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

Helping others and helping ourselves

Every semester I try and help out by participating in some way at a Business of IT course taught at the University of North Texas. Last night, I was an active audience member as groups of students presented their final presentation. This usually means we ask them relevant questions about their papers as they are presented to see if we can get them off-track or at least out of their depth. The philosophy is that it is better to falter in this in a relatively safe environment, rather than have their first real exposure to a truly animated customer be in their first job presentation.


The presentations last night were based on some current and relevant topics:

1)      How to become and remain a great CIO

2)      Managing Bring Your Own Device

3)      IT Security: What Boards and CEOs need to know and do

4)      Effective Communication of IT to the Business in ‘Business Terms’

5)      From the Enterprise Today to the “Information Age Enterprise”


All the students presented information based on the coursework covered during the year (e.g., COBIT, Zachman) in the context of their subject of interest. Other review team members were a CIO, a SCRUM certified project manager and a recent graduate of the course (at least relative to when I was an undergraduate), so it was varied enough to pursue them through any rat hole that may open up.


I try to participate in these opportunities, because they give me a chance to look at problems from a different perspective. It is relatively easy to see the students fall into certain traps. It is a bit harder to see how I’ve fallen (or continue to fall) into similar ones. Supporting others and performing self-examination can be quite cathartic.


The areas that I were a bit suprised were no covered were Cloud Computing and Big Data. Maybe they were banned as being too much of a buzzword.

Labels: Context| security| Youth

Youth and the next wave of IT

youth.pngYesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with 16 students in technology related Master’s or PhD programs at the University of North Texas. We discussed their current research activities and their passions for applying technology to business. This was a motivating experience for me, since they talked about a wide variety of approaches, most of which I efforts taking place within HP.


It was clear that the flexibility driver in business that is shifting IT (currently manifesting itself as the force behind cloud computing) was well understood and assumed as part of their work by them. When these students hit the current work environment at many companies, they are going to bring in some very useful ideas as well as chaff at some of the unnecessary restraints that many businesses work within. IT leaders should try to capture some of those thoughts before they are paved over by the day-to-day operational demands.


Most of the students I talked with had very strong technical skills, but still had a way to go to understand how those skills can be applied to generate business value. That’s OK though since they have a whole lifetime of opportunity ahead of them to develop that expertise. Developing a peer group and a mentor relationship when they hit the workforce should help them land in their new environment softly though.


Everyone should spend a bit of time talking with a variety of individuals still in college if they want to understand the workforce needs and capabilities of the future.

Born to code…

scratch.jpgTechnology review asks the question How Young is Too Young to Learn to Code?In the article they talk about a report by Heather Chaplin from KQED about new software that will be aimed squarely at children who have barely learned their colors, much less how to read.


Talk about Digital Natives…


Anyone who has an iPhone and a two year old will probably tell you that touch interfaces are allowing children to spend more time with computers than ever. Although too much screen time in a day has been linked to psychological problems.


The redesigned programming environment is called Scratch, Jr. You can access the development environment and run programs from the web. It is a re-designed version of Scratch, which has been used to teach programming principles to elementary school-age children, that has been simplified. When I looked at the commands it reminded me of a graphical version of a simplified Logo.


I’ve seen some business process modeling tools that could use some of the techniques from this environment

Age vs. Experience

security lawn.pngI was catching up on my reading and came across a Baseline slide show that claimed Younger Workers Pose a Big Security Risk.


It reminded me a bit of some old curmudgeon shaking their fists and shouting “You kids get off of my lawn”. All the issues they mentioned like:

  • Rules are for other people
  • Their open books, since they don’t mind sharing personal information over the web

and 8 others are either applicable to all employees or all young people (through the ages) -- granted security issues abound. They have as much to do with inexperience as anything else. Even long term employees who are first going into social computing (as an example) make mistakes.


There is some good information here, but classifying the risk as “young workers” seems a bit short sighted. As our technology implementations shift we need to ensure that all the workers understand the implications of social computing, mobile devices, big data and other advances.  Enabling all employees to make the best decisions is an important part of governance.

Labels: Mobile| security| Youth

Is your view that ten years out computing will still be exciting?

future of IT.pngI was talking to someone the other day who was lamenting the good old days. Ten years ago was quite a different world than what we take for granted today.


We were just realizing that the dot com bubble was just a bubble and the long boom turned into more of a pop (we’re seeing this discussion again). It was a time when we had just figured out that innovators had dilemmas and highly effective people had habits. Computers belonged on a desk or a data center and few people had mobile phones, let alone smartphones (I had an early windows mobile device and could listen to music, watch videos… but that was pretty rare).


Our access to information was quite different as well, since at the end of 2001 Wikipedia had only 20,000 articles. Amazon was still primarily focused on books. Ebay didn’t own PayPal and was primarily US based. USB 2.0 had just been ratified. SaaS was something you got in trouble for and social media really didn’t exist.


On a more personal note COMPAQ and EDS were not part of HP.


All our systems and software were based on significant constraints. Now we’re moving into abundance in Information Technology on almost every front. Many people are starting to have computers with them all the time, capturing data elements of our lives and storing them – forever.


With all the change just described, does anyone think that the next ten years will be less eventful? How does this admission shape your planning for the future?


Most of us recognize that the business environment will be more integrated and social, and yet likely more security conscious than today. Everything will be accessed while mobile and yet tap into the resource pool of the cloud. More and more displays will support 3D capabilities and whole new user interface possibilities will develop and we will manufacture more items right in our home from downloaded designs. Automation will begin to permeate our lives (let alone the business) taking on mundane tasks at every level. The leadership of today will be gone and Gen X and Gen Y will be firmly in control with some new generation nipping at their heels.

There are those who look to this future and don’t want to think about it, yet that is what we’re here to do. The champions of change are those that see all these possibilities not as problems but as potential. Even though we can’t imaging many of the exponential laws of IT continuing, many of them will, enabling new approaches to development and information use.

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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.
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation