Archive for August, 2007

Another (tiny) step towards electronic wallets

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

My dream of using my mobile phone to replace all the useless tangible items in my wallet (like cash, credit cards, debit cards, memberships cards, receipts, loyalty cards etc) is clearly some way off, in the UK at least.

Royal Bank of Scotland is the latest UK bank to offer a contactless payment card.  But targeting 12 McDonald restaurants in London by October as being capable of taking the payment?  Exactly what use is that?

Come on UK banks – we need more ambition here.  The technology is surely available to jump the next 14 tiny steps and take one giant leap into the 21st century by enabling us to use our mobile phones as wallets?

Maybe APACS needs to get together with the mobile phone manufacturers and create some standards?  Or maybe we need to think more widely.  Is this a job for Monitise?  I suppose Monitise are too payments focussed, so to get loyalty/membership cards in the mix perhaps Nectar need to get involved too?

Or maybe there is a new business venture here – perhaps a spin-off from a major tech company, a mobile phone manufacture or even a forward thinking bank?

Surely the rest of the world is miles ahead of the UK here – can anyone enlighten me?

Software Product Maturity

Friday, August 24th, 2007

I asked our CTO, Dave Moss, if he fancied writing a few guest posts on this blog, on the topic of developing a software product.

I think blogs should represent the views of the author and that there should be a single author.  However, you may recall me saying that Dave is the “techie” I respect the most of all I have met.  So having read his first effort (below), three comments sprung to mind:

  1. I totally agree with his views in this instance and, therefore, since they exactly match my own, I am happy to put them on this blog in my name.
  2. Dave is one of those rare CTOs who has acute commercial focus and places the highest emphasis on customer need, when evaluating product development objectives.
  3. The writing is in Dave’s hand and his analogies stink!  So I refute responsibility for the way the message is communicated.

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75th post – age old subject

Monday, August 20th, 2007

I was surprised to see that this is my 75th post after only starting the blog in February of this year.  When I started out, I guessed that posting a couple of times a week might strike the right balance between boring people to death, balancing my work/life time demands, and making a contribution of at least some use.  After 26 weeks I am slightly ahead of target.  Natural enthusiasm one might say, or just poor forecasting as my board would no doubt argue….and let’s not even discuss quality issues just now!

Anyway I really risk boring you here, as I am on my old hobby horse – the inability of IT people to be smart enough to understand the business and make a meaningful contribution at all levels of the enterprise.  In particular the worrying emerging trend seems to be that CIOs are losing their seat at the board table.  This article in Computer Weekly is typical of late.  American readers should note that we Brits see less difference than you between a CIO, and an IT director, and the terms are often used interchangeably here.

Transatlantic idiosyncrasies aside, the important point is that the top IT job in the enterprise is losing power and voice.  This worries me because IT really ought to find it easy to justify its seat at the board table in the vast majority of large organisations.

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Why are some IT people so blind?

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

I once met a financial adviser who offered to help me sort out my finances.  Within five minutes of meeting her, she had told me what I ought to do.  I had not given any information about my financial affairs, my needs, or desires, yet she was proposing a structure for my financial arrangements, based on one single fact, that I was a director/shareholder of a company.  Needless to say, she did not make the sixth minute of the meeting.

This morning I read more coverage of the stupidity blindness of IT people, this time observed by Lorraine Lawson at IT Business Edge.  In her post How You Talk about SOA to the Business, it is clear that IT folk are still keen on pushing SOA to their business counterparts.

This has really gone on long enough.  Do you think business people really care about SOA vs EAI?  Whether you think of SOA as a tool, an infrastructure, a methodology, or a technology, it is invisible to the end user.  What is visible to the end user is whether or not a business problem has been solved.

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Dear WordPress, am I a geek now?

Friday, August 10th, 2007

I am so impressed with WordPress – it is the platform for both my blogs.  But I may have stepped over the line in my loyal devotion, because I am the new, and proud, owner of a WordPress T-Shirt.

I’m so proud…but am I a geek?

I now have two real concerns about wearing it.

  1. The only people who will recognise the logo will be geeks, and I will look like one myself.  Do I have to stop shaving?  What do I do if I get approached and asked an awkward question?
  2. As a Manchester City fan, the colour red (Man United) is anathema to me.  What if people think I am a Man United supporting geek?  Come on guys, can we please have a blue T-Shirt next????

Lloyds TSB keeps on offshoring

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

I may have to rethink my last post about UK banks not being evil, after reading that Lloyds TSB subsidiary, C & G (formerly Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society), is shifting 210 IT jobs to offshore centres.

Lloyds has a history of progressively off-shoring IT, call centre, and back office jobs to India, so one can only presume that they know what they are doing and understand the full impact of off-shoring.

I just hope they are doing it for the right reasons and not just to save cost.

What frustrates me most is that we have the means to be so much more efficient in our own country without having to ship jobs to distant, remote locations. Perhaps the problem is one of misguided management, and management turnover, combined with pressures to report results in ever shorter cycles.  If I was a middle manager in a bank, and was targeted with short term cost savings, knowing that in two years I will be in a different job, so my third year measures won’t count against me, then I guess I would take a short term view too.

UK Banks are not as evil as you might think

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

When you work in an industry as highly regulated as financial services (and I have worked there both directly, and indirectly) you come to expect the odd scandal.  Pensions mis-selling, current account charges, ATM usage fees are just a handful of the recent uproars from financial services customers in the UK.

The latest decent sized revolt has been over “unfair” bank charges imposed on customers whose accounts have gone beyond their borrowing limits.

There is a danger of victimless crime syndrome here.  People who say “the Government should pay for our rubbish to be recycled” conveniently ignoring the fact that the Government is funded by us, the taxpayers.  People who make bogus insurance claims believing that “the insurance company has loads of cash and can afford it”, conveniently ignoring the fact that if everyone took that view, then the insurance industry would implode, meanwhile the do-gooders suffer ever increasing premiums.

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IT – supplier or partner?

Monday, August 6th, 2007

I read Todd Biske for a balanced view of enterprise architecture and a particular focus on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).   His recent post titled Is a competition model good for IT? got me thinking.  Todd wonders if the IT department should be a supplier to the business, and compete against outsourced providers and vendors, or be a “partner, not a supplier”.

Those of us in the blogosphere come from many backgrounds and we all have different roles to play.  My view on this topic is obviously influenced by my role as part of the vendor community but I hope that will not put you off hearing me out. (more…)

Pillow 2.0

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

I am putting a business plan together at the moment.  The current draft is labelled Version 1.2.  I fully intend to publish it at version 2.0 so as to gain speedy approval.

If you don’t already read Jeff Nolan you should.  His recent posts on “Bubble 2.0 got me smiling.  Bubble 2.0?  Try Bubble 144.0, (I am trying not to be gross).

Technology is not new – it has been around since man.  Investing is not new either.  As long as there has been a means of trading intangible “promises” such as stocks and futures (and in my country this goes back to at least the 16th century but apparently there is some evidence of commodities futures trading in China 6,000 years ago), there has been the prospect of a decent bubble, driven by human greed, and a propensity to follow the pack.

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