Category: Strategy

Unrest in technolgy industry

Lot happened since I wrote my last blog: Steve Job left Apple’s chief executive office; HP came up with radically different business strategy; Facebook is working on a search tool; Google launched Google+; Google bought Motorola Mobility; Google bought IBM’s patents for undisclosed amount; Future of Android after Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility appears to be questionable; Microsoft continues to prove its copycat marketing strategy with Mango; It is more than obvious that personal computers migrating to legacy typewriter category; Oracle has the money and may have the desire to buy HP; Scientist found a planet made of diamond; gold deposits in earth were carried by asteroids – keep eye on those asteroid to monitor the gold value in financial market  and few other significant ones.

For each one of these events, I wanted to write a blog but unfortunately after 24th hour of a day, clock is reset for the next day and cycle repeated. And today, due to the heavy rain in Michigan my pre-quarter final cricket game got cancelled and got free few minutes and hence this blog post.

By watching the significant events in recent past, it is evident all the tech dinosaurs are roaming wild to avoid the next big tech asteroid.  In current market, it is a big business puzzle to predict the predator and prey due to growth acceleration rate in terms of consumer adoption in the technology segment. Lots of companies were formed in a garage with a simple idea and some of them were successful by simplifying the original idea and became a giant, and soon, it is worth for billions. Most of the overnight multi-billion dollar companies do not manufacture goods; do not provide a tangible service and hence very vulnerable for next big simpler idea.

Recent trends have been proving the 200 year old economics theory needs fundamental change. The economic value is not only measured by goods and services but by a geo-cosmic fiber created by invisible social network.

Dominant player in the technology company map is rapidly changing and player who is of size of a continent soon becomes unnoticeable island and vice-versa.  All recent activities in the technology segment are all about positioning to the uncharted journey of consumer trends. We wish we have a magic lens to preview the future but we don’t. We understand and agree no tool or process or person can predict the future precisely but people are capable of approximate or define it.

How do we approximate the future?

Keep in mind few concepts.

  • Timing is everything.
  • Learn history and study current.
  • Unleash the core and its dependencies.
  • Connect the dots.

Using the above concepts, how do we approximate the future of disk storage market segment?  It will become a 30-40 page research report to completely answer the question. So, the approach is to scratch the surface to provide an idea how to approximate the future with an example.

There are few dominant players in the storage industry like NetApp, EMC, IBM, Hitachi and etc. Today the storage is based on longitudinal magnetic recording or perpendicular magnetic recording. The limitation of this recording methods are competing requirement of read, write and stability. The size of storage unit using this technology ranges from 130 gb – 1 tb in square inch. The next generation recording will be based on shingled magnetic recording, bit patterned recording or thermally-assisted recording or combination of bit patterned and thermally assisted and over comes the limitation in the current recording methods. The storage unit size will range from 2 – 10 tb in square inch.

All the current, future magnetic and thermal recording is done by set of semiconductors. There are set of companies manufacture those semiconductors that are used in manufacturing the storage units. The trends of semiconductors are based on the advancement in the quantum physics and solid state physics. The trends of the solid state physics can be studied by research made in academia by monitoring the paper published in journals and forums (like carbon based semiconductors are emerging and future electronic devices like iPad will have almost zero mass and can be folded and kept inside a shirt pocket).  Connect all the above to trends of associated technology (quantum computing), problems faced by end users, problem introduced by the associated new technology trends, and etc. Being exhaustive in each step stated above will approximate the future of the storage industry.

All the current tech giants are performing the similar studies to define or approximate the future. They are defining their merger and acquisition strategy, corporate strategy, business strategy, collaborative strategy and competitive strategy. It has become more challenging due to fundamental change in economic valuation and hence the unreset in technology industry.

Time only can answer the actual results of these strategies of technology giants.

I wish I had more time to write less in this post.

Google’s Nexus One

The next generation computation devices are lurking around in TED as sixth sense devices and labs are experimenting contact lens devices to present the most relevant information in real-time with out manually seeking. The devices will search for relevancy and the present the information to the user. It is very similar to Terminator movie (please watch video carefully at 2.13)  where the aliens receive the most relevant information for the given circumstance. The future devices will make the information readily available based on our circumstance, situation, and mood.  Well, it is not science fiction any more and it will soon become a  reality.

For those future devices, which are currently in experimental labs, the key component is an information gateway. Information gateway will seek  relevant information for each user based on location, mood, and circumstance.  The information gateway are nothing but the next generation smart phones. These information gateway will replace personal usage of PCs and laptops.

Google strategy team stuck a good balance to compete in the current market with Apple iPhone, RIM’s blackberry and laid basic foundation for information gateway market.  Google launched Nexus one as their phone product today to consumer using Android operating system. Nexus one provides easy integration for all social networking tools and techniques. There are more detail comparison done between Nexus one and iPhone and this article focus is to study Google’s strategy and it’s alignment for future technology evolution.

Google’s strategy to provide options to consumer to select the service providers  invites more customer base. However, I’m not excited about its  pricing strategy. The device cost around $520 per unit. The pricing strategy will not let current iPhone users to migrate to Nexus one and also blackberry users will not quickly migrate to Nexus one since it does not focus more on running business application (like VIN locator, inventory management and etc).

Nexus one is an another great thing for Google but the unit price needs to come down..

Bright Future for Auto-Industry

Simplifying a complex problem by breaking into small solvable parts and using knowledge learned in a driving school during a fatal accident are simplification and abstraction techniques widely used in a practical  world. Have you ever noticed the behavior of a person during  a fatal accident? During an accident, provided the person is not seriously injured and able to think to their capacity, the capacity (volume) and capability (strength) of the person is fully utilized to face and over come the situation. The capacity, capability and the effective utilization of it during the crisis or fatal accident increases exponentially.  If some one deeply think about why most of the people become effective during the crisis is due to extreme focus the brain forces itself to get over the situation. That is ultimatum for some of existing meditation techniques and the same reason why some of the adventures sports like rock climbing are very attractive. It is a kind of enforcement mind brings to mind itself. But at the same time, mind does not perform the strategic analysis  to its best during the crisis mode and that is the same reason why the best supreme court lawyer hires another lawyer when they face a crisis.

How this is relevant to current auto industry?

Well, GM and Chrysler both have had faced a separate fatal accidents.  Both are utilizing their capacity, capability and utilizing it effectively. When it comes to survival, as Maslow theory in the management suggests, your basic needs becomes top most priority and enlightenment are out of focus.  The decisions and execution made in last few weeks generally would have taken decades in their corporate culture. Executive management totally understand how to move forward. With assistance with auto task forces, concessions with unions, agreement with debtors ,reduction in  dealer network, dropping a brand, focus on fuel efficiency and quality  are good signs for a great recovery.

Why a great recovery waiting for them?

Four years ago, US market sold 17.5 Million units per year. This year, industry is struggling to sell 10 Million units. The average car age in America today is 9 years old.  Car purchase is the second biggest purchase a consumer would make after the American dream of owning a house.  Consumer confidence is the key and it is and it will continue to gain slowly for next 9 months and rapidly after that.  The credit market is far better than it was 6 months ago with enough capital infusion to credit market. Introducing better credit standards, oversight and governance, the credit market is stabilizing. The moment a person believes their jobs are safe, the consumer confidence in stock market, retail purchase, credit market will raise and the consumer is going to donate their 10 years old car to charity and buy the fuel efficient (Hybrid, Diesel, Electric) car. Both GM, Chrysler are making tough choices now and getting  ready to meet the huge market demand in 18 months.

Until then, sit tight and be part of the touch choices and move Detroit to new 2011++ future.

Yes I hear you.., I have not written a blog for almost a month.. that is mainly due to my last few weeks focus on completing  the graduate course on Linear Algebra. I had my finals yesterday and thinking about, should I take Dynamical Systems and Choas theory in summer. It will definetely help to model the current economical situation!!!

Out of box ideas for Big 3 – Strategist view

American auto industry in the brink of collapse and Deutsche bank slashed the GM target price to zero. Big three (Chrysler, Ford, General Motors) actively looking for government aid and president elect is committed even before election to assist to maintain the American iconic auto industry.  All big three need immediate cash to survive but need products and customers to sustain. They will survive for now if government provides assistance, will they sustain?

Here are my out of the box sustainability ideas to keep the icons alive:

  • Ask U.S Government to provide defense contracts to manufacture big trucks, small trucks & jeep
  • Send the highly paid sales VPs to meet the defense ministers of countries like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Finland, Norway and etc to get defense contracts to manufacture trucks and jeeps
  • Big three should collaboratively compete. Follow Nash equilibrium. Let Chrysler only make minivan & jeep, Ford only make truck and GM only make SUV & Sedan.
  • Ask U.S government to subsidize gas price for next 2 years. That is the price of gas will be fixed as $1.50 for next 2-3 years.
  • Establish American Auto Research firm (like Routeone) with the goal of producing a blue print to manufacture 80 miles per gallon car in 2 years. (WE CAN DO IT!! YES, WE CAN DO IT) Hire a quantum physicist as the CEO of AAR.  The guy who understands quantum can do anything!!
  • Change the culture. I heard, group of highly paid employees work really hard on a presentation for weeks (sometime months) to present and please a small set of executives. Cut the crap and ask everyone to relate their work to bottom line. Ask employees NOT to do a task if it does not directly relate to customer, product, cost, revenue and quality. Need strategic minded ,practical leaders deployed across to transform each division in each company

Enterprise Architecture – Team Size Analysis

I believe there has been increased clarity on the information architecture roles in the recent years. Particularly there are few good healthy discussions on how to develop an enterprise architects and what should be their roles? and what is the value proposition to an organization? In general, there is a better awareness in the senior and executive management teams to differentiate an enterprise architect with other architects (system architects, information architects, business architects, process architects and etc). It has been a challenge for the executives to define the apt size of the enterprise architects for their organization.

The question is: What is the apt size of an enterprise architecture team for an organization?

Consultant Answer: It depends..

Consultant answer is correct.

The real question is: What are the factors used to determine size of an enterprise architecture team in an organization?

The list of enterprise level factors used to determine the size of an enterprise architecture team.

  • Number of products/service provided by the organization
  • Revenue of the organization
  • Profit of the organization
  • Business Process maturity of the organization
  • Finance & controlling maturity level

The list of IT factors used to determine the size of an enterprise architecture team.

  • Number of people (including employees, contractors, consultants, out sourced) and their ratio
  • IT budget and Finance management controls
  • IT Process and system maturity level
  • Enterprise architecture adaption rate (or EA maturity assessment)

Based on the above factors the EA team can be classified as large, medium and small. Large is of team size of 50+, medium is of team size between 15-50 and small is of team size less than 20. Let me emphasis the small EA team. I believe majority of the corporation will come under this category and let me expand on the small size of EA team.

Organization structure for a small size EA Team:

Chief Architect (or manager of EA team) should directly report to the CIO. Along with EA function, IT Finance management, IT Security, SOX controls, vendor management functionalities also should come under the same small size EA team.

(Double click the image to zoom..)

Different types of architects

Architect defines the architecture. Broadly the architects are divided into the technical and business architects. The business architect are focused on the economical change of the market and devise  a set of  business process  for enterprise or systems adaption and to attain enterprise or system’s mission and vision.  The technical architects are  focused on implementation of the business architecture defined to meet enterprise’s or system’s mission and vision.

The technical architects are broadly divided into

    System/Product architect
    Domain Architect
    Solution Architect
    Applied Architect
    Enterprise architect

Based on the architect characteristics, the types of technical architects shall be divided into the generalist and specialist. The specialist focus on one specific area and the knowledge acquired and possessed by the architect is deep. Where as the generalist, knowledge acquired and possessed in a set of areas is broad.
System/product Architect

System/Product architect are the generalist, responsible for the cohesive architecture solution of the system or product. They have equal strength in the both technical and business area. Plays a vital role to bring all the stake holders together and ensure all the stake holders concern’s are captured methodologically, formally documented and validated. Assist the project manager to make the management decision and makes key technical decision for the project/system/product. Brings all the technical architects, development teams, system analyst, and support teams together to ensure the cohesive architecture is defined to meet the stake holders concern and ensures the defined architecture is implemented. The system architecture validation is done by using the user case scenarios. +1 view of the architecture. The architecture verification is done through reviews.

Domain Architect

Domain architects are the specialist, responsible for the architecture solution for that domain. The domain architect is an abstract definition and there are various domain architects. The domain architects specific to the web development projects are

  • Application architect
  • Data architect
  • Information architect
  • Integration architect
  • Security architect
  • IT Process architect
  • Infrastructure architect
    • Network architect
    • Server architect
    • Web run time architect

Solution Architect

Solution architecture team is the set of specialist working together to research and seek solutions for a specific problem.

Applied Architect

Applied architects are match makers. The applied architects have the known set of problems, solution and context. The architectural patterns are applied to the system or product. The architectural patterns includes to the process solution or methodology for the implementation and its style.

Enterprise Architect

Enterprise architect are responsible for defining the holistic architecture solution for the entire enterprise.

How to become an enterprise architect ?

For past few years, quite a few employees, contractors, consultants, right sourcing consultants in the organization asked me this question, what they should do to work for me? In other words, how they could become an enterprise architect. Generally, when someone has this question in the organization, I asked them to schedule a mentoring meeting and try to understand what they want to do and how their aspiration and ambition fits into an enterprise architect’s requirement and coach them accordingly. When this questions became a frequently asked question to me, I decided to document the state transition diagram for an enterprise architect and started providing it to whom ever wants to become an enterprise architect.

I believe this has a value to anyone who wants to become an enterprise architect. This state transition is an ideal road map to become an enterprise architect. When I attended a Gartner conference recently, I informally bounced this idea with fellow enterprise architecture managers, chief architects, chief strategist and most of them agreed that this is the ideal road map for developing enterprise architect talent in an organization.