next steps for organizations looking to employ big data.

As many as 85% of participating companies answered that that either have big data initiatives in the works or currently underway in order to improve business practices and increase efficiency.

The article states:

In order to achieve this goal, many of the firms interviewed have established a new business metric for measuring the value of their Big Data initiatives — Time-to-Answer (TTA). TTA reflects the speed by which executives can answer critical business questions and has become a common measure on Wall Street and among other leading firms. The Pentagon has established an equivalent metric known as Data-to-Decision, which is dramatized in the analyses conducted by the intelligence community in the Academy Award–nominated film Zero Dark Thirty.

These organizations developing metrics for evaluating ROI such as TTA are a few steps ahead of others. These such organizations were most likely the early adopters of key technology components such as PolySpot. Their solutions enable connectivity between data across the enterprise.

Megan Feil, February 5, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search.

Business Users and IT Pros View Things Differently

January 31, 2013

No wonder there are clashes between users and their enterprise systems. Network Computing ‘s “IT Perceptions, End User Realities” examines a recent report from InformationWeek that revealed a bit of a schism between IT pros and, well, everyone else. In the perception study, end users and IT personnel expressed divergent views on IT’s role and how well its members have been performing.

The study (available here, free with registration) asked survey takers IT-related questions, and broke answers down into those of IT and non-IT professionals. While 60 percent of the techies saw IT as integral to their organization, only 43 percent of the rest agreed. And though only 34 percent of the IT folks saw their department as “not especially innovative,” 42 percent of other respondents held that disparaging view. The survey also found that only half of business users were at all satisfied (“moderately,” “very,” or “completely”) with the performance of their IT divisions, and 20 percent reported being not satisfied at all.

Having dipped a toe in the IT field, I can sympathize. Hardware and software and, especially, the intersection of the two often fail to perform as expected even for the most seasoned technician. The challenge of tracking down a problem within an eclectic system is a process only those who have closely observed it can begin to appreciate. On top of that, IT is one of those jobs where people tend not to notice your work until something goes wrong. Still, IT pros used to get more respect. What changed? Writer Kevin Fogarty suggests:

“In the past, IT held the technology trump card. If the marketing department asked for a new application and IT said no, there was no chance a rouge team was going to sneak into the data center, rack a server, run the cables and fire up the software. Now those who chafe under restrictions from find themselves with easy, relatively inexpensive access to applications and services online. . . .

“Unfortunately for IT, this state of affairs enforces the notion that hot new technology comes from outside the company, while IT faithfully keeps the old, busted stuff alive inside the company. It’s an attitude that the technologists theoretically responsible for moving the company into the future are, in fact, anchoring it in the past.”

So now, IT departments must find new and exciting ways to justify their existence while simultaneously maintaining finicky legacy systems. Many, I would add, must do this with staffs that have been gutted over the last few years.

There is one hopeful point for IT in the report: 59 percent of the non-IT personnel think internal IT will become more important over the next two years. Maybe they don’t like the IT department very much, but at least they know they still need it. At least a little bit.

Cynthia Murrell, January 31, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

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