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Defining the IT Roadmap in Life Science - Part I

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There are many things I associate with fall: cooler temperatures, vivid colors, and of course, falling leafs (and raking!) As an IT executive, there is something else I can count on: lots of e-mails focusing on CIO/IT Priorities for the new year.
Many of these articles are insightful and can provoke some interesting and thoughtful discussions. Nevertheless, the one-size-fits-all approach can limit their usefulness. Companies, like snowflakes, are unique. In this case, that uniqueness is result of many factors including:
IndustrySub-Industry FocusDevelopment state (startup, growth, downsizing)Operating status (pending sale, M&A, legal complications, etc.)Access to capitalTalent baseEach of these factors can shift priorities, and collectively their impacts can be substantial.
Consequently, I view these yearly priority articles as generalized recommendations that may or may not be relevant in my circumstance. To be sure, the often contained points have great value, but as the old a…

Factors Overlooked When Changing Your Cloud

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The topic of Cloud Computing currently ranks in the top-five of IT articles published for IT professionals. Daily we hear about the benefits of this new world, the range of exciting new services now available, and of course how to make the transition.Even with the valuable insights provided by these articles, there is one critical aspect given too little attention or even overlooked entirely. Specifically, how to plan for a breakup. If one accepts the old dictum that change is the only universal constant, then ask yourself why most people do not plan as carefully for unwinding a cloud / SaaS arrangement as we do in setting one up. The details of ending an arrangement can be tricky and not immediately self-evident.These issues are beyond standard legal provisions for exit clauses, terms/conditions, and related matters. It deals with practicality and preparedness.Take this as an example, imagine you use a SaaS system to implement secure e-mail for corresponding with people outside your …

Being hijacked via the Metro – An Unwanted Windows 8 Journey

Recently, misfortune struck when a key system failed at a rather inopportune moment.  Fortunately, a replacement was quickly obtained, and I thought it would be up and running quickly.  My hope the matter would be resolved quickly faded when I turned on the machine.  To my disappointment, Windows 8 was pre-installed, and that is when the fun began.

My first reaction was one of minor annoyance, but I comforted myself thinking I would learn a few new things during the restoration process.  I certainly learned a lot, far more than I wanted or expected.  The key lesson for me: avoid Windows 8 unless you have a lot of time to invest.
The degree of change, particularly with the new interface, Metro (now called "modern UI style") is substantial.  Personally, I did not find the interface intuitive, and it seemed poorly structured.  This caused me to spend a lot of time searching online for guidance to accomplish even the most basic tasks.  Moreover, in an effort to unclutter the inter…

More Thoughts on e-books

The WSJ published an article today regarding a DOJ antitrust lawsuit over e-book pricing. The case alleges five of the largest publishers in the US conspired to limit competition for the pricing of e-books.

Apple appears to be at the center of this mess with an agreement they made with publishers. Apparently this was done prior to the launch of the first iPad. Some key points of the lawsuit surround allegations the publishers sought to limit competition in the retail arena while concurrently driving up the price of e-books. A win-win for Apple and the publishers; not a good outcome for everyone else. So much for the Internet securing better deals for shoppers.

This lawsuit is another example of why both individuals and organizations (e.g. their CIOs) need to follow and understand developments in this space. Beyond the basic economic considerations, the shifting sands around the terms and conditions associated with the sale of e-books may have important implications.

As noted in my previo…

Using IT to Accelerate the Benefits of Outsourcing & Offshoring

In an effort to improve overall efficiency, it is not uncommon for organizations to consider embracing some form of outsourcing.  When properly conceived and executed, outsourcing models can provide significant value.  Sadly, these efforts often fall short or take far longer than expected to deliver sought after benefits. Many drivers contribute to this shortfall, but I suspect the most consistent is the implementation strategy.

An organization's outsourcing transformation typically evolves through a series of engagement models.  The initial phase often looks like a simple subcontracting engagement with a transaction company to supplier relationship model.  From this model, a more general outsourcing arrangement develops.  More expansive outsourcing is next and often an offshoring component might be added.  Also at this point, the relationship matures to the point that the service provider becomes a partner.  In this role, the outsourcing partner can offer value based on their own …

Thoughts on e-books & e-readers

I have been spending a lot of time recently reading material in the e-book format.  I must admit, I am a paper diehard in many ways.  For books, particularly technical books, I really prefer the printed hardbound editions.  Not only do I seem to “bond” with the book, but I also highlight sections, write notes on pages and on some occasions even flag a page.  For long e-mails, I tend to print them as well.  I seem to absorb the material I am dealing with more effectively that way.

Final editing is another occasion when paper is also a preferred medium for me.  Errors that seemed invisible on the printed screen just seem to jump out on a printed page.  I better cover myself here and say I did not print this posting before doing a final edit ;-)
J.H. Newman once said, “Growth is the only Evidence of Life,” an observation that I have found remarkable insightful on many levels over the years.  It is part of my motivation and passion for continuing to be a lifelong learner across a broad ar…

BYOD: CIOs Need to Fully Embrace Personal Devices

There has been a lot written about Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) along with both the challenges and opportunities they present for organizations.  Throughout all these discussions, one element is consistent: organizations need comprehensive and pragmatic strategies for embracing and managing these devices.Based on recent conversations with people from organizations spanning multiple industries, it is clear to me that tablets (slates), as wells as other personal devices, are already well embedded into the organizations. In some cases, this has been done in partnership with the IT organization. However, in most it has been done under the radar by one or more groups. These devices, personal or otherwise, may already provide critical capabilities to the organization.A wise CIO, Rob Cohen, who I had the good fortune to work for, once told me “that in organizations, as in life, innovation generally occurs on the edges. Over the years, I have seen this observation validated time and time aga…