Thursday, November 24, 2011

Writing an e-book. Learning from Mark Cuban?!

It is thanksgiving day and I got around to catch up with some reading, blogs etc. There was an interesting article in WSJ earlier this week "In E-Books, a New Player" The article describes how the entrepreneur Mark Cuban plans to leverage his cyber presence to write an e-book.

Mark Cuban has 335,000 friends on Facebook and 760,000 followers on Twitter. Monday, the Internet billionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team will test just how friendly those fans really are. . . . Mr. Cuban has written a 30,000-word e-book, "How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It." Culled from blog postings Mr. Cuban has made over the years about his business career, it will be available for $2.99 through online digital-book retailers. To drive sales, Mr. Cuban plans to tap all his online followers. "All I have to do is get them to pay attention and hit a link," he says, estimating that his blog posts attract anywhere from 50,000 to one million readers.

The potential success of Mr. Cuban’s book also hinges on his cyber-popularity and popularity.   Fascinating model that many wannabe writers will surely try to follow.

While writing my book on Offshoring IT Services, I didn’t really leverage as much of Web 2.0 as I probably should have. Would my experience on writing and publicizing a book have been any different?

I guess I will have to find out with my next book. :-)


Friday, November 18, 2011

Enterprise Architect : shifting from consulting to Full-time EA (and back)

For the past few years, I have been a consulting Enterprise Architect,  working with a wide cross-section of clients, industry verticals and technology domains. Some of my engagements have been short and specific to an EA domain. I have also had the opportunity of being embedded in client’s EA organizations for extended periods of time. Some of my offline with  client and consulting EA's sometimes shifts to career planning and management.  Many in full-time Enterprise Architect roles at large enterprises muse on moving to consulting; I have seen more than a few join my EA practice during recent times. Likewise, I have also seen fellow consultants take up full-time EA role at client enterprises.  

A few common themes for such shift include personal reasons constraints - need to cut back on travel consulting involves - or the urge to move on to other industry verticals which consulting gig’s can facilitate. And in many cases it also boils down to the bottomline ($$$).  Some random observations based on experiences of people I have seen switch roles
Full-Time Enterprise Architects
Enterprise Architect Consultants
The role of an Enterprise Architect is typically a mix of subject matter expert, internal consultant, mentor and coach.
Role of a consulting EA is that of a deep subject matter expert, focused on advising client’s decision making.
As key stakeholders bridging the business-IT divide, Enterprise Architects are vested in the success of strategic initiatives, held accountable for their decisions and advise given to business and IT.
Consulting architects are not expected to have a 'permanent' tenure with a client. While they may also be responsible to deliver in success of client’s initiatives, they are generally not held accountable
Vendor relationship and management skills are getting to be important, especially in large-scale sourcing contexts.
The focus is on client stakeholder management and ability to continually sell one’s individual and consulting firm’s services
As client’s technology teams get leaner with larger sourcing initiatives, Enterprise Architects are expected to add to project/ program governance and also governance around vendor management
EA consultants may sometimes get an opportunity to be a part of client's Architecture governance teams but the focus is primarily on solution delivery and reviews
An Enterprise Architect’s performance indicator, measure of success includes contributing to long-term growth and ensuring success of business’ initiatives
Consultant’s PI is more black-and-white and typically includes a mix of billable utilization, meeting sales targets, contributing to consulting firms’ downstream business
An EA can reach out to internal networks and resources not available to outsiders
The consulting EA may need to be facilitated on reaching out to internal - client - resources. however he will have access to his extended network from his firm
The above is by no means a comprehensive list though it may weigh in while one considers a switch from being a consulting EA to a full-time EA. Do ping with your inputs and I will add to it.

ps: Added note from a fellow EA (Kurt Barndt)  "I would add you serve who ever pays you.  If you work for a services organization sometimes you are put in the position to balance your company’s interests with that of your client(s).  Working in house has an easier alignment from a company perspective however organizational/peer alignments become more significant especially as there are less and less in-house employees in the ever growing services-based environment."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Does IT Matter? Warren Buffet says Sure: By investing in Business of IT

Almost a decade after Nicholas G. Carr ignited a firestorm with his Opinion piece in the Harvard Business Review "Why IT Doesn't Matter," Warren Buffet has answered.

For years after the Mr. Carr’s article and book were published, IT executives and technocrats tried refuting the view with logical arguments. Perhaps the most resounding rebuttal to the view is the action by the Oracle of Omaha.
Media today is abuzz on the move Berkshire Hathaway investing $10.7 billion in International Business Machines (IBM) this year. What makes it noteworthy is that Warren Buffet had for long refrained from making major investments in tech companies.  In an interview, Mr. Buffett was quoted saying "It's a company that helps IT departments do their job better, It is a big deal for a big company to change auditors, change law firms”  . or for IT departments to move away from using IBM. … Buffet was also quoted saying that as the company retains existing clients, they are growing substantially around the globe.  (Ref: CNBC Interview transcript)

What was unsaid in the interview with Mr. Buffet was how well IBM has embraced the global delivery model , a.k.a Offshoring pioneered by Indian firms – TCS, Infosys, Wipro et al.  It is expected that in 2011 , IBM will recruit approximately 24,000 more employees taking it to a total of nearly 154,000 employees from India.  IBM India account for about 90,000 employees. Roughly translated, IBM's Indian employees would generate $35 billion of IBM's revenues in 2010 (out of about $120 billion) [Wikipedia

The Enterprise Architect in me is fascinated by the move. More than any the utopian goal of “moving up the value” chain, excelling in the “business of IT” that most technocrats profess to, the action by an uber business strategist : investing $10.7 billion in an IT firm in the current economic climate speaks volumes.