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The IT business suffers a malaise, it also affects other businesses. In IT, like in other lines of business, much of what has been made is eventually side-lined and forgotten. If it was ever on the radar in the first place. The rapid pace of the IT industry brings in new ways of doing things and new ways of presenting things, but it also consigns many useful ideas and artefacts to the dustbin of history.

Act One

Hold this thought: Commercial IT is drowned in mediocre and project-shy pundits trying to make a buck.

Fair enough, but that’s a fact.

When I was in R&D I used to go to a lot of conferences, the most important were the international user conferences, so I usually got to attend those as an executive liaison officer. Attending conferences and expositions was difficult, I had a pretty tight R&D schedule, and there was much to do.

But still, I found time to prepare presentations, papers and talks.

It was a chore, but it had to be done.

I rarely go to industry shows and expositions these days, because I know most of them are mostly bullshit events where ‘industry experts’ are hired to show up and pimp this, that or the other fad, product or service.

The funny thing with a lot of these industry experts is that they are as bad as talking heads on the cheap channels. If you listen to most of these guys, their knowledge of what they are talking about is at best shallow and not so broad.

For as professional as a dog and pony show may be, it’s still just a dog and pony show.

Do these guys actually get serious hands-on experience with products and technologies?

I seriously doubt it.

These guys don’t generally do real projects, they do publicity, that’s their shtick.

Worst of all, they are all the same.

They are no different, they have no creativity.

At best they are bad stylists, and they don’t even know it.

So that’s why they have to confine themselves to pimping the newest copy-cat technology fad, method or product; and, in many cases the pimp is pretty much the equivalent of a tech-sex worker.

Act Two

IT is drowned in copy-cat me-too products and services, so what we see is many vendors trying to create market niches within market existing niches. Feck knows what people think when they embark on such ventures.

Maybe it can be captured and crystallised in phrases such as:

  • I’m going to solve a real world problem, by doing something that nobody else has thought of doing.
  • I’m going to think laterally and move the problems and solutions upstream.
  • How can my product or service make a significant difference?
  • What is going to make people go
  • “Wow! I really need that”.
  • Or even better, “Wow! We really need that”?
  • What I offer is just superior in so many important ways.
  • I want to be a famous celebrity and icon.
  • I really need to make a lot of money.
  • Where’s my bling?
  • How long can we get away with fooling some of the people some of the time?

The good people at IBM have by far the best iterative methodology for Data Warehouse, Data Integration and Data Migration projects. The problem is, they don’t know that. They don’t know that they know. They don’t even use it for many of their projects, because so many people at IBM are just unaware that this process method exists, because if they knew they would use it, right?

I was at a meeting at HP many moons ago, and CEO Lew Platt said “If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive”

He was right, and he identified a real and present disjoint in how the organisation generated and re-used information and know-how. That’s why HP Consulting placed such importance on real Knowledge Management.

But even that was kicked down the stairs.

New CEOs, like new consultants, think they know it all.

Yet even the great Ann Livermore was unable to stop a litany of uselessly mediocre CEOs, high on hubris and cracker-barrel MBAisms, from screwing things up whilst failing to learn from history.

Act Three

IT is drowned in failed projects where best engineering practice was put aside in favour of made-to-measure ‘creative solutions’.

The business needs a new computer application.

Do you make it in-house or do you bother to look to see if anyone else has done anything close enough, and then do the math?

Your organisation wants a Data Warehouse; needs a Data Warehouse.

Do you intelligently choose either the fundamental and key elements of the Inmon approach or the Kimball approach, or a hybrid of the two, or do you do something more intuitive, more aligned with the business, as a boil-the-ocean big-bang approach that comes with a cast iron guarantee of failure?

In many cases the choice is to build it oneself, and make it up as one goes along, anything but act creatively and strategically, because that requires real thought and real work.

It reminds me of an old joke.

Three intelligence agencies are in a competition to see who the best is.

Things are on a level pegging until the last of the challenges.

Each team has to into the jungle and come back with a live rabbit.

In goes the first team, MI6, and they almost immediately come back with a tabby cat in a top-hat.

The second team, takes a little longer, but eventually the CIA come back with every single guinea pig and hamster they have encountered in the jungle.

The third team goes into the jungle, and after many hours they eventually emerge, dishevelled, exhausted and hungry. With a Lion in a cage.

The head of the Mossad team explains it all. “After intensive interrogation this lion has confessed to being a rabbit”.

What do we do in IT? We come out of the jungle with Business Intelligence, Big Data and a “dirty data dump” that confesses to be a Data Warehouse.

Conclusion

Much of IT is caught in the Infinite Loop of self-perpetuating bullshit, self-deception and inanity.

How can we break out of that loop?

You have to be street smart, creative and on the ball.

What do I mean, exactly?

Well, I could tell you, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Right?

Call me! +34 618 471 465

Yours strategically, Martyn

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