The Singularity is Nearer, but Not for the Reason You Think

 

10/07/2013
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If you don’t know, the Singularity is Near is a fun book, written by Ray KurzweilQuoting Wikipedia, “Kurzweil describes his law of accelerating returns which predicts an exponential increase in technologies like computersgeneticsnanotechnologyrobotics and artificial intelligence. He says this will lead to a technological singularity in the year 2045, a point where progress is so rapid it outstrips humans’ ability to comprehend it.”Kurzweil is simply relying on the continuance of Moore’s Law which, simply put, is that computing power doubles approximately every two years.   So, what could accelerate The Singularity?  Technology would have to advance at a 2x increase, which I contend would be possible with quantum or DNA computing, but there’s a simpler explanation.CALL IT “MORON’S LAW”I contend that The Singularity will occur two decades sooner, or in 2025 because, (wait for it)…Humans are Getting Stupider, uh, Less IntelligentAs reported in the Huffington Post (where I get all my sciencey knowledge), IQ is on the decline, an average of 14 IQ points since the Victorian Era.  What’s causing this?  There is a lot of debate on environmental factors, nutrition, nurture, and the education system.  But, IMHO, the dumbing down of our intelligence is due to… computers!    That’s right smarty-pants Kurzweil, despite the fact he created the worlds-best synthesizers, he forgot to calculate that as computing power increased, so did the human reliance on that computing power.  As intelligence decreases, so does the    acceleration of the date when technology exceeds human’s ability to comprehend it.

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What Does it Mean?In 2011, when Ken Jennings lost Jeopardy to IBM’s Watson, he wrote underneath his Final Jeopardy answer “I for one welcome our new computer overlords.”  Social media companies and the government already have computers tracking your every move, both online, in the public square and even in your home*.  If you want a preview of the future, watch THIS.What Can We Do?Even though The Singularity is upon us, computers are not ready to take over.  What we need to do is accelerate even more the date of The Singularity.  Since innovating and advancing computer power seems beyond our capabilities, we certainly can accelerate the decline of our collective IQ rate, very simply.  Get on the couch and watch television, download more moronic apps onto your phone, text your friends about everything you’re doing.  My hypothesis is that we’ll become so useless that The Singularity will become irrelevant and when it happens, no one will even notice.So smrt, right? PCz*Hint – beware the cat About Paul Czarnik Paul is the CTO of Compuware where he provides technology strategy and investment leadership. A venture-technologist and programmer at heart, his hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.

Opportunity, Risk, and the Technology Gap

 

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You know them well – ready-to-go-technologies to leverage and disrupt.

Let’s just call them big-data, cloud, web-services and mobile-OS, although each term has been hijacked, scrubbed and polished to sell you something much less than the technologies really have to offer.  You have to be savvy enough to see far beyond the hype.

BUT…

…The technologies themselves don’t really matter, because there will always be something new.  Who cares?  Just pick up the next innovation as it comes.  It’s about continuous disruptive evolution.  Give me a problem to solve and I’ll solve it fast, today.  I have a full technology toolbox and I’m looking for business problems to solve, and if your business model is fat, dumb and happy, I’m going to disrupt you and take away your customers.  Go ahead, start a project; I’m leaner, I have smarter developers and I want to put you out of business.

Welcome to the New Normal.


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Opportunity and risk are the result of the technology gap and closing that gap should be your number-one priority.

–  Risk is doing nothing.
– Opportunity is exploiting everything
You think you know your competition?  Think about this: your competition is two students coding fast and furious on laptops out of their dorm room.   They’re just looking for that lucrative business model that everyone may think has already been solved, but they’ve figured out a way to do it better, faster, cheaper.  And that business model may be YOURS.

What to do? Act. Now. You can and should close as much of the gap as possible by leveraging service-based solutions that don’t provide any differentiated value.  This is commodity work; let someone else do it.  Delegate it, give it to someone who is really good at executing a project plan.  But get it out of sight so that you can use your brain and your talented staff to implement the differentiated technologies that will move your company forward and disrupt your competition before they disrupt you.

Example:  TV remote-control units have been mostly infrared units, requiring line-of-site to your video/audio system.  iRule, a Detroit-based startup (disclosure-we are an investor), saw the opportunity to create a remote-control app that leverages equipment you already own (smartphone, tablet, wifi) that not only creates a better user-experience (you can now put all your equipment out-of-sight) but also a cheaper alternative to the really expensive, proprietary systems.  They saw the technology gap in the older business models and had the brains, brawn and well, intestinal-fortitude to take on the risk for the sake of the opportunity.  They’re succeeding by not only continuously exploiting the technology gap but disrupting the competition’s business model.

I could go on and on, but so can you.  First, take a look at the technologies available.  Research them, then learn them, then, take a look at your own business.  Are you exploiting these technologies?  If not, take a REALLY close look at your competitors and ESPECIALLY start-ups.  If you see the disruptive threats, and chances are you will, get moving.   If you don’t see them, still get moving and disrupt yourself!  The Old Normal was about complacency – the New Normal is about cadence, continuous change at a continuous pace.

But, most importantly, make sure you have the technical talent on your team who deliver disruption to the marketplace.  I’ll talk more about this talent and what they’re looking for as we further explore the New Normal.

P-Cz

About Paul Czarnik
Paul is the CTO of Compuware where he provides technology strategy and investment leadership. A venture-technologist and programmer at heart, his hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.

Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.

“Everybody Codes!”

paul czarnik warcryThat was my battle-cry when I ran all the development labs which ran hundreds of product development projects a year with 1,500 technical folks.  Now, I did have specialists who did not code, but when I was hiring new talent, programming ability was high on my list of requirements.  When it comes to these non-coding functions, I was looking for a basic understanding on how code and data work.

Here’s why.

Programmers are problem-solvers and approach problems in a very unique way.  That is why there is only a small percentage of the population whose brains are wired this way and the solutions we build incorporate both engineering and creative disciplines.  Now that may seem counter-intuitive to the ‘build to the requirements’ approach, but most differentiated solutions that I’ve seen are based on technology exploits that most users are not even aware of, much less design for.  When you have an organization that’s steeped in code, everybody understands each other much better.  It’s easier for technical writers, QA specialists and Project Managers to do their job when they understand the thought-process that their development team is using.  As a technologist and business-leader, my coding background help me to communicate, motivate and reward programming excellence.  We even came up with a term, “Eagles” for the most proficient and prolific developers.  These folks were amazing and a convocation of Eagles could outperform departments of regular programmers.  Plus they were smart, and funny, and a joy to work with.

“I believe in Salespeople and Programmers”.

I’ve said this a million times and I’ll say this until I’m done.  This approach is perfect for the “New Normal“.  If you remember, the New Normal is the reality that technology has become so pervasive that it is becoming a company’s primary way to engage with their customers.  And in order to support this, every company must think of themselves as a technology company first, their main product or service is secondary.

BUT

If you want to consider yourself a player in the New Normal, you must truly invest in technology talent.  It’s amazing to me when I run into companies that claim to be technology companies when they do not have hard-core coders on staff.  They either outsource them or they believe in using “off the shelf” solutions.

Well, it used to be amazing, but now it’s just annoying.

As a person who has been fortunate to be surrounded by scary-talented programmers, I am going to start to take a hard-line towards these companies, because it’s just a waste of time and talent to acknowledge companies who produce no true, differentiated value with their technology.  I’m talking to 99% of the startups I run across and many good-size corporations.  They’re technical poseurs and they seem to get all the press these days.  It’s gotten to the point where I’d rather code than blog or attend industry events.  (Maybe I’ll start blogging in code)

I’m going to continue writing about this, because the New-Normal is real and I want to help companies understand the value of programmers, how to hire them, how to retain them, and how to leverage their skills to help your company compete and win!

OK, to sum it up, my favorite phrases:

  1. “Everybody Codes”
  2. “I believe in Salespeople and Programmers”, and…
  3. …oh yes, “Shut Up and Code”

P-Cz

About Paul Czarnik
Paul the former CTO of Compuware, a venture-technologist and programmer. His hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.

Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.

Transforming IT (and me) into the ‘New Normal’

pervasive-technologyTalking about the ‘New Normal’ is fun, until your CEO asks “what’s your plan?”

We, like most companies, are going through change which requires dramatic transformation in the way we do things.  Extreme application agility and operational leanness are mandated to service the way the business needs to run.

Welcome me to the New Normal.

As I’ve written about in the past, the New Normal is the reality that technology has become so pervasive that it is becoming a company’s primary way to engage with their customers.  And in order to support this, every company must think of themselves as a technology company first, their main product or service is secondary.

Working for a technology company with the main product being technology products and services means that EVERYBODY thinks they can do IT’s job better, faster and cheaper.  In many ways this is because EVERYBODY hasn’t considered the things that IT does very well, like securing business information, maintaining audit standards, ensuring export compliance, IP protection, disaster-recovery, business-continuity, keeping the networks operating, the data-center certified, should I continue?  IT all looks easy until you’re sitting across the table from an auditor explaining process-control and systems-of-record. #shoemakerschildren

Doing important work, however, doesn’t absolve us from transforming IT, because the business needs technology services that brings us closer to our customers.  Transformation requires a good hard look at some of the heavyweight systems and processes we’ve accumulated and quickly abandoning them while maintaining high service-levels and best practices.

ITIL, CMDB, CMMi?  We have to lean this out.  We need problem-solving and critical-thinking and most of all, quick delivery.  This requires staff that are adept to change and finding technical solutions to difficult problems.  That means taking the concepts and best-practices of, well, best-practices and incorporating them into the IT processes and services without the costs and burdens of implementation and certification.  Sacrilege, I know, but internal customers are asking for agility and value more than certificates.  Perhaps a lean MOU (memorandum of understanding) with customers and a simple RACI(responsibility assignment) matrix will serve as a guideline.

So, where to start?  We start by taking a good long look at budgets and staffing.  Hardware and software maintenance?  Are we getting value for that maintenance contract?  This is going to sound a little strange coming from a technology executive, but we should be getting discernible value for our IT spend.  Looking at budget also requires a good long look at contracts.  Many of these can be rewritten to our benefit if we work closely with vendors who are considered REAL partners.  Partners negotiate because good contracts bring more business.

What we don’t want to do is indiscriminately reduce headcount.  The New Normal requires new skills and people that have deep technology expertise are easily re-purposed.  Sometimes leaders have to encourage and mentor change, but it is quite easy if we are direct and transparent with staff.

OK, that’s all nut-and-bolts savings and we’re in the middle of executing projects based on these opportunities.

But the New Normal requires that we invest in areas that provide differentiated value to the top-line as well as the bottom-line.

So, how do I do that?  As a technologist I need to focus on ‘gap technologies’ that will elevate our business value to our customers.  If I write about it here, I’m giving away the differentiated value that we’ll provide to our customers.

How about you?  How can I help?  Let’s talk.  Give me a call, send me an e-mail, meet me at the Detroit Hard Rock, let me buy you lunch in our cafeteria.  Because differentiated value starts with a real conversation and, as much as I love to talk, I love to listen even more.  Hopefully we both gain from each others experience.

P-Cz

Filed Under: Tech Talk
About Paul Czarnik
Paul the former CTO of Compuware, a venture-technologist and programmer. His hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.

Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.

Top 7.5 Signs that Your CIO IS READY for the New Normal

 

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My colleague, Trisha Winter, in her last blog picked on CIOs who are NOT READY for the New Normal.  That harshes my mellow, so I’m going to talk about Super-CIO capabilities that show readiness for the tranformative world of the IT executive.

If you remember, the New Normal is the reality that technology has become so pervasive that it is becoming a company’s primary way to engage with their customers.  And in order to support this, every company must think of themselves as a technology company first, their main product or service is secondary.

This New Normal is unavoidable so companies need to make sure that they are setting themselves up to succeed.  This means starting with IT and the CIO.  If you are a CEO and your CIO matches these signs, it is probably time for a promotion and raise, not for you but for your CIO.

  1. Your CIO understands your business and collaborates well with line of business (LoB) peers.Technical leadership requires a bit of salesmanship and showmanship, so your CIO should brush up on her/his speaking skills, or go to open-mic night at the local comedy club.  Hey, if Dick Costolo of Twitter can do it, so can every technology leader!  Best of all, your CIO must understand your business from the inside-out.  So, look for that interest and enthusiasm.
  2. Your CIO understands all technologies in use by the company.Your CIO not only understands the latest technologies, but understands the applicability of these technologies to your business and is able to articulate the value to you and the LoBs.  The IT ecosystem and culture means fostering an environment where disruptive things like BYOD, IT in Marketing, etc. all work together.
  3. Your CIO understands what your customers experience when they engage with technologies that they use to do business with you.Tech performance is MOST meaningful in the experience that your customers have when they’re directly doing business with you.  Your technical leaders and staff must be appraised on technology customer-experience and be tightly aligned with customer-facing employees.
  4. Your CIO measures all ‘moving parts’ of your technology investments and understands the value and practicality of all components.As the saying goes “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”, an application, no matter how well it is developed, has at least one constraint that limits its performance. This is the basic Theory of Constraints, and great CIOs understand that application performance improvement is a complex, constant activity.
  5. Your CIO measures technology investments and technology performance against P&L.It’s a lofty goal to tranform IT from a cost-center into a profit-center, and ‘New Normal” CIOs will at least understand their value related to the performance of the company and will constantly work towards improving both the bottom and top lines of the company
  6. Your CIO understands big-data.  New Normal CIOs can articulate how big-data Volume, Variety, and Velocity can affect your company, and has added the fourth ‘V’alue benefit to the discussion.  ”Big Data” is an overused term, and some technology companies are trying to equate it to ‘just another buzz word’, BUT, the technology itself can and should be transformational into insight into sales success and customer retention.  Your CIO should be well-versed in discussing how real-time analytics can help your company.  If they have a problem describing the value, have them call me and I’ll teach them a card-trick on how to illustrate the value of big-data.  More on this in a future TechTalk
  7. Your CIO has implemented DevOps ‘best-practices’ and has created new ‘better-practices’ that differentiate your company from your competition.To me the word that best describes good DevOps processes is cadence.   Developing and deploying apps on a cadence fosters communication, collaboration, discipline, agility and leanness to your Development and Operations activities.  My favorite acronym is FUD = Focus, Urgency and Discipline.  Your DevOps teams should look at your competitors and figure out ways to expose their technology weakness and exploit your strengths in the marketplace.

7.5 BONUS! Your CIO has afternoon “thought-experiments” with his cat.
P-Cz


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About Paul Czarnik
Paul is the CTO of Compuware where he provides technology strategy and investment leadership. A venture-technologist and programmer at heart, his hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.

Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.

Big Data? Let’s talk about LITTLE data!

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OK, I’m going to stay on tech here, away from the politics of big-data, because you can draw your own conclusions.  By now EVERYBODY has heard about ‘big data’, the information companies gather and what the government requires they acquire.  I personally have been involved in ‘lawful intercept’ projects and understand the technologies and laws that govern access. The fact is that ‘you’re opted in’, whether you like it or not, so when you think about what’s possible, you have to think of unlimited instrumentation, unlimited storage and unlimited computing power.  Everything is easily captured and quickly stored, ready to map(reduce) and query.  I’m not talking about batch analytics against a data-warehouse.  I’m talking about REALTIME analytics against realtime data. SO WHAT? Let’s talk about some use-cases that we can all easily understand.  Let’s instrument every vital sign occurring with the physiology of our bodies.  Everything event, every mood, every anomaly, every failure, every improvement.  Let’s map that against health models developed for our personal demographic and across geographies and populations.  I think we all understand that the benefits far outweigh the risks or politics and the technology exists to do this.  And even though it’s BIG DATA, it’s really the LITTLE DATA  that has the greatest benefit.  Did I eat a healthy meal or did it spike my blood-sugars.  Did my exercise improve my blood pressure or did I have a sudden unhealthy rise.  Does a cancerous cell that turned up in a fellow human have anything to do with my future risk for the same cancer, and can it be circumvented with preventative treatment?  Does the PERFORMANCE of my peers indicate PERFORMANCE for me and my descendants?  And, again, I’m talking about realtime-actionable information and predictive-long-term health benefits. HOW ABOUT YOU?  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO CIO’S? Since everything is possible and the use-cases limitless, it’s up to YOU as a TECHNOLOGIST to figure out what that means in your job.  How does data and fast access allow your company to find and retain customers?  Of course it depends on your industry so if you truly understand your target-customer and their compelling-reason-to-buy, what you need to understand about them should be quite obvious to you.   Assuming you figured out what data you need and how you acquire it, the trick is not to deluge your business peers with massive data-analytics, but to provideACTIONABLE analytics that your company can use to to improve and grow the business.  Think of it as a continuous process, based on your knowledge of your customer and the data they individually provide you and the collective intelligence that they communally provide you. So, when your CEO asks you what you’re doing about BIG DATA, you say “It’s the LITTLE DATAthat I’m interested in”.  And after she corrects your bad grammar, you can explain that while BIG DATA focuses on Volume, Variety and Velocity, LITTLE DATA focuses on VALUE. P-Cz About Paul Czarnik Paul is the CTO of Compuware where he provides technology strategy and investment leadership. A venture-technologist and programmer at heart, his hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music. Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.

Personal Performance Advice from a CTO

July 18, 2013 by Paul Czarnik

“Listen, here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then YOU are the sucker.”

Paul_Rounders

The opening line to Rounders is about poker, but the idea certainly applies to many things.  Replace the setting from poker-table to boardroom table and ‘sucker’ with ‘non-performer’ and it should give us technology executives something to think about.

  • Am I the team-player or the prima donna?
  • Am I the disrupter or the disruptee?
  • Am I the communicator or the turtler?
  • Am I the performer or the non-performer?

If you don’t know who the weakest person is at the table, then it’s probably you.  And you’re gonna lose.

Personal Performance Begins With a Mirror

When I look myself in the mirror every morning, do I see a person ready to take on the day or someone trying to get through the day?  I cannot ask my staff and systems to perform unless I personally commit to my own personal performance:

  • Nutrition -I subscribe to a paleo lifestyle, which helps deal with the complexities of a technology lifestyle.
  • Fitness -I do daily workouts, focusing on activities which reduce stress.
  • Sleep -I wish I got the recommended level of sleep, but I wake up after 6 hours, so I try to spend early morning time in quiet activities.
  • Brainpower – Multitasking of the brain is a myth!  In order to simulate multitasking, my brain needs to ‘swap out’ of memory current tasks and ‘swap in’ new work.  This is non-efficient, stressful, and will actually degrade brain function.  I take on a task and do ‘deep thinking’, focused on the task at-hand.  Quality brain activity is much more valuable than quantity brain activity.  So many people are trying to be massively scaleable on task completion; I try to be massively good at a few tasks and  find myself much more satisfied with my productivity and the quality of my work.
  • Career – I work for a meritocracy, where personal performance improves career goals.  If I did not work for a meritocracy, I would find a company that embraces meritocracy or become an entrepreneur again.
  • Relationships – This is the most important thing! Personal relationships are important for quality-of-life.  Professional relationships are important for quality-of-career.  I try to pay special attention to all relationships.

Now I am far from perfect, but I do know that performance starts with me and personal performance really isn’t indicated by how much I eat or how many push-ups I can do.

Personal performance is about Focus, Urgency and Discipline (FUD).

The point I am making is that although we try to quantify performance with metrics and statistics, it really comes down to a subjective and qualitative analysis based on a commitment to performance.  And this starts with ourselves making that commitment, both personally and professionally.

P-Cz

Filed Under: Tech Talk
About Paul Czarnik
Paul the former CTO of Compuware, a venture-technologist and programmer. His hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.

– See more at: http://insidetechtalk.com/?p=5525&preview=true#sthash.oWjFJnU6.ZIgYkxSa.dpuf

What’s at Stake With IT Failures? Business Operations, IT Reputations, and a Lot of Money

As a CTO with 35 years of experience in IT, I know the value of technology performance. I understand how failures, slowdowns and interruptions can hobble a business and hurt the bottom line. Or at least I thought I understood. New information from a study my company recently commissioned has opened my eyes to just how costly IT performance issues can be, and how deeply damaging they can be across an organization.

What I love about this study, “Measuring the Business Impact of Technology Performance,” is that it isn’t focused on e-commerce. Instead, it gathered input from companies across the brick-and-mortar business spectrum – finance, retail, healthcare, manufacturing. This is so important because today technology is a vital part of every business, not just web-based businesses. Even more interesting is that it surveyed Line of Business (LoB) executives and IT leaders. This perspective allows us to see how differently those two groups view the influence of technology on a business.

The Numbers Tell the Story

The good news is that, although they ordered them a little differently, IT and LoB both have the same priorities when it comes to technology investments. They listed the top three as follows:

  • Increase speed of manufacturing and production.
  • Increase speed to market/to the consumer.
  • Ensure product/service quality.

The answers are a perfect example of how IT performance issues will impact a business across the board. This point is highlighted again in the study when respondents were asked which areas of their companies they would describe as “critically dependent” on technology operating efficiently. Of the 11 areas listed as options, 10 of them received what I would consider high scores from both groups. But this question also brings to light an important area of LoB/IT disconnect:

“While IT and LoB executives are in agreement with regard to the most ‘critically dependent’ areas, operational aspects such as supply chain, manufacturing and shipping/ receiving are considered more critically dependent on technology by IT executives.”

I believe this stat reveals two things: That IT is becoming more and more integrated into the business, and that IT needs to better communicate the ROI of technology failure avoidance and performance to LoB executives.

Here’s another example of how differently IT and LoB can perceive technology issues, seen through the prism of what it means to be “back to normal” after an IT failure.

How long did it take to get back to normal operations?

  • LoB executives said 24 days
  • IT executives said 11 days

That’s the definition of “disconnect,” and a huge red flag for anyone who’s concerned about IT’s reputation with the c-suite. Here are three more stats from the survey that aren’t helping perceptions of IT:

  • 80% of respondents say major technology performance issues are recurring.
  • 75% say issues are persisting or getting worse.
  • 48% say these issues are occurring several times per week to every day.

Building a better reputation for IT is going to demand strong technology advocates with access to LoB executives and the C-suite. A thriving company by definition must have a thriving and respected IT department.

What are these technology performance failures costing businesses? LoB and IT executives’ averaged response for a single technology failure, the short-term costs related to operations, sales and marketing are significant: $10.8 million, on average.

I’ve been in the technology business for more than three decades. I help customers think about technology performance and how it impacts their infrastructure and their business, and while many of the findings were validation of what I’ve long advocated, even I was surprised by a number of the figures in the study.

Finding Opportunity in Complexity

Technology has become a foundation for business — it supports everything from R&D and manufacturing to sales and customer service. That makes for a lot of moving pieces. Plus, today’s customers and employees have far more influence and power than ever before, so IT is no longer just a back-office issue — it’s in the back, in the middle and out front driving revenue.

What this all means is that today’s CTO needs to advocate for a complete technology performance strategy. Half measures won’t cut it — not when other companies are investing in disruptive technologies that will give them an edge, both at the enterprise level and with customers. And that advocate needs to be a change agent, someone who can break down silos, someone who understands why IT and the business need to come together in ways that will benefit both. Because, let’s face it, things aren’t going to get less complex from here.

Paul Czarnik is Chief Technology Officer at Compuware.

Note to Self – Be Careful When Doing Interviews

I don’t mind giving interviews.  But it can be rather surprising when an interview turns into the written word, especially when English isn’t the primary language.  No complaints, the journalist was pleasant, but the writing makes it seem that English isn’t my primary OR secondary language.Read for yourself!

Incorporate the FUD principle to succeed in IT- Focus, Urgency and Discipline
By Paul Czarnik  CTO-Compuware
Sunday, June 2, 2013

Detroit based Compuware(NASDAQ: CPWR), is a provider of integrated solutions for enterprise IT including IT portfolio management, application development, quality assurance and IT service management. Founded in 1973, the company holds a market cap of $2.41 billion.

Technology drives the pace of transformation for the world today. However, technology has far outpaced the ability for most companies to exploit it and has created massive opportunities for organizations that understand its functioning. The companies that are willing to take risks and invest for the future are going to turn out to be the successors.
Looking at technology from a programmers view, it is important to wear the “programmer hat” at all times, even if sometimes the technological approach conflicts with the business interests of the partner. Deciphering a company’s technical assets gives more insight into the corporation rather by reading through a balance sheet or marketing material. A positive mentality can consistently contribute to positive outcomes that the entire organization can rally behind.

Big Data will Transform Businesses

Although the widely talked about technological term has been co-opted in different contexts by different individuals, the single biggest foreseeable trend in technology is “Big Data”. In the true sense of real time analytics, Big Data is calculated from the abundant data sources that companies and third parties have amassed. The potential of this technology to transform business operations, sales and customer support is such that it is anticipated to prove devastating to those organizations that ignore this phenomenon.

For instance, how Big Data can help a healthcare company. Let’s imagine a situation of an epidemiologist, who is responsible for identifying flare-ups of infectious diseases as early as possible in an attempt to avert an epidemic or in a worst case scenario, a pandemic. In previous years, combating this problem used to involve relying on infectious disease specialists at the point of care reporting to national governing bodies that in turn contribute to a global database that would require queries to identify new outbreaks. Big data will sound the death knell to this cumbersome process. Big Data can permit a form of collective intelligence wherein all of the information, from the point of care and the labs and pharmacies, is fed in real time with standing queries and visualization tools to flag incidents as they occur in real time. With enough data from one model to the other, it is possible for the epidemiologist to move past identifying the trend in progress and skip right to predicting where the next outbreak is likely to emerge. This insight enables critical resources and caregivers to convene on the scene and perhaps inoculate the populace before they come in contact with the vector.

Entrepreneurs will “leapfrog” Current Business Models

Leveraging Big Data is one of the methods by which healthcare will benefit greatly from technology in the coming years; the current healthcare model will change drastically as entrepreneurs will “leapfrog” current business models and government regulations and take solutions directly to patients. The healthcare industry is antiquated and outdated and it will take a new generation of caregiver entrepreneurs to disrupt the current systems. 35 years ago, work on a universal medical-record format was abandoned after discovering that doctors and hospitals considered medical records their intellectual property. This is one scenario that is quickly changing.
With regards to the initiatives to keep the team technologically abreast of the competitors, it is important for a leader to be enthusiastic so as to wake up every morning at 5 a.m. and read, research and most importantly program. The only way to stay abreast of emerging technology and the competition is to stay involved in the technology. This includes running personalized products in the company’s internal production environment and to give the value that is promised to customers.
Technology has far outpaced the ability for most companies to exploit it, and that has created massive opportunity for the companies that “get it” and are willing to take the risks and invest for the future.

Effort and Initiative matter more than an Educational Qualification

The biggest pain point seen at Compuware and specifically across the industry and around the world is in a deficiency of a skilled workforce development. To combat the same, young individuals have to be trained to take on the technology jobs that are currently unfilled. However, one major drawback is that students are not very well informed about the growing market opportunities. This information gap will lead to many students not finding their true job where they will excel. In the current decade, effort and initiative matter a lot more than just a plain degree. The best way to overcome the shortfall is to begin teaching students coding techniques at a young age. It is the current generation’s responsibility to plant the seeds of pragmatism in the tender minds.

Hence what a company can do to succeed in its endeavor is to replace the traditional acronym of FUD-Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt prevalent in certain areas of industrial lingo, with that of Focus, Urgency and Discipline. These are the principles that have guided my principles, my team and Compuware as a whole. (As told to Vignesh.A)

Preparing for the Next-Normal in IT Transformation

nextnormalThe phrase ‘new normal’ has been used a lot in technology, marketing and even has it’s own TV show on NBC (I’ve never seen it). The term ‘New Normal’ is fine for understanding what is happening today, but CIO’s really need to focus on a few things when planning  for  ’the NEXT-Normal’ .

BE LEAN  Why plan for the Next-Normal? Because it will be here much faster than you can imagine.  Business and technology trends are moving so quickly, tech-leaders must be attentive to new enablers to support the business.  Exploiting these technologies require that you also be lean and agile, so that you can quickly make decisions that will differentiate your company from the competition.  I have primarily used the term ‘lean’ in context of ‘lean startups’, but now am applying the same lean principles to IT transformation.  It’s not about saving money; it’s about IT ‘health’, much like being lean in your physique is about your personal health.

plansvbudgetPLAN, DON’T BUDGET   Let’s start with last years budget.  I’m not asking whether or not you were over or under your target, but did you execute on the priorities you originally planned?  I would guess that most of us would say “things changed” during the year.  Our IT Department never even uses the term ‘budget’.  We call them ‘plans’, because we understand that business priorities change, technology evolves and people change their minds.  We are chartered to maintain financial governance but we are evaluated based on value, productivity and innovation.  A good plan beats a budget any day.

FINE-GRAINED TRANSPARENCY  The next thing to do is account for every penny that is allocated, and do it for every business-unit, corporate entity and customer you support.  It’s a lot of work but the Next-Normal requires that you provide services competitively.  Does this mean that a business group can bypass your services for outside services?  YES!  In the past, this was called ‘shadow-IT’ and it was a good excuse for corporate IT to command control. Command-and-Control is gone; the Next-Normal requires Communication-and-Collaboration.  Yes, it is a good idea to take advantage of centralized services where operational scale means better value, but internal IT must be cost-competitive and be able to prove it.  Fine-grained analysis provides the transparency needed when transforming IT to the Next-Normal.

ThumbsUpHIRE PROFICIENT, PROLIFIC PEOPLE   Finally, the most important part of the Next-Normal.  Being lean is about running your organization with less people, but higher talented (and pricier) staff.    I have experienced much greater success with a smaller group of highly-skilled technicians than a large group of ordinary technicians or a super-large outsourced group.  The ‘Next-Normal’ in IT requires you to have smaller teams of talented individuals who are smart, motivated, optimistic and goal-oriented.  This is where you demonstrate your value to an organization.  The ability to hire and retain such staff is a skill that you must have in the ‘Next-Normal’.  It’s the same skill that you must have with your customers to ‘communicate and collaborate’ with your staff so that they operate in the same ‘lean’ philosophy across your organization.  I find it very easy to justify more expensive, local talent that delivers results than a large organization with large project schedules.

START THE NEXT-NORMAL TODAY!  So, how does an IT Department make the transformation?  First, by NOT considering it a TRANSFORMATION.  The Next-Normal requires constant change, so transform yourself into an entrepreneur running a startup, embrace the startup relationship with your internal customers, and motivate staff to become startup employees. Learn more about the consumer driven IT strategy forcing all this transformation talk here.

Want to learn more about “lean”?  Go to theleanstartup.com

P-Cz

 About Paul Czarnik

Paul the former CTO of Compuware, a venture-technologist and programmer. His hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.

Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.

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