Microsoft – Where will it be in ten years?

Can you think of a product category where one organization, in an open market, has maintained complete global dominance with 90%+ market share for close to 30 years? The only one that comes to my mind is “Operating System for PC”. Can you think of another?

The other one which comes close is the “Office Suite”.

So, even if you are a Microsoft hater, even if we assume that Microsoft has used all sorts of unfair means to achieve this dominance, you still need to acknowledge that they have achieved something which nobody else in the history has done.

However, of late, Microsoft has been in the news for a different reason. Apple, in the second quarter 2010, surpassed Microsoft as the highest market cap among the tech companies. Now, even IBM has overtaken Microsoft in market capitalization. Coupled with the fact that Microsoft is currently an also ran in the smart phone / tablet segment – it is a fair time to ask “where will Microsoft be in 10 years’ time?”

Here are 4 possibilities.

  1. It will go the Digital way and seize to exist. [A friend of mine points out that Microsoft is still a first generation company. Bill Gates has steered it so far and immediately after his exist it has started going downhill.]
  2. It will be like Novell thus barely managing to survive.
  3. It will reinvent itself like IBM and will remain a name to reckon with.
  4. It will be like old Microsoft.

I would tend to believe that (3) is the most likely option. These are my reasons:

The Existing eco-system will not want it to happen. How many CIOs will really want Microsoft to go either Digital or Novell way? What about the developers and the partners?

Apart from that, if you keep money matters (market cap, profitability aside) aside – it will boil down to the question “Does Microsoft have the ability to build products which people want to use?”

Let us keep PC Operating System and Office Suite aside and look at other product categories. Microsoft has the ability to come from nowhere and create a product which is among the top 4 in the market.

  • Database: It is difficult to think beyond Oracle, SQL Server, DB2 and MySQL. Sybase, Ingress, Informix all fell by the wayside.
  • Search Engine: Bing came from nowhere and is the clear number 2 now. It even forced Google to make changes to the UI.
  • O/S for handheld device (not smart phone): Windows CE rules – no competitor in sight
  • Enterprise web application platform: It is difficult to classify Sharepoint but it is a leader in whatever it does!
  • Enterprise mail server: Who is next to Outlook and Exchange server?
  • Development platform: For large enterprise the search will stop with Java & .Net. There are some indication that .Net is slowly eating into Java.
  • Developer Studio: Eclipse and VSTS – Eclipse having many more extensions but VSTS being more productive.
  • Cloud Platform: Amazon EC2, Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure – what else? I think after the dust settles it would be a two horse race: Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure.
  • Gaming Console: Difficult to think beyond Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo [“…from being a nobody Xbox is now the market leader…bundled with Kinect…they are absolutely unbeatable…” – Deepesh]
  • Browser: IE still has more the 50% of the market share and IE8 is reasonably good!
  • ERP: Surprise, surprise – Microsoft Dynamics comes in 3rd after SAP and Oracle. [see this]

What about the Office Suite in the cloud?

So far Microsoft has been doing enough to keep pace with or remain one step ahead of Google. This is a game Microsoft knows well.

What about Smart phone and Tablet?

Though it looks like a lost cause for Microsoft there is one factor which is overlooked by most people that the technology scenario for smart phone phones changes completely in about 3 years’ time. Just ask BlackBerry.

So Microsoft does have a chance to catch up – maybe through the Nokia deal or may be through some other means – who knows.

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Sleeping over a Problem vs. Deciding in a Blink

Barack Obama had chosen to sleep on his decision to authorize the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. This, according to Maarten Bos and Amy Cuddy, is exactly what scientific research would prescribe when facing a complex decision. In Harvard Business Review Article titled “A Counter-Intuitive Approach to Making Complex Decisions” they point out that there is clear research evidence to support Obama’s decision to sleep over the problem and it is the right course of action for anyone facing a challenging quandary. They have also outlines a 3 step process for such decision making – (1) Take in all information, (2) Sleep on it, and (3) Check the facts.

However, many of the readers commented that this seems to be the opposite conclusion of the book “Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell. Quoting Maarten W Bos from one of the comments …

“…experts can often recognize patterns within their area of expertise very fast, and therefore have a lot of subconscious processing before they make a decision…”

So, the debate goes on – should you sleep over a problem or deciding in a blink?

What do the two methods of decision making have in common?

Do you see the commonality?

In both cases we don’t understand what our brain does in the intervening period. In the first case, the subconscious processing happens over a period when we are sleeping. In the second case, subconscious processing happens in a millisecond.

In either case there are no logical steps in arriving at the solution – we just know what the right solution is. Will such a decision made by our subconscious always be a better decision?

So, the debate should be about…

  • …always use logical thinking
  • …always take advantage of or subconscious brain
  • …judicious mix or the two

In theory, the third option looks the best but how to know what is the right mix? When should stop analysis and logical thinking and hand over to your subconscious?

Forrester says Facebook NOT likely to drive eCommerce

What is your reaction to this? Are you saying …

  • …yes, I knew it
  • …the study is b******t

The study is based on the response from 102 online retailers. In a nutshell the study concludes that:

“…most eBusiness companies in retail, Facebook is unlikely to correlate directly to near-term sales. A few pockets of success, however, have surfaced…”

The report confirms my suspicion that Facebook is at the Peak of its Hype.

Why is it so?

Three reasons are provided:

  1. Social network efforts are largely about experimentation
  2. Social network rank last among 10 customer acquisition tactics
  3. Retailers find social networking ineffective compared to search and email

Key challenges include low click-through rate (other than coupons and promotions), open graph effective only for very large companies and very difficult for even the most sophisticated natural language processing tools to shape meaningful conclusions from the unstructured data.

“…while Facebook disciples believe that there will be something that will in the future transform shopping, the truth is that large brands just have not experienced any sizable gains in direct sales from Facebook…”

However, some companies can drive Businesses with Facebook Commerce:

  • Small businesses who do not want to setup their own website and local businesses
  • Large retailers with rich customer database can enhance their insight into customer behavior
  • Categories that can be digitally distributed, virtual goods and gaming companies
  • Products that consumers spend time thinking about prior to purchasing

The report goes on to conclude that money is better spent on “behavioral targeting and mobile“. However, it also recommends that you need to keep an eye on social metrics and exploit it where they make the most sense.

Here is the Forrester report – Will Facebook Ever Drive eCommerce?. The author is Sucharita Mulpuru.


TOGAF – Preparation Aid for Part 2

The questions for the Part 2 Examination consist of eight complex scenario questions. You need to read a scenario describing a situation where TOGAF is being applied. The question will then ask how TOGAF would be used to address a particular point. Four possible answers are provided. There is one correct answer, two partially correct answers and one incorrect answer for the situation. The correct answer scores five points, the second best answer three points, and the third best answer one point. The incorrect answer scores zero points. The pass mark is 60%. The eight scenarios are drawn from the following major topic areas:

  1. Phases Preliminary, A, Requirements Management
  2. Architecture Definition (Phases B, C, D)
  3. Transition Planning (Phases E and F)
  4. Governance (Phases G and H)
  5. Adapting the ADM
  6. Architecture Content Framework
  7. TOGAF Reference Models
  8. Architecture Capability Framework

How to prepare for Part 2?

The key to success in the part 2 exam is to recognize the most “TOGAFish” answer! Let me give you two example answers without telling you the question – just try to guess which of them are more “TOGAFish”.

  • You recommend that risk management techniques be used throughout the program. This will enable you to assess the risks associated with the proposed business transformation and ensure suitable business continuity plans are in place. You then ensure that in the Implementation Governance phase, a residual risk assessment is conducted to determine the best way to manage risks that cannot be mitigated.
  • You propose to utilize a risk management framework in the Implementation Governance phase. This will enable you to assess the risks associated with the proposed business transformation. You then ensure that the initial level of risk is well understood before issuing the Architecture Contracts.

I suppose you have guessed it – the first one is the right answer because it talks about “residual risk” which is one of the important TOGAF concepts for risk management. However, there is another class of questions which cannot be answered like this. These are related to the use of viewpoints.

Viewpoints

Unfortunately, the Open Group study guide for the part 2 does not provide enough explanation of the different viewpoints. You need to fall back on the “TOGAF version 9” documentation and read chapter 35. Here are 9 multiple choice questions to help you test your understanding:

 

1. You need to make an impactful presentation of the high-level view of the interaction with the outside world to quickly on-board and align stakeholders for a particular change initiative, so that all participants understand the high-level functional and organizational context of the architecture engagement. Which viewpoint will you choose?

A. Value Chain Diagram

B. Solution Concept Diagram

C Business Interaction Matrix

D. Functional Decomposition Diagram

2. You want to present a ”pencil sketch” of the expected solution at the outset of the engagement. It should embody key objectives, requirements, and constraints for the engagement and also highlight work areas to be investigated in more detail with formal architecture modeling. You need to make all participants understand what the architecture engagement is seeking to achieve and how it is expected that a particular solution approach will meet the needs of the enterprise. Which viewpoint will you choose?

A. Value Chain Diagram

B. Solution Concept Diagram

C. Driver/Goal/Objective Catalog

D. Business Footprint Diagram

3. You want to present to the senior-level (CxO) stakeholders a view which depicts the links between business goals, organizational units, business functions, and services, and maps these functions to the technical components delivering the required capability. The view should provide a clear traceability between a technical component and the business goal that it satisfies, whilst also demonstrating ownership of the services identified. Which viewpoint will you choose?

A. Solution Concept Diagram

B. Business Footprint Diagram

C. Driver/Goal/Objective Catalog

D. Goal/Objective/Service Diagram

4. As a part of defining the Data Architecture you need to clearly assign ownership of data entities, understand the data and information exchange requirements and determine whether any data entities are missing and need to be created. You expect this view to help enable development of data governance programs across the enterprise. Which viewpoint will you choose?

A. Data Entity/Data Component Catalog

B. Data Entity/Business Function Matrix

C. Data Dissemination Diagram

D. System/Data Matrix

5. As a part of defining the Data Architecture you need to support the gap analysis and determine whether any of the applications are missing and as a result need to be created. You also need to identify the degree of data duplication within different applications, and the scale of the data lifecycle and understand where the same data is updated by different applications. Which viewpoint will you choose?

A. Data Entity/Data Component Catalog

B. Data Entity/Business Function Matrix

C. Data Dissemination Diagram

D. System/Data Matrix

6. As a part of defining the Information System Architecture you need to come up with an indication of the business criticality of application components by assigning business value to data it manages. In the process you also need to show how the logical entities are to be physically realized by application components. Which viewpoint will you choose?

A. Data Entity/Business Function Matrix

B. Data Dissemination Diagram

C. System/Data Matrix

D. Data Lifecycle diagram

7. As a part of defining the Information System Architecture you need to understand the degree of interaction between applications, identifying those that are central in terms of their dependencies on other systems. You also need to scope the overall dependencies between applications. Which viewpoint you will NOT choose?

A. Interface Catalog

B. Application Interaction Matrix

C. Application Communication Diagram

D. System/Function Matrix

8. You need to understand the application support requirements of the business services and processes carried out by an organization unit and determine whether any of the applications are missing and as a result need to be created. Which viewpoint will you choose?

A. Software Distribution Diagram

B. System Use-Case Diagram

C. System/Function Matrix

D. System/Organization Matrix

9. Which of the following viewpoint you will NOT use to understand the security requirements?

A. Role Catalog, Actor/Role Matrix and Role/System Matrix

B. Data Security Diagram

C. Networked Computing/Hardware Diagram

D. System/Technology Matrix

Answers

  1. A – Value Chain Diagram
  2. B – Solution Concept Diagram
  3. B – Business Footprint Diagram
  4. BData Entity/Business Function Matrix
  5. DSystem/Data Matrix
  6. BData Dissemination Diagram
  7. DSystem/Function Matrix
  8. DSystem/Organization Matrix
  9. DSystem/Technology Matrix

More materials and tests for TOGAF preparation:

 

Social Media Policy or Guideline – Which one should you have

What is the difference? Is there a difference?

Actually, the difference is fundamental to how you view social media. Do you look at social media as an opportunity to be leveraged or do you look at it as a threat to be guarded against?

Social Media as a Threat

If you view social media as a threat that you need to live with, you will primarily be concerned about the possible damage that can be caused be employee action. You will be concerned about:

  • Any confidential information getting inadvertently leaked out
  • You getting embarrassed because of an employee action
  • Any claim arising out of an employee posting
  • Employee expressing opinion which may not be in sync with the official position

You will need to focus on what the employee should not do. You will clearly identify the limits what is permissible and what is not. There will be no explicit encouragement to participate and the title of the document will contain the word “Policy“. Here are two examples:

Oracle Social Media Participation Policy

  • Follow all existing code of conducts
  • Protect Confidential Information
  • Don’t Comment on M&A Activity
  • Don’t Discuss Future Offerings
  • Refrain from Objectionable or Inflammatory Posts
  • Don’t Speak for Oracle
  • Don’t Post Anonymously
  • Respect Copyrights
  • Use Video Responsibly
  • Stick to Oracle Topics on Oracle-Sponsored Blogs
  • Don’t Misuse Oracle Resources

Cisco’s Internet Postings Policy

  • Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination
  • Should not disclose any information that is confidential or proprietary
  • Include a disclaimer that the views are your own and not those of Cisco
  • You may be subject to liability if your posts are found defamatory, harassing, or in violation of any other applicable law
  • Cisco may request that you avoid certain subjects or withdraw certain posts from a Cisco Blog

Social Media as an Opportunity

On the other hand if you view social media as an opportunity then you will want to encourage your employees to participate and you will guide them on the best way to participate. You will be interested in providing the best practices like:

  • Being yourself and truthful
  • Admitting mistakes
  • Respect your audience
  • Being transparent but judicious

You will focus on what they may do. Though you may mention what to avoid, it will be written in as an advice rather than as a sword hanging over your head. Finally, the title of the document will contain the word “Guideline“. Here are two examples:

IBM Social Computing Guidelines

  • What you do on your own time is your affair
  • IBM supports open dialogue and the exchange of ideas
  • Know the IBM Business Conduct Guidelines
  • Be who you are (be transparent)
  • Be thoughtful about how you present yourself in online social networks (lines between public and private are blurred)
  • Speak in the first person
  • Use a disclaimer
  • Respect copyright and fair use laws
  • Protecting confidential and proprietary information
  • Some topics relating to IBM are sensitive and should never be discussed
  • Protect IBM’s clients, business partners and suppliers
  • Respect your audience and your coworkers
  • Add value
  • Don’t pick fights
  • Be the first to respond to your own mistakes
  • Adopt a warm, open and approachable tone
  • Use your best judgment

Intel Social Media Guidelines

  • Be transparent
  • Be judicious
  • Write what you know
  • Perception is reality (lines between public and private are blurred)
  • It’s a conversation
  • Are you adding value?
  • Your Responsibility
  • Create some excitement
  • Be a Leader
  • Did you screw up? (If you make a mistake, admit it)
  • If it gives you pause, pause (what you publish is yours – as is the responsibility – so be sure)

In Summary

Oracle, Cisco, IBM and Intel – the four examples are from companies operating on the same market space. Therefore, what you make out of social media depends on your enterprise DNA and the result can be very different from company to company.

Does it remind you about theory “X” and theory “Y”?