Archive for July, 2007

The future of payments in London?

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Had to laugh at this announcement from Barclaycard.

The three in one “OnePulse”card:

1.  Chip and PIN card – your regular debit card
2.  Contactless payment card (but only in participating retailers and only in London)
3.  Oyster card (contactless travelcard for the London Underground)

Barclaycard call this “the future of payments in London” which really falls short in ambition for me.

Why can’t I import all that functionality (and more) onto my mobile phone so I don’t need a card at all?  That sounds like the future of global payments.

However, despite this derisory post, I must admit that I will be applying for one, as it does look like the best we’ve got in the UK right now, and at least it means my Oyster Card can go in the bin.  That is, unless Barclaycard have read this and terminate me as a customer! 🙂

Rogue IT and hardware

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

The Blue Prism Rogue IT survey has generated quite a lot of coverage, but I was particularly interested to read Rogue IT and magic wands by Patrick Ancipink.

I am one of the people that falls into the trap of forgetting about the harder parts of the infrastructure, in particular, networks.  Not only do they “just work” but everything is plug and play these days isn’t it?

In the hype surrounding software architecture and particularly SOA, it’s easy to forget that hordes of IT people dedicate their time to making sure that the software has a hardware infrastructure to feed it.  Furthermore that this community has the same concerns about alignment of business and IT objectives.

BPM is a workaround then, or is it SOA?

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

This press release landed in my in-tray this morning.  The basic premise is that enterprises are turning to BPM because the major systems (ERP, CRM etc) have not delivered the required flexibility in business processes.

There is a long held belief in the Build vs Buy debate that you either build and have a system that perfectly (or nearly) matches your business processes, or you buy a packaged application and change your business processes to what should be best practice.

But best practice (at least as determined by the software vendors) has some conceptual problems.  Firstly it assumes that all businesses are the same (they are not!).  Secondly it assumes that business users will accept the new processes (and so will their customers).  Thirdly it broadly ignores the existing IT infrastructure which varies enormously company by company.  Finally, it doesn’t acknowledge the massive amount of necessary change in business processes on an ongoing basis.

I think what we are seeing here is a user rebellion against large “benchmark” systems and the users are trying to address this with their own workarounds, or with BPM or similar.


Too much too soon?

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Ann All has an interesting piece commenting on David Taber’s views on the use of process improvement techniques such as six sigma.

I think David is absolutely right to suggest that using six sigma too early can stifle innovation and reduce the chance of new product success.


Rogue IT is rife but that’s OK say IT managers

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

About to be released to trade press and on the Blue Prism website, since readers of this blog contributed to the survey (thank you), here is an advance copy of the press release.

Rogue IT: Survey highlights rogue users in 67% of organisations. 

Budget and resource constraints and a focus on strategic projects inevitably lead to pockets of rogue behaviour.

A strong governance model where collaboration between IT and the business is encouraged would help control rogue IT behaviour according to 75% of IT respondents in a recent survey conducted by robotic integration company, Blue Prism.  The survey highlighted that almost seven out of 10 (67%) organisations see elements of rogue IT behaviour from business users as a direct result of IT department budget and resource constraints and a necessary IT focus on strategic rather than tactical projects.

Despite the traditionally held view that all IT departments hold a dim view of rogue behaviour by users, the survey highlighted that IT fully understands why pockets of rogue behaviour exist, yet is pragmatic when asked for the best way of dealing with it – suggesting governance (75%) rather than introducing measures to eradicate it (10%).

So why does rogue behaviour exist in organisations? IT has the unenviable task of managing strategic, business critical projects while at the same time helping the business user with tactical change requests, so this mismatch between user expectations and IT focus is perhaps the answer.  Over 52% reported that working on strategic projects was the main focus for their department with 40% saying that delivering day to day business change requests was their priority.  The survey also highlighted that users expect projects to be delivered to ever shorter deadlines, with 86% of IT respondents believing this to be the case.

However, satisfying all business needs is often not possible given the strategic focus of IT teams versus the volume of change requests required by the business.  More than 71% of respondents cited IT department resource constraints as the reason why they are not able to satisfy all requests from the business followed by 67% of respondents who believed that IT department budget constraints were the key factor.

Of those surveyed however, 52% believed that they are able to satisfy over 75% of change requests and only 10% of respondents felt that they were able to manage fewer than 25% of requests.

Commenting on the survey findings Alastair Bathgate, Managing Director of Blue Prism said “The perennial problem in enterprise IT is how to manage the day to day demands of the business and business users within the confines of departmental budget and resource constraints and the pressure to deliver high level strategic projects. In this environment it is tough to find the budgets and resources necessary to address the raft of small changes that business users want.  It’s good to see the IT community acknowledge that users should be given the power to work on their own solutions, although there is a salutary warning from the survey that this should be done with tools approved by IT under an appropriate governance model.”

The survey also explored the question “What do you consider to be Rogue IT?” The following table provides this summary. 

    % of respondents
1 Vendor application installed without IT knowledge 100
2 Installing personal software 83
3 Locally written scripts in VB or other language 56
4 Local Access databases 50
5 Complex Excel spreadsheets 39
6 Using SaaS solutions like apps 39
7 Macros in Word/Excel etc 28
8 Terminal emulator software macros 28
9 Other 11