Posts Tagged Content

A curious case of misplaced context and content

From Evernote:

A curious case of misplaced context and content

Today I received a picture postcard advertising the AIIM Roadshow in UK for 2010.

Now the event takes place in Glasgow, Bolton (Lancashire), Birmingham and London from 14-17 June.

However, the following pictures were associated with each location.  Hmmm do you see why I said Bolton (Lancashire)!
  

The image they’ve used for Bolton is actually  – Bolton Abbey, (near Skipton) in Wharfedale Yorkshire.  Which is some of the most beautiful countryside England has to offer and approximately 55 miles west of the event location.

Somehow I don’t imagine I’ll see quite such gorgeous vistas at the Reebok Stadium, in Bolton Lancs.  No disrespect to the views on Rivington Pike mind.

Of course, this mistake of confusing Bolton Lancs and Bolton Abbey isn’t the last time it will happen.  But perhaps it should serve to remind us, that understanding and placing and content with context is very important.  Perhaps they wished to continue to the waterway theme through each picture?  I would agree that the River Croal may not give the most picturesque images of Bolton!

Rest assured those using the AIIM Roadshow  website will receive the correct directions to the Reebok Stadium, in Bolton Lancs!

[Disclaimer: This post is no way intended to slur the name or work that AIIM do. I firmly believe that they make a highly valuable and effective contribution to the IT industry]

 

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Thinking on Portals, Application Servers & Middleware, and Strategic Enterprise Architecture

Recently I attended an event the Oracle Middleware 11g Forum around the launch & release of their Fusion Middleware 11g suite of products.

Oracle should be commended on the swift work they have done of incorporating the technologies and services they have acquired into their own product set.  Within the 11g release there is the unified and integration of mainstream Oracle products with the product set acquired from BEA Systems (WebLogic and AquaLogic etc.)  There is a clear standardisation around the Weblogic server as the strategic application server within the Fusion Middleware stack.

The pending acquisition and integration of Sun Microsystems into Oracle will pose a few interesting questions around existing complementary product set. But also to give the obvious capability of singlehanded delivery of hardware, OS, middleware, and application stack.

        

Both of these acquisition brings much more of a level set between Oracle and IBM in the J2EE space around enterprise portal, application server, content management, SOA and middleware.  This should bring another boost of invigoration to this marketplace, which is already looking lively because of innovative adoption around consumer social computing services and mash up or widget integration technologies.

An example of the IBM Middleware stack: (taken from an article about “Develop and Deploy Multi-Tenant Web-delivered Solutions using IBM middleware”)

An example of the Oracle Middleware stack: (taken from an article on the blog of Eric Marcoux “What do you want to know about Fusion Middleware ?”)

However this doesn’t rule out other players in this space, such as Microsoft, Autonomy, Opentext  etc. While they may not be so closely aligned around the technology or industry space, or perhaps bring such a broad offering, as IBM or Oracle they should not be ignored. In fact their strengths or niche plays should be significant influencers on the strategic enterprise architecture of an organisation.

What then are the questions that should be asked to ascertain that the Strategic Enterprise Architecture choices are optimal for your organisation?   Caveat :– I am not claiming to be an enterprise architect! However I hope these should be reasonably logical and common sense, and the answers should go some way to revealing the degree of alignment between the enterprise architecture and business requirements.

  • How does my End-User (desktop and productivity suite choices/need) integrate or align with choices around Portal and Enterprise Content Management and Enterprise Applications?
    • Do they complement or conflict?
    • Do they offer the integration that enables users to engage in business processes, or does inflict conflicts and hindrances?
  • Is there a sensible balance between departmental application choice and autonomy in comparison to corporate mandates and direction?
    • Are there governance policies in place that sustains a level of commonality across business units?
    • Is there a that framework allows departmental processes and requirements to be surfaced and delivered in a uniform way?
    • Is Identity and Access management provided centrally?
    • Are compliance, security and risk management services provided in a consistent manner?
  • Are the Strategic Enterprise Architecture choices enabling or preventing the evolution of a competitive business model?
    • Is the architecture promoting an agile and adaptive business model & culture?
    • Is it helping to make the best of the human interactions and capital within the business?
    • Is it serving to optimise TCO and reduce overheads, via enabling virtualisation, centralisation or cloud services technologies?
    • Is it serving the business through enabling a greater percentage of core business orientated employees, by reducing the focus on operating non-differentiating IT services & functions?
    • Is it enabling the business to serve the influential outliers – business partners, suppliers and customers?

These are by no means a definitive list, but I hope you think them relevant and helpful. I’m sure there will be areas I’ve over looked or ignored so please chip-in with more, comments and feedback.

There some good material here :

Enterprise Architecture Scorecard

The Open Group Architecture Framework

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Comment on Gartner: Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit – Main sessions & Keynotes, London 16 & 17 Sept

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Gartner hosted the 4th annual Europe based “Gartner : Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit” (pcce4) in London this week. From statistics given the delegates had a good cross industry and European countries (and further afield) representation.

The summit host Toby Bell and his colleague Debra Logan welcomed us by providing a grounding for the event through a key note “Certain Strategies for Uncertain Times”.  This contextualised the summit, technologies, and business objectives of the delegates against the backdrop of the current business and economic climate.  They underlined the need for IT to re-shape its role in their business, and shift the perception of being a cost centre into a facilitator and necessary partner to achieve growth and business revenue.

A challenge indeed! Especially when the business will continue to demand cost optimisation or look for significant strategies and approaches to deliver reductions in cost overhead from the operational maintenance of IT systems within the business. Which is backed-up by the Gartner indicating “8 out of 10 dollars spent in IT is ‘dead money’” – spent just to keep things running, and protecting existing investments in people and technology.

Achieving this role change doesn’t lie in a technical solution. But comes back to the people, corporate culture and the manner in which communication between different but inter-dependant business (departments/teams/individuals) transpires.  The resulting business strategies and goals either foster better mutual understanding, respect and cooperation and can produce transformational attitudes and benefits.  Or result in strategies that continue to reinforce the siloed thinking, divisional structures and misalignment of roles that hinder and hamper mutually beneficial events and results for the business.

I think that though not clearly emphasised by the summit, in terms of a ‘track’ or major session, “people and culture rather than technology”,  became a significantly re-occurring comment or phrase that was a common thread throughout the summit. Underlining it as an important concern, and fuelling enquiry and debate amongst both delegates and analysts.

The summit also provided stimulus and examples for new and innovative approaches and methodologies in the format of thought leadership and model case studies.

None more so than the excellent guest keynote from highly respected author, thinker, inventor and speaker Dr. Edward de Bono (author of ‘Mechanism of the Mind’ and ‘Lateral Thinking’), on “Why our Current Thinking is not Enough”.

His talk on creative thinking and the need to overhaul the underlying mechanisms and approaches to thinking that have been so dominant for the last 2400 years in the Western culture, was very well received. I’m sure it will prove a fruitful ground for much personal, and you hope, corporate and societal introspection and contemplation.

He gave some great examples on the use of challenge, provocation, and random introduction to stimulate and produce creative and value ideas and approaches to established conventional and logical thought.

This post describes some excellent examples of where his thinking has been used.

He also described his 6 hats parallel thinking technique which can prove extremely beneficial when understood and correctly applied.

There is a concern that his thought leadership, proposals and hypotheses have been widely adopted or practiced without the appropriate analysis and enquiry to show whether they are most optimal ‘thinking behaviours and patterns’ to be adopted and used.  It makes sense to me, to have that debate, enquire, study and draw conclusions in this area before further advocacy of major changes to society ‘thinking behaviours and patterns’ is more fully utilised.  Whatever that result, the contribution from Dr. de Bono is immensely valuable and it was a privilege to hear him speak.

The model case study presented to the full body of the summit was that of “Building the stacks for a Mutualised Newspaper” by Dr. Chris Thorpe from the Guardian. He provided tremendous insight into how the Guardian is developing it’s ‘Open Platform’ (content API and data store). Made to serve out its contents & its people for the mutual use and benefit, co-creation, co-fabrication/co-distribution and co-monetisation of both itself and its ‘collective community’. So that what is contributed, aggregated, used and consumed helps integrate the Guardian “into the fabric of the internet.”

When you consider the ‘doomsayer’ stories, articles and events that envelope the ‘traditional push media and publishing model’ – the transformational approach and interactivity that the Guardian have achieved via this open data, content and platform approach is nothing short of revolutionary! And as Chris Thorpe described is fully deserving of the accolades prescribed by Tom Watson MP.

I’m not bowled over much these days. But Guardian Open Platform is a chasmic leap into the future. It is a work of simplistic beauty that I’m sure will have a dramatic impact in the news market. The Guardian is already a market leader in the online space but Open Platform is revolutionary. It makes all of their major competitors look timid.

Governments should be doing this. Governments will be doing it. The question is how long will it take us to catch up.

Furthermore their achievements in the use of cutting-edge content enabled cloud based mass-media applications is to be applauded. Demonstrating clear prowess, leadership and innovation in the development, design and delivery of these applications.  There are perhaps more example of such temporal cloud based mass-media applications out there. That aside, however, I think these indicate a ‘new’ breed or model of application delivered from cloud based resources, which will become the frequent offspring of event driven interaction between the “collective” and their social media and content.

A great example of this is The Guardian’s use of the community in the analysis and review of the UK MPs expenses receipts and claims.

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In conclusion:

The Gartner Portals, Content and Collaboration summit main sessions and keynotes, provided much for the delegates to take away and contemplate, which should then be followed up by evaluation and incorporation of appropriate strategy for that organisation.  For me one the key tenet to build a clear strategy of utilising the “collective web intelligence” as it relates and is relevant to your organisation.

Disclaimer:  Permission for publication was sought and granted by Gartner

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