January 19, 2015

Expert panel: Creating innovation in the federal government
The primary challenge is bringing together the right people to discuss interesting and important topics. When evaluating potential guests, I seek people whose ideas and activities are genuinely shaping our shared future. Three prominent guests appeared on CXO-Talk for a discussion about the evolving impact of technology in the federal government. The conversation explored how to encourage an environment of innovation in a huge, slow-moving organization. Although all three guests are strong supporters of work done by the Executive Office of the President and the agencies, their perspectives reflect the stark realism of experience.

Big Data Enters 2015
As we enter the new and exciting year 2015, the big data industry is well poised to achieve some truly great things. Our friends a DataRPM put together the compelling infographic below, “The Dawn of Smart Enterprise,” to highlight their predictions for how big data will advance in the coming year. 2015 should be gangbusters and insideBIGDATA will be here as your official news source to keep you well-informed.

The Three Cs of Web App Security
It's an application world and that means we're also increasing the rate with which we expose new web applications (and APIs) to the world. That parenthetical, too, is important. Failure to treat your API with as much care as a web app with respect to security could net you some pretty ugly results. And not the kind of ugly that grows up into a beautiful benevolent swan; I'm talking about the 9-headed hydra kind of ugly - the kind that takes the stuff of myth and legends to get rid of. For the security (and increasingly operations) practitioner, following the three Cs of web application security can provide a good foundation for keeping that hydra out of your app and your network and, of course, your data .

Where are Scrum Masters
It is no wonder that ‘ScrumMaster-less Scrum’ is one of the most common ‘Scrum-buts’ that I find when assessing Agile transformations. Considering that many companies obtain great benefits from this approach, it’s even tempting to consider ScrumMasters as ‘nice to have, although optional’. In fact, several Agile frameworks like Kanban, Cristal or Lean Software Development do not prescribe a ScrumMaster or Agile Coach role – and there is no mention of these in the Agile manifesto or in Nonaka and Takeuchi’s seminal article that inspired Scrum itself. To make things worse, Scrum-bashing has become a major sport on the Agile community.

SDN: software defined networking,  . . . or small distributed namespaces?
As a discipline, networking has lived a strangely separate existence from computing, over its history, and has adopted very different methodologies. It has embraced perhaps more of the methods of distributed systems than its computational counterpart (as it was forced to confront issues of scalability earlier), but it has fallen behind in the era of free and open source software innovation, and it's overdue for a makeover. Software defined networking could be that makeover. Maybe.

A Bendable Implant Taps the Nervous System without Damaging It
What’s new is how stretchable electronics are merging with a widening effort to invent new ways to send and receive signals from nerves (see “Neuroscience’s New Toolbox”). “People are pushing the limits because everyone wants to precisely interact with the brain and nervous system,” says Polina Anikeeva, a materials scientist at MIT who develops ultrathin fiber-optic threads as a different way of interfacing with neural tissue. The reason metal or plastic electrodes eventually cause damage, or stop working, is that they cause compression and tissue damage. A stiff implant, even if it’s very thin, will still not stretch as the spinal cord does.

Building Hybrid Teams
My experience with many hybrid teams is that the attitude towards each other as well as the coaching process is often not entirely positive - I will caveat this with saying that I've rarely coached a team that had only just started out, usually there was already a perceived "problem" with or in the team that highlighted the need for coaching. However I don't believe my experience is all that novel - a lot of offshoring team members are under great pressure to "be perfect" and having identified a need for coaching directly contradicts this perception. Equally, attitudes of onshore team members towards offshore team members can sometimes be negative - offshoring is often viewed as the "cheap" alternative and perceived as a direct threat to job security and ability to make a decent living.

The 1 Thing Every Employee Needs That Most Bosses Don’t Know How to Give
Every employee needs candid (yet caring) feedback about her performance, but most bosses shudder in fear at the thought of having that tough conversation. I’m the first to admit that having a discussion about an employee’s failing performance is one of the most unpleasant things a leader has to do; it’s awkward and uncomfortable for both parties involved. I mean, come one, no one likes to hear they aren’t doing a good job. But the way in which the feedback and coaching is delivered can make a huge difference. The key is to have a plan and process to follow.

Wishlist for 2015: The solutions we need in business tech
In general, there's always plenty of buzzing around fresh ideas in the tech industry, but too much of it focuses on quick hits and low hanging fruit. That's the easy stuff. It's a lot harder to go after intractable problems. But, we need some companies to step up, show leadership, take risks, and doggedly pursue solutions to these big problems. Make no mistake, some of these challenges connect into the larger themes of 2015, but they need a stronger focus on usefulness, especially for solutions that can benefit organizations and professionals.

Obama to Highlight Cybersecurity Proposals in State of the Union
"We don’t regulate Internet security the way we do, say, chemical plants and food production facilities. We just don’t do that - we might, but we’re not doing that now,” said Harris. In all, the White House has introduced three separate measures to combat cybercrime and strengthen privacy. The first, the Personal Data Protection and Notification Act, would require companies that handle data to alert customers if any of their private information had been compromised or stolen by hackers within 30 days. The measure has won strong backing by many retailers and other data companies.

Quote for the day:

"Most organizations staff their problems & starve their opportunities." -- Peter Drucker