Jeff Nolan is a blogger who I have followed for some time, with interest and enjoyment. But he has made a couple of comments recently to which I want to respond.
Firstly, he comments about affirmative action, and specifically a South African story, without any background as to why affirmative action (AA) exists. Understand that I am a white, male South African, and therefore one of the members of SA society for whom AA is a painful and thorny issue. Nevertheless, I understand that there is a reason for it, given the particular history that South Africa has been through. When Jeff says the problem with AA is that people get jobs that they “don’t necessarily deserve or earn”, he omits the fact that black South Africans were not permitted to even try to deserve or earn numerous jobs during apartheid. The debate is underway in SA about how and when AA and EE should go, but it is a very sensitive social and political issue, and deserves a rigorous debate, not just a few lines on a blog.
Jeff’s second comment is about new laws in California to enforce hands-free use of cellphones while driving. While he may believe the laws are unenforceable, what those laws do is make people aware that driving while talking on a phone or texting is dangerous driving. That I think is a good thing.
It looks like I was mistaken in my previous comments about enterprise cloud computing. I saw a blog by Irving Wladawsky-Berger from March this year in which he points out that BusinessWeek had an article about cloud computing, and that IBM had started a project in 2007. So it’s not such an innovator phase technology as I thought it was.
But I maintain that if I asked a sample of business people in the small- to medium-business space, most of them would not have heard of the technology; it’s still very much in the early adopter phase.
I have been in IT in a developing country long enough that I am now initially sceptical about new technologies that get touted from the US; that country has a belief in technology that sometimes amazes me. One of the latest technologies is “cloud computing”, and Oracle and Intel have announced a project to develop the enterprise readiness of cloud computing saying that they want to provide business with “flexibility of choosing to run their enterprise systems in either private or public clouds.”
Without a generally accepted definition of cloud computing, I am prepared to use Oracle’s definition as ”the notion of providing easily accessible compute and storage resources on a pay-as-you-go, on-demand basis, from a virtually infinite infrastructure managed by someone else.”
While Oracle and Intel have started on the research, I reckon 99 percent of the population wouldn’t have a clue what cloud computing is, particularly the business community. Therefore, cloud computing in the technology adoption lifecycle is definitely at the innovators phase.
According to a recent Sandhill blog, cloud computing is at the top of the Gartner hype cycle, which means to me that the problems, failure stories and disbelief have yet to come out. According to Gartner, for vendors and business customers ”the key activity will be to determine which cloud services will be viable, and when.” Sandhill makes some pretty obvious recommendations for vendors:
Clearly spell out the cloud’s value proposition for customers
Eliminate friction between cloud vendors and components
Make cloud services easy to use, purchase and deploy widely
According to Josh Greenbaum, Microsoft Dynamics has decided to re-focus to the small- and medium-business market, leaving the enterprise (ie, large US, European and Asian companies) mainly to SAP and Oracle. Well, that’s one lesson I could have helped Microsoft with five years ago.
The South African experience of Dynamics has not been spectacular, with Dynamics being a poorly recognised brand; mainly in my opinion due to foreign mis-understanding about the local ERP market.
Now the inside story from Dynamics SA is that they did less than 80 deals in the previous financial year, with nearly 50 percent of that in the CRM business. Therefore less than 50 customer adds happened for the three Dynamics ERP products (GP, NAV, AX) in SA. As a result, for the first time the Dynamics budget for SA has been reduced.
BTW, Microsoft SA is not the only office having troubles; according to Mini-Microsoft, Microsoft India seems to be going through something similar.
Something got my PC running really hard today, and effectively hung the machine. After rebooting a few times I managed to get the Windows Task Manager to show the stats – the memory usage was going very high.
I haven’t identified the culprit app, but I suspect the Windows Search indexer.
I made a comment recently on how poor the Gartner web site was in terms of quick news analysis. Now I see that they have set up a Gartner blog site, it is already getting updated. Could I have that much influence
Back in the dot-com era, you often saw articles about new Internet technologies that would revolutionise business. The Enterprise 2.0 phenomenon has not reached the hype levels of the dot-com period, but sometimes I am a bit sceptical of some claims made about social networking for the enterprise – and I mentioned that in a blog last week.
Now AMR has brought some reality into the debate with a report about results from Enterprise 2.0 early adopters. The early adopters failed to find benefits in the areas of customer and partner relationshipships, but get results in terms of internal collaboration. That doesn’t surprise me because, by their very nature, early adopters look for the value in new technology, while everyone else considers it ‘pie in the sky’.
Having been involved in some technology-driven initiatives several years ago that didn’t go anywhere in the business - artificial intelligence, executive information systems – I have a mental checklist of issues to evaluate. AMR repeats the decision agenda that a business should follow for any new technology project:
What is the urgent business objective that the technology can address?
What project will be easiest to implement?
Where can you get the most business value for the least complex implementation?
What departments will be able to best exploit the new opportunities?
There is also the recognition that social networking is a technology that will require engaging with customers, partners and employees, for quite a period of time, just to get them to start understanding the implications of such an initiative.
Meanwhile, one innovation from social software that I can appreciate is a disaster watch for Hurrican Ike on Twitter.
On the ITtoolbox site there are the results of what I would consider a substantial survey of social patterns of IT professionals.
While only slightly more than 50 percent of respondents were from the US, the questions were quite US-centric and reflected a bias towards how business and society operates there. It would be really interesting to see a similar survey which is really structured for global sample.
Tito Mboweni was a trade unionist who became governor of the South African Reserve Bank several years ago. Consensus is that he has been doing a good job … until now.
He has been urging businesses and trade unions to moderate salary increases to below the rate of inflation, no more than 10 percent. But the latest annual report of the Bank shows he got a 28 percent salary increase, not only that but his annual salary is now over three million Rands, that’s three times more than President Thabo Mbeki.
Whoever in the Reserve Bank thought this news would not be controversial? And it goes to show that no one is immune to the lures of market greed.
In a related story, directors’ salaries in general have been above inflation, creating another big stink amongst trade unions. Be prepared for big fights between labour and business when it comes to salary negotiations in coming months.
My favourite analyst site, AMR Research, often has raises some issues on its ‘First Thing Monday‘ page that provide me with blogging ideas:
A Google chrome comment – summarises the prospects of Chrome from an enterprise perspective as a
browser, a platform for Google Apps, omni-client platform strategy and a replacement for the Windows environment for desktop and mobile applications
The state of enterprise software skills in the US – AMR now believes only 2 ERP vendors, SAP and Oracle, are the main players in the US. I wonder what Microsoft thinks of that?
I find the Gartner site to be pretty poor in terms of getting quick news analysis, but one of their analysts was on ClassicFM last night (again) discussing some discontinuities that are coming from the Internet. At least he was aware of SA’s local issues around the Internet, e.g., why Software as a Service (SaaS) is not taking off here due to our Internet bandwidth problems. Also discussed was the future impact of social software – very much aimed at the big corporates rather than SMB market – which makes it sound unimportant to the majority of SA companies.