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Author: Sam Kurien
•1:26 PM
CIO's today wrestle with more than just technology and the market demands that today's CIO's  be more than the technologist and the evangelist they are called to be. In fact they are more like CEO's in the sense they need to have keen interest in the business needs, future strategies and be an active part of ensuring that critical information churned out by techology support delivers timely info to the ground workers, people in field and empower the management/stakeholders of the organization. This is true for this role in Profit as well as Non-profit worlds.
The most important things that the mordern CIO must do is quickly identify business customers (internal and external)  to make sure the priorities are classifed and fit first within the IT operational plan and the strategic plan of the organization. Working with IT steering and governance committees,  trimming lists of the systems involved and streamlining applications and ensuring qaulity and efficiency are the outputs with a good reporting plan in place.

The second order of business would to standardize communications so key customers, stakeholders and field gets monthly and quarterly updates in regular fashion along with the insights of how the information can be used and what they really mean.

Thirdly defining a portfolio management process for evaluating and prioritizing projects across the enterprise that will have to meet organziational goals, objectives and be part of the strategic vision of the leadership. Key areas that fall into this broad area are that effect mainly the customer relationship management, communication management, events management and project management. 

Along with the primary three I know infrastructure managment (99.99% up time), application success, data and events all take considerable time in the life of the CIO's role, the success of the CIO then will be judged in the ability to manage expectations, supply & demand and be the chief neogtiatior of/for customer satisfaction while continually focussing on th big picture of projects in the bigger vision and calling of the orgnaization.

Thoughts,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•12:48 PM
The enterprise architecture function provides value add to the enterprise if conducted, observed and applied correctly. In fact it is among the top questions senior management wants an answer from its EA group as they propel forward in pushing technology as a optimized strategy and service level component.  The EA group should approach by addressing the value question posed by lending clarity to organizational processes, identifying the stakeholders (internal & external) and creating  a matrix of value chain expectations that are measurable and reportable to the senior leadership.

The matrix essentially has weights attached to it and the EA group can go as specific as possible. The complexity rises if there is a PMO office and multi-level projects and programs are being executed in tandem. The weights of the matrix should try to constitute or answer to a value class that your EA group is trying to address to show results. These value classes' primarily relate to strategic direction, portfolio management and continuous process improvement for service programs and project initiatives. 

In the strategic direction class the EA group is demonstrating the understanding of the strategic initiatives of the organization as it should/would represent a state of representation some time in the future. This will mean creating and adhering to standards, best practices and how closely alignment happens on EA investments to the overall arching organization's mission and vision. 

In the portfolio management the EA group is demonstrating a how portfolio of programs and projects are managed, how is value being assessed for transformation in relation to achieving the objectives of the programs being implemented, the lessons that are being learnt in terms of adjustment to planning and alignment to strategic objectives, improvement of internal and external communication. 

Finally in terms of continuous process improvement for service programs and project support the EA group will strive to demonstrate how each member's time are directed to projects tasks, knowledge management, skill sets orientation, training all based of feedback built within systems. The feedback becomes input to next release of improvements for high value returns. 

Thoughts,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•8:41 AM
Recently one of our clients is going through a major transition of implementing new systems with few other vendors, actually a chaos of new systems interacting with each other. The implementation has been rushed and  though the system functions as they are supposed to as stand alone out of the box solutions without fulfilling much of the business's initiatives. There are some major vulnerabilities within the system architecture, the implementation has been driven by lack of understanding of the domain and the business logic that drives it.

I spent less time reading about vulnerability research and QA control mechanisms, but the current implementation  at XYZ corp. has spiked my interest back in this area. The vulnerabilities market for security experts is not as lucrative as it used to be but I suspect this will have its own economic shift cycles as information and services of organizations move more into the cloud and SAAS based environments.

Currently there remains a lack of information awareness and a gap (along with a huge divide) among the IT professionals within small and medium scaled organizations (non-profit & for-profit). And more importantly vulnerability research being a part of the CIO's responsibilities and policy making functions; my recommendation here is that information technology directors and CIO actively create policies and conduct periodic penetration and vulnerability testing on all their IT infrastructure systems internal and the ones that they stick in the cloud or out-source, these include but not limited to sql injection tests, malware checking and reporting, social engineering hacks, reverse-engineering of services and products, mobile management of BYOD as wells company supplied and routine network testings.

Create policies that aim  for zero-day vulnerabilities in such a way that annually (or every two years) an IT auditing firm's view point is gathered and incorporated in the discussions of strategic planning with senior management.

Thoughts,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•6:08 AM
When organizations grow in business complexity in terms of products and services they offer, the senior management is always concerned with if resources are being effectively used and if the stakeholders (internal as well as external) are getting the right returns on their investments. Hence in the market lots of software products that do multi-portfolio management of projects and programs. Most of the products out their aim at managing the project life cycles but a true EPM will take into consideration the entire top-down planning approach to include strategic planning, investment analysis, capacity planning and tune it with the components of Demand & Change management in lieu of projects that are being executed. They also thus take into account resource management and pop in the dashboard metrics related to them with the monies or finances being allocated and thus incorporating or integrating components of Financial management.

Strategic Planning in management of enterprise portfolios entails about how mission and objectives align with the strategies and tactics employed in execution of projects. A true EPM will thus allow to manage trade-offs before taking or executing that strategic path, allow for accurate assessment of allocation of funding and staffing and most importantly employ strategy that covers the entire business continuum plans.

Investment models within portfolios then make it simple if employed correctly within EPM to identify the risks associated, calculate the cost, evaluate the value variances, and give clues how best to optimize the project investments, balance innovations to sustain business continuum processes.

This then from a operational point of view helps in portfolio management to plan for capacity where demands of the business and resources are matched to support the key business strategies. A EPM software will thus give you an understanding where the resource are lacking, what is the excess capacity that can be transferred or reserved, and forecast resource capacity within the framework of roles and responsibilities of individuals on various teams at different times on various projects. Capacity planning is closely aligned with metrics that demand management cycles produce like number of work requests, status checks, incident and problem requests, mean time between failures, life cycle reviews etc.

At the granular level of EPM then is the ability to track projects, their scope, time lines and actual costs to the project value to the Enterprise. Tracking of project times against expenses, managing associated risks, and getting quick snapshot views of projects and their progress in lieu of organizational objectives.  The financial management and resource management are tied in closely  and portfolio manager can look in using the EPM software that link organizational financials to project plans and strategic initiatives to the final operational delivery of products, programs and services.  I personally haven't seen a EPM that gives clues or hints to what is the level of strategic alignment in terms of operational delivery of the four P's (programs, projects, plans and people) to overall strategy in a assigned % form even if there are lots of qualitative data involved.

Finally on my wish-list would be plug-ins for EPM's that will allow for high level integration with all office products and project management software's to give operational PM's up to date instructions and get up to date feedback on projects in action which in turn populate the EPM dashboard.

Thoughts,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•9:55 AM
Everybody talks about "Change" and importance of "Change management" as the only "constant" with dynamics in the global economy changing rapidly. Global competition necessitates that traditional organizations service or product line models incorporate innovation for on-going differentiation.  However little is said about the Change Agent leaders who lead this change. One of our clients (I will not mention the name) is going through a change management process. My observations on this are little effort has been made by the leadership in understanding the business model of how and why the change needs to be done along the lines how to lead by participative trust. Instead the model of "divide and conquer" is assumed making the change management process a painful, chaotic and chasing after the wind affair.

I think the fair questions that a change management leader needs to ask before he embarks on one are:

  1. What are the main dimensions of innovation that can be brought before disrupting a business model holistically?
  2. How do I enable my organization to pursue business model innovation?
  3. How does the role of technology, software and people integrate in supporting my business transformation?
I feel answering those three questions goes in parallel with self introspection within the change leaders and may translate to something like:

  1. How am I contributing to build this organization and how can I involve the existing people so that growth takes place in them as well?
  2. How can I be innovative myself ...what the changes that I personally need to make before I dictate?
  3. How am I using technology, software and people skills to support my transformation in alignment with the business transformation?
 Circling back then on the innovation organization go through different models of business innovation to facilitate change this can be customer-centric, process innovation centric, or supply chain centric. In the past lot of emphasis has been given to customer centric innovation but management specialists have realized the internal stakeholders are also a type of customer who make up the organization and provide the services. If change is not accepted by the them, change management and change initiatives will fail, even if you alienate them or throw them out of the organization.

My suggestions are simple here:

  1. Understand why the change and outlay the metrics for transparent discussion
  2. Be the change first before you dictate change.  
  3. Involve everybody in the road map. This takes time but is very essential. There are proponents who may say we don't have that kind of time...but believe me if this is not done well ...we will be spending lot more time and resources fixing stuff. 
  4. Improve responsiveness and service with love and trust. (Boy this is a hard one!!) 
  5. Optimize pricing, think or creative sources of funding.
  6. Research, monitor and gather feedback, incorporate back the good and refine the process. 
Change is the only constant but how we manage this change will enable our constancy in the marketplace.


Thoughts,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•8:03 PM
After setting up multiple displays at home and because of cable clutter I could not move my left side monitor, based on desktop identity - so to fling a window to the left monitor I had to go through the monitor on my right and drag the windows to the one on the left. This was frustrating but a cool windows trick helped to get this resolved quickly. Holding down the Windows logo key along with shift and using left or right arrows key literally moves the active windows to the left or right monitor.

For your reference other cool short cuts I find routinely useful on the keyboard are Windows logo key + T to launch pinned applications on the task bar; Windows logo key + spacebar to get quick peek on the desktop; Windows logo key + L to lock the computer to avoid those intrusive office workers; Windows logo key + 1,2,3 each number when pressed in launches application in the order they are pinned on the taskbar; and finally the lazy man's delete highlight the file and press shift + Del keys on the keyboard and it will bypass the recycle bin completely, not useful if you want the file back by any chance. 

Cool short cuts!!

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•3:58 PM
The importance of Enterprise Architecture continues to grow in all directions with the obvious demand for technology integration row along with the demands in governing it more tightly. Four observations that will demand higher indepth look and role of EA's.

1. Business demains and integration of technology
2. IT Governance over project initiatives and tightening of financial belt
3. Globalization - Need for business's to explore opportunities beyond their current boundaries.
4. Process improvements that are integrated with technology

What does this mean for enterprise architecture?

The C level executives (CEO, CIO's , CFO's & CTO's) all need to recognize EA cannot be a back office or support component instead needs to be a design/strategy component in the initiatives of the organization (be it operational or strategic expansion). This means going beyond just the "IT alignment" and prioritize and drawing the big picture in such a way that EA/IT strategy is highly integrated. This in trun means information architecture will be guided by constant tapping into business intelligence, process optimization, and enterprise evaluation of on going strategies. Leading research firm Forrester believes business process modeling and having master data plan will help in giving this information.

The impact of globalization on EA will be taking on action plans of how an organization needs to be flexible in addressing the local needs to global needs and this may also reflect of strategizing how EA strategies address mature markets and developmental markets. For example one of our clients an association is struggling to manage an explosive growth in the African market without understanding how to balance the mature market needs and facilitate the developmental inititaitves in the African continent. This offers not only a financial challenge in enterprise organization and its impacts on enterprise architecture but presents significant puzzles that need to be solved in setting up sound business and operational processes.

Hence next generation EA will be focussed on holistically thinking, integrating and strategizing keeping the big picture in mind. Technology and business process are no longer separate but fused for every individual in the company is a tech-knowledge worker that contributes in supporting the short term and long term objectives of the organization. In closing then the biggest result in this direction will be decentralization of organizations instead of centralization of power, the diagram below is taken eBiz'g guide to IT agility which shows that one solution or custom solution that fits all will lead to constraints and higher cost to mainatain these application but customized self-service solutions that are designed or architected to be adaptive for future growth (provided this info is gathered by analysts and planners) result into richer distributed outcomes which are decentralized in nature.


Thoughts,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•8:46 PM
All those who know me (well most of them) who know me know I love watches and am a collector of good watch designs. I came across this Harry Winston designs and love it.





And my favorite design of all time "Maitres-du-temps" (Masters of Time) with only custom ordering to specifications.


Enjoy and drool! Like I am doing now.

Cheers,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•9:17 AM
DA send me this video link, I think though still in concept its is so cool and is not far in our future as we have seen bits and pieces of all this cool research from different quarters of surface computing.

Enjoy The future is round the corner!!!


Cheers,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•9:43 AM
The InOne concept computer is really a cool looking design and as the name suggest its a All in one Desktop (not a laptop as it may look like one) with a 22 inch screen, keyboard, enormous touch pad. My design/engineering thought on this one is as I wonder is it would be a cool idea to take the touch-pad and use gestures to light up and bring up a keyboard, or turn into a second dual screen for display, for comparing of data  images, pull and pinch and throw stuff (minority style) from the top screen to the touch-pad screen. 




Thoughts,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•4:31 PM
Look at the picture below; This actually is a Yacht? Well in concept anyway but this one can be on the high seas as well as take off into air (now that is cool.. unfortunately no space yet according to the design schematics and non-availability of alternative unlimited fuel sources). I have slight issues with the design but ah alas ...every ship designed cannot be an "Enterprise" after all  but it's cool nevertheless. These concepts of hybrid air-sea-ships come from the ekranoplanes originally invented by the Scandinavians.


However the credit actually goes to Russian hydrofoil engineer Rostislav Alexeev who perfected the art of building these behemoth air-sea-ships.There are several you-tube videos out there if you do a search on "ekranoplanes".

As I look at it again...hey it almost does looks like the..."Enterprise" almost!...or I am just dreaming

Enjoy!!

Sam Kurien

P:S My four year old daughter saw this post and she said it looks like a "Killer whale". I agree more like killer whale than an Enterprise
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Author: Sam Kurien
•8:08 PM
I am really pissed at this news, alas my hearties your favorite pirate's pillaging days are over. At least that's what I want you to think mates! BAE systems is the responsible company with this new laser targeting systems that will blind attackers and intends to make the Somalians miss when they take aim with their weapons. The technology is said to be low-cost but when it comes to deployment the cost is expected to escalate. The laser low cost distraction system as the folks at BAE call it can send the signals up to 1.5kms to let the pirates know they have been spotted. A beam will be send if the pirates comes closer that will dazzle or shock them. I wonder why wouldn't they come up with a zero point energy phaser. Then I can carry one too and quote from one of my favorite Star Trek quotes: "Phasers: Because sometimes Diplomacy fails"

Cheers,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•4:19 PM
Statistical Inference is all about using and applying the language of probability to say how trustworthy are you on the conclusions you make out of your data. When we talk about inferring from the data we naturally talk about the significance level. How significant is a claim on to the true side of a proposition? The simple idea is an outcome that would rarely happen if a claim were true is good evidence that the claim is not true.

"Significant" therefore in statistical sense necessarily does not mean how "important". It just simply means "not likely to happen just by chance" represented by an alpha  makes "not likely" more exact.

Now what kind of weird logic is that...LOL

Cigarette companies in their advertising campaigns have an internal rule that if they show a woman model smoking she needs to be of an average age of 25, realistically its always been lower than 25 as revealed by a famous statistic experiment through tests of Significance. I find this interesting. Was just discussing this that you can have knowledge of all statistics and formulas but its application to make sense in the real world is one of the forms of Godly Wisdom.

Thoughts...

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•9:55 AM
True to my previous post entry the service transition phase heavily depends on the the Change management process and can be enumerated to have the following, I have attempted to keep my explanation blurbs small and self explanatory:

1) Steps : The steps are the actions an ITIL implementer will take in handling a change, including handling issues and unexpected events during the service transition

A good idea to remember here is why is the change implemented, what benefits will it derive, the risks associated to it and what impact will it bring in the service delivery.

2) Sequence: as the word suggests is the chronological order in which steps should be taken with any dependencies and co-processing that is or may be involved.

3) Responsibilities: Include the definitions and descriptions of tasks undertaken by individuals and teams.

4)  Time Definitions: Will encompass the timescales, thresholds, and schedules for the actions to be undertaken.

5) Escalation Procedures: Escalation procedures specify who should be contacted and the timing for this contact.

The primary goal of Change management is to respond to change and the sources are mostly customers, competition and market threats or opportunities. The objective of the CM process then becomes that all changes are recorded, evaluated, authorized, prioritized, planned, tested, implemented and documented.

Thoughts for today...

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•9:40 AM
I want to record some key processes and activities involved in the Service transition of ITIL implementation and as time goes by will talk about these topics on different contexts and case studies. For now the main activities I can think of are:


  • Change Management
  • Service Asset and Configuration Management
  • Transition Planning and Support Management
  • Service Validation and Testing phases
  • Release and Deployment Management
  • Evaluation of Change
  • Knowledge Management
Thoughts,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•1:04 PM
Availability Managers ensure that the service provided from the service catalog are met and delivered to the customer's utmost satisfaction. The primary responsibilities of the availability manager include:

  1. Ensuring that all service deliveries fulfill and match the established SLA's
  2. Ensure and categorize that all levels of availability of services, escalation and solutions are provided in time
  3. Validating that final designs meet minimum required levels of availability
  4. Assist in the exploration of all incidents and problems that cause availability issues.
  5. Participate in the IT infrastructure design that entail hardware and software in relation to availability fulfillments.
  6. Finally establish and use Availability metrics to measure availability, reliability and maintainability of services.
I think the last point entails a major percentage of the Availability manager's job and its important then to list the most commonly used metrics that a AM uses. To measure availability of a services one can subtract the amount of downtime from the Agreed service Time (AST), divide the result by the AST, and then multiply this number by 100 to obtain a percentage.



The reliability of a service can be measured in either MTBSI or MTBF which is mean time between service incidents and mean time between failures. To calculate the reliability of a service in MTBSI you divide the available time in hours by the number of breaks in service availability.

The maintainability of a service is measured in MTRS which is the mean time to restore a service. You calculate the MTRS by dividing the total downtime in hours by the number of service breaks.


On the note of delivering  the best service.

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•12:27 PM
On continuing to discuss infrastructure management processes - the objectives of Availability management process can be summarized as the following:

  • To produce and maintain an appropriate and up-to-date Availability Plan that accurately reflects current and future needs of the organization.
  • To offer advice and guidance to all other areas of the organization and IT on availability-related issues.
  • To ensure that availability achievements meet or exceed targets.
  • To assist with the diagnosis and resolution of availability-related incidents and problems.
  • To evaluate the influence of any changes on the Availability Plan and on the performance and capacity of all services and resources. 
  • To ensure that all cost-effective measures to improve the availability of services are implemented. 
I like the fact that Availability Managements processes incorporate reactive and proactive activities.  We can't get away from reactive activities as service level activities are dynamic in nature hence involve monitoring, measuring, fulfilling, analyzing and fixing problem on unavailability. Proactive activities refer to more into planning, designing, re-designing  and process improvement steps. So we see reactive activities are operational in nature whereas proactive activities of Availability management process fall under more planning functions.

Thoughts on Availability Management.

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•11:11 AM
On reviewing the 14 activities of SLM in my previous post, I couldn't help summarize in a nutshell what SLM is all about. Its a note that I need to remember for the future so here it is:

Service Level management process compromise main phases that cover different activities and they are
  • Negotiating
  • Monitoring
  • Reporting &
  • Reviewing
The negotiating phase involves activities likes designing SLA frameworks, documenting, OLA's, and obtaining agreements of requirements while developing contacts and relationships. The monitoring phase involves monitoring the performance of SLA's, collating measuring and improving customer satisfaction. The reporting phase involves producing service reports and logging + managing complaints & compliments. Finally the reviewing phase of SLM is all about revising underpinning agreements, revisiting OLA's, conducting service reviews, and instigating continuous improvements. 

Thoughts,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•10:31 AM
OK I didn't want to post something on service level management on the very first day of the new year but here it is. I find it fascinating that Marketing Management and Service level Management implementations within the IT framework are so similar.The end result of any SLM process is satisfying the customer's requirement for that specific time not over-delivering.  So here is the run down on the the 14 activities of a good SLM.

1. Confirming stakeholders, managers in key business areas and customers
2. Maintaining accurate information within the Service Catalog and Service Portfolio
3. Being flexible and responsive to the needs of the customer
4. Developing a full understanding of the customer, customer's organization and strategies
5. Regularly sampling the customer experience (This is an interest area for me because metrics will reveal treatments in the service level adjustments, development of new products/services and new strategies)
6. Conducting customer surveys and acting on the results
7. Ensuring that the correct relationship processes are in place to achieve objectives.
8. Marketing and exploiting the Service Portfolio and Service Catalog
9. Assisting with the maintenance of a list of outstanding improvements.
10. Ensuring that the organization and customers understand their responsibilities
11. Facilitating the negotiation of SLR's and SLA's
12. Raising the awareness of the business benefits when using new technology.
13. Promoting service awareness. (this is important because that will produce the appropriate perception)
14. Ensuring that IT provides the most appropriate levels of service.

Thoughts on new year's day.

Sam Kurien
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