Another week, another round of high-profile tech announcements… And security woes. Apple announced its new Pay service, which may finally make digital payments mainstream. It was, however, tainted by concerns arising from “Celebgate” and the presumed role iCloud security played in it. Meanwhile, Google was busy explaining that the five million Gmail credentials recently published by Russian hackers hadn’t been obtained from their servers. Tech giants have successfully transitioned us to a cloud-based digital lifestyle, but a lot of work remains to ensure security is actually usable and effective enough.
Traffic was rather heavy as I was driving home from work today. At some point, I noticed the lane to my right was clear, whereas a few feet ahead my lane was jammed. I started changing lanes, but then the car ahead of me (which was fully stopped) attempted to do the same. As I had more room, I stepped a bit firmer on the gas, hoping the other car noticed and let me pass to its right. It worked.
As I pulled away from the jam, I pondered my rather trivial feat. Unconsciously, I had performed a flawed risk/reward analysis: for the perceived benefit of pulling into my driveway a few seconds earlier, I had risked entering a car crash — even a fender bender is annoying enough as to deny any real or perceived time benefits.
Obvious, right? Yet we do it all the time with much more critical things. I’m not talking about flawed probability percentages or delusional rewards — though those are serious problems in their own right; I’m talking about risks and rewards that are not really exchangeable in terms of units or dimensions. Thus, for the prospect of a won argument, we risk a long-term relationship. For the reward of making it to production a couple days earlier, we risk data integrity, customer satisfaction and architectural quality. For the sake of familiarity and transferred responsibility, we enter unacceptable risk as we plan and execute projects using known-flawed waterfall methodologies, with vendors that should know better.
There doesn’t seem to be much written about this, and it makes a lot of sense: risk-reward analysis originates in the financial industry, where the one ruthless unit for all measures is money. We are supposed to do that as well (make a business case or somehow else monetize much of our IT project decisions), but all too often we lack method, discipline, or both — and yet we plow ahead based on questionable proxies for actual business risk and value.
Next time I carry out a risk-reward analysis, I’ll try to make sure that both ends are measured in the same units. I hope you do too!
For the past couple of weeks, owing to a mishap, I’m temporarily switching from my Nexus 4 to a loaned Lumia 520. I’m no stranger to Windows Phone, and I’m not really missing any apps. I do miss the tight-knit Google ecosystem, though, and that got me thinking about the implications the concept of mobile ecosystem has for the enterprise market. Read on for my thoughts on this.
Last week was marked by two interesting announcements concerning instant messaging (IM). First, BlackBerry announced that its signature Messenger app is gaining a Channels functionality that comes across as a Facebook/Twitter mash-up, and that it’s coming to Android and iOS this summer. Later, Google announced their revamped Hangouts strategy to unify and enrich IM across its different platforms and offerings. In this post, I explore some of the commonalities between both strategies, as well as single out my perceptions about the main drivers behind these changes at both companies.
I’ve long held the view that concerts are for fans. By this I mean hard-core fans. There’s no place in a concert for people who casually consume the artist’s music. No, you need to know all songs by heart, even with different arrangements, the idiosyncrasies of the band when touring: the symbols, the antics… You need to be deeply invested into a band or artist in order to make it be worthwhile the minor ordeal that attending a concert usually involves.
At least that’s my opinion. And for somewhat similar reasons, I think similarly about developer conferences: generally speaking, they’re more of a hassle than they’re worth. Read on to find out my argument before you think I’m just older and bitter than I should.
As an IT leader, I often find myself walking a thin line: I am the company’s voice before the employees, and the employees’ voice before the company. This extends to mediating between internal parties and vendors, auditors, consultants and other external entities as well. While not an absolute situation (and certainly not at my current workplace), it is often the case that higher leadership pushes an IT management model that is ultimately a fallacy. Curiously enough, other parties’ retort is also deeply flawed. Both are rooted in good intentions, but tangle up in a vicious circle that does more harm than good, even though no one overtly intends it. In a sense, a lot of IT leadership and management efforts are spent bridging these two fallacies. Continue reading