Tag Archives: Outsourcing

cloud_lock

Keep it Secure… the Business of Cloud

cloud_lockMy latest, hosted at ComparetheCloud.net

Depending on where you go or what you read, the issues vary but the underlying concerns about Cloud security seem fairly standard: concern about the lack of control over cloud-based environments; concern about access to data and systems from outside of the walls of the business combined; concern and uncertainty as to how to manage current threats, both targeted and random, let alone whatever comes next.

Truth be told, much of this stuff is, relatively speaking, straight-forward if not easy once you’ve done the work, determined your needs and selected the correct, trusted partner (who has passed the requisite due diligence which any business with any significant level of security requirements or concerns should insist on).

Read the rest at ComparetheCloud

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Newmarket Races

Sir Alex… the Business of Cloud

Taking the helm at Man U at about the same time as Microsoft went public and IBM released their first twelve-pound ‘convertible’ laptop, the Sir Alex Ferguson timeline covers far more than fifteen hundred matches. Yes, too many books, movies and metaphors have applied sports to business and the boardroom but Sir Alex, in Football, over time is more akin to management in the computer industry than you might realise.

The BBC wrote that “his initial victories were hard won but that the domination to follow was unexpected” which sounds a bit like the PC industry whose history and evolution follow similar time and story lines, with the key word for both being ‘evolution’.

Unlike most other industries which by circumstance and necessity do and have changed, somewhat, over time (often supported by technology), the computer industry, which is rapidly becoming the cloud industry, as driven by Moore’s law consists of sets of dynamic ‘living’ product ranges in a general state of flux… things that need care and feeding, maintenance and improvement, and support from a businesses led with a combination of pragmatic vision and astute business sense. .. and flexibility.

Skipping over the fashion and hairstyle offenses – on-pitch and off – that the Manchester United bastion has seen and instead ponder the massive evolution of change that has happened around him while at the helm. The breadth of change from player salaries to their attitudes is a result of communications breaking barriers and extending borders (just like IT in general and Cloud specifically) through to the fans and the media (the football version of Cloud clients, consumers and analysts). We could stretch the analogies further but I think the point is made.

The opening of telecommunications channels and the pervasive use and availability of broadcasting kit moved the media approach and coverage to a global stage, necessitating amongst other things a re-adjustment of the Premiership business model and a re-prioritisation of the revenue streams from tickets to t-shirts and advertising with a growing hands-on focus directly on the fan base.

q3

While of course he didn’t run the day to day business of the club, at a minimum in IT industry terms you’d have to consider Sir Alex a board-seated CTO of the MU machine. The changes he has helped managed the Club through are as vast as the changes from silent film to radio to television to satellite viewing, from mainframes to minis to micros to handhelds, or from re-seller to integrator to service provider to cloud provider, and everything else in between (which, as the astute amongst you might have noticed, in our industry has also created the need for a re-adjustment to business models, a different way of looking at revenues and a different focus and approach to customers).

Alex Ferguson was open to change: any good Manager (football or otherwise) needs a defence mechanism and the flexibility to deal with and exploit that which is happening around you is near the top of the list. And change is of course what the IT industry – and Cloud –  is all about, both changing itself and enabling change pretty much everywhere else. You are after all still selling and providing computer “stuff” but the pitch, the rules, the players, the press and the fans all only bear the tiniest of resemblance to what came before.

(In any case, has anyone else noticed that the Football v Religion question has been answered from a social media perspective: the announcement of the new Pope garnered about five times as many tweets in the first round of reactions to Sir Alex stepping down).

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puzzle

Keep it Clear… the Business of Cloud

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For a CEO not up on the tech side of things, asking a techie “What is Cloud?” would be as useful as asking a meteorologist the same question… there are too many wrong answers – for the particular needs of any particular CEO – amongst the right ones, not to mention that the term itself has become almost redundant.

To be fair, the term ‘cloud’ itself has probably contributed to the rapid uptake in both use and press coverage. To paraphrase George Carlin, “Cloud is such a friendly sounding word… It sounds like a snack, doesn't it? New Nabisco Clouds! And new Cheese Clouds, Corn Clouds, Pizza Clouds, Sesame Clouds, Onion Clouds, Tater Clouds”…" Broad, cross-functional, magical… and more – it is a great catch-all term, just not a specific one.

I’ve discussed, argued, positioned (and worse) the topic of cloud with peers, clients and colleagues at dinners, meetings, events, forums and pubs (the noisy ones being the best as I can’t hear half of the argument)… we, they who work in and around this space, seem for the most part to know what we’re talking about, even when at cross-purposes or in disagreement. One thing I have noticed across the board, though, is that there exist four intersecting loops of cloud belief: those who see it as

  1. a technology modelq1
  2. a utility (or service) model
  3. an operational model
  4. a commercial model

And, as is often the case in IT, the anomaly is the norm: none of those views are incorrect or correct, necessarily: like the work required to get there and the reward on arrival, it depends on the point of view of the beholder. When finding my way to a solution I often take hybrid as my first target and from there work towards either end as needed. To me, that is the only position from which to start with this cloud thing.

And you know what? This is not the complicated stuff… what really has become complicated is the marketing, the messages, the myriad of names and labels and the one-size-fits-all promises that business users are being hit with  (not to mention the contracts!). Dozens of choices at a coffee shop doesn’t phase me (or the average consumer who knows, broadly, what they want to drink) BUT twenty price plans with eight levels of up-front spend for thirty different handsets with fifteen different network add-ons at the local mobile phone wareshopstorehouse can be rather vexing…

Does this mean it time for a new term? (no, please!)  As an industry we need to provide clarity and consistency (along with some good solid honesty). While not a big fan of regulation and often less than thrilled with how (and why) standards are (sometimes) implemented, I do rather like both when they are done properly and result in a level playing field and I reckon that clarity and consistency of terminology typically happens when standards are applied. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) “Definition of Cloud Computing” is a strong starting attempt to clarify the ambiguity that is cloud, starting with the following five identifiers:

  • On-demand self-service
  • Broad network access
  • Resource pooling
  • Rapid elasticity enabling quick scale-out
  • Measurable services

But of course it wouldn’t be cloud if we didn’t have several strong starting points, including the Open Group, Distributed Management Task Force, Cloud Security Alliance, Storage Network Industry Association, and Open Cloud Consortium all have cloud standards efforts ranging from terminology to security.

q2Cloud computing is not a trend (although the rush to the marketplace is) but rather a fundamental shift in capabilities that enables a fundamental re-think from “what can we do?” into “what do we want to do?” offering a focus on growth and opportunity across industries and world-wide, including all sides of the equation – manufacturers and vendors, service providers, techies and end users and businesses of all sizes.

Clever ways to sell and describe products is a game that will not stop but a little consistency and clarity by vendors describing just what it is that they bring to the table would go a long way… (just like the relationships created by doing so).

I am open and interested to comments and either agreeing or opposing points of view… and come back next week for "Keep it Secure… the Business of Cloud."

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My Gardener is in the Cloud (redux): A Basic Cloud Primer

Gardener as a Service (GaaS)

Robert shows on Tuesday mornings, backing his little van into my driveway, throws open the back door and pulls out his kit: a mower some weeks, a blower others, always a rake and a trimmer… He unlocks the gate and goes about his work and within an hour or so he is gone. All that I need to do is have handy the garden waste bin. Oh, and an espresso: I have him hooked on this once-a-week caffeine rush.

That is, in essence, all that most people need to know to start to understand the cloud: cloud is a commercial model wherein you pay for a service, done as you need it to be done when you want it done without requirement for upfront investment or set-up fees: no purchases required! “Cloud computing” is a generic term for pretty much anything that involves delivering infrastructure or programs over a network. Essentially a figure-of-speech, cloud is hosted IT systems, or managed and hosted services, or managed applications or IT outsourcing… any of the above, or others.

While all true, Cloud delivery has three distinct characteristics which help to identify and to define itself:
1. It is typically sold in an ‘on demand’ model, typically by the minute, the hour or by capacity
2. it is elastic, meaning you can have as much or as little as you want or need at any given time and
3. it can be private or public (shared or not shared)

All of which still means it is basically a billing model… and now, back to Robert:
1. In the spring and autumn, Robert scales up to spend extra time preparing the garden for summer growth or for winter rest
2. Robert is also available on demand and can be scheduled for plantings and transplants, tree removal, or to pop ’round and feed the cat when we go away for a weekend
3. A “shared cloud”, Robert has 15 to 20 customers (whereas before he moved into semi-retirement he was a “private cloud” and took exclusive care of a family estate consisting of three adjacent properties.

Robert also has the knowledge to help me with what to plant, and where, for best results; what to buy and where to buy it; how to solve problems from pests to blight and, most importantly, picks up the approximately six million leaves that fall in my back garden each autumn.

I hope that Robert, my trusty gardener, has simplified this ‘cloud stuff’: the landscape is changing – as it always does – for technology professionals, users, buyers and their executives. There is, as always, an easy three step plan to get it right:
1. Start by documenting your requirements and the desired outcome, not to mention time and budget constraints
2. Collaborate with your vendors and overall supply chain to exploit their knowledge and expertise
3. Plan, plan some more, communicate and apply some rigour and governance to support success (especially since doing otherwise supports failure)

Oh, and, by the way: my cleaners are also in the cloud!

note: I've scaled down in size and in depth of detail to what is, now, I hope, a simple enough analogy that my 83 year old German Father in Law can understand, easily… your comments as always are welcome (the original, slightly more detailed blog entry)

Cloud Warnings

Beware the Cloud-ists!

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Let's start by saying that I like cloud and have done since well before it was called cloud. Clouds have featured in pretty much every solution I’ve designed in the last decade. These days, however, we have the processing power, capacity and bandwidth to enable smart, utility delivery of the commodity aspects of computing which is, in fact, very cool.

This utility delivery of computing resources – again, also known as cloud – is in many ways the stuff of which dreams are have the potential to be made… reduced risk, reduced cost and reduced barriers across what has become a much-simplified business to consumer to business loop.

Ultimately cloud enables a new layer of commerce by delivering increased service levels at overall (over time) reduced costs for computing and communications. Cloud also takes a more than half-decent step towards closing the "digital divide" by increasing availability and minimising or eliminating other barriers to entry.

All of which is of course a good thing, few would disagree. And all of which means that everybody: Businesses, Governments, Consumers, should drop everything and embrace the cloud as quickly as possible!

That last bit was sarcasm, by the way, and brings me to my point: beware the Cloud-ists for whom the answer to any question of technology is cloud. Cloud now, at all costs, to replace everything else.  It seems that, for some, cloud is so important that truth and reality and risk analysis no longer are!

Awareness is Good, Hype is Bad

Cloud Computing has struck a chord and captured the imagination of the public, business and Government in a way that other attempts at delivering utility model computing, ranging from On Demand to first generation SaaS and other such incarnations never did.

Everywhere you look are analysts blogging and tweeting about it: an unbelievable myriad of real-world experts (some of whom know about that of which they speak, others clearly who do not!) and shed loads of books with Cloud in the title have already been published with hundreds more to come.

And this is good, but it is also bad.  An interest in and an understanding of technology is good all round and enough hype and excitement will encourage a few more students to lean in this direction. New business (those that have primarily online presences) can start and scale for tiny investments. As mentioned, barriers are being reduced and eliminated.

The Cloud-ists maintain that private clouds have been a path for vendors to sell more hardware and software but the operational realities of how, physically and why, from a business requirements point of view, that the private cloud is actually delivered need consideration. Sometimes it needs to be separate hardware and sometimes logical separation is sufficient: the differences are subtle but significant. The solution will be based on insights derived from and the commercial realities that are calculated on the actual requirement: does it save money; does it make money; does it solve a problem; does it prevent a problem.

A similar and related misunderstanding that consistently confuses the business / technical relationship (creating more CIO v CTO arguments than could be imagined) is that of virtualisation. From the business view: it is a single blade running multiple instances of a machine so we should pay for a single computer.

The operational and technical reality is that yes, it is a single blade running multiple instances of a machine but each of those virtual machines requires software licenses, needs to be monitored and managed as though it were a separate machine. It may cost less physically but not from a process perspective or other resources involved, including not-inexpensive people.

Safe and Secure… or Not

The answer is again yes, both, but then again, maybe not… unlike the unequivocally positive (and in my opinion mis-informed view of  Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Digital Agenda) who claims, without qualification, that the cloud “is safe, is secure… like a locker that only you have the key and can put anything you want… and that it will always be there!” It can be safe, if safe is part of what you are paying for or if generally you are lucky. But equipment fails and if you are not paying specifically for a disaster recovery capability you can be pretty certain that you won't be getting a disaster recovery capability. And who is to say that you won’t run across Dirty Disk syndrome (where you can recover data from the sessions of the previous user or, worse yet, they can recover yours?) or other possible issues: we do know that the people who try to hack into systems seem rather clever…

As covered in this CIO Journal discussion, compared with real world, industrial strength managed service hosting solutions, cloud providers don’t negotiate service levels with you: you fill out a form; they don’t provide service managers with 24 hour service desk contact… more often than not the help desk is a web-form or maybe live-chat during core business hours (if you don’t mind waiting until their one-man support department is available).

That this star of the European Union goes on to say that “We are not pleading for a European Cloud, that would be old fashioned" is amazingly misguided, at best. Truth is, from someone who seems otherwise, well, okay, this is poor form.

And why would she bother? Forgetting the fact that government involvement in cloud computing is not a State issue – or at least not beyond data protection and other State-level policies or regulations – how is it that the 'vapour' of a new idea is suddenly so cross-popularised that Government officials have  decided to usurp it for themselves.  (And if the Government needs to get involved every time there is a significant shift in tech, where then  is the Department for the App Store or the Bureau de iPhone?)

Thanks to AWS for Proving my Point

The best summary I can muster will be to thank Amazon for their recent outages (note the use of the plural) to show what can happen with commodity cloud offerings.

But I also say cheers regarding major issues on delivery of an ‘upgrade’ at Royal Bank of Scotland / NatWest (a major UK bank) which also clearly illustrates that problems are possible, whether with “discount services” or with what were, at least until now, considered Industrial-strength systems.

Oh… and beware the Cloud-ists!

Why Publishers Don't Like Apps - Technology Review

The Delivery Vehicle is, has been and for sometime will be, the web

Why Publishers Don't Like Apps - Technology Review

Apps are not the wave of the future, merely another way to deliver web content – – and it is not financially viable and so cannot make business sense for every business, every publication, every content provider to create their own apps.

especially if they've looked at the future of the web, and HTML5…

and even more so if they have a clue about the sustainable economic use of tech to deliver value to a business (as opposed to costing it a fortune or it's existence)

So, when I read an article stating that maybe apps aren't the disruptor for media (nor a fave of media publishers) that they were thinking they might be, all I can respond with is "duh!".

This is exactly what I have been saying since this 'generation' of apps first appeared on smartphones – – and reinforced by LinkedIn's 90%+ HTML5 implementation of their iPad app

The Delivery Vehicle is, has been and for sometime will be, the web

And

This does *not* apply only to media delivery but to information creation, delivery and consumption… I would love to hear your thoughts after you check out this article

Why Publishers Don't Like Apps – Technology Review

 

My Gardener is in the Cloud: the original blog

My Gardener is in the Cloud aka Gardener as a Service (GaaS)

Robert shows on Tuesday mornings, backing his little van into my driveway, throws open the back door and pulls out his kit: a mower some weeks, a blower others, always a rake and a trimmer… He unlocks the gate and goes about his work and within an hour or so he is gone. All that I need to do is have handy the garden waste bin. Oh, and an espresso: I have him hooked on this once-a-week caffeine rush.

That is, in essence, all that most people need to know to start to understand the cloud: cloud is a commercial model wherein you pay for a service, done as you need it to be done when you want it done without requirement for upfront investment or set-up fees: no purchases required! "Cloud computing" is a generic term for pretty much anything that involves delivering infrastructure or programs over a network (typically but not always the internet). Essentially a figure-of-speech, cloud is hosted IT systems, or managed and hosted services, or managed applications or IT outsourcing… any of the above, or others.

While all true, Cloud delivery has three distinct characteristics which help to identify and to define itself:
1. It is typically sold in an 'on demand' model, typically by the minute, the hour or by capacity (such as disk space)
2. it is elastic, meaning you can have as much or as little as you want or need at any given time and
3. it can be private or public (shared or not shared)

All of which still means it is a billing model… but more importantly it is an exploitation of resources that moves pretty much everything to a different level and we'd be better served using it instead of spending so much time arguing about it. The 'cloud' handle, by the way, was taken from the fact that we solutions and network architects have long used a fluffy little cloud to represent networks (including the internet) on flowcharts and other diagrams.

The funny thing is that the tech community have long delivered services in what *could* have been called cloud, but wasn't. The evolution of computing, as characterised by high speed connectivity, massive scaling of computing power and cheap cheap storage combined with significant innovations in virtualisation and distributed computing (all of the above in terms of both costs and reliability). Add a weak economy and the related need to reduce the costs of sale and to reduce overhead in general and we have pretty much created a 'perfect storm', the nature of which we haven't seen since the appearance of a systems architecture approach known as SOA (a topic for a future conversation).

To illustrate a little further, let's go back to Robert:
1. In the spring and autumn, Robert scales up to spend extra time preparing the garden for summer growth or for winter rest
2. Robert is also available on demand and can be scheduled for plantings and transplants, tree removal, or to pop 'round and feed the cat when we go away for a weekend (Robert also adds value to my supply chain thanks to his expertise and any resultant economies of scale)
3. A shared cloud, Robert has 15 to 20 customers (whereas before he moved into semi-retirement he was a private cloud, taking care of a family estate consisting of three adjacent properties.

Robert also has the knowledge to help me with what to plant, and where, for best results; what to buy and where to buy it; how to solve problems from pests to blight and, most importantly, picks up the approximately six millions leaves that fall in my back garden each autumn.

Pardon the three sets of three, Cloud services are typically divided as either:
1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
2. Software as a Service (SaaS)
3. Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Robert again can be used to provide some apt illustrations:

IaaS, of which Amazon Web Services are a good example, is similar to Robert bringing along his own mower, blower and other tools: my flat rate fee, in this case, covers the petrol for his mower but it also covers me should his mower break down: he will have it repaired or replaced, at no impact to me. And Robert, I know, has some of his old equipment also in the van, just in case: I not only have no need to worry about such issues I also have no responsibility to deal with those issues… and each Tuesday I return home comfortable that I will not have a weekend of yard work in front of me.
Aka the utility model, with IaaS providers such as Amazon your 'server' runs on their hardware in a pay-as-you-go environment (similar to the way that water and electricity and metered and delivered to your home.

SaaS, or software as a service, involves Robert not only supplying the equipment but also that which needs the equipment to operate: from planting our spring purchases from the garden centre through to spending extra time working on the rose bushes or removing a less-than-healthy bit of shubbery. SaaS is a very broad market and is probably today's most common. Salesforce.com, Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 are all examples.

Which brings us to PaaS (and where the "Robert in the cloud" analogy becomes a little stretched but, in other ways, still can work as an example). PaaS is, sort of, a combination of the other two but with a different objective. In this case the customer creates and tests business solutions, over the network, using kit provided by the owner of the Cloud being used. (Force.com from Salesforce and GoogleApps – from a developer point of view, work as examples of PaaS).

I hope that Robert, my trusty gardener, has simplified this 'cloud stuff': the landscape is changing – as it always does – for technology professionals, users, buyers and their executives. There is, as always, an easy three step plan to get it right:
1. Start by documenting your requirements and the desired outcome, not to mention time and budget constraints
2. Collaborate with your vendors and overall supply chain to exploit their knowledge and expertise
3. Plan, plan some more, communicate and apply some rigour and governance to support success (especially since doing otherwise supports failure)

Oh, and, by the way: my cleaners are also in the cloud!

chains

re Guy Kawasaki post telling entrepreneurs to ‘just dive in’

• I'm usually in agreement with this gent but I think that he is over-simplifying things a little when he suggests that businesses 'just dive in'… like everything else, awareness and planning are required if only to ensure that there actually is water in the pool before you dive!

I am not suggesting that Consultants and Social Media Specialist Advisors are the right answer – nor that they are the wrong answer… simply that the question should be more clearly defined before answers are considered.

I wouldn't expect a small business to spend weeks in planning a Social Media strategy but I would advise that a clear and documented view of your requirements will help to determine which social media tool(s) can deliver to that requirement.

This type of planning starts with a few questions along the lines of:
– what is the need / the economic driver / the business result you are hoping to achieve;
– how will you know when you have achieved it;
– which cross-selection of the myriad of tools out there are the right ones to deliver to your objective
– do you have time / resources in place to define a process and then regularly execute and manage that process?

Once underway this type of process tends to steer itself towards helping you see more clearly just what are your needs, which, to me, makes it so much easier to fill them

in response to the question “How best to sell a solution in the technology market?”

One of the first challenges – and this is from the p.o.v. of one whose experience is based on a history of visioning conceiving and designing solutions – is to get all parties on the same page as to exactly what is the definition of “solution” in the current context…

But, to the original question “How best to sell a solution in the technology market?” I respond “by not selling a solution”.

Instead, sell a proposition which (once you all agree on that definition) is typically a compound of solutions.

To paraphrase myself from a post in a different LinkedIn forum:

In the world of organisations selling tech and tech-based solutions to business and government, a salesman requires the ability to clearly, precisely, quickly and concisely state:
– exactly what it is that he is selling
– exactly why his customer would buy it
– and why buy it from him rather than the competitor
– what his customer sees as the value what he is buying
– what his customer sees as value in terms of who he is buying from

I don’t mean as an elevator pitch or as sales material… these are the components of your account development plan or customer intelligence and without them I would suggest that you are only selling technology solutions and are not likely to succeed (or, if you have been successful are unlikley to remain so).

To get to this requires your clearly understanding which of your competencies, capabilities, credentials, etc. combine to form the correct proposition (solution, product, service delivery set – – take your choice of handles).

The proposition needs appropriate staging and presentation based on the needs and perceptions at a customer-specific level: what value will it provide and how will the ROI manifest, not what tech it uses or the world-class offshore development facility…

In my opinion, everything is secondary to what your customer sees as the value in buying it, and in buying it from you.


and a quick response to John: while I agree that change can be troublesome, it all depends on the objectives. To use random examples:

– if you are replacing the telephone system across a vast business organisation – or upgrading versions of Microsoft Exchange or other back office software – or even moving users from XP to Windows 7 then mimimised impact is required… and there are likely countless other, better examples but yes, sometimes change is bad
but
– if you are introducing a tech-based solution to transform a business unit, whether doubling output, halving resources or generally miminising costs, change is necessary and desirable: if the work packages being delivered by 10 people today will be delivered by 4 people, SAP and a dog next week then change is inevitable and is in fact a primary target of the exercise

True concern for the end user is laudable but only if that is what the man with the spreadsheet is paying for – which is of course the final part of the equation: once you know what it is that you are selling & why your customer would want to buy it, and from you then the next step is to ensure that you are selling it to the right person (another example: the IT department of your Local Government customer might not have VoIP on the roadmap until next year BUT VoIP in the contact centre would increase the base of people who can be employed in the contact centre – demand for contact centre resources as one of their current business issues base – by enabling simplified and connected home-working – – and in doing so offer employment to home-bound people which in turn provides extra “ticks in the boxes” around accessible employment targets.

and yes, it should be a great year!

Do feel free to contact me directly if you want to discuss further propositions as the basis for results in selling tech and tech solutions

In response to a question on LinkedIn as to what constitutes an effective sales meeting…

Let me start by saying that I am neither a salesman nor what a professional coach would consider a coach however I consult in the sales and pre-sales space around technology, IT services and outsourcing… and I have spent far too much of my life, like the rest of you, in sales meetings that were clearly NOT effective, and so would like to offer a few opinions on the discussion.

I agree with all everyone says about circulating agendas, themes, guests, schedules, outcomes, the responsibility of all to participate in the success of the meeting, minutes and all the rest – but publishing your agenda and encouraging participation and openness is standard for successful team meetings in most aspects of a business.

While I won’t tell you how to motivate your teams since I don’t know them or what they need, I do want to mention a few things that are sure to convert all of the aforementioned good work into an ineffective meeting:

– Facilitation: whoever manages the session should manage the session; the group needs to act like a team with a single conversation only

– Bad slides: I won’t bore you with detail – though I do hope that you know the difference (if not, let me know… we’ll talk)
o One way to fix it: pay attention, care, produce better slides (audience members: criticise poor slides when you see them… better to point out areas for improvement internally with peers than to deliver a bad presentation to your customer… then again, do you always needs to use a slide deck?

– Focus of agenda on interests of all: we don’t care how much Robert, Mark, Susan and Bill sold last year, this year or hope to sell next year… okay, we do care a little but do not require extensive reporting: the boss needs the deep detail, for the most part the rest of the team needs only an overview.
o Ways to fix it: mix it up, but things that might be valuable, depending on the needs of the owner of the meeting, include: did they do anything different on that recent closure; have they come up with an approach to have that ‘different kind of conversation’; tell us why they went after the CFO for that last deal and why it did or didn’t work;… in other words educate and inform the team with things that their peers are doing that could apply to their own space. One approach that I have used in the past is to ask each member of the team to provide one roadblock encountered and one roadblock cleared since the last meeting, the former to seek ideas and assistance, the latter to inform and pass on skills and knowledge

– Repetitiveness is boring
o Ways to fix it: rotating different team members as facilitators each meeting, charged with changing something from the last time and ensuring interaction during the session
o Boss’s choice: deliver something needed topically = it may be education one session, a customer / expert / exec speaking the next

– Show that you are listening and interested: capture and document ideas, plan how to take the good ones forward

If you manage some or all of the above, you will have people leaving the meeting not only feeling that it had not been a waste of their time – and maybe even motivated by someone else’s idea, solution or comments or, just as often, by the thoughts tweaked and synapses fired in his own head, generating the right answer for his issue based on the knowledge and interaction of the session.

All of the above is opinion, take it as you may… but one thing I can guarantee you is that playing ‘that’ scene from Glengarry Glen Ross is not the motivator that you might think it is.

HBR

The Truth About Cloud Economics: a brief intro to an HBR article

HBR-Logo1

The truth is, companies adopting cloud computing often miss the risk and depth of change needed to take real advantage of what is on offer

Not that this is so different from pretty much everything I've seen in a thirty year information technology career: from back office apps to front office transformation and from IT services outsourcing to full blown BPO, it is almost always resistance to change (attributable too often to poor communications) that can, on review, be identified as a root cause of the failure!

HBR state:

But the truth is, companies adopting cloud computing often miss the risk and depth of change needed to embrace a cloud economics model as they embrace cloud services. It turns out that the financial model for cloud computing has far more nuances for both a company and its cloud services provider than many people understand up front.

So what is the financial model for cloud computing? Let's start by saying it's a combination of how people make money in the cloud and the risks associated with adopting new payment styles. Many people assume it's all about moving to a "pay-as-you-go" (PAYG) model and while this is certainly a big piece of it, it also involves operating versus capital expenses, subscriptions to services, and customers paying for outcomes (not technology). The good news is that these models are already familiar to most businesses.

Companies routinely spend money on items vital to the business. They also trade operating expenses for subscriptions and services necessary for business operations, but not directly related to the business. This includes those that would otherwise be too expensive to own and operate (think electricity). They expense nonessential items to someone else who specializes in offering these items as a service.

Cloud computing is no different. Why should a toy or cosmetics company own and operate multiple data centers? It's much easier and economically sound to pay for a service for a short time period and then stop paying for it when you're finished with it, rather than wasting money on something another company can do better, faster and cheaper. But this can present issues for both the consumer of the cloud service as well as the provider.

For companies, cloud computing's new economic model stands in stark contrast to the traditional economic model of IT where we buy technology from a vendor as a capital investment and continue to invest in maintaining and servicing it over time. Traditionally, much of the money allocated to technology has been locked away in capital expense allocations used for buying physical goods. However, cloud services are just that, a service, and require reallocating money to operating expense budgets. This can be a big change when your company must still pay to maintain existing infrastructure. It may even mean that new lines of expenditure must be created if cloud services don't replace existing services. (And you don't need us to tell you how hard it is to create new lines of expenditure.)

The reward for this potentially painful transition to operating expense is that the business gains flexibility and the ability to buy the services they need when they need them. But if you're a CFO, you'll have to decide whether you like consistent or variable expenditures. Operating expenses can be difficult to predict and control because service subscriptions can come from anywhere at any time. Ask yourself if you have a predictable cloud requisition/governance strategy that makes future service acquisitions easy.

For cloud services providers, the PAYG model's flexibility lets customers scale their services up or down based on their needs. If the consumer can easily add or subtract resources and pay for cloud services in small increments, the provider has no guarantee of future business. Therefore, to reduce this risk, the provider must dictate service terms and conditions in its favor. But here's the problem: if the consumer assumes most of the risk, then he will never host a critical application with a cloud service provider. That would limit cloud computing's market growth to the set of noncritical applications or to small-to-midsize businesses that would rather use cloud services than build a $500 million data center in the U.S.

On the other hand, if cloud providers assume all the risk, then in most cloud environments (with multiple consumers), the amount of liability within a provider's service could be greater than the value of the company (which we all know is no way to run a business). And if the service provider cannot afford the insurance premiums necessary to cover the liability without raising prices to the level that the service becomes too expensive to consume…well, you get the picture.

So, to combat this kind of risk, cloud providers will enter into what are called "enterprise agreements," where the two parties can define the parameters of the relationship based on mutual risk sharing. Essentially, this ensures that each party has a vested interest in the financial success of the other party. There's risk, but there's also reward for better service.

In the end, providers that deliver better service and better guarantees will ask for — and get — more money. Consumers, on the other hand, will get the flexibility of "pay-as-you-go." As long as they can figure out a way to pay for it.

The original article can be seen here