CIOnet and Again Big Data

This afternoon I visited the last CIOnet meeting before the holiday season. The subject again was Big Data. The organization had some great foresight in planning this session a few days after all big research companies like Gartner and McKinsey published some great reports on this topic.

The session started with Edgar Heijmans, programdirector at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Edgar has a long track record with IT within the government. He made a critical warning that combining data not always leads to the correct insights. Precautions should be made to get real valuable insights that match with reality. Job Witteman, CEO of AMS-ix, took over and talked about the business of the AMS-ix. They actually connect 1,3TB of data per second on peaks every day! AMS-is is the dataport of the Netherlands and is an important asset for our country and Amsterdam to attract all sorts of creative internet companies. The session ended with a speech of Daniel Erasmus, CEO of DTN and NewsConsole. He talked about radical different thinking in architecture to setup a bigdata environment. A doghouse looks nice and is stable when it is normal size. When you use the same structure but make it 1000 times larger it will collapse. This means new ways to think about architecture. We ended up in a nice discussion about traditional databases and new concepts like Hadoop.

Conclusion is that Big Data is here to stay and can provide valuable insights combining more information. We are generating more data than ever before and the volume of data will continue to grow. We need new concepts and new skills to give businesses valuable insights that will increase productivity and ultimately profit!

Job shared a nice video on the work and role of the internet exchange!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpAUedhcjAY&w=560&h=349]

Bigdata and Social Business

Today I was taking a look at some of the posts and tweets on last weeks Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. I visited this conference in 2008 and always keep an eye open this time of year. One of the keynotes was from Lee Bryant from Headshift. He talked about Data Driven Business Improvement. In his talk he combined Enterprise 2.0 (social media at the office) and Bigdata. The Enterprise 2.0 concept is know as “Het Nieuwe Werken” in The Netherlands or in better English The New World of Work. Bigdata is a concept that provides insights in very large amounts of data. The large analists like Gartner and McKinsey Global Institute have published reports on this concept lately.

Data-driven business improvement [slideshare id=8388855&w=425&h=355&sc=no]

View more presentations from Lee Bryant

Lee combines these two concept and shows how this can improve business. This is more or less the same way we at VLC are looking at ways to improve information productivity in organisations. We add Search to the mix to find, combine and present information from both structured (like large amounts of usage statistics of your your website or intranet) and unstructured sources (like douments or tweets).

Thanks Enterprise 2.0 for sharing the photo!

Three out of five!

Today I started of at the wrong VLC office ;-( A mixup in the appointment forced myself and a colleague to drive to Rotterdam. The meeting started to late but had a very good result. We discussed our internal change management training. We made a decision about group size, subjects and the case we will discuss during our three nights. The subjects we will discuss will cover the basics and go deeper discussing organizational perspective and personal perspective.

When we were finished I tried to get out but a “nice” neighbor of VLC Rotterdam prevented me to drive away… Very very childish and I will never ever do business with these guys again! But I am also a nice guy so I will not mention their name here but if you want to know please contact me! The VLC colleagues enjoying the standoff in front of the window in Rotterdam also know ­čśë

In Utrecht the place was packed! I shared one desk with two others… I worked on a standard text we can add to our proposals, knowing that for each proposal we need to align the text with the client situation. The rest of the day I spend some time working on our infographic. Also I worked on the outline of the change management training and searched for the articles we will add to a reader for the training.

Tomorrow management of VLC will have a 24 hour training in a real hotel. Everybody was in good spirit and wondered what we would be doing. Speculations ran high and even the clothing advise was discussed big time. Saturday will start of very early so I think everybody will be tired like never before.

This means I visited three out of the five VLC offices today. Maybe not very “New World of Work” but sometimes face to face gets a lot more done! Hopefully I will visit VLC Santander in the near future to complete my travels to all VLC branches!

Sales and Change for VLC

Yesterday I was busy working on a number of leads, this is always exciting and nice to do. Sometimes we figure out that we cannot help the customer and sometimes we can! The questions from (potential) customers often vary a lot, which is nice to see because this means strategic variation.

Within VLC we are working hard to enhance our change management capabilities. We are conducting an internal training on change management. A lot of colleagues have registered for the training so this means we are even more engaged to change. We are discussing this subject with our customers to ensure the technologies we are implementing are also implemented at an organizational level. The objective here is to help our customers get even more value out of information.

When I got home my sons nephew and nice were visiting so this means complete chaos (much like the photo, thanks Aditya Bhelke) and fun. I went running when they all sat down for dinner and we all were really tired so I did not get a chance to write my post yesterday.

Masterclass, #QS and Dwolla

Today was a day that started with a meeting on the progress of the new Advisory branch of VLC. The first weeks are on track: a fair deal of leads for new projects and assignments, a number of candidates to join our branch and internal operations are up and running. We are still looking for a senior information strategist and change manager. If you want a new challenge in your career. If you want to join one of the fastest growing companies in the Netherlands and one of the greatest places to work. Or you know a friend that is right for this job. Give me a call or send an email!

We are planning for a masterclass on Information Productivity, to make some progress I had a meeting with a real live guru. We had some great ideas that we will continue to work on. You will see the result in a while but please stay tuned!

In between meetings I saw a tweet of Martijn Aslander about the Quantified Self. This is a new trend about health statistics. A small group of innovators are using apps and home made gear to measure a lot of body statistics. An article in Technology Review sheds some more light on SQ. SQ is another feature of a trend that healthcare is changing to enable people to take their health in their own hands. In am using RunKeeper to track my running workouts.This app uses GPS to show speed and distance and cross-references with my weight and age to calculate burned calories. I saw that this is just the beginning. Some people are harvesting data on brainwaves during sleep, using apps to calculate calories in food and wearing monitoring devices for heart-rate, sweat and calories burned.

Last but not least on of my dear colleague showed me Dwolla. A new service that enables the exchange of money for goods and services without all the stuff that you use today. It all sounds promising but I am curious if it really can compete with the traditional systems or other innovations like NFC. We could not test it because the service is only available in the US.

Quitting Internet?

Today I read an article on The Next Web, titled “Could You Quit The Internet?”. We had an interesting clash of the generations last weekend at home. On sunday there were four of us sitting at a table and three were occupied with their iPhones. Obviously the only one without an iPhone reacted ;-). If you had looked at the situation from a distance ot would have appeared really awkward, but I think you might recognize it. I am afraid I was one of the three people using my iPhone and I am not proud of it…

There is a continuing discussion in society about the ever increasing usage of internet and mobile phones. The recent book Alone Together By Sherry Thurkle sheds some phychological light on this issue. It seems strange that we are getting less social the more we are using social networking sites.

Can you disconnect completely like Jim Stolze did a few years ago? For me it is very hard and my life and work is getting more intertwined with internet usage. What is the effect of social media on your real social life?

(Z)Energy

Last weekend I was still buzzing by an answer I gave a colleague on the question “What did you learn last four years?” The first part of my answer was that I have sincere questions whether IT can boost knowledge worker productivity. Having worked in IT for more than 10 years and still am, this answer had more impact on me than I thought.

A book I was reading actually helped me see some light and perspective on my own answer. This book was PresentationZen, for me this book is about how to tell your story. Based upon ancient but actual Zen-wisdom Garr Reynolds makes the case for a better way to tell you story. His most important lessons for me are about Wabi Sabi (which means a much as “beauty in imperfection and simplicity”), “empty your cup so it may be filled” this means that you have to clear your mind to have new ideas and “we cannot see our reflection in running water, it is only in still water that we can see” meaning that in our high pressure economy you need to slow down and take some distance to reflect, learn and set priorities.

My main concern on productivity is based on my own experience with energy levels. No matter what technology supports my work, if I sleep less than 7 hours my productivity gets worse! If I am out of shape I lose concentration faster. Uncertainty on goals, constant interruption, the illusion of multitasking, big events in my personal life: all have more impact on my productivity than technology. The ideas of Tony Schwartz and the energy project reflect these findings.

Technology has impact on productivity that is without question but (ceteris paribus) far less impact than (again ceteris paribus) energy levels or applying the same zen wisdom to work as to presentations. The lessons from Garr Reynolds and Tony Schwartz may proof to have more impact on knowledge worker productivity than the ideas of Sergey Brin and Steve Jobs….

PS Thanks Adam Bowie for this nice image!

Change and Honesty

Yesterday we decided to start an internal change management course for our collaegues at VLC! During three evenings we will cover a number of items like “what is change management?”, “What is a change process”, “change from an organizational perspective” and “change from an individual perspective”. After the summer we will kick off with the course!

After work I went to Amsterdam for a great diner with friends. During this dinner we discussed a paradox that is still roaming around inside my head. This paradox is about quality versus cost. Supermarkets perceive that customers want to buy cheap products. But more and more people are valuing quality much higher and are willing to pay a premium for better fresh products. The manufacturers of fresh products want to make an honest product that is high quality but large retailers are forcing them to deliver sub-par products at a cheap price. A few weeks ago a Dutch show “Keuringsdienst van Waarde” made two episodes covering malpractices in wine. These malpractices were concerning importing most (crushed grape pulp) and adding water here and selling it as wine. This is illegal since the wine consists of only grapejuice. This means adding water to most makes a drink but you cannot call it wine. The biggest reason to do so is cost, transport is much cheaper and you do not have to pay taxes because the grape most does not contain alcohol. Retailers want to sell people wine at extremely low prices, but do we want to be fooled? Do we really want cheap wine? No! We want honest products at a fair price where the whole supplychain can make a living.

Watch the second episode (Dutch) of the “Keuringsdienst van Waarde”:

Thanks to David Reece for the photo on Flickr

 

 

PICNIC and Social Media

Yesterday I completely forgot to blog, sorry guys! But yesterday was a nice day. I had a nice conversation about social media and we planned a social media strategy workshop. For me social media is all about conversations between real people with passion. We are going to use the POST methodology from Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (of Forrester Research).

After this nice conversation we had an internal project team meeting discussing a infographic metaphor we are using for our EIM Scan results. During 30 minutes we really made progress and my colleague worked hard to produce a great first concept we discussed with the client today. During the discussion again we made some very nice progress. Most important: ownership of the infographic is already shifting to the client. Infographics are a very good way to communicate results and help to conquer the last barrier for information value: interpretation!

Yesterday I had to catch up on the Apple WWDC 2011. With some great news on Lion, iOS5 and iCloud. I am really looking forward to downloading Lion directly from the App Store!

Today I registered for PICNIC 2011. A few years I have followed this festival/conference online because I was always to late to register… But this year will break this tradition, so I already have my e-ticket in my inbox! The entourage, people and subjects are very interesting and I hope for some great inspiration from other ideas and concepts. Watch this video from PICNIC 2010 about Instrumenting the city: Data is King by Charles Weigend.

 

Instrumenting the city: Data is King – Andreas Weigend – PICNIC ’10 from PICNIC on Vimeo.

3k tweets en mijn smoking

Vandaag ben ik de 3000 tweet grens gepasseerd. Inmiddels sinds 2007 aan het twitteren en het heeft mij al veel goeds gebracht in de vorm van goede idee├źn, nieuwe kennissen, werkplekken en praktische hulp. Genoeg reden dus om nog even door te gaan.

Vandaag heb ik een gesprek over social media voorbereid voor morgen. Voor mij betekent dit eens rondkijken op de social media sites wat de betreffende organisatie doet op dat vlak. Ingelezen over wat deze organisatie voor doelen nastreeft en wie zij zijn. Daarnaast nog wat belletjes gepleegd en verder gewerkt aan een eindproduct voor een klant. Voor mij wat onorthodox maar dat zoveel mogelijk zonder laptop om me niet te laten beperken.

Nu is het mooi geweest wat werken betreft en ga ik mijn smoking uit de kast halen. Zometeen heb ik de eer om bij de premiere van Rabat te mogen zijn. Het mooie Tushinski theater is Amsterdam is de plaats van handeling dus dat is sowieso al goed. Wetende hoeveel lange dagen en nachten er in de film gestoken zijn kan het alleen maar goed zijn. De trailer en de video van Sef verraden kwaliteit en niets anders. Check de playlist bij 22tracks!