Uncharted Waters


November 1, 2011  6:00 AM

IT Workers As Coal Miners — III

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

This week my friend Shawn concludes his rant on North American Business (see part I and also part II) and, well, I’ll pick up from there.

But first …

Today’s small companies want to offer their customers (internal or external) expanded coverage options, really attractive (to executives) SLAs, and “more bang for the IT buck” because many C-level manangement folks can’t understand why IT costs so darn much.
Hey, there, Mr. CFO, I can expand our supported hours beyond 8-5 without increasing headcount and costs.. Let me show you.”  A little wave of the pen and here’s your substantial change in working arrangements.  A doubling of the time the company wants to have you available at their beck and call, without any kind of change to the compensation structure.

October 25, 2011  10:01 AM

Considering Conferences

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
Um ... Yeah ... about that travel budget ...

Um … Yeah … about that travel budget …

Professional Conferences give you new ideas to try, to grow your network, and can provide a chance to reflect and charge.  I can’t recommend them enough.

Yet when I mention how wonderful conferences are, one of the common responses I get is “that’s great Matt but …”

Folks don’t get to attend them because it isn’t in the budget, isn’t in the travel budget, or just plain isn’t on the radar.

If you are in that boat, well, this blog post is for you.

I’m going to tell you how to get to a professional conference in the next eighteen months.

You do the work, I can get you to a conference.

I’ll stake my reputation on it.

Continued »


October 19, 2011  10:58 PM

IT Workers as Coal Miners? — Part II

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

Last time, my friend Shawn introduced his premise — that IT Workers are the coal miners of the 21st Century.

This time, Shawn’s back, to explain how the shift from hourly work to exempt has changed the nature of the work itself … and not for the better.

Obviously, Shawn’s comments are an analogy. Certainly, working conditions and employment opportunities looked much more dim for the West Virginia coal miner of 1897.  Where the coal miner risked a collapsed mine, lack of oxygen, and poisoned lungs, an IT worker might face a paper cut, or, perhaps, repetitive stress injury from too much typing.

Still, there are things going on in how IT workers are treated; his ideas may cause you to pause and refect.

Back to you, Shawn …

Continued »


October 18, 2011  11:14 PM

Are IT Workers the Coal Miners of the 21st Century?

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
No I will not reset your password.  I'm on break.

No I will not reset your password

A few weeks back, I introduced you to my friend Shawn.  He’s a strong systems thinker, a former soldier, someone I respect and admired from my youth.

Shawn cut his teeth in the dotCom era, becoming a programmer, then general technologist, then IT manager, now … I’m not sure.  Last time I checked, he was an account rep for an IT managed services firm, the kind that has been eating a hole in traditional IT departments.

Shawn cares about his field, and his perspective is shared by life in the trenches.  So when he kept writing about what he sees happening to our field, and asked me to publish it, I couldn’t say no.

Here’s the question that keeps Shawn up at night:  Are IT Workers the Coal Miners of the 21st Century?

From here on out the words belong to Shawn, not me.

Continued »


October 12, 2011  10:36 PM

What Steve Jobs Can Teach Us

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

Men and women of greater writing talent and skill than I have written eulogies for Steve Jobs.  Some have been touching and inspirational; others knew him, or his companies, far better than I.  It would be more than a little pretentious for me to try to write an article that, at best, might be a bit of a copy of what has come before.

And that’s good, because that ain’t this article.

Instead of talking about what Mr. Jobs did, I’d like to talk about what made him different, and how, in our own way, we can be different too.

The Heart of the Matter is that Steve Jobs was a thief and a failure.

He was good at it.

You should be too.

Continued »


October 3, 2011  10:46 PM

It’s like they planned it that way

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

Oh Boy.

So two weeks ago, HP made it’s announcement that it was considering leaving the PC business, and I made my speculation that Dell might fill in the gap.

Then I went home for the weekend and found this headline on the cover of EWeek:

Dell's move into servers and services makes cover of eWeek

“The World According to Dell: The Company Michael Dell started in 1984 has expanded into areas Dell Executives didn’t even consider give years ago: Software, Services, and Cloud Computing.”

It’s almost as if the folks at Dell strategically timed a marketing push, just at a time when the traditional competition was at it’s weakest.

nah.  That would actually make … sense.

The article is fascinating, and a good read; here are a few of my favorite gems:

Continued »


September 28, 2011  9:23 PM

Is that you? Is this me?

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

Did you know that “We’re Sorry You’ve Been Laid Off?” condolences are now a major Hallmark greeting card category?

Perhaps the greatest irony is in IT, where technology really has enabled self-service and productivity, perhaps so much so that we need less IT support per hundred employees, meaning … oh wait.  Ouch.

In the old days, a project management system cost six figures, required a purchase order, a fair amount of hardware, and half a full-time sys admin to support.  Today, Joe the intern uses the corporate card and suddenly the entire department is on basecamp or pivotal.

And no, that is not a hypothetical — one of my largest clients recently signed the whole team up for pivotal, used it for two months (for free), then went to management to get the corporate card to allow them to continue with the tool past the initial offering period.

Meanwhile, IT jobs become harder and harder to come by.

There are lots of reasons for this; one of them is the increase in managed services companies; the kind that took Gartner’s advice and started to offer infrastructure as a service, which allows them to split up on support rep over a large number of companies.

My friend (who I will call Shawn) has spent most of his career in corporate IT; today he works for one of those managed services firms that stole someone else’s job.  I wanted to hear his take on the IT employment situation; here’s what he had to say.

Continued »


September 26, 2011  10:56 PM

HP and SAP and eBay – oh My!

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

I’ve been tracking the progress of HP, the company formerly known as Hewlett-Packard, trying to deconstruct and demystify some of it’s strategic moves.

And, I have to admit, this one threw me for a loop.

Four days ago, Hewlett-Packard fired it’s CEO, Leo Apotheker, after just ten months on the job, and announced they were hiring Meg Whitman as his replacement.

And then it gets weird.

Continued »


September 20, 2011  9:53 PM

After HP (leaves the PC market) what’s left?

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

We’ve been talking about what is going on at Hewlett-Packard, or, well, at least trying to understand it.

So far, we know that HP has signaled a desire to get into the software market, especially enterprise software, and a desire to exit the PC market.

For a moment, let’s forget about the why’s, and think about the “what’s next?”

Not for HP, but for the rest of us.

Continued »


September 13, 2011  11:43 PM

Deconstructing HP – Part II

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

Last time we took at look at HP’s situation through a different lens – the lens of management consulting.

Today I’d like to take a different approach; on based on history.

But first, a story.

A Long Time Ago

There was a very large, international company.  Once known for being innovative and shining, the company grew large and slow.  Over time, the company’s personal computer business grew from wildly profitable to essentially a loss-leader, a sort of “yeah we also do that” thrown in so that the company could sell more expensive, high-end servers.  Finally, the company developed an operating system that was technically superior, yet came too late to market.  After a brief, painful struggle, the company abandoned it’s shiny new operating system

What company am I writing about?

Continued »


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