Archive for August, 2011

Communicating Strategy

0 Commentsby   |  08.23.11  |  Management

I admit when I first saw the following article on Harvard Business Review, my response was less than positive. I thought, “What? Another person telling me how important it is to communicate strategy? Will this never end?” Its natural for me to feel this way because I am one of the few people on the face of the earth that actually communicate my area’s strategy effectively and completely, right? WRONG. So after I got over my initial reaction (a total of about 10 seconds by the way), I had to admit that maybe, just maybe, there was a nugget or two buried in this story.

See “Eight Ways to Communicate Your Strategy More Effectively” from the Harvard Business Review Blog.

In my defense, like some of you, I’ve been in this business for a long time. I’m pushing 31 years in the IT business and over 15 in some management role. At times, it feels like I’ve heard it all and I begin to wonder if anyone really has anything new to say.

I did read this article (I’m going to read it again later today) and it was a good reminder to me that I may have heard something like this in the past but it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder of how important it is to communicate strategy and do it effectively.

I like the framework Georgia Everse lays out in her article as a means to map and deliver messages. Reading that portion of the article reminds me of other communications opportunities in which this framework can be used. The strength of the pillars to inspire, educate and reinforce can’t be overstated. These can certainly be applied to communicating strategy within an organization like mine but I’m struck how easily these same tenants can be used in many locations including home and church.

There are other pearls to be found in this article. In the end and once I got over my short huff about “yet another communicating strategy article,” I found Georgia Everse’s article to be well written, helpful and a good reminder of what we all need to do in so many areas. I hope you find it helpful as well.

Google+ Knocking It Out of the Park – Or Is It?

0 Commentsby   |  08.08.11  |  Social Networking

I’ve noticed some stats recently about the number of Google+ signups over time when compared to other social networks like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Like those of you that are paying attention to these conversations, I am surprised at how quickly lots and lots of people have signed up for Google+. What took Facebook years to achieve, Google+ did in less than 2 months. No, that is not a typo. To reach the 25M signups point, Facebook took 36 months. Twitter took 32 to reach the same levels. MySpace, which is all but dead at this point, took almost 20 months. Google+ reached that same milestone in less than 1. 21 days according to comscore.com.

But, just as I’ve read on other sites that ask the question, “Is anyone actually using it?”, I have also wondered where all those people are. I am one of the many people that jumped onto the G+ bandwagon the first chance I had. I made some circles, added the people I could find and started posting content. And, after a short period of use, I also have to ask, where the heck is everyone? Where are the millions of folks that have signed up? I get into G+ and look under recommendations of people I can add to my circle. For some reason, I expect the list to be thousands. But it’s not. I see approximately 100 people, most of whom I don’t even know. It all seems a bit surreal, like one of those movies where the hero is the only one left in New York (and his dog) and he spends much of his time looking for some form of human contact. The loneliness can drive a man mad, I’ll tell ya!

Before I jump to my conclusion about all of this, I want to add one more item of interest. I use Google+ but also use Facebook and Twitter. Two Twitter accounts to be exact. As people have Tweeted and Facebooked about Google+ (a whole other interesting dynamic I might add), I’ve been surprised at the number of folks that say they have a Google+ account but will add, “Do I really need another social network?” Its starting to feel like social network overload.

Two things in my conclusion. One is, like me, many people jumped on the Google+ bandwagon either to simply reserve their place in that sphere in case it actually takes off in a big way or realized that while they jumped many of their friends stayed behind. Instead of getting lonely on Google+, they simply went back to their friends and familiar territory. Two, I have uneducated sense that some people really are wondering whether or not they need another social network in their life. So, while they may have grabbed their small piece of that real estate, they may not have the energy left to deal with another social network.

At some level, these issues I’ve raised here should concern Google a bit. I can’t help but wonder as they hang around the water fountain in the Google offices if the talk sometimes turns to whether or not Google+ is going to go the way of Google Wave. It’s too early to tell and I’m not smart enough to say with any certainty what the future holds for Google+. I like the interface. It’s clean. I like the idea of circles. They keep my social world a bit more organized. But, if people do not stay the course, I feel Google+ may not last long.

Open Position for Computing Services – Systems Analysis and Support

0 Commentsby   |  08.05.11  |  General

The Computing Services department at ACU has a job opening posted for a Systems Analysis and Support person. This individual is responsible for review, design, implementation and support of software used by the university. This individual will also act as the technology liaison for business process review as well as make recommendations of computing solutions for the campus.

If this sounds like the kind of work you like to do, go the link above and fill out the application and submit your resume. We’d love to talk to you.

SungardHE and Datatel Merger

1 Commentby   |  08.05.11  |  Banner, Oracle

I received an announcement in my email inbox this morning stating that SungardHE and Datatel have “announced plans to strategically combine and operate as one company focused exclusively on serving global education.” This is one partnership that I would not have anticipated and made me say, “Wow!” I don’t say that much but had to in this case.

While I’ll admit that both companies do a good at servicing the higher education market with their offerings, the challenge will be how to handle the two technical stacks that are very different from each other. SungardHE’s Banner product is based on Oracle’s technology stack. Datatel’s is not. SungardHE’s PowerCampus is based on the MS stack. Datatel’s is not. The last time I looked at Datatel in any detail, they were using a Unidata DB for the data store and a plethora of technologies to make their product work. In short, SungardHE is very focused on their technology stack while Datatel seems to be all over the board. I recognize that SungardHE has other technologies in their arsenal but the preponderance of their software offerings and the focus of most of what they do is in Banner, which is based on Oracle and MS.

Will SungardHE attempt to ingest Datatel and move the customer base to Banner and PowerCampus or will they operate as two separate products? The initial word from Ron Lang and John Speer is that both products will continue to be supported and developed for (see the audio cast link below). But that doesn’t seem in the best long-term solution for the company. It continues to stretch both companies resources in different directions and possibly puts them both in a situation where the products and services they offer decline. My vote would be to start with both products being supported and developed but come to the table early with a strategic plan on how to move the Datatel customer base to one of the existing SungardHE products, Banner or PowerCampus.

This announcement will make SungardHE’s Summit Conference interesting this year for sure. I can see more than one challenging session about the merger with a room full of people from both sides of the isle asking some very tough questions. And they should. They have the right.

In the end, I do have confidence in SungardHE to pull this merger off. There will be some challenges along that road. There always is when you do something like this. But SungardHE has a good history with these kinds of mergers and has, in the long run, always pulled it off and made their offerings better. I anticipate no less this time.

Here is a link to an audio cast from the two CEOs of the companies as they outline the merger and what that means to each product’s customer base. I’m not sure I buy into everything they present in this audio cast but I understand that this a very high-level, preliminary presentation. The details are yet to come. You can also see more info at this link.