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April 29, 2002

Siebel Can't Sink Any Lower Than This, Can They?

I felt dirty just reading this article. Apparently Siebel wants to help the government fight terrorism (and make a tidy profit as well) using CRM software. While loopy enough of idea in and of itself, they've crossed several lines with their PowerPoint demo showing how Siebel software could have prevented the events of September 11, 2001:

During the course of several weeks, simulated in the demo, e-mails arrive and databases are queried; all manner of serious-looking charts and maps get drawn. Patterns begin to emerge, and connections and plots are uncovered. Finally, thanks to Siebel, the agent is able not only to unmask the entire operation, but he is also able, on the morning of Sept. 11, to order the arrests of the terrorists before they board their planes. (There is even a handy "Detain" button on his screen that lets him do this.)

With Siebel software, it seems, exposing even the stealthiest terrorist plot is scarcely more difficult than ordering a book from Amazon. And not only is the software effective, it would be easy to install; Siebel promises that such a system could be up and running at the FBI in 18 months, tops.

Disgusting. Simply disgusting.

Posted by Dick at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2002

The other Ozzie attempts a comeback

So, let me get this straight, Groove 2.0 allows you to turn the internet into a private network:

The only viable alternative [to dealing with spam] is to consciously try over the next year or two to introduce environments for secure online work between people who you know

Wooohooo! The internet as Notes. The dream becomes reality.

Posted by Dick at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2002

Marketplace Reaction to Hailstorm puts Microsoft in Hegelian Synthesis Mode

It looks like Microsoft's Hailstorm (aka “Persona”, aka “My Services”) is turning into a light rain:

“We're sort of in the Hegelian synthesis of figuring out where the products go once they've encountered the reality of the marketplace.”

-- Charles Fitzgerald, Microsoft's general manager for platform strategy as quoted in the New York Times.

By ”Hegelian synthesis” Mr. Fitzgerald appears to mean that in developing the Persona concept Microsoft's management forgot something that they were tought in Econ 101: businesses are in competition with each other¹. In all the (quite justified) hoopla surrounding the use and potential abuse of customer information by businesses, we too sometimes forget that competition serves fairly well in protecting our interests as consumers.

Most of us were leery of of letting one company, especially Microsoft, control so much data about us. Potentially, given Microsoft's current ubiquity on the desktop and their aggressive business practices, forking our personal information over to Microsoft would become unavoidable as more and more businesses whose products or services we desired or required joined the Microsoft Persona “Partnership”.

A funny thing seems to have happened on the way to the party, though. It turns out that, we, as consumers, weren't alone in not wishing to allow some third entity control over our information. Since information about customers is a core business asset — the foundation of any business's competitive advantage gained through a better understanding of their customers — businesses themselves had no desire to let someone else control information about their customers. Chalk one up for the free market.

Posted by Dick at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

April 3, 2002

C|NET: Is CRM all it's cracked up to be?

From an article on c|net:

Analysts said it would be easy to blame the software providers such as Siebel Systems, Oracle and PeopleSoft for the failure rates, but there's plenty of blame to go around. Companies are spending money on CRM software without thinking about their own business strategy or processes, analysts said. To have any chance of success, companies need to organize their internal data so it's easier to find, and to set measurable goals.

I'm sorry, but software providers should shoulder the lion's share of blame for the large number of failed CRM implementations because it is the responsibility of the software providers to instruct their clients as to what needs to be done for a succesful CRM implementation. By their nature, Seibel, Oracle and PeopleSoft are selling software as a solution. To try and claim that they aren't responsible because clients actually bought their sales pitch is ludicrous.

Posted by Dick at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2002

Productive Innovation

The problem isn't figuring out how to get people to become more "innovative"; it's figuring out how to get people to accept and apply innovations more productively

Michael Schrage, Technology Review, January/February 2002

My first ideas for adaptive development really began to gel after reading Schrage's "Serious Play." His column should provide an interesting regular read.

Posted by Dick at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

January 4, 2002

Is P2P KM and DW's breakout technology?

P2P (Peer to Peer technology like napster) may prove a genuine breakthrough in the use of technology in knowledge management efforts. A fundamental problem with computing and knowledge management has always been that people either flat out don't want to share information ("I'm important because I have control over this information") or have no real incentive to share information ("I've got enough to do without filling out more forms"). No technology can change such fundamental social attitudes, yet collaborative technologies have always expected that such issues can be minimized, if not overcome. In a sense, they could if an organization had everyone work with a common data repository (eg dumb terminals on a mainframe), allowing all data to be indexed, mined or what have you. But, that has been well proven a highly inefficient use of computing resources in terms or ad-hoc business operations (about 90% of the activity in any business), and something that business users (be they individuals or departments) have, for good reason, rebelled against. Server based collaborative technologies (e.g. Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange or Intraspect and eRoom) address the problem by accepting that only a subset of an organization's information can be maintained in a central repository and focus on making that repository as efficient and accessible as possible.

P2P collaborative technologies (e.g. NextPage), however, have the potential to walk right over the limitations of centralized computing cycles and storage. With P2P it is feasible that all organizational information is available for indexing and mining, regardless of the social proclivities of individuals, and that the computing power needed to do this can be efficiently distributed throughout the organization.

Given this, might not P2P, (think XML here too), allow for more efficient and encompassing data warehousing within an organization too?

Posted by Dick at 02:55 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2001

The Eureka Moment

Scientists use the term "Eureka moment" to describe the point at which we have enough context to understand a new fact. At Tufts University they believe they can now tell exactly when a Eureka moment happens through measurements of the electrical activity in the brain.

An intriquing result of the Tufts research is the notion that confusion is an essential part of remembering things. The activity of trying to make sense of information leads us to understanding and remembering the result.

Alas, they can't tell us why these eureka moments happen (at least not yet...).

Posted by Dick at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)


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