July 23, 2015

The Art of Empathetic Observation

Many technical people immediately presume that we can’t learn from ordinary people who are not experts in the technologies related to our business. One of the participants in my session this week quoted Henry Ford who once said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Yes, it’s true that most people can’t imagine something they have never before seen or experienced. ... So if we can’t ask consumers what they want from us, how do we gain the understanding we need to create breakthrough innovations? The art of empathetic observation is a means to observe and listen to customers as they – Make their own purchase decisions; – Use our products or services

Delivering Application-Centric Network and Security Services

Automation creates a standardized repeatable process that helps accelerate delivery, reducing the time needed to perform the task. At the same time automation also improves the consistency and reliability of the final configuration by elimination of manual errors. Finally automation reduces operational costs by eliminating many manual tasks, and improves development productivity by delivering application environments to engineers faster. vRealize Automation, used in conjunction with NSX, automates an application’s network connectivity, security, performance, and availability.

Germany's startup policy blasted

"Ironically, regarding startups, the Digital Agenda remains vague," Dirks said. The telecoms exec advocated cutting the bureaucratic red-tape that can hinder smaller firms, especially in their first four years of existence. He also said that new legislation around venture capital law is urgently needed to spur investment in young companies. German venture capital-backed tech firms attracted about $1.28bn in funding in 2014, according to CB Insights, a dramatic increase over the $578m raised the previous year, but it still pales in comparison to $21.8bn that flowed to California startups in 2014. In addition to more startup support, Bitkom said that education and training is another key area that the German government should focus on.

Empathic Design: Is Empathy the UX Holy Grail?

Empathic design is the process of developing an understanding of users, not just their overt needs, but of their constraints, practices, problem-solving approaches, contexts, and the interrelations between people as a whole. The aim of researching users in such a way is to help designers identify their users' underlying needs (i.e. those that are not instantly apparent or accessible through questioning alone). Once we have established these needs we can develop new problem-solving approaches that accommodate the users' constraints and exploit (in a nice way) their capabilities. The ultimate aim is to improve the user's or consumer's experience by tailoring the product to their explicit, implicit, and latent needs.

Stop hiring data scientists until you’re ready for data science

In the words of the data scientist I spoke with last week: “Anyone can hire a data scientist. Not every HR department or organization is ready for data science. Generating reports are not analytics — even if they’re prettier or faster reports. Dashboards are not analytics — even if they’re really pretty dashboards. More than anyone, HR should understand the devastating impact of changing job description on someone that’s been hired.” Ironically, that data scientist hire is perhaps one of the most brilliant and strategic hires that HR department has ever made — perhaps ever. But only if they let her do what she was hired to do. HR data scientists can help move HR from being tactical to strategic, using an analytics approach to highlight never seen before patterns, make decisions based on data, and the like.

Why enterprises aren't getting the full value they expect from cloud services

Negative perceptions of vendors have left decision-makers hesitant to adopt as-a-service platforms, as nearly half of the surveyed respondents feel their service providers are unwilling to cannibalize their existing revenue models. Another reason for slow adoption may be a lack of consensus within organizations about the benefits and value as-a-service offerings can provide. When asked how important adoption was, 53% of operations leaders saw it as business-critical, while only 29% of middle managers agreed when asked the same question. With these concerns in mind, it’s no wonder that enterprises are being extremely methodical when it comes to cloud migration.

IBM’s Machine Learning Tech Takes on Solar Power’s Flakiness

The project used up a big chunk of the petabyte of storage dedicated to it, tapping into the DoE’s high-performance computing facilities for processing power. Data sources include sensor networks, local weather stations, cloud motion tracked by sky cameras and satellites, and historical records going back several decades. Variables are plugged into multiple forecasting models, with the system continuously tracking how they work under varying conditions. “We can actually see which one of those models or forecasting systems has performed better than others,” said Hamann, adding that the technology’s applications aren’t confined to solar.

A Case for Diversity in Our Workspaces

We can stop assuming that the same space will work for everyone all the time. We can provide lighting options. Allow pets in the workplace. Find appropriate ways of taking time out to make ourselves the creative space we need for problem solving. Create options that don’t make people feel uncomfortable: it is easier to say “I’m just going to make a coffee” than it is to say “I just need to move around a bit to re-establish where my body is in space”; it is easier to stroke the office dog than to say “I just need to re-calibrate my sense of touch so I can feel the keys on the keyboard when I code”; it’s easier to allow headphones at least some of the time than to expect everyone to be able to tune out the background hum of the open-plan workspace and pair programming teams.

End-User Computing: A Challenge for Data Governance Leadership

Data governance is not in the same position as IT with respect to EUC, and does not have to accept IT’s views on EUC. However, EUC is often not a priority for data governance. As noted earlier, many data governance units focus their efforts on dealing with IT and operations, and there is no natural constituency that represents EUC that data governance can deal with. Equally, EUC is often somewhat mysterious to data governance staff. There is not a lot written about it in the literature. Other, more familiar topics such as data quality and data definitions are likely to be areas in which data governance focuses its activities.

Cyber-hijacking: Hackers may try to take the wheel from drivers remotely

Among the most vivid examples came this week, when security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek demonstrated that they could hijack a vehicle over the Internet. By hacking into a 2014 Jeep Cherokee, the researchers were able to turn the steering wheel, briefly disable the brakes and shut down the engine. They also found readily accessible Internet links to thousands of Jeeps, Dodges and Chryslers that feature a proprietary wireless entertainment and navigation system called Uconnect. Valasek and Miller said they could, by merely typing the right series of commands, hack into these vehicles almost anywhere they might be driving.

Quote for the day:

"Now is the time. Needs are great, but your possibilities are greater." -- Bill Blackman