The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Can an agile approach make a client interact more?

cooperate.pngI was recently talking with a team of people who are supporting a client that seems to be reluctant to dedicate the time necessary to ensure that the requirements are defined properly and that the test cases actually test how the system will be used. When interactions did occur it didn’t see like the focus was on the value the system can deliver, instead it was on minutia related to the design...

 

This work has been going on for a while, and although work is being done and progress made there is a gnawing concern that the solution may never be accepted.

 

Rather than allowing this to continue, the team is now proposing a more agile approach. This is going to require significantly more involvement from the client and move testing and requirements validation from something that is done at the end of release development to something that is done every day.

 

I think anyone who has worked in the development space will likely feel that this arrangement is better for reducing rework… but is it really going to change the behavior of those involved? If the agile shift just raises a flag about a lack of customer involvement earlier in the interaction, that will be helpful – but the behavior of the development team (and its leadership) will need to change. If they didn’t address the interaction before, having the same concern raised more often may not make a difference… What do you think?

A view of the future from 2009

grading predictions.pngI was talking with someone today about innovation application and they showed me a video HP put together back in 2009 on Technology Trends. It was pretty well done and although some of it is a bit dated, much of it is as relevant today as it was 5 years ago.

 

The three trends it focused on were:

  • Explosive population growth
  • Unprecedented economic development
  • Exponential technology advancement

 

Population growth predictions have shifted a bit since 2009. We’ve been in a bit of a global economic stall since then as well. It still does make an interesting view of trends from the end of the previous decade.

 

It can be entertaining to look back at what we thought the world would be like in the coming years -- here were my predictions from 2008 looking at 2009. Some of them look more accurate today then they did in 2009!??

Technology education – drivers now and in the future

 

education.pngThe education of future technologists has some interesting conflicts to resolve. The constraints of past success and the opportunities for whole new solutions.

 

Software development is comprised of a tower of Babel consisting of thousands of development languages whose diversity continues to grow every year. Many of these languages are relatively dead (as far as current development), even though they are at the core of many of the systems that facilitate our lives – examples: COBOL and Fortran.

 

COBOL is at the core of many of the systems of record within the financial industry. Few (if any) top tier university programs exist around COBOL (but many community colleges still teach COBOL). Most of the COBOL practitioners are nearing retirement age, and have been for a decade. Planning for this skills gap is something organizations need to do today. If replacement (probably with something more cloud capable) of the programs are part of an application portfolio assessment, it will still require skills in the older environments to flesh out the codified requirements.

 

Software development skills can be standardized and structured, but software development still has an element of creativity. In the talk I gave at the MPICT conference earlier this week, this creative issue was one of the concern areas of ICT educators. The soft skills are critical for developers, since these abilities will be needed to tease out requirements. Developers then need to problem solve and exercise creativity (skills that are also on the soft side). The educators were anxious about the significant pressures to emphasize standard testing and ‘one right answer’ as part of the technical curriculum. This approach may pave over the creative solution that is actually required once the students enter the workforce.

 

I think that most technologists in the field know that our ability to interact with each other and reach consensus on a solution is a critical component of being valuable to an organization. Just being the most creative (or the most right) is not always enough.

 

One of the areas the International Society of Service Innovation Professionals is trying to help organizations and education with is mentoring and coaching on these soft skills to supplement the standard education curriculum. HP is making efforts to expand real work experience as well – I try to sponsor a senior project at UTD every semester (for example). These efforts let students experience the vagaries of real world problems and make mistakes in a safe environment.

 

Keeping its fans first is important to NASCAR

As we move into the fall here in Dallas, one of the events that comes to my mind is NASCAR at the Texas Motor Speedway. Recently some of us at HP had the chance to engage in a bit of Q&A with Steve Phelps, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of NASCAR, to find out how the new style of IT is making a difference.

 

Steve oversees all NASCAR efforts in corporate marketing, brand/consumer marketing, Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), licensing, automotive group, business development, digital and social media, broadcast, entertainment, NASCAR Productions, information technology, corporate events and human resources. With over 75 million fans, that can be a big job and since NASCAR is so innovative about how they interact with this audience, the conversation is worth sharing.

 

Q. With the influx of Big Data throughout many industries, analysts are predicting that CMOs will become the new CIOs of the future. What role does Information Management and Analytics play in your daily activity?

A. The amount of data generated across both traditional and social media surrounding our sport is staggering. Fans connect with our sport digitally and share their experience with us more than ever before. Due to a shifting media landscape, news coverage of our sport is constant, coming from hundreds of print outlets, television broadcasts, and online publications. Candidly, before partnering with HP to develop the Fan and Media Engagement Center (FMEC) there was no easy way for us to make sense of all the noise. Thanks to HP’s cutting edge technology, the engagement center ingests huge amounts of data related to our sport and allows us to focus a lens on almost any topic that we want. We can now make informed decisions on just about every aspect of our business. We are just beginning to tap into its capabilities, but the value the FMEC has already provided through measurement and analytics can be felt on a daily basis.  

 

 

FMEC 2.jpg

 

Q. We’ve heard a lot about Big Data jamming the systems of many corporations and enterprise groups. NASCAR must have had massive data stores in place. How did process automation and HP Enterprise Services consulting view this challenge?

A. HP provided a true end-to-end solution for us. HP’s Enterprise Services team has helped us build this solution from Day One of our collaboration and has been a partner in the evolution and development of this process since launch.

 

In terms of hardware and software, our Fan and Media Engagement Center is HP-powered from front to back - from the back-end HP Blade servers and 3Par storage to help us store and manage all this “Big Data,” the middle software analytics layer powered by HP Autonomy, to our front-end display matrix with the latest in digital signage, it is all HP.

 

Q. Much of Information Management and Analytics has to do with gleaning the right information from the data to make it actionable. What were your goals when you started the project? Now that the engagement center has been implemented, how have these goals changed?

A. The idea of the Fan and Media Engagement Center came from our Chairman, Brian France. He wanted to create a resource that would benefit not only NASCAR, but the entire NASCAR industry by providing business-impacting insights tailored to specific audiences within the NASCAR ecosystem, including race teams, tracks, and partners.

 

In its first year of existence, the FMEC has already delivered value to each audience, yet we have only scratched the surface of the system’s capabilities. The FMEC is a “Version 1.0” platform, and we continue to learn, tweak, and refine the system. Our immediate goals have not changed, however, I envision that our goals will evolve as the system does.

 

Q. At HP, we talk quite a bit about information being the most valuable asset in the enterprise. How has the data you’ve been able to analyze proved beneficial to sponsors and partners? 

A. NASCAR is now able to provide insights to the many partners in our sport’s ecosystem. We can analyze fan levels of engagement around sponsor at-track activations, measure how a partner’s brand is perceived by our fan base, and learn more about what our fans like and dislike.

 

Additionally, we can hone in on specific topics – sentiment around broadcast partners, feedback on a sponsor contest, for example – and produce in-depth insights into fan behavior, so we can serve them the best content and provide the best experience.

 

Earlier this year, Chevy unveiled a new production model at a press event during the weekend of the Daytona 500. Within an hour after the event was over, our President Mike Helton was able to hand deliver a dashboard to our partner showing how fans and potential customers felt about the new car.

 

That kind of value can’t be measured.

 

Q. Have you seen an uptick in sales, or fan base growth? Are sponsors and partners more willing to make an investment when they are able to see data and know their return with more certainty? How has it enabled them to get ROI?

A. The FMEC wasn’t developed to be a direct revenue generator for NASCAR. However, I like to characterize ROI when speaking about the FMEC as a Return on Information. The FMEC is providing our entire eco-system with business impacting information. In certain circumstances, the impact can be felt in real-time, however a number of partners will use the information to help formulate the way they activate in our sport for years to come. That is truly when partners will be able to maximize on the value the FMEC provides. That said, the demand for FMEC information has been high this entire season and continues to grow. 

  

Q. What is one of the largest differences you’ve seen in the way your marketing organization works now that you have the Fan & Media Engagement Center?

A. One of the biggest benefits that the FMEC has provided us is the ability to market in real-time. For example at this year’s Talladega race, bad weather forced some pretty significant rain delays. Talladega is one of our largest tracks, over two miles. Rain delays can cause significant impact to fan interest, our broadcast partners, and our corporate partners.

 

During the rain delay, we were able to keep a real-time handle on levels of conversation about the race and delay, and take action to keep fans engaged via our social media channels, asking and answering questions, providing updates, sharing photos.

 

We were also able to zero in on sentiment about the track drying system, how many people were talking about it, noting how impressive it was in improving track drying time. We were able to analyze the public sentiment and provide a snapshot to track partners who are considering it for their own tracks.

 

This was a situation that could have been a negative - a significant weather delay - that we were able to turn into a positive by keeping fans engaged and showing the value of a new technology product to partners.

 

To learn more about how HP and NASCAR are working together, check out these videos:

 

 From one race fan to another, I hope to see you at the track soon!

 

HP addressing the need for constant security vigilance

security extend.pngAfter talking with a number of people recently, it became clear that HP is constantly investing in the security space, much more than I knew. These investments have been going on for a very long time.

  • 2011 – Autonomy (Compliance, Behaviour & Classification)
  • 2010 - Fortify (Application Security),
  • 2010 - ArcSight (Compliance & Risk Mgmt)
  • 2009 - TippingPoint (via 3COM) (IPS)
  • 2008 - EDS / HP consulting and managed services, Vistorm security consulting and security managed services
  • 2007 - SPI Dynamics / HP Application Security Center

There is now a highly experienced team of more than 5000 professionals with security certifications including CHECK, CLAS, CISSP, CISM, CISA, CLEF, IISP, ISO 27001 Lead auditor, PCI QSA, and others but it doesn’t stop there.

 

There are a constant stream of announcements from HP in the security space (including one early this month) and new ones today. The reason for this vigilance is that every 7-10 years, technology development and delivery undergo a shift that opens up new business and access models. These shifts fundamentally change the way that technology is consumed and the value that it can bring; these shifts change what is possible and create new opportunities for innovation. They also open up new opportunities for security threat concerns and all organizations are affected by security breaches.

 

Cyber Security moved from 12th to 3rd place in risk factors faced by businesses in Lloyd’s 2013 Risk index. The potential for financial, reputational and physical damage has elevated the issue or cyber security to board level. Today’s enterprise is struggling to find the balance between protecting itself from organized cyber criminals, maintaining legal, regulatory and compliance standards while enabling the adoption of  new IT solutions for business value generation like mobility, cloud and analytics.

 

Additionally, cybercriminals have created a cybercrime market place, sharing and selling information on tools, tactics and targets, to find vulnerabilities in organizations’ infrastructure, stealing critical customer data and intellectual property. Individuals and groups are starting to specialize and turn into service providers for others wanting to use their capabilities, since the size of this underground security market may actually be larger than the protection oriented security market itself.

 

While some threats are external and malicious, others are internal - like a disgruntled employee who might steal proprietary information. There are also unintentional mistakes, such as an employee losing an unlocked or unencrypted device or being tricked into sending non-encrypted documents and classified company information to illegitimate sources. Alarmingly, as the enterprise landscape becomes more open and the need to share information greater, we see 44% of data breaches happening at the hands of a trusted supplier. The threat environment is dynamic and complex.

 

Regulators respond to this complex security ecosystem by implementing numerous regulations and mandates in the hope of preventing further issues. Unfortunately, using compliance to define your security strategy sets a low bar, since the requirements are reactive in nature. Organizations are forced to address the regulations because they can’t appear to be non-compliant.

 

HP is focused on helping organizations address their information security, by spend less time on reactive threat management and more on disrupting the security ecosystem. To focus on understanding and protecting business’s critical information assets to better aligned to their information risk tolerance (this is definitely not a once size fits all approach). There is a shortcoming for trained security personnel and HP is trying to provide the tools and the services to address the gaps for organizations.

 

Some of the new services announced today include:

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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