Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Interactive Design Requires IT Solution Architectures

In the world of online, interactive design, it’s not always clear when the business/interaction designing ends and the IT development begins – or for that matter, how much development is really needed. Even though the project plan might be very clear, governance requirements of the Enterprise IT environment can drive a chicken-or-egg scenario.

While you can’t really finalize the detailed IT design and specifications until the visual design, functional requirements and information architecture are complete…these elements do need to be informed very early and often by some concrete IT direction and constraints in order to be realistic and actually capable of meeting the business requirements. IT investments to support your project also need to be confirmed as early as possible (for example if a new CMS platform is needed), since the lead time for approving, paying, installing, configuring and training activities associated with the new HW/SW may take as long as the entire project was originally planned.

However, choosing IT products too far in advance of detailed requirements approval might result in extra cost and serious system or function incompatibilities. The need for balance between evolving project requirements and the pressure to make the right IT investments and use them appropriately can be mitigated through methodical IT Solution Architecture practices.

An IT Solution Architecture is essentially an abstraction, or a model, of all the IT-related elements that need to be implemented together to meet business requirements within the IT investment context, including the resources that deliver or use the IT-related elements. Think of a traditional “CONOPS” (Concept of Operations) with an “IT Architecture and Plan” overlay, that meets the Interactive Design objectives. This model takes shape very early in the business solution dialogue, conforming to any Enterprise Architecture models that may be available, and evolves as the solution requirements become more detailed – both influencing the requirements and reflecting them. The model can be represented in many ways, for example through illustrations, process flows, checklists, inventories or documented approaches.

This model is then communicated and used, as the business-to-system requirements are completed, to create the technical requirements, finalize IT asset and service investments and to plan the overall detailed design/build/test/deploy phases.
The Solution Architecture guides more detailed development of the domain-specific technical, system and process architectures - for example the overall security, data, integration and storage architectures. It helps the project maintain traceability from the ultimate technical designs, back not only to the business requirements, but to the guiding IT investment context and Enterprise Architecture. This traceability provides risk mitigation to both the project and its overall investment program, and helps ensure a successful testing phase.

Typically as an unintended benefit, use of a Solution Architecture may also improve the overall collaboration and knowledge-sharing environment of the project.

Therefore, the path from Interactive Design to an implemented, successful IT Solution is considerably more efficient and likely more successful at meeting business requirements if a Solution Architecture is involved, preferably managed by an IT Solution Architect with considerable experience in current system architectures and standards, IT systems engineering and interactive IT solutions.

Find out more about Interactive Design and IT Solution Architectures at Navigation Arts, an Interactive Design and Information Architecture solution consulting firm in McLean, VA.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What's the Scope of Internet Marketing - the Elevator Speech

A few times recently I've been asked to very plainly explain Internet Marketing/Interactive Marketing, why it's so much better than buying magazine ads, and whether it's really helpful. Here are the basic talking points:

  • Internet Marketing means promoting and advertising your business through all the Internet channels your customers might use, like your website, other websites, email and social media (i.e. Facebook and Twitter).
  • Most businesses have an Internet website, really nice ones, but that’s not enough - it should also be highlighted appropriately, for customers to discover…a beautiful storefront in a dark alley attracts no customers.
  • One way to highlight your website and business is by placing references or advertisements (i.e. “banner ads”, “articles”, “backlinks”, “coupons”, “infomercials”, etc.) on other websites – but only on websites that will most likely send valuable customers to you. There are many choices to consider, both free and paid, and the links or ads need to be well-designed (both the audio/visual and written elements).
  • Another way is through Internet search engines, like Google and Yahoo. Your customers can use many types of search engines online to find you. These services will highlight your business through their search results, in 2 ways – by paid advertisements (i.e. “Pay Per Click”, or “PPC”), or if your website is very popular and relevant for the search term. To be highlighted successfully, your website, and any online content you create that points back to it, must be “Search Engine Optimized” (SEO).
  • A third way for customers to find your business on the Internet, is through “earned media”. This means other people on the Internet are voluntarily writing about and sharing great feedback about your business, to their readers, friends and family. This is done on social media like blogs, bookmarking services, Facebook, Twitter, etc. There are many ways to engage and convince others to start online conversations about your products and services – leading to more interested and ultimately paying customers.
  • Other ways to market your business on the Internet include using games, applications, videos, podcasts…there are many ways to do this, but not all may be appropriate or within your budget.
  • Be sure to focus marketing first on websites you own - optimizing content on 3rd-party websites and relying on social media for advertising is a temporal proposition - these sites can quickly go away, and your material be lost.
  • Internet Marketing includes the “conversion” – i.e., your website must be designed to not only attract people, but convince them to act or buy your product.
  • If done right, they’ll come back for more, and tell others about it.
  • Most Internet Marketing is much less expensive and reaches more people in your target demographic than traditional media, including TV and magazines. It also lasts longer, and can be accessed not only through personal computers, but through cellphones, GPS devices, electronic billboards, game consoles and digital TVs.
  • Internet Marketing can also be tracked and analyzed in great detail – unlike traditional advertising (i.e. how many people saw your ad in a magazine, and called you as a result?). This means your return-on-investment (ROI) can be significantly higher. At a lower total-cost-of-ownership (TCO). More customers for less money.
  • In order to achieve best value, however, your Internet Marketing must be tracked, reported and analyzed correctly – since user activity and competing information changes so quickly on the Internet. Your own reputation and brand must also be monitored on a regular basis, to be quickly alerted regarding negative impacts to you, your business or product. Negative information can be spread quickly by employees, competitors, customers or other reviewers.
  • Your Internet Marketing campaigns should also be integrated with your other marketing and advertising campaigns, in content, execution, budget and reporting. Use phone numbers in online and offline ads that can be tracked via online voice services, for example.
  • Your competition is already on the Internet – and if they’re using effective Internet Marketing, they are very quickly gaining an advantage that’s not easily overcome.
  • Your customers are also already on the Internet, especially the younger ones. If they’re not, they soon will be.
  • To take full advantage of all the Internet Marketing techniques available, in a way that is best suited to your business, professional Internet Marketing services are recommended – especially services from a well-established, technically-current media and marketing firm. This is particularly true for local businesses – a DC local media and marketing firm or larger, national interactive marketing and web design firm will know best the conditions affecting your local Internet Marketing.

So that's the basic elevator pitch script - but there's obviously a lot more, at much greater levels of detail, that will come into play for large, complex online marketing initiatives across thousands of online "channels". Most, however, will want to start with the very basics, which will include SEO of your own website.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Art and Architecture of the Interactive User Experience in DC

Very recently I've changed gears a bit to focus much more, on a daily basis, on the "Front End" of the Business Information Management lifecycle - at DC's Navigation Arts, "Architects of the User Experience".

In all digital interactive implementations (i.e. websites and digital applications), a great deal of artistry and intellectual insight is required to fully understand and create a compelling interactive design (both the creative components and information architecture, or navigation) that satisfies both users and investors. As well, a significant amount of communication and translation is needed to successfully implement the design across the required media channels and on top of the supporting IT infrastructure - compliant with business and IT investment constraints.

Many times this translation, between users/designers and the IT "back end" ecosystem (including vendors and 3rd-party service providers) is not much more than a "toss over the wall", subject to significant misunderstandings, inefficiencies, deployment and investment risks.

Where considerable process re-engineering and inclusion of automated services is necessary, a mature engineering lifecycle (we'll assume SOA-influenced) typically takes advantage of process modeling, service definitions and use cases to inform the technical requirements process. The technical requirements will therefore include models of the system, compliant with architecture standards, from perspectives including data and content, technologies and IT management, information-flows and interfaces, organization and roles, and automated processes, workflows and reusable services. These models stand a good chance of adequately reflecting traceable and testable business requirements, while properly orienting and informing the IT designers and developers.

Where the outcome is purely an exercise in web content presentation and interaction strategy, heavily focused on information-sharing vs. data processing, the visual design/information architecture translation to IT requirements tends to end at the WCM model - which very often is the proprietary model of the WCM COTS vendor.

However, if the information needs of the users, intended to be satisfied through the new web design/information architecture, outgrow the native WCM capabilities (in terms of features, scaling or data management) - additional and early "interactive architecture models" are required to inform the supporting IT requirements and design staff, AND translate these additional requirements back to the business investors. These additional models might extend or enhance the information management model fulfilled in part by the WCM tooling, to include additional datastores and sources, media channel interfaces, and perhaps other legacy data management infrastructure. More investment needed, therefore, for IT elements that no one outside of the IT department fully understands.

This is truly, in today's very fragmented, open source-oriented, multi-platform world of the interactive digital user experience, where much more guidance, many more standards and cost-effective modeling tool options are required - to assist in the project-driven translation of user requirements from Art to Architecture.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Raising the Situational Awareness of Your Enterprise IT Program Management Office|PMO

The concept and use of the Program Management Office (PMO) in Government Information Technology (IT) procurements is both time-tested and well-known. A PMO is typically comprised of experience program and project management personnel, who help the government (i.e. the “client”) monitor and evaluate the performance of significant IT investments – for example building a new computer system, reorganizing and automating business processes, or implementing new IT capabilities within an existing environment. The PMO ensures that program-level risks are mitigated, standards and methods regarding system engineering lifecycle activities are followed, quality management procedures are implemented and all resource utilization is effectively tracked, managed and reported.

The PMO also (and perhaps most importantly) helps make sure that individual procurement and project managers, together contributing to an overall program’s success, are effectively communicating and sharing information and reusable insight. The most capable PMOs provide coordination of planning, communications and reporting between and among the business units and IT staff. This PMO then delivers visibility, by providing some degree of a “common operating picture” (COP) to IT investment and mission stakeholders, based on the “situational awareness” (SA) captured via execution of PMO monitoring and review processes.

Standard PMO practices and organizations, however, are ill-prepared to meet the more real-time demands of “services-oriented” IT investments, in today’s very collaborative, new-media influenced environments. These investment programs require constant, frequent collection and use of information gathered across the entire IT stakeholder enterprise, at multiple levels of visibility, reflecting quickly evolving synergies between the business owners and IT service providers. Reporting earned-value metrics (EVM) including quality, schedule and cost variances across an integrated master schedule (IMS) doesn’t always reflect strategic context or correlate with emerging, changing stakeholder profiles and investments. Tracking and reporting simple delivery of Systems Engineering Lifecycle artifacts misses out on the “value” and “impact” discussions. Effective means of disbursing insight and harvesting reaction doesn’t exist outside of very rigid, procedure-driven communications channels.

While a typical PMO governs the IT investment management processes of many related projects, it falls short of capturing and participating in the development of actionable knowledge around the enterprise that’s not distinctly identified as a project deliverable, but may be enterprise situational awareness that most definitely may result in unplanned risk or success.

Therefore, today’s standard PMO organization, processes and scope of influence requires some evolution, into more of an “Enterprise IT PMO” – to cut across not only the project-oriented IT investment activities, but also to bridge the enterprise services-oriented communication, collaboration and information-sharing activities (that aren’t clearly the singular domain of either business or IT interests). This evolved PMO would foster a more actionable Enterprise Architecture (EA) and Performance Management Plan (PfM), drive increasingly effective Knowledge Management practices (both in and outside of the firewall), respond to and leverage more frequent organizational change, and promulgate rapid enhancements to the IT investment governance processes that are more driven by real-time insight vs. uninformed standard processes. The kinds of new “architect, coaching and consulting” roles, vs. purely administrative, that would be introduced in such an EIT-PMO include:

• Communications and Outreach Manager
• Solution Integration Architect
• SOA Functional Architect
• Enterprise Knowledge and Information Architect
• Enterprise Performance Manager

Communications and Outreach Manager

The Program Communications and Outreach Manager would fulfill the role of the “IT-Savvy Public Relations” staff, albeit leveraging where possible all communications monitoring and distribution channels available. Inside the firewall, available channels would be used for creating, distributing, monitoring and responding to messages and dialogue about the program using email, Intranet sites, blog/microblogs, feedback forms, bulletin boards, wikis, etc. Outside the firewall, this role would be responsible for monitoring dialogue about the program, responding to or channeling questions and feedback, producing and distributing information in a manner that takes advantage of common Internet Marketing techniques (so that the information is found quicker, more often and in the right circumstances). The primary objective of this new role is to enable more timely, collaborative and useful dialogue among a much more connected and complex stakeholder ecology, and to manage and leverage common social media tools or “social business software” as much as possible.

Solution Integration Architect

The Program Solution Integration Architect serves the function of identifying and categorizing prioritized IT resources to meet Business Requirements, aligning IT services and investments to both the Program Business Case and the Enterprise Architecture constraints, and pulling together the organizational roles, structure and expertise necessary to create and implement the Planning or Analysis phases of a program. This role requires an experienced mix of Program Management, Enterprise Architecture and IT Investment Management skills, along with a healthy dose of contextual knowledge and awareness (i.e. understanding of the business and mission). Typically this role is fulfilled by a mosaic of business, IT and program management staff – however, there do exist in most organizations or consulting groups experienced Enterprise Architects or System Architects who not only understand the business problem and context, but have also some background in systems engineering lifecycle-based project management. Such personnel are invaluable additions to the type of PMO being described here, and can truly help bridge the planning and communications gap between the Program Owners/Investors, the Business Users and the Enterprise IT Department.

SOA Functional Architect

Many large IT initiatives these days tend to reflect the influence of Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) methods, if not actually practice them. Very often on an SOA-guided IT Program, the SOA or Functional Architect is a member of the “Technical Team”, though with considerable influence or membership among the “Business Team” groups. That’s the role, to help guide the expression of business and functional requirements in terms of reusable processes and accompanying standardized, automated IT components and services, aligned with the Enterprise Architecture. There’s very often a time-sucking disconnect between the functional and technical architecture build, and the program management resourcing necessary to approve, apply resources, monitor and communicate theses activities with the rest of the Program stakeholders. Installing an SOA-experienced Functional Architect on the PMO should significantly decrease the amount of time spent convincing program owners, investors and stakeholders as to the effectiveness and appropriateness of the developing solution design, whether from a resource management or enterprise architecture compliance perspective.

Enterprise Knowledge and Information Architect

An often overlooked and under-resourced requirement of large PMOs is the need for integrated knowledge and information management. A large PMO governing investment across a collection of very complex, inter-related Enterprise IT domains will itself both collect and generate huge volume of information. Not all the information will be documented and preserved effectively; much will be trapped within the brains and personal processes of individual managers and SMEs. The Communications and Outreach role described above will do a lot to unlock, expose and collect some of this, but an information and knowledge management strategy would help actually harness it to achieve significant gains in productivity, risk mitigation, investment control and overall delivery of mission or business value. The most valuable information probably revolves around the more tacit reasons, factors and sources of program successes and failure, vs. the explicit policies, standards, reports, issue logs and EVM metrics. The PMO is itself a major consumer and provider of information, and therefore deserves a dedicated strategy for managing its information and associated data management tools and repositories – rather than relying perhaps on underutilized, inefficient or otherwise unhelpful existing information management tools and processes.

Enterprise Performance Manager

Standard PMO processes and roles include many who engage in tracking metrics, creating reports, establishing and mapping Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and aligning project performance measures and results to IT acquisition and investment management goals. This last role, mapping project results to enterprise objectives, is a role that requires quite a bit of creativity, enterprise insight and near real-time situational awareness of enterprise IT investments, project status and personnel resources. As service-enabled (i.e. SOA) capabilities are rapidly conceived and deployed around the enterprise, the return-on-investment (ROI) numbers and total costs of ownership (TCO) calculations that have been projected for your program, and included in the annual budgeting cycle, can quickly and significantly change. As projects - upon which your own program depends - rapidly evolve and deliver anticipated (or unanticipated) results, many dependencies or relationships that constrain your project may quickly change.

As significant knowledge is obtained or developed within communities or expertise or key personnel around or outside the organization – that clearly change some of your project’s assumptions, performance targets or resource availability – this must quickly be used to re-factor your own project’s performance goals, and must be quickly communicated and shared with your project’s stakeholders and investors. This kind of knowledge and insight, reflecting tacit performance trends and outcomes around the enterprise, might be monitored and tracked in terms that those evangelizing Social Media programs understand – tracking relationships, resonance of opinion, reach and influence of negative sentiment, and other factors that implicitly highlight probable issues ors risks for your program. In short, program performance management must have an enterprise perspective with which to constantly and quickly measure the impact of change.

Most PMOs moving forward in this era of information-sharing, social media and fine-grained, agile IT Investment needs will require consideration of the roles outlined in this Enterprise IT PMO illustration, if not others. Smaller PMO’s would be wise to seek these roles as shared capabilities and inherent skills among experienced managers; larger PMO’s might directly staff to these positions (or otherwise assign these roles to existing, dedicated resources). Blackstone Technology Group’s Federal Government Practice, in Washington DC, is a great example of a Federal Government IT Management and Consulting firm that is actively applying these strategies and roles in its execution of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) PMO contracts (with Enterprise IT scope). Contact Blackstone for more information, and also find more information about their participation in the upcoming DHS Eagle II Acquisition Program.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

DC Jobs: Seeking Sr. Program Advisor-Manager (SETA), Sr. Java/SOA Architect, Development Mgr.

Seeking Full-Time Roles for US Federal Government positions right now, with a very healthy and well-respected IT Consulting firm in DC - contact me at tedmclaughlan AT gmail DOT com. :

Sr. JAVA/SOA Architect - 7 years experience
(contact me for more details; general background consistent with SETA role below)

Development Manager
(contact me for more details; general background consistent with SETA role below)

Sr. Technical Advisor (SETA) - 7 years experience

This is a very unique, interesting, fulfilling and critical role - send me questions, your resume and I can help you understand more...

- Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in an engineering or science discipline with a minimum of 10 years experience in government consulting.

- Active DoD Secret Clearance Required.

- Must successfully complete a stringent Background Investigation and obtain the required Government Security (Active DHS clearance is a plus - U.S. Citizenship is a requirement).

- Previous experience in a Systems Engineering Technical Advisory (SETA) role, working within an large, established Program Office environment, to include background with systems analysis and design of information systems programs, preferably in a consulting firm environment. Government client experience is highly desired.

- Experience w/ and desire to work in a PMO environment.

- Well versed in technical concepts (enterprise architecture integration, data centers activities/virtualization, data management, application life cycle management, web portals) and demonstrates strong tactical delivery and implementation management experience.

- Must have all or some combination of the following skills:

o IT experience in the applicable industry

o Quality program experience, such as ISO-9000, CMMI or Six Sigma implementation and assessments

o Specific project management training experience

o Familiar with implementing information sharing and collaboration portals

o Familiar with portal and content management products

- Demonstrates outstanding leadership skills and success building team relationships and partnerships across organizational lines

- Experienced managing client requirements and related team members

- Demonstrates excellent analytical skills and business presentation skills

- Demonstrates strong client interfacing skills: a positive attitude, high energy, very articulate communication, excellent interpersonal skills, out-going, and highly motivated

- Excellent oral and written communication skills (ability to create and maintain technical documentation leveraging SMEs for content)

- Experience with MS Project

- You demonstrate the ability to interact comfortably with Senior Leadership and/or Government Executives and staff on a day-to-day basis.

- You are a self-starter who can provide client solutions with minimal instructions and can run independently on projects.

- You thrive in a dynamic work environment, exhibiting ability to be flexible and a strong team-player.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Are Portals Headed for a CRISIS? Channel Rendered Identity Served Information Sharing

Having managed delivery of eGovernment services over the Internet for the past 15 years, I’ve lived through the rise of the “Intentions-Based Portal” in programs including IRS.gov, NYC.gov, USAF.gov, USPS.gov, Maryland.gov, Delaware.gov and USDA.gov. The multi-subject, user customized characteristics of these Internet Portals reflected commercial success in community portals like Yahoo, Compuserve and AOL, but were fundamentally budgeted to provide strategic cost-savings via improved government efficiency – by delivering government information and highly-transactional services to constituents.

While Yahoo was all about creating a Portal for users’ entertainment, directory assistance, shopping, and social networking, serving both subscribers and advertisers, NYC.gov and other eGovernment Portals were all about more rapid, effective and comprehensive delivery of citizen services – serving both the public and agency employees. Different missions, but similar and overlapping audiences focused on a single channel, the world wide web (WWW). The focus on the audience and user-customized views, plus efficiencies gained from centralized content publishing and single-sign on, drove a rapid proliferation of Portal and accompanying Content Management System (CMS) software from now-defunct vendors including Plumtree, Eprise and BroadVision.

Portals are still here, and in widespread use – as are Portal software products, though now mostly the domain of IBM, Microsoft, SAP and Oracle. You enter the portal through your computer, choose the information or transaction you need, and then use the results in your businesses or other activities. It stays, you come and go. The portal may reproduce or extend application features and functions from other software, to this central “marketplace”, but it’s usually a shallow implementation that’s not very contextually and semantically-aware. It really doesn’t know “the Situation” ©Jersey Shore.

For example, a typical eCommerce site will, after you log into the website with your browser, present shopping options, specials, cross- and up-sell suggestions based on your profile and transaction patterns – but it really doesn’t know much about your current shopping situation, nor can you really tell it to behave as if so.

“I’m driving in the car, have a chat going with my sister, whose birthday is tomorrow, and I’m approaching a Mall – would really like to know of any cool electronic or entertainment specials that might interest her, and get suggestions from my friends and family (but influenced by industry reviews and trends). And I want an SMS suggestion right now, since anything else is hard to deal with while I’m looking for parking. If I indicate so, go ahead and ship it overnight, and I’ll pay later and frankly avoid the store altogether in favor of another geo-sensitive, socially-aware SMS suggestion (i.e. my friend’s cookout) – that’s just the way I roll.”

Enter the need for, and developing implementation of, the “channel-rendered identity served information sharing” service. Sitting there in my car, a service like this can not only record explicit commands and analyze recorded profile indicators, but infer contextual variables (like things I might want or need, location-based factors, news and knowledge-driven information) based on my channel and identity. My channel is a certain mobile platform and preferred communication style, in motion through a certain time and place, and in proximity to other available channels. My identity includes my own profile and status along many social, personal and business vectors, along with the intersection of those of my contacts in different groups, with different relationship levels. In this particular situation, I need information to be shared among several services and people towards the end of supporting my core mission, and perhaps asynchronous objectives that may be impacted. Even if my battery dies.

The vision rendered here isn’t supported by typical Portal and Content Management software, even with a largesse of integrated social media collaboration tools, semantic search and suggestion functions, and curated, real-time content feeds. This is primarily because what I need isn’t wholly-contained in one Software implementation (and license/payment agreement), but is dynamically-provisioned in a situational-aware manner by many providers, drawing on many data sources, and capable of real-time adjustments in the quality, quantity and personality of information supplied. I’m driving the car, therefore, can’t I drive my own information-sharing service? Is not my personal web presence more important than yours? Why do I need a home page?

How then, is this accomplished…

Many elements are required to pull this off, and many constraints exist – though far fewer than last year, and exponentially far fewer than in the previous. Dynamic socialization, i.e. starting a multimedia conversation across user-preferred channels in real time in response to an event – this is possible. Geo-spatially aware services that provide both proximity and contextually-significant perspective – keying off your cellphone and rendering via the heads-up display in your car – this is possible. Search engine execution and results curation of your 6-word request for information – infused with friends’ suggestions, aligned with your folksonomy, filtered for noise, and inclusive of commercial or community advertisements metered to your personal tolerance – this is possible. Offering all these services in a single software or application solution with an enterprise-driven governance, security and knowledge management model – this is not possible, and certainly not with a typical Portal product.

It is possible with smart, dynamic implementation of information-sharing services that are driven, in real time, by situational awareness of a person’s identity and access to information-delivery channels. So a single software product or set of services is unlikely to do the trick – a user-controlled implementation of a flexible services framework with open standards, pre-negotiated data governance, and implemented as a contributing node of a broader Internet social ecology will happen, and soon. Products like Jive (social business software), Jackbe (data mashup platform), 4Square (geo-aware social application) are part of the plumbing.

Perhaps a Portal (but not your father’s Portal) is necessary to turn them all on and configure to one’s benefit? Is this actually Google?

Friday, July 16, 2010

TIBCO jobs and careers - DC, Federal Government

Just a quick comment noting the increasing availability and demand for TIBCO engineers, developers, architects and other TIBCO job offerings, as TIBCO establishes its strong presence across the Federal Government and Homeland Security IT marketing with its SOA/ESB and BPM offerings, including ActiveMatrix, Silver Spotfire Cloud Business Intelligence and Analytics with Infrastructure Demand Prediction, and all other products and related systems development tools and programming languages. Average salaries range from $80K - $150K for senior architects; it's an employee demand market, so very competitive offerings are available. The TIBCO job market appears to have recovered from its downslide in 2008, and is headed sharply upwards since mid-2009 through now in 2010. Check TIBCO-jobs.com for more info...Specific TIBCO skills being sought at median salaries of $100K and rising include:

Software Design/Development, TIBCO Architect, C, HTML, SQL, Java Script, TIBCO BusinessWorks 2.x/5.x, TIBCO Collaborator/Formflow, TIBCO Adapter SDK, TIBCO Rendezvous, TIBCO Adapter for Active Database, TIBCO Adapter for SAP, and many others...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Is My Employer Practicing Web 2.0 or Government 2.0? How Can I Help?

As an employee, it can be really invigorating to discover that your employer is a trend-setting (or following) participant in Web 2.0 practices. Your employer may actually market this, its "Web 2.0 expertise". This seems to suggest your employer is current, relevant, amenable to open standards generated by a global community of open source evangelists, engaged in online social discussion, promoting its brand (and your good work) around the Internet and basically joining the fun. But is it really?

The "2.0" in phrases preceded by labels including "Web", "Enterprise", "Government" basically indicates the use of web-enabled technologies that foster online community dialogue (vs. a one-way information "push"), the use and support of network-discoverable data sharing tools created with entirely open standards, and the actual participation in online dialogue and information-sharing. In other words:

1) Find and install a tool that allows feedback (or use a 3rd-party service)
2) Enable the tool and its users to both publish and consume open standards-formatted data easily (in the environment it operates), and
3) Actually use it as intended, and let it be used with minimal restraint.

(Point number 3 above is for all those companies who've signed up for Twitter or Facebook, but don't use it in dialogue, or only push press releases).

If your company has an Intranet, or internal portal with all the bells and whistles (supporting employee postings, feedback, chat, etc.), this is a good thing. It's definitely an "Enterprise 2.0" approach - but probably is pretty constrained in terms of the three factors listed above. If the constraints are flexible and community-driven, and the "walled-garden" nature of this "behind the firewall" environment can actually leverage Internet-accessible or sourced data and tools...then your employer really is practicing Enterprise 2.0. But not necessarily Web 2.0.

Admittance to the Web 2.0 club really means that your employee's communications, data manipulation, information discovery, feedback, and knowledge contribution actually happen on the Internet - using freely available tools and services. This activity might be moderated or bounded by some kind of group membership - but it's definitely outside the firewall and on the Web. Some Enterprise 2.0 implementations can and do bridge the corporate firewall (with some content governance controls for security purposes) and the Internet - this "proxied Web 2.0" is a reasonable "on-ramp" to full Web 2.0 participation. By the way, your employees are probably practicing Web 2.0 without the proxy, on their own at home with their other communities.

Government 2.0 is basically Enterprise and/or Web 2.0 for civic purposes...and since "civic" these days includes the drive for a more open, transparent government (in terms of Internet-accessible data) - it's really Web 2.0 enabling better Government. Government entities and corporations with highly informed and advanced Enterprise 2.0 programs or tools supporting citizen-centric missions can make some claim to being part of the "Government 2.0" movement - but the leaders here fully adopt open, Internet Web 2.0 precepts.

While your employer may not actually participate itself (with its own intellectual assets) in Web 2.0, it may deliver products and services (like social extranets or data mashup web applications) that enable clients or others to do so (including for employees during their "off hours", or otherwise "volunteer time"). It may create these purely as a contribution to the global community, in a way that is entirely disassociated from the corporate knowledge systems, intellectual property or branding. Frequently this kind of benefit originates from employees acting on their own, outside corporate governance (though with implicit linkage to their employer and acknowledgment of related policy and social behavior/security constraints). Examples of this include GovLoop and GovTwit - two entirely Web 2.0 capabilities supporting the Government mission. If your employer is an explicit or implicit provider of support for such initiatives - it's practicing Web 2.0.

So, is your employer practicing Web 2.0? Probably, to some degree, especially if you're doing so yourself. If you're not, you can certainly help...it starts with discovery and feedback. Find out what others are discussing, and what tools and methods they're using to discuss it online. Participate, give back, make it better - but learn and stay within commonly-understood public discourse guidelines and corporate Internet security policies (does your employee have some?). Suggest use of helpful Web 2.0 tools on the Internet, to your community members and to your employer. Create some of your own.

If you're an employer, here's a posting about "Supporting Your Employer With Social Media", that can be used to help inform and guide your employees.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Local Online Social Behavior and Internet New Media

This group of Loudoun Blogs represents a wonderful and unique cross-section of the life and business of Loudoun County, VA, and is a very straightforward means for residents and business owners to participate in local community dialogue through “social media”. Like other communities, there are also lots of other Loudoun-centric online forums out there – on individual blogs, bulletin boards, on Facebook and LinkedIn, in Twitter streams and Wikis; thousands of Loudouners discussing topics from pizza to economic development. It’s growing consensus that identifying yourself (vs. anonymity) is much more helpful in achieving respect and social prominence on the web – but revealing your “personally identifiable information” (PII) is a two-edged sword.

Hopefully, most of us using social media (or any other communication method on the Internet) understand how and why PII should be protected. The spammers, criminal elements and virus distributors don’t need much of it to make your life miserable. Most mainstream social media tools do make it very easy to engage in online discussions, protect your sensitive information (like home address and phone), yet reveal enough about yourself to legitimize yourself as a trustworthy, contributing social networker.

A fast-growing issue, however, is that the PII under your control isn’t the only way to identify you. Your online activities and behavior may be sufficient to identify you, regardless of whether your name or other identifying information is actually available. We’ve all probably seen some of the ugly underbelly of social media, i.e. questionable behavior or plain nastiness thrown around by those foolish enough to be public about it (note to Loudoun County Schools – you really need an updated Staff and Students Social Media Policy). However, according to this New York Times article (thanks Anakam 2FA for passing this along), along with all kinds of programs underway by our Federal Government for Homeland Security purposes, it’s increasingly obvious that your online behavior leaves a durable, easy-to-identify trail behind.

So the message to the Loudoun business community in particular is, your choices of social media tools, forums, topics and profiles to leverage is only the setup – the online discussion and relationship-building behavior that follows is the slam-dunk.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Northern Virginia JEE/Oracle Agile/Scrum Master and JDevelopers wanted

Looking for a Northern Virginia Agile/Scrum Master and Jdevelopers for 2-year local gig...ask at http://www.bstonetech.com/ContactCRM.asp

For a very high-profile Education-related effort, upgrade of a significant JEE/Oracle-based data collection/ingest/analysis/OLAP/reporting effort.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Federal Open Government Directive, Social Media, SEO and Information Sharing

Last week’s “Meeting the Open Government Directive” (OGD) conference hosted by GovDelivery (new owners of the popular GovLoop.com public/private social media forum) showcased a number of very important, relevant initiatives and ideas to help Federal Agencies comply with this important White House mandate. The directive comes from a memorandum signed by President Obama on his very first day in office, to all federal agencies directing them to break down barriers to transparency, participation, and collaboration between the federal government and the people it is to serve. Most agencies have already started their compliance initiatives, creating “Open Government” pages (for example at DHS) to highlight shared data sources and programs, and all agencies are required to present their holistic strategies (i.e. their “Open Government Plan”) by April 7th of this year.

Ideas from the public regarding how agencies should approach their Open Government Plans are currently being accepted through March 19th, 2010, at specific agency pages under Ideascale.com – this “citizen engagement tool” and crowdsourcing online social media service was wisely implemented as a single program investment and IT infrastructure under GSA, shared across all agencies. This is a great opportunity to create and submit opinions and ideas regarding government information-sharing transparency – this kind of crowdsourcing has already been proving successful to the Data.gov initiative, with the open dialogue hosted at datagov.ideascale.com.

With the backdrop of the GovDelivery conference in mind (find discussion on Twitter via #govdogd), here are a few Open Government ideas and comments from a few perspectives, including those of Blackstone Technology Group’s New Media Practice.

While the OGD initiative is entirely appropriate and useful at the Federal level, so too are (and would be) similar efforts and the State and County levels. There do exist many more localized public/private initiatives where government is reaching out to harness the wisdom and unique talents of its constituents, for the purpose of rapid feedback and identification of critical applied knowledge. These initiatives are, however, typically very grassroots-driven or otherwise non-uniform in their implementation; the Federal Government might find an advantage (perhaps through individual agencies, aligned with particular government service lines of business) in extending the Open Government offerings for local use. An example might be the rapidly-developing Loudoun County, VA Economic Development Commission’s New Media initiative, where local business and government leaders are working together to find ways to leverage new and social media to attract and retain business investment in the County. Where this initiative does have presence on most major social networks (for example on LinkedIn and GovLoop), perhaps the Department of Commerce’s Open Government dialogue could be segmented (or enhanced via “tagging”) for those focused on particular localities or geographic regions. Models and methods might then develop that are more quickly consumed and leveraged by others in the same situation.

Social Media and Search Engine Optimization (SMO/SEO)
The GovDelivery folks delivered an extensive set of recommendations and ideas for enhancing and delivering the OGD, from emphasizing use of existing/current tools (vs. building new ones) to making sure successes are tracked openly, effectively and collaboratively. Also covered was the fact that integration and cross-promotion of socialization channels was an important facet of building and sustaining audience participation. One very important “channel” not quite covered, was Search Engines. The Internet Marketing/SEO industry provides a broad array of tools, techniques and methods to help businesses and organizations promote themselves and be found more easily via search engines (like Google, Bing, Yahoo, YouTube/Search, Twitter/Search); those agencies seeking to promote their offerings and information transparency would do well to adopt some of these SEO techniques. Optimizing content (text or multimedia) when and as it’s distributed through content channels or syndicators is absolutely imperative, to be sure it’s easily found when people are searching for it in their own terms and their own language. DC-are subject matter experts like KME Internet Marketing find that “citizens most typically will use search engines like Google or within their social community platforms to quickly find data – but they’ll use words and phrases that are typically informally descriptive, vs. prescribed labels or acronyms. Government content needs to be optimized for search engines wherever it lives or is consumed”.

Information Sharing and Management
Several of the great presenters at the GovDelivery conference played on the core themes for success in delivering results – i.e. begin with the “Problem”, develop the “Community”, and apply the “Tools”. The point in this method is not to start with all those nifty Web 2.0/Social Media/New Media tools, but to approach Government Transparency initiatives first from the business or mission perspective. This is a common and well-recognized refrain to those of us practicing Enterprise Architecture and IT Investment and Governance Management within Government, i.e. making sure that Information Technology serves the investor requirements, within appropriate constraints and standards, and with full communication and approval of the user community.

The facet missing or under-represented from this 3-step plan is the management and packaging of the information that’s required, in a manner that enables SEO objectives like those expressed above, and that takes advantage of all the great Federal Information-Sharing Environment initiatives (including NIEM.gov) that are gradually finding use in Social Media context. We’re not yet to the point that reliable and easy-to-use automated content management is readily available for most social media exchanges. We do, however, have access to many examples of traditional portal/collaboration/situational awareness programs enhancing their offerings to include social media or “Enterprise 2.0” features - all while maintaining traceability to data standards, information lexicons and other information sharing models that promote reusability and ultimately citizen value. An example of this is the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN), enhancing its “socialization” capabilities while maintaining compliance with NIEM standards.

In summary, the Open Government Directive is off to a great start, with likely thousands of great ideas to be absorbed from interested constituents and industry experts – through modern social media channels and in a manner that truly contributes to the greater good.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

DC and Northern Virginia IT Investors and Entrepreneurs - Southeast Venture Conference Feb. 24-25

Looking for 2010's most promising high-tech (social media included!) ideas and venture capital investing opportunities? In this Southeast US, Washington DC and Northern Virginia region? 2010 is shaping up to be a huge year for investing potential, especially in new media technologies, and the Northern Virginia/Washington DC area is a hotspot for this facet of regional economic development...

The upcoming 2010 Southeast Venture Conference will host some of the most dynamic high-growth companies in the Southeast US, Feb 24-25, 2010 at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, Northern Virginia.

Southeast Venture Conference, Tysons Corner VA, Feb 24-25 2010

The 2010 (4th annual) Southeast Venture Conference SEVC will feature 60 high growth companies presenting their new ideas and opportunities for investment, representing the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic US regions. The expected audience of 700+ VCs, PE Investors, Ibankers, high growth executives and entrepreneurs will make for unparalleled networking among the region’s top technology and investment leaders. Scheduled speakers include Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Google’s "Father of the Internet" Vint Cerf, and National Venture Capital Association president Mark Heesen. (Last we heard Vint Cerf speak - he was at the NIEM conference planning to extend "cloud computing" into space, and back....)

The Southeast Venture Conference highlights both early stage and later stage investment opportunities from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington DC. The sold-out 2007, 2008 and 2009 SEVC’s held in Research Triangle Park, NC, Tysons Corner, VA and Atlanta, Georgia respectively featured over $80 billion in private equity investment capital represented in attendance.

Who usually attends the SEVC? According to their website, close to 1000 of the region’s leading Entrepreneurs and High Growth Company Executives (from Startups to Pre-IPO), National Venture Capitalists and Private Equity Professionals, M&A facilitators and other leading professionals serving the high growth technology community.

Early online registration is available through Feb. 24rd.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Employees - 10 Tips for Promoting your Employer with Personal Social Media

I’ve been asked from time to time by businesses about how to educate employees on using Social Media – from two perspectives. One perspective is simply as part of a broader Internet use policy, to help employees stay safe and protect information assets. Another perspective is to encourage employees to support their business in their daily online activities, should they choose to do so. This is essentially giving employees as “social media enthusiasts” the tools and guidance they should get, to help them positively contribute to the overall online marketing efforts of their employer.

Following is some template guidance that can be used and shared with employees. Let us know how this can be improved or updated. Additional consulting regarding planning and implementing social media programs for businesses and organizations is available via KME Internet Marketing in DC.

Use of Personal Social Media to Support ABC (Employer)

This non-legal memo contains straightforward, general advice regarding things to consider when using Internet Social Media to promote your employer. While ABC (Employer) may or may not have an “official” Personal Social Media or Internet Use Policy at this time – these additional guidelines should be very helpful in maintenance and growth of your relationship with ABC, where use of Social Media to promote ABC is concerned.

Note this guidance can and should also be used to promote the area and industry your employer serves – i.e., from an Economic Development or "Place Marketing" perspective. By promoting your neighborhood, county or city for example as a great place to visit or live, this helps promote the general business climate and possibly attract new customers and employees for your company. Here’s an example of how some businesses and employees are actively promoting Loudoun County VA online.

The Internet is a great tool and venue to use for promotions and advertising, whether for personal reasons (i.e. promoting yourself, your cause or interests), or for promoting businesses, products and events, whether commercial or nonprofit. ABC does draw a clear line between actively engaging particular employees in their online marketing and communications strategy, and simply providing guidelines for personal Internet activity (i.e. not related to, or requested by the employer).

ABC is currently engaged in many different kinds of online (and offline) advertising and marketing efforts for its business and brand, such as posting links about upcoming specials and events on its website, in various newspaper and social media websites, and on local search engines (like Google). ABC is directly paying service providers and specific employees to do this - this document provides guidelines for all other employees, partners or contractors.

Employees of ABC, like employees of just about any other kind of business, aren’t required or expected to market, advertise or otherwise promote their employer in any way, unless it’s specifically a part of your job description or contract. If marketing isn’t part of your job, it’s usually better to check first with your supervisor or employer if you’d like to promote your company or services on your own – this will help avoid any risks or issues based on mis-communication. There may be some ways you can help promote the business and your role in it, that are aligned with the company’s business strategy, operations, legal and personal privacy protection responsibilities. There may also be some specific training available.

It is typically helpful in one’s personal, professional development to support your employer’s public presence, whether directly or indirectly. Using a restaurant as an example, if you really like the restaurant menu or a particular entertainer, starting some “buzz” and telling your friends and family about it is a good thing. Proudly wearing an ABC-supplied shirt or hat with the ABC logo in public can draw positive, helpful attention to ABC. The more positive conversations or impressions you generate, the more ABC and its employees benefit over the short and long run. Likewise, negative or conflicting impressions about ABC can quickly spread, whether intentionally or not…your family of employees should always be supported with the respect and professionalism they deserve.

Social media on the Internet is a much-discussed venue for sharing information and engaging others. Social media is generally easy and quick to use, can be really helpful in spreading the word, and enables interesting ways to see and share videos, music and pictures. Social media includes websites you may already use, like MySpace.com, Twitter.com and Facebook.com – along with many other kinds of Weblogs (Blogs), “Chat” applications and other bookmarking or review-oriented sites. While social media can be really helpful and entertaining, using it for any reason is not without certain elements of risk…just like any other use of the Internet.

Risks include others finding out your personal information, damaging your computer, possibly stealing information or money from you, or otherwise intruding on your personal, family or professional privacy. Risks also include damage to reputation – whether that of your own, someone else’s or even that of a business. Damage to reputation takes many forms, and on the Internet, it can be very hard to recover from. Risky online behavior and negative online postings (about anything or anyone) can also be damaging to your career and employment status – so be careful and safe on the Internet, especially using Social media. An example set of good guidelines for “engaging in public discourse” is available at http://www.sun.com/communities/guidelines.jsp . Take a look, and let us know if you’ve got any questions, or would like more information.

IF you do use the Internet and Social Media regularly, and IF you decide to share or point out positive information online about your employer (or anything related to your job or industry), there are some helpful, additional guidelines and methods to take note of here. This advice can only help your contribution be as positive and effective as possible (and help avoid some of the risks mentioned previously). Again, ask others who know for more advice, or let us know if you need help with questions or issues.

  • Bookmarks – if you see news, an article or website on the Internet about ABC, and you like it, feel free to share the link with others – using bookmarking tools like Digg.com or Mixx.com.
  • Sharing – if you find an article, advertisement, picture or other information about ABC, its events or entertainers – feel free to share it with others through your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or Flickr account. This can be especially helpful for an upcoming event or product announcement. Do be extra careful about infringing on copyrights, brand trademarks or personal privacy of others – for example, posting videos identifying other people online without their permission.
  • Following, Friending, Fans – for those of you who regularly use Twitter or Facebook, you know that sometimes other people or groups may start social, online conversations about topics you’re also interested in; by joining the group, or following such a person, that helps build both your and their credibility and influence regarding the topic. If the topic relates to your employer or industry, all the better! Also check ABC’s site for “RSS” feeds – subscribing to these with an RSS reader is a quick and easy way to keep up with news and events.
  • Reviews – there exist many forums and online websites like Yelp.com or more industry-specific sites that encourage fans of local businesses to record their reviews; if you like a business, it’s always helpful to let others know about it. Be truthful, and don't post unwarranted negative reviews about the competition!
  • Traveling around town – there are some applications that allow you to notify others of your location-based interests; for example Brightkite or FourSquare on your GPS-enabled mobile phone – these location-based social networking tools are great to let others know where and when you’ll be visiting ABC!
  • Your own site, blog or emails – it’s always nice for a business or organization to get positively mentioned or linked to, from somebody else’s website – especially with helpful, professional comments and descriptions. Let ABC know about your site, and your support – ABC may find it helpful to promote you!
  • ABC email list – ABC has its own website, and may (or does) also have additional website and group presence on social media sites – if you want to stay up-to-date with ABC services and events, register for available email list notifications, and let others know they can too (emails can be forwarded).
  • Your social or professional profile – many professionals provide personal details such as their employers, the type of work they do, and certifications on networking sites like LinkedIn.com or Facebook.com; this is generally a helpful thing for professional growth and networking, but you’ll want to be sure to not reveal any particularly sensitive details about your work, employer or family. Stick with the basics, like “I work at ABC in Northern Virginia” – but avoid giving out non-public information (like your work hours, employer team profile, home address, family names or home telephone number).
  • Keywords – any information you post on the Internet is more helpful to your employer, if it includes words and phrases that are associated with your employer’s business or industry. For ABC, great phrases to use include things like “[insert key phrases here]”. If these words are actually used as a website link (i.e. one clicks on the phrase and is taken to www.[ABC].com, for example), even better.
  • A note on Web Links – some of the very most helpful things to a business on the Internet, are “hyperlinks” (i.e. web links) pointing back to the business website. The more, the better, especially if the links are from very popular, well-read websites. Therefore, anytime you post information about your employer or industry on the web, be sure to use a good link – it’s helpful both to the business, and to readers, and search engines really like to see these. If you know that someone else will be posting information you provided (like a reporter or a newsletter editor, online or printed), ask them to include a hyperlink.

Thanks for reading through this material about your Employer and Internet Social Media. There are many other resources available to you; search around the Internet, ask someone who knows, or check back with us.

Executing Real Time Enterprise Governance Strategies with Enterprise BPM 3.0

It remains true that the most valuable aspect of the Business Process Management (BPM) discipline is its ability to help an organization govern rather than just manage, but this ability requires a comprehensive view of the technologies and methods that truly make up enterprise class BPM. It also requires real time, collaborative information sharing from both the governance and participant perspectives. Executing to such a view can help deliver IT Governance Process Integration benefits, in real time.

Read more here about this Blackstone Technology Group Enterprise BPM Consulting Services Point of View - by Clay Almy, Directory of Enterprise Integration, Blackstone Technology Group.