10 Rules Enterprise Technology Groups Need to Start Living By

Over the past ~15 years or so I’ve had the opportunity to engage with enterprise technology groups in one form or another whether it be designing solutions with them, consulting for them, selling to them and now, actually working within one.

As a result I’ve had a front seat as they’ve been dragged into a new world where they’re no longer the place where employees are amazed at the cutting-edge technologies they get to work with at the office, but instead a place where just keeping up with the latest technologies has become a massive challenge (Hands up if you work at a big corp and you’re still on Win XP, Office 2003 & IE6).

Compounding the problem is the accelerating pace of technology evolution – not just for the applications and hardware already in the organization, but the growing number of applications and devices they’re expected to support. 25-30 years ago it was a putting a computer on every desk, today I personally have a corporate desktop, laptop (2 actually), blackberry and iPad. Then you’ve got the applications, the intranet and all the servers to run everything. What it boils down to is 100’s of thousands of moving parts that they’re responsible for and that number is only increasing (oh, and did we mention your budget has been cut back?).

So with that context I do think there’s some areas where technology groups could make their lives easier. Most, if not all, of the following rules really only require a mindset shift to implement (easier said than done, I know) Continue reading 10 Rules Enterprise Technology Groups Need to Start Living By

Unconsciously Killing User Experience in the Enterprise

After ~18 moths in a large organization, I’d be hard pressed to find a statement that fills me with dread more than: “Oh, we’ve got this great new system that you can enter your request in now” – No sooner have those words left someone’s mouth and I know that I’ve just lost hours of my life and in short order, will likely start sympathizing with those people who snap in the workplace.

It happens easily enough – A team within a department are tasked with cleaning up their processes and building or configuring a system to automate all that tedious data collection and information submission. It’s a task that is approached with the best intentions but often goes horribly astray at some point along the way. The reason? The Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) begin thinking of themselves as the ‘users’ and when that happens, all hope is lost.

Heck, if it’s a system that only the SMEs need to use then go for it, knock yourself out. Unfortunately though, more often than not, the intentions of these systems is to get users from outside a department or work group to submit information to the SMEs in a consistent, organized fashion. The problem? They’re not SME’s – they don’t know what you know. Actually, the problem in these cases is that YOU don’t know what you know. Continue reading Unconsciously Killing User Experience in the Enterprise

App I’m Loving: Waze

Got turned on to Waze the other day by my friend Mike – in short Waze is a GPS navigation app for mobile devices that uses the users data, both passively and actively collected, to update their maps and provide traffic and other details. The app in turn uses this data to route you around traffic, give you heads up on potential speed traps and lets you know about things like construction or other hazards to be aware of.

It’s easy to use and oddly addictive they’ve put just enough game in the app to keep you interested in proactively adding data to it but also passively leverages the folks who just drive  around with it on and don’t want to contribute additional data on their own.  I especially love the touch of them adding ‘candy’ bonus points to the map to areas where they need more data about the road – a great way to encourage the harder core members to venture down that street. You can even have the system prefer to route you over those spots – don’t think I’ll be getting THAT into it, but you know there’s some keeners out there. Continue reading App I’m Loving: Waze

Change Don’t Cost a Thing

A few months ago I was in a meeting where we were discussing the future vision for a set of technologies that would help enable employees in a variety of contexts. The challenge of course, is the ideal state of all of these technologies requires infrastructure – and it’s usually not cheap. As a result,just about every conversation came back to “Our infrastructure won’t support it.”

The default position of many organizations is to adapt the users behavior to fit the infrastructure rather than building an infrastructure to support the desired behavior. I suggested in the meeting that we needed to do a lot less of the former and really focus on the latter which of course, predictably, was responded to with “Do you have any idea what that would cost?”

Actually yes, I do.

Nothing. Continue reading Change Don’t Cost a Thing

My Theme for 2012? Create.

My holidays usually start with a decompress period of a few days followed by a sudden restlessness that usually results in a whole bunch of projects around the house getting done. This year, though I could feel that restlessness, there wasn’t the motivation for getting jobs done, but rather a creative restlessness. I wanted to make & create things.

In figuring out what to do I finally realized,  for the most part, I had completely backburnered any of my creative pursuits over the past year. With the exception of our Hawaii trip in August, I probably took as many photos this year as I did in some individual months in years past. I haven’t been blogging and my photoblog has been sporadic at best.

As I pondered it further I realized that when I’m not creating, I’m just not happy and I’m not creating new opportunities or experiences for myself.

So my theme for 2012 is going to be “Create”.

Create: Opportunity

One thing I’ve noticed is since I’ve started letting my blog & other content outlets go quiet so too has my connection with the local community. Social tools like Twitter & Facebook are great for the odd passing conversation but I’ve been missing the deeper discussions that a good blog post can help kickoff. Twitter & Facebook  have also meant I’m often not developing or sharing ideas deeper than what I can cram into a Twitter status update.

The ultimate result is the loss of opportunity. Opportunity for ideating, sharing, and connecting – that has to change this year.

Create: Change

I’ve made good use of Netflix over the holidays and caught up on a variety of documentaries that I’ve been meaning to see, many of them of the “the system is broken” persuasion – the unfortunate side effect is it’s left me riled and frustrated at the whole situation. While over the years I’ve done work with some organizations  trying to bring about social change in one way or another (tcktcktck, SiG@MaRS, Community Power Fund, Windfall Ecology Centre, ChangeCamp etc.) those opportunities have been few and far between and I know I’ve missed opportunities to contribute more – so I’ll be watching for more opportunities to create change this year.

Create: Community

One area I’ve really let slide over the eighteen months or so is around helping create community both online and off. Toronto’s way overdue for another VizThink, and the BarCamp we hoped to have late last year never quite materialized. I hope to help remedy both situations this year.

I also want to start reconnecting with the start-up community in the city – My experiences in a variety of start-ups over the years is just not getting used in my current role at the bank and from time to time I get that start-up itch again. I’d love to scratch that itch more actively in an advisory or mentor capacity for some of the entrepreneurs and start-ups in the city. (know someone who’d be interested? let me know!)

Create: Accountability

Finally, I want to create some sort of accountability for this year. So friends, real, virtual or other – please call me out this year if you think I’m slacking the the “Create” department.

I hope everyone has a great 2012 – I know I’m looking forward to creating one for myself.

– Ryan