I wonder how we should measure the value of IT. Listen to the latest news from the big players and it seems they are all selling a different way for you or your business to improve efficiency and be more productive.
But I doubt many people have the figures that prove categorically that an IT implementation has increased productivity by a certain percentage. There are too many variables: the productivity of internal staff; changes to related business processes and the way external partners work; the nature of the business, the underlying economic climate…
To put a value on IT’s contribution is tricky. The IT industry sells us the idea of increased productivity. I think this is bending reality somewhat.
I’ve just posted a podcast interview with Don Tapscott about his new book – Wikinomics – How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. Don believes we can learn about collaboration from how teenagers use the Web today.
Kieran O’Neill, aged 19 from Winchester, set up the HolyLemon.com website in 2003, when he was taking his GCSEs, to show friends the Flash animations he created. The site has just been sold for £630,000.
Perhaps Don is right. Maybe the next teenage recruit will revolutionise your business. But is business ready for the teenage revolution?
It does annoy me that IT departments insist on locking down desktops. The idea of preventing people from installing rogue software was a great way to reduce the cost of desktop support. But in this age of downloadable applets, IT must develop a better way to protect end users.
Unless IT changes its attitude and evolves to support what end users want to do – and that means allowing, rather than preventing such downloads – what hope is there that businesses will be able to embrace innovation like mash-ups.
Today I met a group of CIOs and IT directors. All had different views of Web 2.0 and how it could benefit their organisations. There is no single answer. Unlike the field of dreams of the old days of the Web – building an attractive and useful site is no guarantee that it will foster a community. Communities grow organically. People are disillusioned with sites that are too prescriptive. Sites that try to sell products or push out thinly veiled marketing messages are not going to cut it. Even sites that are considered to offer the very best web experience today, will inevitably fall behind.
And there will be plenty of opportunities to improve. Just like the early days of Web 1.0, we are witnessing an explosion of creative ideas: some will work; some will fail miserably to build a community. Let’s hope we don’t go through a dotcom 2.0 and dotcom bomb 2.0.
Microsoft and its new best friend, Novell, are clearly looking to question the underlying principals of open source software. Funny how Novell was happy to indemnify users of its SuSE Linux distribution at the height of SCO’s attack on Linux. Now MS sees software patents as the next front in its on-going “Get the Facts” battle to derail Linux.And Novell’s agreement with Microsoft will again protect SuSE users.
One wonders how IBM will look on this latest attack. How much IP was shared between Microsoft’s Windows NT operating system and the MS/IBM development that led to the defunct OS/2. What’s more, in an article on the history of Windows NT, Mark Russinovich, notes:
Most of NT’s lead developers, including VMS’s chief architect, came from Digital, and their background heavily influenced NT’s development
Who’s to say that some unforeseen skeleton in a cupboard won’t come back to haunt Microsoft?
The cat’s finally out of the bag,. Microsoft is claiming Linux has infringed 200 MS patents. What’s more, we have now learned that Novell has stated in a company filing for the US Securities & Exchange Commission:
If the final version of GPLv3 contains terms or conditions that interfere with our agreement with Microsoft or our ability to distribute GPLv3 code, Microsoft may cease to distribute SUSE Linux coupons in order to avoid the extension of its patent covenants to a broader range of GPLv3 software recipients, we may need to modify our relationship with Microsoft under less advantageous terms than our current agreement, or we may be restricted in our ability to include GPLv3 code in our products, any of which could adversely affect our business and our operating results. In such a case, we would likely explore alternatives to remedy the conflict, but there is no assurance that we would be successful in these efforts.
So MS and Novell are happy to form an alliance to distribute Linux, but are not prepared to abide by GPL 3.0 which governs the licensing rules of open source software.
I’m now back in the UK following a two day whiz over to Barcelona for Gartner’s ITxpo. Even though the flight is short, at two hours, I find flying a totally dehumanising experience. First, we are required to arrive two hours before the departure time to check in – and that’s pretty damn early when flying out at 7am. Second, the security check means having to pretty much strip off any bits of metal. Even on a short stay-over, the sad state of our security means checking-in essentials like toothpaste and shaving foam.
…then on arrival, those same essentials don’t make it to Barcelona. Joy.
Gartner has been talking about how IT can drive green initiatives in business – like cutting down travel by using video conferencing. Yet, several hundred people flew over to hear this. Perhaps it could all have been done over the web.
But conferences attendance is all about networking. Well, Gartner has advised us all to embrace Web 2.0, allowing like-minded people to interact through a Web community. I guess that means networking will all be done through virtual communities.
So, if a conference can be run over the web, and networking can occur through virtual communities, do we really need to travel?
Today at the Gartner ITxpo conference in Barcelona, I was lucky enough to catch Don Tapscott’s presentation about Wikinomics – the subject of his new book, which looks at how Web 2.0 changes business operations. Don spoke about why businesses should look at the way kids use the web today to share and collaborate. One of his arguments is that the ease with which people can organise themselves in the Web 2.0 sphere, goes against the traditional corporate structure.
Businesses may have discarded the idea of working closely with external partners on a project, due to the cost in managing the relationship. But Web 2.0 efforts like Wikipedia, have demonstrated how mass collaboration can create arguably superior products to those developed entirely by in-house skills, at no cost. In the book he cites Boeing’s 787 jumbo jet as an example of a totally different approach to manufacturing based on collaboration rather than the command-and-control model, where a single company controls the whole manufacturing process. This obviously requires a different approach to managing the supply chain and product lifecycle. So IT has an important role to play.
In spite of the views expressed in yesterday’s Panorama on the risks, Wi-Fi UK is well on course. At the Gartner ITxpo conference in Barcelona today, it looks like enterprise mobility is going to be one of the hottest topics for the IT director in 2008, particularly as a recent Cisco survey shows that two-thirds of worldwide businesses have no long-term mobile integration strategy. HSUPA (High Speed Uplink Packet Access) is set to kick start a revolution in the way we treat mobile data.
In essence HSUPA, offers 2 Mbps broadband connectivity on a wireless network. With this level of bandwidth, users can begin to treat mobile data in the same way as the corporate local area network (LAN). There should be no reason to reengineer applications to support the relatively slow connectivity of 3G networks available today. This is the breakthrough Gartner research vice president, Nick Jones, believes, will have a big impact on enterprise mobility.
On BBC 1 tonight, Panarama, is going to reveal why Wi-Fi is bad. The program makers will aim to show that the radiation risk from Wi-Fi networks, used widely in schools, is unacceptable.
Experts have told me the radiation emitted from Wi-Fi networks is well below that of mobile phones. The UK has among the largest concentration of mobile phone users in the world. Perhaps we should first ban all cell phones from schools, before deciding that Wi-Fi represents a health risk to children.