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SoCal Harvest Aug 2013 August 23, 2013

Posted by stewsutton in Fitness.
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SoCal Harvest Aug 2013

August 23-25 2013 Anaheim Stadium

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Health Care – The “simple” economics July 15, 2013

Posted by stewsutton in Economics, Fitness, Healthcare, Politics.
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Within the U.S.A. there is an ongoing debate/conversation/argument/fight related to healthcare and how we can make it better.  While there are numerous complexities to the system as it currently exists, there are three principles that can be referenced in a common sense discussion of the healthcare topic:

  1. Cost
  2. Quality
  3. Access

In a book written by Rob Rodin titled “Free Perfect and Now” (the three insatiable customer demands), we see a simple economic example of three principles that you can never have completely or 100% at the same time.  A thing can be free, and you can possibly even get it immediately (now), but it will not be perfect.  For it to be perfect, it would need to be able to address a multitude of different needs.  To make something free and available now, requires that it address a specific (limited) set of needs.

In the same way we can look at the other dimensions of perfection which if we strive to make a thing “perfect”, it will likely not be free and in the quest of specifying its “perfectness” we have guaranteed that it will not be available now.  So with these things in mind, lets consider the simple principles of healthcare economics (cost, quality, and access).  They follow the same dimensions Free-Perfect-Now as described in Rob Rodin’s book.

For many years America had the best healthcare system in the world.  And even today, one can say with confidence that the quality of American healthcare is the highest in the world.  However in our quest for quality, we have introduced some significant complexity into the system.  This it seems is driven by a belief that the healthcare system can be engineered at a massive national level.  There it seems is where we have made a bet that is not working out quite like we planned.

Not that long ago (in the 50’s and 60’s) there was a lot of research going on in healthcare and that research found its way into the practice of healthcare through the individual motivation of practicing doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.  Practicing physicians learned new things and they applied these new things to improving their patients outcomes.  Things were working pretty well.

Then it seems a movement arose to try and “assure” that all medical professionals were following the same quality guidelines.  And moreover, these quality guidelines would need to be enforced.  About the same time there is a desire to make it possible for patients to be able to afford the really expensive procedures so we see medical insurance become a commonplace item and increasingly an item that is a key part of a compensation package when working for a company. Well now all companies did this and that is where we start to see some inequality in the system.  Not everyone can “afford” to get “access” to the higher quality of care that is offered to those with insurance.

In an attempt to address the “cost of access” problem, the concept of managed care is introduced with the idea that a free-market system (at a bigger scale) can drive efficiency and enable the delivery of high-quality (but expensive) procedures at a lower price point and therefore enable access to patients that could not previously afford such services.

And while all of this is happening, we see an increasing burden and financial catastrophe taking shape within American hospitals.  They are using the high-end medical procedures being delivered to finance “free” services to those that cannot afford to pay.  To a great extent, the hospitals become the front-lines for delivery of free healthcare to those in need without the ability to pay.  So the economics of this strange configuration drives up the costs of the “paid” procedures and since there are now layers of administration and oversight that must be compensated within this delivery model, the costs further rise.

Then along comes the affordable healthcare act (Obamacare).  This system is proposed to solve the skyrocketing costs of healthcare while also improving access to 100% of the population and at the same time making sure that the quality stays the same.  In effect the Affordable Healthcare Act seeks to make healthcare free, perfect, and now.  Well we have seen that is just not possible and trying to engineer the impossible on a grand national scale makes it even less likely.

So my suggestion is to go back to the way we used to practice healthcare before the days of managed care, big insurance, and lots of government administrative regulations.  We can have local doctors that get good educations, keep abreast of new things, and at their individual pace, factor these new things into their medical practices and thereby improve outcomes for their patients.

With such a system we will certainly have “good doctors” and “bad doctors” and the resulting outcomes of this disparity in quality.  But since we cannot engineer 100% success in cost, quality, and access, this highly resilient and distributed approach can more effectively serve the national needs by focusing on the local community needs.  It is a simple approach, and we need not make the problem complex just so we feel compelled to solve it with a massive national program.  The solution it seems is to back away from the massive national program and to return to basic principles that have always worked best in the aggregate by fostering a provider-client relationship that is rooted in local community.

Big Data July 13, 2013

Posted by stewsutton in Architecture, Big Data, business analytics, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Information Technology, Knowledge Management.
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Perhaps you have heard of the term “big data.” Well does it seem to be rising atop the curve of inflated expectations? It is probably a healthy perspective to be just a bit suspicious of “big data” solutions coming to the rescue where all others have been unsuccessful.

There are certainly examples where scientists compare approaches to problem solving and this includes conversations about big data. Big problems need solutions that can operate at “big” scale, and the phenomenon of big data is certainly real. The three Vs of volume, velocity and variety, coined by the Gartner Group, have helped us to frame the characteristics of what we understand as big data.

Ultimately it is how these “problems” get solved by using distributed data and distributed processing. Some will do things “internally” while others will take to the cloud. But as many have already experienced, some of the “cloud benefits” (related to “bursty” allocation against resource) are not there for “big data” configurations.

Said more simply, the benefits of lightly touching the cloud resources and getting the financial benefit of this time-sharing is diminished for big data problems that keep the resources fully utilized and thereby incur the highest order of expense against the cloud infrastructure. This reality affects how we must architect solutions that cross into the cloud and make use of “heavy lifting” within our own corporate intranet infrastructure. It keeps the “big data” problem interesting for sure.

With all of that being said, it’s quite another thing when you start to hear how big data is going to upend everything. It is quite unlikely that big data will usher in a “revolution” to transform how we live, work, and think. We do well to approach the topic of big data as just a new tool in the toolkit and use it for those problems where it makes sense.

Realities of the New Work Environment April 15, 2013

Posted by stewsutton in business analytics, business intelligence, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Communications, Community, Data Portability, Economics, Information Policy, Information Technology, Knowledge Management, Software.
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Trends such as globalization, economic change, externalization, and consumerization are creating  new realities in the modern information workplace.  Here are four workplace realities that are already having an effect on the way we get things done.

1. Greater Interdependence – Employees collaborate many more individuals in their day-to-day work than they did just a decade ago (typically ten or more). As a result, nearly one-half of an employee’s impact on business unit profitability comes from network performance—the ability to help others perform and be helped by others. In contrast, in 2002, nearly 80% of an employee’s impact came from individual task performance. Although network performance is vital, only 20% of employees are effective at it. The way IT supports enterprise collaboration must change as IT adopts techniques to understand and support the needs of teams and individuals.

2. Frequent Organizational Change – Clearly organizations have never stood still.  However, a majority of employees feel that the rate of change is accelerating. Since 2010, the average employee has experienced major changes including:  reorganizations, strategy revisions, or new leadership, at a cycle of roughly every seven months. This state of near continuous change shortens business partner time horizons and puts a premium on responsive IT planning and budgeting. It also undermines efforts to encapsulate business process in enterprise systems and increases the value of integration.

3. Greater Knowledge Intensity – Ah, the Knowledge Management stuff…  An increasing percentage of employees (over 80%) are conducting knowledge work that requires analysis and judgment. Knowledge work is becoming ubiquitous because of transaction automation and the emergence of “big data,” In addition, business volatility means that even when transactions remain manual, there are plenty of exceptions that require analysis and judgment to resolve. Information technology investments are already changing to reflect this trend, with more money being spent on analytics and collaboration and less on process automation.

4. More Technology Choice – It is commonly reported that a serious majority (nearly two-thirds) of employees use personal devices for work purposes.  This is huge!   However, this transition to device consumerization is only the starting point. After BYOD comes BYOI, BYON, and BYOA; bring your own information, networks, and applications. Almost one-half of all employees already use external, unofficial information sources for work purposes,  about a quarter of employees source their own collaboration and networking tools, and a fifth of employees use their own analytic tools. Although BYO has risks, it cannot be stopped. Managed correctly, it can provide faster access to new capabilities and a better fit with individual employee workflows.

New Roles within Enterprise IT April 13, 2013

Posted by stewsutton in Architecture, business analytics, business intelligence, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Communications, Education, Information Technology, Knowledge Management, Software.
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Talent within information technology is adapting to new roles as the work environment changes over the next five years (2013 to 2017).

  1. Collaboration and Social Media Evangelist – Responsible for understanding drivers of collaborative behavior and creating, managing, and developing a collaboration and social media strategy.   The person is likely to have a background in business, marketing, communications, or behavioral science, such as anthropology, organizational behavior, or psychology; more likely to be found in a consultant or other specialized role than in a corporation.  Their job responsibilities include:
    • Analyzing user behavior to understand workflows and collaboration needs
    • Establishing collaboration and social media strategy
    • Encouraging adoption of relevant collaboration and social media tools and techniques
    • Advocating for adoption of collaboration tools
    • Creating and delivering end-user awareness and training programs
    • Establishing collaboration and social media usage policies and procedures
  2. Information Insight Enabler – This role helps the IT organization drive employee productivity and help with equipping employees with competencies and not just tools.  They are responsible for supporting business unit heads, service managers, and knowledge workers with insight, business intelligence, and management reports for effective decision making.  They are likely to have a background in market or financial research or in analytics or statistics.  Their unique key responsibilities include:
    • Understanding the decision-making process and the workflows of business unit heads and service manager
    • Identifying knowledge worker’s information needs
    • Representing information in a user-friendly manner
    • Identifying trends and patterns; generates insight for business units and senior leadership
    • Developing frameworks and processes to analyze unstructured information
    • Performing market and customer research and analysis, and creating dashboards and scorecards
  3. Cloud Integration Specialist – This role assimilates cloud services—for both Applications and Infrastructure—into the existing IT environment.  They have experience in developing, deploying, and maintaining integration solutions; most likely to come from EAI or middleware implementation background, such as EAI/Integration developer.  Key responsibilities for this role include:
    • Collaborating with business unit leaders, service managers, and technology brokers to evaluate new cloud service offerings and determine integration needs
    • Coordinating with enterprise and information architects to ensure new cloud services align with technology roadmap
    • Working closely with business process analyst to ensure integration activities improve business processes
    • Coordinating testing efforts to identify and resolve any cross-functional integration issues
  4. User Experience Guru – This role collaborates with service managers and end users to understand and improve user experience and workflow for new and existing applications.   They are likely to have a specialist background in behavioral science, graphic design, or product design; more likely to be found in a consultant or other specialized role than in a corporation.  They will design and configure user-centric interfaces for in-house and cloud applications, allowing end users to access, visualize, and navigate information and analytics with ease.  Some of their key responsibilities include:
    • Analyzing business and functional requirements
    • Creating user-centered design
    • Improving the user experience
    • Visualizing and presenting information in a user- friendly manner to end users
  5. Technology Broker – This role is responsible for managing spend with all providers in a given category, such as Infrastructure or Applications.  They are likely to have a background in sales or business development at a technology service provider; alternatively, may have a procurement background or extensive experience managing programs that relied on external providers for delivery.  They will introduce new technologies and vendors to business units, the services group, and the remaining IT organization.  Their key roles include:
    • Understanding business needs and translates those into technology capabilities
    • Identifying new and existing technology offerings available in the market or in house
    • Negotiating contracts and manages relationships with multiple vendors for a category of IT spend
    • Creating and maintaining a catalog of technology services
    • Defining service level agreements to monitor vendor performance
  6. End-to-End IT Service Manager – End-to-End IT Services Packages all the technologies, processes, and resources across IT needed to deliver a specific business outcome while hiding technical complexity.  They are responsible for defining and delivering end-to- end IT services and is the primary owner of one or more services.  They are likely to have experience in IT service delivery, direct business engagement, technology sales and marketing, and financial plan development; more likely to be sourced from account manager or business relationship manager, solutions manager, architects, or infrastructure manager roles.  Responsibilities for this role include:
    • Collaboration with IT–business relationship managers to develop the end-to-end IT services strategy
    • Developing annual IT service delivery plan and negotiates delivery expectations with business partners
    • Providing information to business partners about service improvement opportunities and collaborates with them to drive down business costs and effectively support business capabilities
    • Guiding the service review process to drive continuous improvement efforts for services

Big Data Portfolio April 12, 2013

Posted by stewsutton in Cloud Computing, Economics, Financial, Information Technology, Investment.
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Currently assembling a “big data” portfolio of companies that are invested in technology and services for the processing and storage of “big data” OR using digital information directly in the formation of manufactured goods.  All of the usual suspects from Amazon, to Google will be in the mix, and there are the storage companies like Western Digital, but there are others like IBM which bring the processing technology of Watson and the commitment to investing in high-performance flash storage within their enterprise systems.  For the use of digital information there are companies that are vested in the growth of 3D printing with multiple materials.  It’s an interesting cross-section of technology companies that can continue to be a significant component of the information economy.  So here is the list of companies thus far.

Company Ticker What do they sell? 52 Week Range
3D Systems DDD The Company through subsidiaries designs, develops, manufactures, markets and services rapid 3-D printing, prototyping and manufacturing systems and related products and materials. Website: http://www.3dsystems.com/ $15.40 – $47.99
Western Digital Corp. WDC Western Digital Corp. designs, develops, manufactures, and sells hard drives for data storage. Website: http://www.westerndigital.com/ $28.31 – $53.75
Stratasys SSYS Stratasys develops, manufactures, and sells 3-D printers that create physical models from computerized designs. Website: http://www.stratasys.com/ $34.50 – $92.30
Corning GLW Corning makes specialty glass and ceramics that are used in everything from flat-screen TVs to optical fiber to biosensors for drug research. Website: http://www.corning.com/ $10.62 – $14.58
Gartner IT A research & advisory firm that helps executives use technology to build, guide & grow their enterprises. The Company offers independent & objective research & analysis on the information technology, computer hardware, software, communications etc. Website: http://www.gartner.com/ $39.50 – $57.61
Teradata TDC Provide data warehousing services Website: http://www.teradata.com/ $50.40 – $80.97
Google GOOG So dominant it’s a verb, Google is the leading internet search provider and uses its proprietary algorithms to offer targeted advertising. Website: http://www.google.com/ $556.52 – $844.00
Oracle Corp. ORCL The Company develops, manufactures, markets, distributes and services database, middleware and applications software that helps organizations manage and grow their businesses. Website: http://www.oracle.com/ $25.33 – $36.43
Amazon AMZN Once simply an online purveyor of books, Amazon.com has become a marketplace for just about anything you’d want to buy. Website: http://www.amazon.com/ $183.65 – $284.72
Apple AAPL From iPods to iPhones to MacBooks, Apple uses its “think different” approach to reframe computing, communication, and more. Website: http://www.apple.com/ $419.00 – $705.07
Nvidia NVDA The company deals in world-wide programmable graphics processor technologies. Its major product-line operating segments are: graphics processing units, media and communications processors, handheld and consumer electronics. Website: http://www.nvidia.com/ $11.15 – $15.22

Knowledge Management Updated February 1, 2013

Posted by stewsutton in business analytics, business intelligence, Collaboration, Communications, Knowledge Management, Software.
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Knowledge Management has undergone a significant change of emphasis over the past several years. We have moved beyond the days when KM was centered in the design and deployment of content management solutions, the fanfare around launching communities of practice, and the practical benefits of sharing lessons learned. The emphasis today is a complete reformulation of how we can extract value from information. The new intersecting themes generally include “big data”, “business analytics / business intelligence”, “social”, and “mobility”.

Leading up to this new arrangement of priorities, KM bounced around in the past several years seeking to find itself as the rapid technology changes in mobile platforms and across consumer-based social platforms took center stage. This caused the KM emphasis to drift toward “collaboration” things – after all isn’t sharing knowledge through collaboration what its all about? Community models for knowledge stewardship have fallen out of favor while crowdsourcing of answers has increase in popularity. The practical difficulty is that running a business, engineering improvements to complex operational procedures, and designing and manufacturing of precision equipment cannot be directly guided by the wisdom of any crowd.

And while the phrase knowledge management has often been met with resistance “I don’t what someone managing my knowledge…”, the new KM emphasis has oriented itself to offering value to the business and to the individual creators and managers of knowledge across the workforce. Consider for a moment this simple ten-step framework that illustrates the intersecting themes of knowledge and information management today…

1. Identify a relevant “structured” data source associated with our business
2. Repeat #1 multiple times, not really knowing (just yet) the intersecting relevance
3. Prepare the data sources identified in #2 so that they may be “accessed” and integrated
4. Connect results of #3 by using software to analyze and discover “features” in the data
5. Overlay social graphs, geo-mapping, and other information sources to illuminate findings
6. Clarify and contextualize these findings, draw conclusions, and propose business changes
7. Implement business changes and monitor #5 to assess the impact of business changes
8. Make necessary adjustments based on #7, and return to #1 to discover more relationships

Using tablet-based computers will expand the scope and impact of business intelligence throughout business.

Using tablet-based dashboards will expand the scope and impact of business intelligence and business analytics for both strategic and tactical value

Knowledge Management is becoming a more refined and mature information science. The tools for business are enabling broad and sophisticated analysis of data and application of business analytics by individuals that have line-of-business accountability. From middle management to executives, a new landscape of configurable mobile dashboards that encourage experimentation and insight building are emerging quickly. Big data is being gathered everywhere. The interface methods are being dramatically simplified. And mobile (tablet based) interfaces are being quickly formed, refined, delivered, modified, and shared among co-workers at various levels. Knowledge workers today are more skilled within business intelligence and business analytics.

It is a very interesting time.

Too much digital (pods, pad, phones…) bad for you? January 2, 2013

Posted by stewsutton in Collaboration, Communications, Education, Humanity, Information Technology, Learning, Social, Wisdom.
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The brain retains a certain amount of plasticity throughout life — more specifically, the way we think can be reshaped. Thus, if the brain is trained to respond (and enjoy) the faster pace of the digital world, it is reshaped to favor that approach to experiencing the world as a whole. Soon, it comes to crave that experience, as the body increasingly craves more of anything it’s trained to respond to favorably.

The problem it seems is in relationship to deep-thinking critical thought that accompanies the reading of a longer narrative. The slow contemplation of ideas, concepts, possibilities, and consequences derived from consumption of material composed within a longer narrative may be an endangered species if there is an an attractive, visually appealing, shallow construction of “similar” material competing for our limited attention.

So can the rush toward mobile digital content consumption be a threat to our ability to think properly? Clearly there are examples of where the digital mobile world is introducing positive benefits to education and the workplace. And while some would favorably represent the actions of content skimming and filtering made possible by mobile devices, favorite apps, and a nearly infinite Internet-based “library”, the very action of rapid movement through content is what serves to rewire our brain.

So maybe its better to lay off the “apps” on our mobile device and take the slow road of thoughtful consumption via eBooks and similarly formatted content.

Whats New In The Cloud? December 10, 2012

Posted by stewsutton in Cloud, Cloud Computing, Data Portability, Economics, Information Technology.
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The Cloud.  That vast and curious location that seems to be good for everything.  We can store our photos, our books, our music, and our various working files there.  Beyond all of that data, we can also do real computing in the cloud.  The sort of computing that we used to accomplish on large corporate computing infrastructure or even on our own personal computers.  So why does this matter?

Well, the changes and transformation of services that are being made available to both companies and individuals are affecting the way we use our computers, our laptops, our tablets, and our smart phones.  Consider some of the changes that have already been adopted by many:

  1. Keep your music on iTunes and use iTunes match to sync all of your songs across all your devices anytime and anywhere they are connected to the Internet network.  This is the cloud jukebox that you own and it is ready to play your music anytime.
  2. Buy your books on Amazon and you have a permanent digital library that spans your iPad, your Kindle, your iPhone, your computer, and any other digital device you own.  Download any of your “books” at any time from the Cloud Library and enjoy reading it on your device.  As you switch between devices the cloud keeps your location synced so that you easily resume where you left off.
  3. Photo services like Flickr and others allow you to upload and stream your photos as needed across any of your digital viewing devices.  This is your photo album in the cloud and there are many choices for your digital photo albums.  Many seem to even use services like Facebook and Twitter as a way to store and share their photos – especially photos captured on smart phones.

With these changes having become commonplace, might we consider the digital cloud to become our infinite network disk drive and the home to our favorite applications?  Probably so.  This will have the biggest impact in how we “manage” our data.  Not that long ago we probably had our important data on a local computer that was in our office or in our home.  If we were disciplined, (and cautious), we likely made some effort to occasionally back-up or copy the important information onto another computer disk so that we could recover if our computer “had a problem.”

One of the major differences in our day-to-day relationship to our data that is cloud-based is that we are not typically going to be given simple options to “copy” and “backup” of that data to our local disk.  Some services provide this and others take it a step further by offering cloud-based backup of data.  If you are with a top-tier provider of applications, and data services (e.g. Amazon, Apple, Google, etc.) your data is unlikely to disappear due to bad procedures or failed equipment.  It’s also increasingly common for new companies that offer compelling new services that sit atop the infrastructure of a company like Amazon.  So instead of reinventing all of this cloud infrastructure and operations, the new company leverages what is already a proven reliable asset.

Each of us will likely be offered new services by the top-tier cloud providers in the coming years.  These services will range from banking services and digital safety boxes to high-end applications that we generally associate with a dedicated computer.  The difference is that we will “rent” the services in much the same way that we “rent” services like phone minutes and cable TV channels.  Data portability will be one of the important characteristics that will separate the better providers from the rest.  Making sure that you can “get a full copy” of your data and move it to another cloud provider will be a key criteria for selecting a cloud provider.  As we move toward more and more cloud services, data portability should be top-of-mind for everyone.

 

 

Tablets in the Classroom December 10, 2012

Posted by stewsutton in Education, Information Technology, Learning.
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The Center for Digital Education estimated education spending on IT reached $19.7 billion in 2010-11 and it’s expected to rise again in 2011-12. Despite school budget cuts, officials are spending more money on tech than ever before. Traditional educational publishers are devoting more attention and budget to the digital world. Project Tomorrow reports that 27 percent of middle school and 35 percent of high school students use digital textbooks. On top of that, the Pearson Foundation reports that 58 percent of college students prefer a digital format for textbooks. Tablets and e-readers are the ideal windows for that content. In McAllen, Texas, public school officials have opted for iPads over desktop PCs and plan to distribute 25,000 iPads over the next few years. The total spend of $20 million in the McAllen district covers the cost of the iPads and also the Wi-Fi network and training needed to support their use. The program includes iPads for third grade and upwards and iPods for pre-kindergarten up to second grade. San Diego distributed 26,000 iPads to students this year and Chicago public schools have around 20,000 iPads. Are tablets really the answer for education? Possibly so, but the truth is that touch devices are so popular right now that they’re being touted as the answer to everything. A few years back, before tablets burst onto the scene, there was a push to equip students with netbooks, but it was met with mixed results. Having an entire school filled with tablet-equipped students has obvious benefits, but cost and device management are serious hurdles to overcome.