Archive for the ‘Navel Gazing’ Category

2008 Predictions – how did I do?

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Last year, just for a bit of fun, I joined the ill advised forecasting fraternity and soothsayed my way through 2008 making wild guesses about UK enterprise software trends.  Looking back, how did I do?

  1. The credit crunch will continue to affect IT spending for 2008.  This will mean a trend away from major IT projects and smaller more incremental projects will be more in vogue.  A new born baby could have predicted this one but I certainly didn’t envisage the scale of the problem caused by Lehmans in September!
  2. The length of time senior people stay in post is ever reducing.  This will continue to drive short termism and this will strengthen the enterprise resolve to look for incremental, rather than big bang change.  Executive bonuses are frequently paid against cost/income ratios or short term profits.  Major investments in large capital projects do not pay back in the required time period to fulfil bonus aspirations.  I don’t have any data on this but I sense it is even more pertinent right now as we stare gloomily into a “short term or bust” depression.
  3. Software as a Service (SaaS) and the like will become increasingly adopted by the enterprise as business users vote with their feet on offerings from the internal IT department that are too slow, too expensive and too capital hungry.  Not sure about this one.  I probably expected more of my customers to move to salesforce.com for example.
  4. Despite this, Web 2.0 technologies sold as Enterprise 2.0 (wikis, social networking, mashups et al) will be slower to take off despite the buzz.  Still agree here although very recently I’ve seen one or two people thinking a bit harder about internal social networking/KM etc.
  5. SOA will continue to be hyped by the big vendors but successful case studies will still be slow to emerge.  Anyone who has a real genuine success story where a meaningful ROI was derived, please ping it over.
  6. Enterprise IT departments will start to realise that they need to align themselves more closely with the business.  They are ideally positioned to advise the business on how to use all IT, whether internal or external, built or purchased, collaborative or silo based.  The IT function will hopefully start to be seen as a trusted adviser rather than an obstructive gatekeeper.  I have sadly seen little evidence of this in the UK.  I have sincere hopes for 2009.
  7. The percentage of IT budget spent on compliance issues will increase, especially in UK financial services where CCA 2006, MiFID, TCF (Treating Customers Fairly) and SOX, for example, will all feature.  In retail banking right now, compliance/legal seems to be the only reason for budget approval of a project.
  8. Security will remain a critical issue and automatically features right at the top of every CIO agenda. Because of various high profile customer data leaks in 2007, data protection will be a big ticket initiative in many large organisations.  Another one that anyone with damp ear behinds could have predicted – related to compliance (above)
  9. The green agenda will gather momentum with all organisations attaching increased importance to social and environmental responsibility. “Green computing” will be one of the hyped phrases of 2008.  The phrase was hyped but once the credit crunch started to bite, green credentials slip down the list behind business survival.
  10. And finally, I hope Blue Prism will continue to grow rapidly, serving and adding value for all its stakeholders: Customers; staff; business partners; investors and government (taxes).  Happy to report a record year of profitable growth.

Happy Birthday WorkForceInABox

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

This weblog is one year old – hip hip – hoorah!

As this is also my 111th post, cricket fans will understand why I am writing it standing on one leg.

Rather than wallow in cringing self congratulation, I want to use this opportunity to congratulate WordPress, the platform of choice for the grown up blogger.  WordPress has supported both my blogs for 12 months without the merest hint of a problem, which is more than can be said for my ISP.

I only wish our corporate website was so flexible.

UK Enterprise Software – 2008 Predictions

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

“If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then unto me.” -William Shakespeare

And so I confidently assure you that some of the following predictions may come true in 2008, and some may not.  Anyway it’s a bit of fun at the end of a year to speculate wildly about next year.  My job takes me into a wide range of enterprise sized organisations and I speak to both IT and business people.  Here’s my top 10 predictions for UK enterprise software, based on no more than anecdotal evidence collected from friends, customers, business partners, sales prospects and competitors: (more…)

Thoughts on running a software company

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

I was pleased to read From vision to execution by Ismael Ghalimi.  I’ve spoken to Ismael a few times and I know how much of his life he has put into Intalio.

In this post he comes across as an exhausted inventor who has finally seen his new gadget rolling off the production line.  It is hard work launching an enterprise software company.  I know because I have tried it.  Many of Ismael’s comments could apply to Blue Prism equally.  The issue of market timing resonated in particular.

Does this mean that there is a degree of serendipity about the chance of success?

I wouldn’t pretend for one moment that Blue Prism has yet reached “success” whatever that is (and it means different things to different people).  Like Ismael, I am very encouraged by progress, especially in the last 6 months, albeit the first version of Automate was released in 2004, some 3.5 years ago and, let’s just say that meeting our revenue forecasts was much harder than anyone expected.

It can be lonely at times as a Managing Director (try not to weep).  When I used to work in a bank as a middle manager I had any number of peers I could relate to, and discuss ideas and issues with.  Since that is no longer a route open to me, I try to find peers outside the company.  As a result I know quite a few people who either run (or used to run) enterprise software companies.

This got me thinking.  What are the key characteristics that determine a successful MD or CEO?  Obvious requirements that might spring to mind might include:

  • A keen aptitude for marketing
  • Technical vision
  • Ability to inspire people
  • Financial astuteness
  • Ability to sell
  • A propensity for making customers happy
  • The gift of the gab

Looking across the successful people I know, the most important characteristics are none of the above.  They are energy and determination.  Fortunately, both characteristics that Ismael has in Spades.

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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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????

Navel Gazing

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

I just read  Why I Blog by the Agile Elephant (Jordan Haberfield).  I’ve noticed a few other blogs become introspective recently, must be the holiday season.  This week I’ve been looking in the mirror too.

The last few months have been really hard work in my day job and I’ve not had time to do much, other than work.  In particular, my physical exercise has been almost non-existent.  I admit to being a little overweight but throughout my life I have always kept reasonably fit.  Not so in the last 6 months.  I like Steven Covey’s thoughts on this.  Habit 7 – Sharpen the Saw.  It’s really important, so my mid-year resolution is to exercise more and (hopefully) lose a few pounds, and boost my energy levels.

I have also been thinking about blogging.  I started this blog in February of 2007.  I had been running an internal blog at Blue Prism and figured that there was nothing very secretive so why not share my thoughts more widely.

There was also a commercial element since firstly, people who read this blog are more likely to encounter Blue Prism and secondly, I can explore some concepts that are helpful, or interesting to us (e.g. the Rogue IT Survey).  Having said that I absolutely reserve the right to write about what interests me and that frequently has no relation to my employers.

So, for the record, here’s a few things you may or may not want to know about me and why I blog:

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Sharpening the saw

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Taking Stephen Covey’s advice I’ve just been away for a long weekend (Fri to Tues) free of laptop and mobile phone.

I thoroughly recommend it to anyone.  At first you feel naked without digital communications and then you start to relax and really enjoy.  However, returning home tonight I couldn’t wait to get back online!

For the record I was mostly in Cornwall (one of the most beautiful parts of the UK).  Well worth the six hour drive to get there.  Any visitors to the UK should definitely try to get down to The Eden Project in St Austell – truly inspirational!  If you live in the UK you have either already visited, or have a visit planned.

Email Updates

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

By popular request (one person asked) you can now get email updates from WorkforceInABox by entering your email ID in the box in the right hand column and hitting “Subscribe Me”.  Easy peasy.

On WordPress, Akismet, and Spam

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Being new to the blogosphere and having taken various recommendations to go with WordPress (which I must say I am very happy with), I was not initially concerned about spam.

Following the recent receipt of two spam comments, I decided to enable Akismet.  In the last two days things have gone wild!  Akismet has captured nearly 200 spam comments across the two blogs that I run.

Whilst I am delighted that Akismet has intervened, I am nervous about enabling people to leave comments without moderation.  I have never refused to allow a genuine comment, positive or negative but I am trying to balance the benefits of allowing un-moderated comments versus the risk of getting spammed to death for those that get through the Akismet filter.  Any more experienced bloggers out there with any advice?