Editorial Controls and Data Governance: A Rose by Any Other Name?

June 16, 2017

I read “Why Interest In “Data Governance” Is Increasing.” The write up uses a number of terms to describe what I view as editorial controls. The idea in my experience is that an organization decides what it okay and not okay with regards to the information it wants to process. The object is to know what content will be processed before the organization kick starts indexing, metadata tagging, or text analysis.

The organization then has to figure out and implement the rules of the game. Questions like “What do we do when entities are not recognized?” and “Who goes through the exceptions file?” must be answered. Rules, procedures, processes, and corrective actions have to be implemented in the work flow. One cannot calculate costs, headcount, or software expenses unless one knows what’s going to happen.

The write up explains that data governance is important. I agree. The write up hooks the notion of editorial controls and editorial process to a number of buzzwords. I don’t think this type of jargon catalog is particularly helpful. Jargon distracts some people from focusing on Job One; that is, putting appropriate controls in place before nuking the budget or creating the type of editorial craziness which Facebook and Google are now trying to contain and manage.

The notion that an organization has to perform “data program management” is fine. But this is nothing more than hooking the editorial rules of the road to the responsibilities of the people who have to set up, oversee, and change the work flow.

Jargon does not help implement editorial controls. Clear thinking and speaking do.

Stephen E Arnold, June 16, 2017

Google and Its Learnings: Hiring, Meeting Productivity, and Product Failures

June 11, 2017

I am not too keen on podcasts. I did read a summary of a podcast called “What Google Learned Fighting Hiring Bias, Bad Meetings and Failing Products.” The information struck me as, well, remarkable and semi-interesting. Here are the highlights I noted:

  1. Google created a “hiring algorithm” that skewed to men. Wow, anyone who has been at a Google facility might have been able to figure out that men were plentiful. But now Google admits is has a “bias.” That should fire up some thinking among legal eagles worrying about possible actions on behalf of aggrieved Xooglers. Well, maybe not. Google doesn’t want “to be discriminating.” There you go.
  2. Make people participate in meetings by asking those who do not speak a question. Good idea. But what about Googlers in meetings who [a] don’t pay attention, [b] play with their mobile phone, [c] fool with their laptop computer, [d] all of the above. Asking questions can be useful. But what if the person is not paying attention or chooses not to answer? Hmmm.
  3. “Hope” cannot save a product from cratering. Now that’s an insight I find interesting. I thought data was behind Google decisions. I must have missed something as did the people responsible for some of Google’s most fascinating attempts to disrupt; for example, solving death.

Ah, Google. A management terrarium.

Stephen E Arnold, June 14, 2017

Google CFO Loves Some Data More than Other Data

June 6, 2017

I read “Why Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat Was the Perfect Fit at Google.” I know that CNBC is a “real news” outfit. Its reporters work tirelessly to get the facts and connect the dots for its legions of fans.

However, I noted one very tiny oversight in the story about Google’s data loving chief financial officer.

First, a bit of history. Recode reported in “Google Refuses to Hand over Salary Data to the US Government.” I assume that Recode’s self assured “real news” folks have their facts lined up. In that write up, I learned that Google does not have data about how much it pays its employees. The reasons cited in the article strike me as a bit along the lines of “the dog ate my homework.”

Now consider the CNBC story about Alphabet Google’s data loving CFO, Ruth Porat, a professional from the estimable firm of Morgan Stanley. I learned:

“The most valuable thing you can have as a leader is clear data,” Porat said Wednesday [May 31, 2017] , in describing her role at the company.

Ms. Porat finds the moniker “Ruth Vader” fantastic.

She allegedly said:

The best thing I can do is give them accurate data. It’s really about the data.

Doesn’t it seem logical that the CFO of Alphabet Google would know what the company pays its employees?

Well, pilgrim, that’s not the type of data the company tracks.

Doesn’t the omission of salary data from the CNBC story seem to be a bit careless.

Pretty remarkable for Ruth Vader to only be interested in some company wide data. Love is selective just like deciding what dots to connect.

Stephen E Arnold, June 4, 2017

Alphabets Employees Feel Empowered

May 29, 2017

Discrimination at the workplace is a real issue, including Alphabet, the parent company of Google. Employees now are trying to fight this off by curating complaints and circulating it within the company using weekly newsletter.

According to an article published by Bloomberg titled At Google, an Employee-Run Email List Tracks Harassment and Bias Complaints, the author says:

Yes, at Google tracks allegations of unwelcome behavior at work in an attempt to make the company more inclusive, said the employees, who did not want to be named because they were not authorized to speak about internal company matters.

The list is allegedly managed by a group of employees who redact the personal information before circulating the content. Google though is aware of the list, the company is silent on it considering the fact that no one really knows who is running the list.

So far, the list has yielded positive results. Behavior by employees that do not adhere to company policies or are offensive towards certain sex or people of ethnicity has been handled by the company through regular channels.

Vishal Ingole, May 29, 2017

About.com Still Running Google Adwords

May 18, 2017

I read “After 18 Years, About.com Is Changing Its Name and Shutting Down Its Website — Its CEO Reveals How It All Went Down.” The main idea is that About.com, a weird list of curated sites by topics, is dead. However, I noted this ad on May 15, 13 days after the struggling About.com took a bullet for the good of current information.


The ad appeared in a list of search results for sentiment analysis, not market sentiment analysis, but when someone is spending money to promote a terminated Web information service, that someone either is [a] blessed with oodles of cash, [b] oversees a crew of with it managers, or [c] does not know how to turn off Adwords.

Perhaps this approach to fiscal and marketing methods provides some insight into why the About.com Web site slumped to the moist early summer earth? Definitely a plus for the Google sales professional handling the dead company’s account.

Stephen E Arnold, May 18, 2017

Forrester: Enterprise Content Management Misstep

April 14, 2017

I have stated in the past that mid tier consulting firms—that is, outfits without the intellectual horsepower of a McKinsey, Bain, or BCG—generate work that is often amusing, sometimes silly, and once in a while just stupid. I noted an error which is certainly embarrassing to someone, maybe even a top notch expert at mid tier Forrester. The idea for a consulting firm is to be “right” and to keep the customer (in this case Hyland) happy. Also, it is generally good to deliver on what one promises. You know, the old under promise, over deliver method.

How about being wrong, failing, and not delivering at all? Read on about Forrester and content management.


I noted the flurry of news announcements about Forrester, a bigly azure-chip consulting firm. A representative example of these marketing news things is “Microsoft, OpenText, IBM Lead Forrester’s ECM Wave in Evolving Market.” The write up explains that the wizards at Forrester have figured out the winners and losers in enterprise content management. As it turns out, the experts at Forrester do a much better job of explaining their “perception” of content management that implementing content management.

How can this be? Paid experts who cannot implement content management for reports about content management? Some less generous people might find this a minor glitch. I think that consultants are pretty good at cooking up reports and selling them. I am not too confident that mid tier consulting firms and even outfits like Booz, Allen has dotted their “i’s” and crossed their “t’s.”

Let me walk you through this apparent failure of Forrester to make their reports available to a person interested in a report. This example concerns a Forrester reviewed company called Hyland and its OnBase enterprise content management system.

The deal is that Hyland allows a prospect to download a copy of the Forrester report in exchange for providing contact information. Once the contact information is accepted, the potential buyer of OnBase is supposed to be able to download a copy of the Forrester report. This is trivial stuff, and we are able to implement the function when I sell my studies. Believe me. If we can allow registered people to download a PDF, so can you.

The Failure

I wanted a copy of “The Forrester Wave: ECM Business Content Services.” May I illustrate how Forrester’s enterprise content management system fails its paying customers and those who register to download these high value, completely wonderful documents.

Step 1: Navigate to this link for OnBase by Hyland, one of the vendors profiled in the allegedly accurate, totally object Forrester report


Step 2: Fill out the form so Hyland’s sales professionals can contact you in hopes of selling you the product which Forrester finds exceptional


Note the big orange “Download Now” button. I like the “now” part because it means that with one click I get the high-value, super accurate report.

Step 3: Click on one of these two big green boxes:


I tested both, and both return the same high value, super accurate, technically wonderful reports—sort of.

Read more

Google Management: The Book Search Thing

April 13, 2017

I read “How Google Book Search Got Lost.” The write up in Backchannel was interesting to me for two reasons. First, the essay continues the revelations about Google as a balloon with a pinprick. After inflation, the pressure seeps out and one has a deflated balloon. What’s a deflated balloon good for? I suppose I could Ask Heloise, but I don’t care. Second, the analysis ignores the obvious; that is, Alphabet Google is not managed in the sense that GM is managing to develop an electric car or Boeing to use 3D titanium printing to get rid of pesky humans. Google, from its inception, wobbles. Few business schools teach students how to wobble. Bright folks discover this skill on their own, particularly when careening around with money readily available and Silicon Valley vapors in their nostrils.

I highlighted this passage from the analysis/essay:

Google Books has settled into a quiet middle age of sourcing quotes and serving up snippets of text from the 25 million-plus tomes in its database.

The reason is that time and legal hassles turned down the thermostat for Googlers. Who wants to work on a project which lacks the zip of inventing a self driving car or solving death? Not me for sure.

The write up includes a quote from a Googler. I circled this statement as well:

“We’re not focused on shiny features and things that are very visible to users,” says Stephane Jaskiewicz, a Google engineer who has worked on Books for a decade and now leads its team. “It’s more like behind the scenes work and perfecting the technology — acquiring content, processing it properly so that we can view the entire book online, and adjusting the search algorithm.”

Interesting, but I was mildly curious about how this Googler perceives promotion opportunities and compensation as part of the Books deflating balloon. Alas, no light shines on these issues.

I found this statement somewhat reassuring. Google does not evidence sticktoativity:

Maybe the quest to digitize all books was bound to end in disappointment, with no grand epiphany.

The epiphany at Google, as I understand the company’s business focus, is about revenue. Who at Google wants to pump big dough into dealing with figuring out how to deliver Google Book results in a way that sells ads? Who wants to crack the problem of Google’s formidable array of silo indexes? I am not sure a Googler wants to tackle this job because the cost of allow a person to search for a patent, a blog post with possibly relevant prior art, the book thing, and the general Google Web index is going to make Loon balloons and the self driving car guy’s bonus look like a really smart investment.

To put the Google into context, I think about these questions:

  1. Where did Google’s business model come from? What was the legal dust up with Yahoo about prior to the Google IPO?
  2. What manager at Google provided oversight and guidance to Google Books? How many leadership changes took place in the last 15 years?
  3. What was the issue with Kirtas scanners which triggered Google’s own research effort into high speed book scanning and the consequent patents such as US7,508,978? Was this a distraction? A business decision? An example of a science club project? What happened to the scanner whiz Wayne Rosling, Google’s one time vice president of engineering?
  4. How does the management of Google Books mesh with other Google decisions to orphan, abandon, or slow investment in other “interesting” projects; for example, Knol, Web Accelerator, etc.?

I have formulated my own answers to these questions. My thought is that sharper minds than mind may want to dig into these questions.

Google or more accurately Alphabet Google is interesting, and it has left a legacy for other Silicon Valley aspirants to follow. Is this legacy positive or negative? I suppose one could find some information to help answer this question as Google works its way through allegations about its behavior set forth by legal eagles in Europe, the way Google managed Anthony Levandowski, and the interesting search results Google search generates.

I am not sure if a series of searches across Google’s many indexes will be an easy task. There might not be too much information in Google Books or Google Scholar either. That’s too bad. Google’s bid to become the new University Microfilms seems to be a very long shot.

Stephen E Arnold, April 13, 2017

Google: Management Advice

April 12, 2017

I read “Google Co-Founder: Take Chances, Pursue Your Dreams and Silence the Voices.” The headline caught my attention. “Silence the voices” seemed to be an interesting way to approach opportunity. The passage in the write up I highlighted is:

There are a lot of affordances that are such conveniences today that make it easy. But there’s also a global stage that makes it hard,” Brin said. “I would encourage young folks to take chances and pursue their dreams and try to silence out the voices that say, ‘Actually, there are 1,000 start-ups trying to do self-riding bicycles.’”

The “silence the voices” seem to be the voices of dissent. I suppose the statement refers to inner demons, critics, employees who offer ideas conflicting with the top dogs, or the silence of an extreme action.

Yep, management advice from the outfit shaping the business savvy of Marissa Mayer and other bright folks.

Stephen E Arnold, April 12, 2017

Google Management Methods: The Car Thing

April 6, 2017

I like to track Google’s behavior for management insights. I noted what might be a great moment in Google’s management methods. The article “Google Paid Its Self-Driving Car Boss $120 Million and Then He Left for Uber.” The write up told me in sterling journalistic prose:

Embattled engineer Anthony Levandowski collected $120 million from Google, despite involvement with at least one start-up that would ultimately compete with the company, according to new legal filings. Levandowski was already trying to staff up his competing start-up, Otto, while he worked at Google — but he waited until he got his payout to make the details of Otto public, a lawsuit said.

If this is accurate, I surmise that:

  1. Alphabet Google management reviewed Mr. Levandowski’s performance, spoke to some of his colleagues, and maybe asked a peer or two for some information about Mr. Lewandowski; for example, Is he a team player? Is he moving the ball down the field?
  2. The personnel review, prepared by the smart Googlers, flashed green and someone in management okayed a bonus of $120 million. Most employees have a spending authority limit. Few employees can sign of on $1.2 million and then hit the volleyball court. Accountability in action?
  3. Mr. Lewandowski, if the write up is on the money, was recruiting people and doing other sort of work related things. I assume this involved email, phone calls, and face-to-face interviews. Obviously Mr.  Lewandowski’s activities did not seem untoward.

My observation is that the Google management method involves some procedures which fuzzify what is going on. My thought is that this is the augmented reality, Google Glass approach to management. Errors in perception can be rectified in court.

McKinsey, Bain, BCG, and other blue chip management consulting firms have a great deal to learn from Google. I wonder if a book about Google’s management methods will become available on the Google Play store soon. Here’s hoping.

Stephen E Arnold, April 6, 2017

Alternative (Aka Fake) News Not Going Anywhere

March 29, 2017

The article titled The Rise of Fake News Amidst the Fall of News Media on Silicon Valley Watcher makes a convincing argument that fake news is the inevitable result of the collective failure to invest in professional media. The author, Tom Foremski, used to write for the Financial Times. He argues that the almost ongoing layoffs among professional media organizations such as the New York Times, Salon, The Guardian, AP, Daily Dot, and IBT illustrate the lack of a sustainable business model for professional news media. The article states,

People won’t pay for the news media they should be reading but special interest groups will gladly pay for the media they want them to read. We have important decisions to make about a large number of issues such as the economy, the environment, energy, education, elder healthcare and those are just the ones that begin with the letter “E” — there’s plenty more issues. With bad information we won’t be able to make good decisions. Software engineers call this GIGO – Garbage In Garbage Out.

This issue affects us all; fake news even got a man elected to the highest office in the land.  With Donald Trump demonstrating on a daily basis that he has no interest in the truth, whether, regarding the size of the crowds at his inauguration or the reason he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, the news industry is already in a crouch. Educating people to differentiate between true and false news is nearly impossible when it is so much easier and more comfortable for people to read only what reconfirms their worldview. Foremski leaves it up to the experts and the visionaries to solve the problem and find a way to place a monetary value on professional news media.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 29, 2017

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