Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Might go down as one of the chapters in the Technology History Books of the future:
Terry Semel was pissed. The Yahoo CEO had offered to buy Google for roughly $3 billion, but the young Internet search firm wasn't interested. Once upon a time, Google's founders had come to Yahoo for an infusion of cash; now they were turning up their noses at what Semel believed was a perfectly reasonable offer. Worse, Semel's lieutenants were telling him that, in fact, Google was probably worth at least $5 billion.
This was way back in the summer of 2002, two years before Google went public. An age before Google's stock soared above $500 a share, giving the company a market value of $147 billion -- right behind Chevron and just ahead of Intel.
As Semel and his top staff sat around the table in a corporate conference room named after a Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor (Phish Food), $5 billion sounded unacceptably high ...
Many people today still looks at the mistakes and what could-have-beens. I am still willing to bet that there are many more correct decisions that went unnoticed. It is just human-nature <consolatory_tone /> to glorify mistakes and forget achievements. Still, with a scale of a potential boo-boo as such, it is really not easy to forget.
I believe that both are still in the game. There are just too many WHAT-IF statements. Just like most things in today's world - and please pardon my non-deterministic stance and cliche here - There is really never a winner or a loser. It is all relative. It is a matter of leads, trails and of course, catch-ups. It still remains to be seen whether that decision (or non-decision) would come back to haunt them one day. Who knows - It may be the best decision they have made.
Monday, September 18, 2006
One of the things in my job that I have been doing and enjoy doing is engaging the customers. Over the past few years, I have learnt from my mistakes and have seen people fall into serious pitfalls that have caused deals (and sometimes, fortunes) to be lost.
While this may be specific to technology applications and platforms, it can be applied horizontally cross-breadth. I hope I have time to make this a useful series to help the readers. Here is one:
--- Begin Exchange ---
When the customer CIO asked a presenter (of the bidding companies): What platform would you go on ?
You should never answer: We can do both.
Worst, if the CIO repeats his questions again: Let me ask again, what platform would you go on ?
You should NEVER NEVER NEVER answer again: We can do both.
--- End Exchange ---
Bear this quote in mind first and I will address how it fits in this entire context:
Gordon Gekko: You stop sending me information, and you start getting me some.
- Listen and Think. Dont just hear and read from a pre-arranged script. By answering the same to his repeated questions tells him you think he is deaf. He is NOT. You are. Brain-deaf, that is. If I was too crude, let me put it in a nicer way. You are hearing, but you are NOT listening. If the same customer CIO or his equivalent in the committee has also asked: "What is the ratio of XXX projects to YYY projects your company has done ?" It is very obvious he is asking for an answer and not a level of indirection.
- Know how the customer thinks, works and is measured. I refuse to believe that a customer CIO has no idea how the world outside functions. He may have no idea how it functions internally, but thats not the point. When he budgets for a project worth xx millions, he knows, pretty much in his head, what he wants as the end-goal. He just cannot put it down in voice and ink so as to play the political battles well and not to offend other people. What he is seeking for is - VALIDATION. That an outside external party thinks the same. The fact that he is there and you are down here means he is smarter, not necessarily capable. Ultimately, see what is at stake. If a project fails because of the wrong use of technology, his job and his pay is on the line and that is probably 3x more than yours. He knows. He just wants someone to sing the same. Do so.
As an example, I am arguing the customer already has 3 technologies or solutions in mind already before he approaches a public tender proposal situation. He doesnt have none. If he does, the worst thing you can do is assume that. Remember, the product and platform vendors have more resources and more time than you to camp at their site with their marketing agents and lovely legs. Many people dont realize that - Things have already been sold, just not in ink. So when you say, you can do both. Even though it is deemed to be more professional, you are giving away a few things
- You are no idea how they work and what is the current state. In other words, you have no intelligence.
- You didnt put an effort to discover what is going on in their current environment and the current battles they have. The fact that they are asking for a solution means they have a problem. Find out what that intrinsic problem is.
- You cannot make a bet and take that risk. He is, by granting you a project which he is paying millions for. Surely, you can ride that and show him you are taking the same risk as well ?
- Intelligence, Intelligence, Intelligence. Surely, the account manager, whom the team is supporting must be worth the commission he is paid. Gather the topology, the current state, the internal political battles. Who is the customer CIO sucking up to ? Who is buying the customer CIO the expensive red-wine bottle sitting in his office wine-cellar ? Which favourite prodigal son of the IT department is the customer CIO favourites with and what is he/she complaining out ? Find this out. It is likely, you can piece a good internal scenario, which the customer has to deal with in his daily work, your lesser competitors have no clue about.
- Go BIG or go home. For goodness sake, take a bet. We do that, every single day in everything we do and the choices and decisions we make. Why cant you do so in front of the customer ? When a customer CIO, not just another IT person, asked you the question above. Like I said, he is seeking validation from a 3rd party.
While it may be necessary to sing your corporate tune, remember - you are not presenting to your own CIO. It is the customer we are talking about here. If a customer has got a big flashing "We are an XXX shop" in front of their door, you should sing an XXX tune. However, like I said in Point , the CIO is not measured by how much he contributes to XXX revenue. He is measured by the ROI of the millions he is spending on this project and you. So, if you say: "We go with YYY", it is likely he will stop staring blankly at his handphone and his ears will perk up and listen.
Now, if he is anti-YYY because his mother has just slapped him because a stupid YYY patch failed to make it to her PC in time and therefore has lost all her fav bookmarks. Out of professionalism in front of the entire steering committee, he wont stop you and ask you to get out. But you would have gotten his attention when said those magic words. Getting his attention, out of the hundreds of meetings and other solution tender presentations he has to attend that day, is half the battle won.
Now if are worth the salt your company is paying you, you would address his concerns and answer them methodically. (Excuse me, but arent you an architect/consultant ?). Most importantly, stand up and be counted for. If you have done Point , rationalize your decisions to him and justify why you choose YYY. To take a technology-neutral stand, something like that will always be music to a customer's ears:
You: We choose to go with YYY's engines for this project because we understand that [repeat what your intelligence has gathered for you in this account. Remember to make sure that your solution justifies what your intelligence has gathered or you are screwed ... ].
However, we also understand some of the public/users/your concerns with YYY's engines such as the skillsets of your mechanics may be that of XXX's as we noticed that there is a recent M&A of your parent company with an unit of XXX. So if you should decide that XXX is what you want, be very rest assured that our company has the same kind of XXX calibre people as YYY ones. Let me share you what projects we have done with regards to the XXX engines ...
He may not buy them in the end. But I assure you, he will respect you and your company for standing up for what you believe in and for taking a bet, which he is also doing.
- Think the bigger picture. Dont miss the forest for the trees. So, what if you lose this deal because you stuck YYY in your mouth ? Likelihood is that, you will also lose this if you had said: "We can do both". If you had said the quotes I mentioned above: "We choose to go with YYY's engines for this project because we understand that ... However we also understand some of the public/users/your concerns with YYY's ..." and still lost, it is obvious that the customer is looking for someone who worships XXX as much as he does. Too bad. Move on.
If you had not failed your maths in school and understood the theories of Probability, you will understand that, in the long run, you will stand an equal chance of winning YYY solution tenders as much as losing the XXX ones. If you dont make a bet, you will never lose or win, in the run.
To summarize and I quote one of my favourite fictional movie characters, Gordon Gekko, of Wall Street:
Gordon Gekko: You stop sending me information, and you start getting me some.
Remember, the customer CIO is not asking you for information. He probably knows more than you since he has the benefit of all the application, product or technology vendors camping at his office and singing to him everyday. Validate him, Sing his tunes, even better - tell him something he doesnt know yet. For example, we have reasons to believe that XXX may not be suitable because ...
He will appreciate that. Even, if you UN-validate his thoughts, Trust me (I have learnt), it is likely he will remember you for future references. By adopting a passive ground and not answering and worst, not listening to his questions and concerns, it is likely he will continue looking at his handphone, hoping someone will call and save him and you will be nothing more than a distant memory in his head.
Monday, September 11, 2006
I will be speaking in The Enterprise Architecture Conference 2006 to be held in Singapore on 25-28 September 2006.
And no - for once, I wont be speaking on Web Services or anything Service-Oriented. Instead, I will tackle head-on a topic that not many people would not like to go near: Enterprise Architecture Security
I will be speaking on the second day (27 Sept 2006: 1430-1530) and quite a few of my governmental clients will be there as well in the audience.
The title is: Security Planning and Strategies In An Enterprise Architecture. The agenda is as follows:
- Outline of the key Enterprise-based security issues and counter-measures, that is technology-agnostic
- An examination of general security threats and how to plan and implement security policies and controls for often-performed computer security activities
- Key best practices in terms of security that can be applied to practical real-life scenarios and implemented solutions such as IP and Data security
- Auditing and monitoring of systems within an Enterprise
If you are in need to spend SGD2,000 , I hope to see you there.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Ar - Arguments...It does make us move forward at times.
Richard Grimes has managed to kick up a storm again with his article here, again. While, I would not go very far in saying a kernel Operating System should be written in managed-code. God knows I will not use one if it is and you shouldnt to. As far as I can tell, .NET was not created for writing operating systems? It sits on top of the operating system and thats that
It is, however, very important to note, the investments MSFT Corp have on managed code. Instead of giving you the usual bullets and docs. How about this ?
Lines of Managed Code
And lets not forget that Microsoft CRM is the first Enterprise Business Solutions that is written on managed code from Microsoft. Read: Dogfood
And YES - Windows Communication Foundation (WCF, previously - Indigo) is written in C# as well.
Case Closed. <EOM>
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Saturday, June 11, 2005
I will be delivering Indigo Ascend in Asia Pacific in the coming months on behalf of the Indigo and Ascend team in MSFT Corp, Redmond, US.
It will start in Sydney, Australia later this month, then move upwards (northwards) to my own local backyard, Singapore. There are a few more countries Microsoft and I are interested to look at bringing this event as well.
This will be a good time for me to meet up with real customers from the enterprises who are using Microsoft distributed technologies or are planning to look into using it in the future. Drop me an email here if you would like to engage me for a discussion.
If you are reading this blog post and you work for an ISV or an enterprise that does a fair bit of distributed computing technology and you are interested in attending this Indigo Ascend in Singapore (I think we are a little bit late in nominations for Australia), do drop me a mail here and I will see what I can do to hook you up for this 3 day event.
If you are from anywhere else besides Australia or Singapore (in APAC) and would love to attend an event like this, do drop me an email as well and I will see what I can do to bring Indigo Ascend to your country.
I have been invited to deliver a few Ascends before such as Visual Studio 2005 and such. However, I have always turned it down because I dont consider myself to be a "professional" trainer since I have always been on the field working on real projects with real problems in distributed technologies for some time (and not some simulated fanciful classroom labs scenarios) ...
Indigo is an Ascend which I am proud and excited to deliver because it is a future facet of Windows Server 2003 that I have spent quite some time on and I believe it is something that real customers need in the field to solve real-world problems today.
There is really nothing quite like it out there at the moment or in the immediate future outside of Microsoft. It is really one of Microsoft's innovation at its best.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Friday, March 11, 2005
has acquired Groove Networks
. As I have heard
some insights into Microsoft's plans for its Information Worker Group in terms of increasing business productivity for its customers, this seems to be a testimonial for its committment to do so and it is definitely a step in the right direction.
Friday, February 25, 2005
Had a great session today with Robert McDowell, Vice President at MSFT Corp of the Information Worker Group. It was stated in his bio that he has 35 years of IT experience.
WOW ! I didnt even know IT is that old...He also started the Microsoft Consultancy Services, which I think, is a great feat in itself.
He gave the managed partners a great candid insight into what Microsoft can do and will do in the upcoming future wrt to business productivity esp in the area of the Information Worker. He is a great presenter and is one of those guys who can speak insightfully for 60 mins without a single powerpoint slide.
He then handed out autographed copies of his book "In Search of Business Value" after the presentation. Excellent...I cannot wait to read his book.
Sunday, February 06, 2005
SDA-Asia has recently published one of my articles online. In this article, I talked about how Web Services Enhancements (WSE) can be used to solve Real-World business problems with some proper thought and design processes.
This is not as technical an article comparred to the ones I have written before, however, I feel it gives a good overview and insight to what the advanced XML services are and how to make use of some of them to solve some of the business problems of today...and needless to say, WSE 2.0 is THE tool to do that today in .NET
I have spent a fair amount of time writing up a REAL technical article (on WSE, of course) recently which I hope will get published soon enough. Will update all once it goes live. Enjoy.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Time and time again, I have heard many companies and people talk about how they want to adopt XML Services and (W3C) SOAP so that they can be seen moving with the times embracing Service Orientated Architectures.
I have always stressed that it is a lot lot more than that. Just because all your applications can emit out SOAP and angle brackets and your consuming applications can "Add Web Reference" doesnt mean your business is in the realms of Service-Orientation.
This article here puts it very nicely. It is a lot more than what most people think and it takes a longer time to understand and embrace it fully. It is very much in the business processes and very importantly, the understanding of it...and this takes a tremendous mindset change in the business thinking and culture.
I took the liberty to quote a few snippets out:
- "Some of the enterprises that are deftly moving toward a service-oriented architecture to exploit the potential of Web services are confronting challenges technology can't always conquer. Users say Web services still suffer from a lack of clear metadata definitions and the need for sometimes significant IT cultural changes. "
- "Trimble learned that even using Web services, it isn't possible for the company to "gracefully and quickly" integrate systems gained in several acquisitions over the past couple of years because of the metadata problems, Denis said. "There's too much fluidity around data objects, [and] we fall back into our own nomenclature and begin to define business objects," he said. "Customer definitions are the most complex challenges for us. We support very different businesses. Our customers are major accounts, channels and end users, so it is difficult to have a one-size-fits-all definition." Until industry standards for metadata management mature, the company must tackle the metadata issues outside the SOA project, he said "
- "But as the project has moved forward, it has been slowed by the lack of standard metadata definitions, which define and describe applications' data, "
- "Learning noted that the migration to Web services required some cultural changes along the way, such as getting customers to change their mind-set about the way they use the system."
- "Denis said that the company must create its own process for managing the disparate ERP systems' metadata because of a lack of tools that can automate the operation. The complex ERP network includes packages from SAP AG, Oracle Corp. and Siebel Systems Inc., some of which were gained via acquisitions."
Monday, December 20, 2004
I constantly ranked Scott McNealy of SUN Microsystems as one of my all-time favourite speakers and I had always try to catch him speak whenever he is here in Singapore.
His brashness showed again when he criticized a significant detail of how Oracle sells its software based on how many processor core a machine has...and he did it at Oracle's own OpenWorld conference. What a guy...
“IBM, Sun, Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and others have begun a move to dual-core chips--designs with two processing engines on the same slice of silicon--and are headed down a path for even more cores. That has triggered a pricing debate for software companies: Should the charge be per chip socket or per processor core?”
It is interesting to note that even when software companies, on the other hand, stand to lose revenue using the per-socket definition, MSFT Corp prefers a per-socket pricing.
This strategy means it will have a cost advantage over its competitors when dual-core processors emerge that can run Microsoft SQL Server.
Friday, November 12, 2004
In eBay's continuing effort in support of SOAP, they will be releasing additional SOAP API calls later this month.
I had a lunch discussion with a friend some time back who argued that eBay is very heavily favoured towards Respresentational State Transfer (REST). hmm...I wonder if he knows about this.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
One of the key benefits of Service-Orientation is that it achieves reusability of business processes across layers, applications, organizations and trust boundaries.
Monday, November 01, 2004
Or is the Backlash really against Offshoring ?
Friday, October 29, 2004