Archive for October, 2013

IT Strategy succeeds through users embracing it

October 30, 2013

Hello to all,

Many articles are written on a daily basis on IT Strategy. Since the 80’s, when Information Technologies became available and visible on desks and homes, many people and organizations have expressed their thoughts on IT Strategy. Very useful and often also less useful thoughts. So: why should I, and what can I add to the discussion?

The ‘Why‘ is easy: for me, IT is a fantastic ‘level playing field’ where everyone has the same chances to succeed. IT is a very young science, or as I sometimes say: IT is also an art. Only 40 years young, compared to physics: it is really just starting. And in IT everything is possible: if you have enough time and money, you can build whatever you want. See the examples, from Apple, Microsoft, via Google to Facebook and Twitter. And with many new startups in the starting blocks. IT makes me enthusiastic all day long.

And it is not about techniques or details: IT is about learning, guiding, coaching, trust, understanding and changing. Yourselves, your business users, your family: IT can help to bring solutions for most kind of needs. For me, a world without ICT would probably depress me a lot.

The ‘What‘ question is probably more difficult to describe. An IT Strategy fully depends on:

  • the type of organization
  • the investment cycle in which you are in
  • the priorities of your company
  • the wishes of your customers
  • your budget

And the list can be huge. In fact, if one would ask me, there is not such a ‘thing’ called IT Strategy. IT Strategy should be a realistic plan with agreed objectives and principles relating to use of Information Technology in your organization, and fully in line with the Business Strategy. As IT is part of the business, IT strategy is to me just a part of the overall company strategy. Agreed by, and shared with, your stakeholders, shareholders, partners and teams.

As IT leaders, we tend to focus too often on technology aspects and the future, while forgetting the people, and our history. I often try to make a relation to other businesses, such as building houses, textile production, or printing books. Business with a history over several hundreds of years old, and with techniques that have become better during the past centuries.

Personally, I am not such a strategist. I like to analyze situations, data, people, environment, followed by advising and implementing realistic goals. In project mode or as a continuous workflow. I like to compare the offshore outsourcing IT with the Bangladesh T-shirts: do we learn from this? Cheap, but maybe not always made to last long. Building houses: without a proper foundation, your house is gone in a few years. The same in IT. Books are printed since Gutenberg invented this almost 600 years ago. And we can understand e-book reading in 5 years?

My advice for IT strategy is the famous KISS principle: keep it simple, stupid. Find the right balance between people, changes, P&L and technology. Not easy, but do-able. If your most basic user in the company understands what your IT strategy is about, you will succeed. As there is no IT without users, you will succeed your strategy not just thanks to your own efforts, but thanks to your users embracing your views and actions.

Take care, and I will be back soon.

Donna Tartt’s latest book ‘Het Puttertje’

October 30, 2013

Hello to all,

I just finished reading the latest book of Donna Tartt : in Dutch it is called ‘Het Puttertje’, making a reference to the famous painting of ‘Het Puttertje’ of Carel Fabritius in 1654.

The English name of the painting (and the book) is : The Goldfinch. Nota: pour les francais: le nom du livre sera ‘Le chardonneret’ et disponible à partir de janvier 2014.

The Dutch version of the book contains more than 900 pages, and 1300 gram. That’s what one can call a book!

Although my favourite books are normally thrillers, this specific book is a novel. As Donna Tartt doesn’t write a lot of books (this is her third book), and the 2 previous ones were really good books, I started with enthusiasm on her 3rd novel.

The story is written around a painting ‘the goldfinch’, a famous painting over more than 350 years old. Due to the big fire in Delft in 1654, very little paintings of Fabritius are left. And this specific one is really nice.

It begins with a visit in a museum where the main character, Theo, still very young with his 13 years, is hurt and loses his mother by an explosion in a New York museum. The story tells his life, from a lonely person in New York, via Las Vegas at his father, and back to New York where he becomes a famous art specialist. But at the explosion, he has taken the painting with him, and being afraid to return it, it becomes the ‘red line’ throughout the book.

The book is a story about life, power, low, fate and trust. Well defined characters, with my personal favorite ‘Hobie’. Well written scenes, especially in New York and Amsterdam. The story around the chain (check the goldfinch!) and the life of Theo is well thought.

But: for me the book is too long. I do not think that over 900 pages were needed to tell this story. Even with all the details, the background, the people and all the other fictional aspects, I had several pages I could read very fast because, in my humble view, in fact nothing happened. I would call it a ‘flat’ book.

As I said to some people after having read the book: on page 600 nothing really had occurred. The last 300 pages, the adventures in Europe added some interest, but not enough to make this a top novel. I was disappointed after reading the last page.

I am sorry for the fans of Donna Tartt : to me, it is not her best book. But if you are fan, you should for sure read ‘Het Puttertje’. No doubt. But it is not my personal 2013 favourite.

Being back soon, take care!

ps You can currently admire the real painting at ‘The Frick Collection’ in New York, as they have their great overview of Dutch painters (Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis). Until January 19, 2014.

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Octyx 2014 : my private hobby

October 30, 2013

Hello to all,

It has been a while since my latest blog.

Many things happened (see one of my next blogs coming up).

This blog is to inform you on the release of Octyx 2014, my private hobby. As you may know, Steve Jobs’ private hobby was the Apple TV, what in the mean time became also an interesting playground and pre-test for their upcoming TV (expected in 2014).

Octyx is already around since 2004 : once started as ‘Avignon Concept’, it was first meant to be a private software to keep track of my books (I read a lot of books :-)). And, back in 2004, there were not so many mp3 players around, I tracked also my music and film files. Followed by several other collection databases. Today I can proudly say : Octyx organizes what you care about.

As I speak myself several languages, I thought it was nice to add some languages, ending up in 2014 with 10 languages in the system. Available languages are : English, French (Français), Dutch (Nederlands), German (Deutsch), Italian (Italiano), and several others. Available to you immediately.

Since 2004, the program became a full-fledged collection and organizational tool. It runs on Windows and it has become a mature tool to handle all those little things you want to store. It includes a document handler (you know those ID dates you tend to forget …), a full secure password manager, a complete bank account system, plus a reminder and note tool. Plus you can make reports store it in PDF, and so much more.

Octyx is sold for 7.49 euro, a bargain for those who know what this beautiful program can do. And my customers, still a small number but growing, are really happy. And so am I, as I use it every day.

For the next months, extensions are foreseen to the mobile world. The basis stays the secure encrypted database on your personal PC (‘no-one else can touch it’), but you will be able to check it on your mobile devices.

It is really a private hobby; it allows me to enjoy satisfied customers, it allows me to understand the world of Google and other types of API’s, it allows me to understand the world of touch devices, etc. Just fun.

Interested? Have a look at www.octyx.com. Download it, and come back to buy a licence if you are satisfied. Thanks in advance.

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