Showing posts with label Globalization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Globalization. Show all posts

July 26, 2016

Poverty Is An Illness

Poverty is not just a phenomenon of poor, homeless and hungry people. 

It is a social and economic epidemic, and here are some sobering statistics:

- "Nearly 1/2 of the world's population--more than 3 billion people--live on less than $2.50 a day."

- More than 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty--less than $1.25 a day."

- "1 Billion children worldwide are living in poverty...and 165 million children under the age of 5 were stunted...due to malnutrition."

- "1/4 of all humans live without electricity."

- "80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day."

Those empty stomachs, battered roofs, and tattered clothes are leaving indelible marks on so many impoverished people, yet many at the other end of the spectrum are living so high and mighty...it's a crazy contrast that fails to make any sense. 

Passing by the stronghold buildings of the World Bank in Washington, D.C., I found these striking "End Poverty" t-shirts that they had in their storefront--although I couldn't help think how far removed this place was from this sorry state of global poverty and chaotic and violent world affairs. 

We are living in an incredible bubble, and while I often hear how grateful people are to be here and have "all this," somehow I just don't think we fully get it what's going on out there! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 28, 2014

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2014

I was so humbled to hear the story of survival of Dr. Alfred Munzer today at the Holocaust Memorial Observance.

Dr. Munzer was hidden for the first four years of his life from the Nazis by a righteous Indonesian family in the Netherlands.

Earlier this month, Dr. Munzer visited Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, to share his awesome story of humanity and compassion in the face of Nazi brutality and genocide. 

Dr. Munzer told his story today through photos of his Jewish and Indonesian family's life during the Holocaust, and related how his father and sisters were murdered by the Nazis; from his immediate family, only he and his mother survived to come to America in 1958.

I was so inspired by Dr. Munzer's story and encourage everyone to hear it at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum where Dr. Munzer volunteers. 

When people help other people, even at their own peril, that represents true globalization of the human race and the unity of all mankind. ;-)
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March 15, 2014

U.S. To Give Up U.S.?

This is just ridiculous already...I mean why do we even bother to try, if as a nation we are just resigned to give up.

1. Russia takes Crimea and the U.S. has "no options," instead of considering a variety of meaningful options--will Putin stop with Crimea, Georgia, Chechnya if there is virtually nothing standing in his way?

2. Syrian civil war goes on for almost 3 years and takes 150,000 lives and the U.S. has "few options," while Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia seem to have and be exploiting lots of options.

3. "U.S. to give up Web oversight" since other governments have complained over our "unique influence"--well darn it, we invented the Internet, why shouldn't we capitalize on it?

4. Serious "deficit reduction is dead" even though the national deficit continues to grow and threaten the national security of this country, but there are few acknowledged options for politicians that want to get re/elected, except to continue the runaway gravy train.

5. Space exploration to other planets--NASA shelves it--"Space, the final frontier...to boldly go where no man has gone before," but we're not really going!

6. Defense cuts threaten U.S. military as the "U.S. faces a more volatile, more unpredictable world," and even as China ramps up its military budget by 12.2%.

7. Despite the potentially catastrophic impact that a serious cyber attack would have on the U.S. national security and economy, "the U.S. military is not prepared for cyber warfare"-why are we waiting for the proverbial lights to go out?

8. Outsourcing jobs outside the U.S. has already become cliche--with top U.S. Corporations sending more than 2.4 million American jobs overseas between 2002-2011--as our own labor force participation is now at a 30-year low!

I don't understand what has happened to our national resolve to succeed, to lead, to be a good example in the world.

Why are we in global retreat--instead of steadfastly protecting and growing our national strategic interests in every domain?

We are innovators, entrepreneurs, skilled in every worldly affair, and lovers of freedom and human rights for all, yet we have become gun shy, afraid, and reticent to be ourselves and do what we do best--which is to do what's right, what needs to be done, and to be global leaders in progress toward the future.

If we can't do this, if we have just given up, if we have become ostriches with our heads in the sand--then we haven't just given up on this or that or the other thing--but we have given up on being the U.S. of A.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 7, 2013

Eyes Wide Open


This is an interesting video on Plato's Allegory of The Cave. 

It is long-winded, but if you watch a little I think you will get the point.

In the video prisoners who are kept in the dark, chained, and with no real view of the outside world, have a limited perception of what exists out there.

They see shadows, but what is a shadow compared with the reality of true people, places, and things. 

When one prisoner is released outside into the light and the wonders of the world, he sees and experiences the greatness, the complexity, and the beauty of it all. 

The world, he sees, is much more than a shadow on a darkened wall. 

Watching this video, I think how fortunate I am to be able to have an education (and I am actually in a class this week). 

It is wonderful to learn and grow--and have one's eyes opened to all there is out there. 

True, not all the topics that I encounter and learn about are of great interest to me (sometimes, like everyone, I feel like I just want to get some Zzzzzs), but just being exposed to different topics and ways of thinking is a great opportunity in and of itself. 

I think sometimes, how lucky I am to live in the 21st century in an age of globalization, opportunities for advanced education, and all the technology to bridge time and space and see more than many who came before us. 

I imagine that compared to G-d, we are like the prisoners in the cave who only experience and see a minutia of reality, and G-d is out there over us, omniscient. 

Someday, G-d releases us from our mortal bodies and we ascend to heaven to partake of his greatness and then our eyes are truly opened as well. ;-)

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May 25, 2012

Innovation: Leaders vs. Liars

There's a big difference between doing something and saying you're going to do something. 

Or as I learned early on--words are cheap, but actions speak loud and clear.

The Wall Street Journal (23 May 2012) reported this week about how many companies (and even academic institutions) overuse the word innovation--"the introduction of something new."

It's practically become cliche--"chief innovation officers, innovation teams, innovation strategies, and even innovation days."
So is innovation just the buzzword du jour or is ultimately something more?

Of course, the more we use something like the term innovation, the greater the chance to dilute its meaning. 

- "33,528--times [innovation] was mentioned in quarterly and annual reports last year."

- "255--books published in the last 90 days with innovation in the title."

- "43%--of 260 executives who said their company has a chief innovation officer."

However, innovation is not just a word to throw around and use lightly--innovation is our bread and butter in this country; it is what differentiates us from our global competitors (i.e. its one of our main competitive advantages) and is a source of our economic strength.

Not all innovation is created equal--there is "innovation lite" (my term), where we take something and make it better, faster, or cheaper, and then there is "disruptive innovation"--where we really bring something new to the market.  

"Everybody's innovating because any change is innovation," but not every innovation is transformative.

We can't afford for innovation to lose its meaning, because leaders and companies that abuse it and dilute it--and don't ultimately deliver--will end up losing their jobs and ultimately the companies themselves. 

Real innovation is like condiments, use it sparingly and it can pack a huge punch--pour it on indiscriminately, and you might as well just throw away the whole dish.

What we need are innovation leaders that don't just mouth the words and buy the toys, but champion it, invest in it, and empower and encourage their employees to make it happen. 

Innovate or die is our reality--so be a true innovation leader--don't lie to yourself if it isn't the real thing. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Seth Waite)

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May 12, 2012

It's Not iStuff, It's Your iFuture

There is an editorial in the Wall Street Journal (11 May 2012) called "Make It a Summer Without iStuff."

It is written by David Gelernter, Professor of Computer Science at the prestigious Yale University and I was much dismayed to read it.

With all due respect, Gelernter makes the case--and a poor one at that--for keeping kids away from technology.

He calls technology devices and the Internet, "the perfect anti-concentration weapon...turning a child's life into a comedy of interruptions."

Gelernter states pejoratively that the "whole point of modern iToys...is not doing anything except turning into a click vegetable."

Moreover, Gelernter goes too far treating technology and the Internet as a waste of time, toys, and even as dangerous vices--"like liquor, fast cars, and sleeping pills"--that must be kept away from children.

Further, Gelernter indiscriminately calls en masse "children with computers...little digital Henry VIIIs," throwing temper tantrums when their problems cannot be solved by technology. 

While I agree with Gelernter that at the extreme, technology can be used to as a escape from real, everyday life--such as for people who make their primary interaction with others through social networking or for those who sit virtually round-the-clock playing video games.

And when technology is treated as a surrogate for real life experiences and problem solving, rather than a robust tool for us to live fuller lives, then it becomes an enabler for a much diminished, faux life and possibly even a pure addiction. 

However, Gelernter misses the best that technology has to offer our children--in terms of working smarter in everything we do. 

No longer is education a matter of memorizing textbooks and spitting back facts on exams in a purely academic fashion, but now being smart is knowing where to find answers quickly--how to search, access, and analyze information and apply it to real world problems. 

Information technology and communications are enablers for us do more with less--and kids growing up as computer natives provide the best chance for all of us to innovate and stay competitive globally. 

Rather then helping our nation bridge the digital divide and increase access to the latest technologies and advance our children's familiarity with all things science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Gelernter wants to throw us back in time to the per-digital age.

With the ever rapid pace with which technology is evolving, Gelernter's abolishing technology for children needlessly sets them back in their technology prowess and acumen, while others around the world are pressing aggressively ahead. 

Gelernter may want his kids to be computer illiterate, but I want mine to be computer proficient.  

iStuff are not toys, they are not inherently dangerous vices, and they are not a waste of our children's time, they are their future--if we only teach and encourage them to use the technology well, balanced, and for the good. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to "Extra Ketchup," Michael Surran)


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October 10, 2011

Growing America's Jobs

Robot

ABC News reported tonight of a home builder in Montana making a house entirely from American made products--as difficult as they are to find.

The home uses more than 120 products from 33 states and costs only 1 to 2% more than a foreign-sourced one.

The builder who is also an economist says that if builders around the country would just increase their use of made in the USA products by 5%, we could increase jobs by over 220,000 right now.

Multiple it by ten, if we actually produced these homes 50% or more here in the USA--that's 2+ million jobs.

It makes you wonder if all the outsourcing is just another addiction where we feel good now--by saving a little today at the checkout line--but we pay the piper down the road, through the gutting of our own labor force and the future capacity for us to produce.

While, I don't believe in circle-the-wagon protectionism out of fear of competing in the global marketplace, I do think we need to assess the deals we make to ensure that we are getting the best for our people and our future--and not just for the next quarter or two, but for the long-term!

Having started my career in business, I am well aware that this is "one big balance sheet" and things have to add up or else short-term profits today are made at the expense of long-term capabilities tomorrow.

If the strategy was that we would somehow give the blue collar work to others and keep the white collar work for ourselves, it seems like we have deluded ourselves into thinking that a one-size fits all economy will keep America running.

We need broad based opportunities for our diverse workforce in all areas of work, and we need to remain strategically self-sufficient, so that we do not outsource ourselves to economic death, where we lose the know-how or capability to help ourselves.

Buy, build, and work America into an economic powerhouse that the world relies on, rather than one that is fed by others with economic loans and cheap goods made in wherever-land.

In my opinion, there is no real alternative to balancing the national budget as well our current account deficit--if we consistently spend more than we earn, and the ships keep unloading more stuff here and then going back overseas half empty, eventually the system has got to go kaput!

As the world's superpower, our coffers can once again be full and our ships can brim proud with made in America wares--but this can happen only if we focus on products that outlast, outlook, and outperform.

Competition has never been more fierce and the stakes never higher for us individually and as a nation--we will need technology to keep us steadily improving and releasing the pressure from this enormous economic cooker.

(Source Photo: here)

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June 17, 2011

Apps-The World At Your Fingertips

I came across this great video by the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP).

The video demonstrates a vision for connecting people with applications and using these "to communicate, educate, and engage--beyond the gates of every embassy on the planet."

I like the way they detailed out specific use cases for the apps, where "Applications can be anything from trivia to media kits, visa procedures and event management to English language tutorials."

The video describes how everyone from a consular officer to a public affairs specialist and a college student to a journalist can take advantage of these.

I can see that one of the principles behind Apps@State is to maximize the sharing and re-use of content through an apps catalogue and the ability to customize the apps to local and individual needs.

The mobile and webs apps content will be made available through SMS, smartphones, and social networks.

This framework for a cloud computing platform can bring efficiency and effectiveness to foreign service officers and audiences world-wide that depend on and can benefit from these programs.

This is very much user-centric design in action, and I believe very much on target with the "25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management."

Other agencies are also developing significant apps catalogues, such as GSA with the Apps.Gov website, which now has more than fifty free social media applications for federal agencies in everything from analytics and search to blogs, contests, document sharing, video and photo sharing, idea generation, social media, wikis, and more.

Perhaps it is not too early to say that the Federal government is on a roll and that it will only get better with time.

(Note: All opinions my own)

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March 4, 2011

Balance, Not Brute Force

There is a new documentary called "Race to Nowhere."

It is about our 24/7 culture with it's relentless pressure to succeed and how it is adversely affecting our children.

Directed by Vicki Abeles a mother of one of these children, who was literally getting sick from from the "race to be the smartest, to test the highest, and to achieve the most."

The message these days to children and adults is "produce, produce, produce."

But what are we getting from all the hypercompetition?

As one girl at the beginning of the trailer said "I can't really remember the last time I had the chance to go in the backyard and just run around." And another boy said, "School is just so much pressure, every day I would just wake up dreading it."

This is not exactly the picture of happy, satisfied, and motivated children or of a dynamic workforce for the future.

What are we doing to our children and ourselves?

We have better technology and more information available now than ever before, yet somehow people are seemingly unhappier than ever--and it's starting with our children, but it doesn't stop there.

With the change to an information society, our innovators forget to create a shut-off valve (or filter) so people would be able "turn down the volume" on the information pouring in 24/7.

Adults can't keep up, our students can't keep up, no one can--we have opened the floodgates of INFORMATION and we are drowning in it.

No learning is good enough because there is always more to learn and no productivity is productive enough because the technology is changing so fast.

I remember a boss who used to always say "what have you done for me lately" (i.e. it didn't matter what you achieved last week or yesterday, he wanted to know what did you do for him today!)

It's the same now everyday and everywhere for everyone, yesterday is history--when it comes to learning and achievement; the competition from down the hall or around the globe is right on our tail and if you are not doing something new just about every minute, you risk being overtaken.

We know "failure is not an option" but is pushing until we have the equivalent of a societal nervous breakdown, success?

Like with all good things in life--love, vacations, chocolate, and so on--we can't overindulge. Similarly with information overload and work--there has to be a "balance," a happy medium--we can't push the engine until it overheats. We need to know when to put the peddle to the mettle and when to throttle back.

If we can handle ourselves more adroitly in these competitive times (and less like a flailing drowning victim running frantically between activities), manage the flow of information smarter (not like sucking on the proverbial firehose) and alternate between productivity and recuperation/rejuvenation (rather then demanding a 24/7 ethic), I think we will see greater joy and better results for ourselves and our children.

We can all excel, but to do so, we have to learn to moderate and take a breathe--in and out.

Success and happiness is not always about more, in fact, I believe more often than not it's about an ebb and flow. Like night and day, the ocean tides, the changing seasons, even our own life cycle, we have to know enough to compete intelligently and not with brute force, 24/7, alone.

So what if we turned off our Blackberry's for just a couple of hours a day and let our kids do the equivalent...to be human again and find time for spirituality and community and rejoice in all that we have achieved.

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February 27, 2011

A Shift in Time

SHIFT HAPPENS (a.k.a. "Did You Know?") are a series of terrific videos that illuminate the amazing times of social and technological change we are living in.

(This is one of the videos)

We are fortunate to be alive today!

But we must be aware of all the change happening around us and PREPARE ourselves for a very different future.

Some interesting tidbits from this video that should make you think:

- China will soon be the #1 English-speaking country in the world.

- The 25% of India's population with the highest IQs is greater than the TOTAL population of the U.S.

- The top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010, did NOT exist in 2004.

- Today's learners will have 10-14 jobs by the age of 38!

- 1 in 4 workers have been in their jobs LESS THAN a year.

- We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist, using technologies that haven't been invented yet, in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet.

- The number of text messages sent and received every day exceeds the TOTAL population of the planet.

- There are 31 billion searches on google every MONTH.

- 4 EXABYTES of unique information will be generated this year.

- A weeks worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a LIFETIME in the 18th century.

- By 2049 a $1000 computer will exceed the computational capabilities of the ENTIRE human species.

All in all, the world is shifting eastward, jobs are becoming more tenuous, information is EXPLODING, and technology is SURPASSING all known boundaries.

What will the world be like in 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 years? Marvelous to be sure!

But are we prepared for all the change is that is coming LIGHT SPEED at us?

Are we getting out in front of it--can we?

It strikes me that either we harness the POWER of all the change or else we risk being OVERCOME by it.

Shift happens, YES--These are great and challenging times for us to manage to and an awesome RESPONSIBILITY.

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November 10, 2009

Supercapitalism and Enterprise Architecture

As a nation are we overworked? Are we just showing up, doing what we're told, and making the same mistakes again and again?

Robert Reich, the former Labor Secretary and Professor at University of California at Berkeley, says that we are more than ever a nation of workaholics.

Reich’s book, Supercapitalism, talks about how we have to work harder to make ends meet for the following reasons:

  • Globalization—“our real incomes are under assault from technology and low-wage workers in other countries.”
  • Greater competition—“all barriers to entry have fallen, competition is more intense than ever, and if we don’t work hard, we may be in danger of losing clients, customers, or investors.”
  • Rapid pace of change—“today most people have no ability to predict what they’re going to be doing from year to year, and job descriptions are not worth the paper they’re written on because jobs are changing so fast.”

Reich says to temper our workaholic lifestyles, we need to “understand that the quality of work is much more important than the quantity.” Honestly, that doesn’t seem to answer the question, since quality (not just quantity) takes hard work and a lot of time too.

In terms of supercharged programs, I have seen enterprise architecture programs working "fast and furious," others that were steady, and still some that were just slow and sometimes to the point of "all stop" in terms of any productivity or forward momentum.

Unlike IT operations that have to keep the lights on, the servers humming, and phones working, EA tends to be considered all too often as pure “overhead” that can be cut at the slightest whim of budget hawks. This can be a huge strategic mistake for CIOs and organizational leaders who thus behave in a penny-wise and dollar foolish manner. Sure, operations keep the lights on, but EA ensures that IT investments are planned, strategically aligned, compliant, technically sound, and cost-effective.

A solid EA program takes us out of the day-to-day firefighting mode and operational morass, and puts the CIO and business leaders back in the strategic "driver's seat" for transforming and modernizating the organization.

In fact, enterprise architecture addresses the very concerns that Reich points to in our Supercapitalistic times: To address the big issues of globalization, competition, and the rapid pace of change, we need genuine planning and governance, not just knee jerk reactions and firefighting. Big, important, high impact problems generally don't get solved by themselves, but rather they need high-level attention, innovative thinking, and group problem solving, and general committment and resources to make headway. This means we can't just focus on the daily grind. We need to extricate ourselves and think beyond today. And that's exactly what real enterprise architecture is all about.

Recently, I heard some colleagues at a IT conference say that EA was all bluster and wasn't worth the work and investment. I strongly disagree. Perhaps, a poorly implemented architecture program may not be worth the paper it's plans are printed on. And unfortunately, there are too many of these faux enterprise architecture programs around and these give the rest a bad rap. However, a genuine user-centric enterprise architecture and IT governance program is invaluable in keeping the IT organization from running on a diet of daily chaos: not a good thing for the mission and business that IT supports.

Organizations can and will work smarter, rather than just harder, with strong enterprise architecture, sound IT governance, and sound business and IT processes. It the nature of planning ahead rather than just hoping for the best.


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November 21, 2008

Collaborative Enterprise Architecture

One of the ways that traditional enterprise architectures often goes awry is when the enterprise architects hole up in their ivory tower to plan and govern. Typically, this results in the rest of the organization ignoring the plans and the architects, both of which soon become shelfware.

The only way for enterprise architecture to genuinely succeed is for the architects to climb down from their ivory tower and work hand-in-hand with the business and IT subject matter experts to build a user-centric enterprise architecture that speaks to the genuine needs and culture of the organization and its people.

Enterprise architecture needs to be a collaborative initiative where difficult problems get identified and resolved by vetting issues, best practices, and solutions among organizational stakeholders. In this user-centric model, the architects and business and technology stakeholders build an proverbial alliance and work together to develop and maintain architecture plans that are valuable to and actionable by the organization. The architects provide the leadership, structure, principles, and processes to guide the architecture development, and the stakeholder, subject matter experts contribute and vet the content with the architect staff. Neither group can be truly effective without the other.

In a broader sense, the concepts of user-centricity and collaboration that enable an enterprise architecture to succeed at the organizational level can be applied at higher levels (e.g. globally) to solve the most challenging problems we face in the world today.

The Wall Street Journal, 7 November 2008, ran an interesting editorial by Will Marshall, the president of the Progressive Policy Institute.

In this opinion piece, Mr. Marshall calls for “a new progressive internationalism” for America. He argues that rather than go it alone, America should build international alliances to tackle the difficult problems and build a way forward. He says that “Alliances don’t tie American’s hands, so much as extend our global reach.”

In other words, America can’t function as traditional enterprise architects solving the world’s problems out of an ivory tower, but rather we need to work with other nations around the world jointly tackle these.

But aren’t we smart and innovative and capable in America. Why can’t we just solve the problems on our own (the ivory tower approach)?

Marshall states: “In today’s increasingly interdependent world, no nation is strong enough to go it alone. We need other countries’ help to solve problems of the global commons like today’s financial crisis, terrorism, climate change, the depletion of natural resources, pandemics and poverty.”

Similarly, enterprise architects can’t solve our organizations’ problems alone. Architects cannot have the breadth nor depth of subject matter expertise, nor the where-with-all to implement even the best laid plans without the stakeholders that stand to benefit.

Now certainly there are times of peril or when decisions need to be made quickly that someone has just got to “make the call” and there is no time to collaborate, fully vet the issues or build consensus, but this should be the exception rather than the rule, since collaboration trumps going it alone far more often than not.


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July 12, 2008

Global Innovation and Enterprise Architecture

For architecting the enterprise, we need good ideas to mature, evolve, and innovate. And good ideas can come from literally anywhere, so we should not limit ourselves to looking for them in-house, in our industry, locally, regionally, or nationally. Good ideas are global and we need to reach out for these ideas, adopt them, and make them our own, regardless of where they originate.

National Defense Magazine, July 2008 reports that “technology flows freely across national borders and the United States depends on foreign technology to secure its military edge, says a new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.”

In fact, “many of the greatest achievements in U.S. weaponry were made possible by foreign technologies, ‘whether that is nuclear weapons thanks to German Jewish scientists, whether it is space, thanks to German scientists…whether it is armored vehicles, a British invention, or airpower, also a British invention. Stealth technology was actually a Russian algorithm that Northrop Grumman scientists happened to see at a conference that told them how to calculate the bouncing of radio waves,” says Pierre Chao a defense industry analyst.

Remember, while the U.S. populace has many advantages including being diverse, highly educated, relatively affluent, and having the freedom to pursue and express new ideas, we represent only 4.5% of the world population. So we do not have a monopoly on science, engineering, and innovation.

Actually, “by 2010, if current trends continue, more than 90 percent of all scientists and engineers will be living in Asia,” according to Mario Mancuso head of the bureau of industry and security at the Department of Commerce.

Additionally most of our military technologies come from abroad. “In the past, approximately two-thirds of our nation’s military technologies were developed in a defense R&D setting, with the remaining third coming from adaptations of commercial, off-the-shelf technologies. Today, those proportions have been almost exactly reversed.”

Even our most advanced new jet fighter, the Joint Strike Fighter, is a global initiative, “with hundreds of contractors across many borders.”

There is an old saying that there is strength in numbers. The world is 6.7 billion in number and growing fast; the U.S., while a superpower is only a small part of the whole world. Therefore, we need to embrace innovation from everyone that can contribute positively. Innovation is incremental; we can learn from others, build on it, improve on it, and integrate it with our own creativity. Then we are architecting our enterprises with the added force of globalization.

While it would be good if the U.S. could retain its leadership in innovation, the reality is that we can no longer afford to be an island of excellence. The main thing is to harvest ideas wherever they come from and leverage them in ways that help us maintain our technological edge, promote economic prosperity and support the wellbeing of our nation.


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April 24, 2008

IT Roles Are Changing and Enterprise Architecture

These days, everyone likes to think that they are an architect and the ways things are going, soon this may become a reality.

ComputerWorld, 7 April 2008 reports that “New IT titles portend a revolution in IT roles.”

“Don’t expect to be part of an IT department. As a 21st century technology professional, your future—and most likely your desk—will be on the business side, and your title will likely be scrubbed of any hint of computers, databases, software, or data networks.”

Technology is being down-played and business requirements are in focus. This is good EA and common sense.

“IT is no longer a subset specialty. It is integrated into whatever work you’re trying to get done…IT is being disintermediated, but in a good way. It is being pushed farther up the food chain.”

IT is no longer being viewed as a mere utility to keep the network up, email running, and the dial tone on. Rather, IT folks are being seen as full partners with the business to solve problems. YES!

“No one know s exactly what to call these positions, but they definitely include more than pure technical skills. ‘If you’re a heads-down programmer, you’re at a terrible disadvantage.’”

The CTO of Animas, a web hosting company stated: “Outsourcing, globalization and the cost reduction for WAN technology all work to eliminate the need for systems administrators, help desk people, or developers. We don’t want developers on our staff for all of these technologies. We pretty much have kept only business-savvy people who we expect to be partners in each department and to come up with solutions.

Solving business problems requires the ability to synthesize business and technology and let business drive technology. Hence, the new glorification and proliferation of architects in today’s organizations.

David McCue, the CIO of Computer Sciences Corp. says “You’ll see titles like ‘solutions architect’ and ‘product architect’ that convey involvement in providing the product or service to a purchaser.” Similarly, the CIO of TNS, a large market research company, stated: “everyone is either an architect or an engineer.”

“Although job titles for all of these emerging roles have yet to be standardized, the overall career-focus seems pretty clear: It’s all about business.”

Wise CIOs are changing their focus from day-to-day technology operations to strategic business issues. That’s the sweet spot where value can be added by the CIO.

Enterprise architecture and IT governance are the CIO’s levers to partner with the business and plan their IT more effectively and to govern it more soundly, so that IT investments are going to get the business side, the biggest bang for their buck.


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February 15, 2008

“Fair Trade or Free Trade” and Enterprise Architecture

What is the way ahead for free trade—further globalization and lost jobs for U.S. workers or isolationism and protectionism?

Fortune Magazine, 4 February 2008 reports that “economic anxiety has inspired a backlash against free trade…in the great game of global trade, Americans are increasingly feeling like the losers.”

How did we get to this advanced state of global trade?

Americans led the works in building a roadmap for global commerce during the 1990’s” with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) “linking the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to create the world’s largest trade bloc.”

Why are Americans reeling from free trade?

68% of those surveyed say America’s trading partners are benefiting the most from free trade, not the U.S. The sense of victimhood is changing America’s attitude about doing business with the world. We are a nation crawling into a fetal position, cramped by fear. That America has lost control of its destiny in a fiercely competitive global economy. The fear is mostly about jobs lost overseas and wages capped by foreign competition. But it is also fueled by lead-painted toys from China and border-hopping workers from Mexico, by the housing and credit crisis at home, and by the residue of vulnerability left by 9/11 and the wars that followed.”

We are turning inward. Especially now, as the U.S. economy sputters…median household income in 2006, at $48,201 was barely ahead of where it was eight years earlier. So the prospect of a recession has made the anxious middle class even more so.”

“Most analysts agree that the underlying reason for public anxiety over globalization is the visibility of factory closings and the stagnation of income.

What is the result of the backlash against free trade?

“Today, nearly two-thirds of Americans are willing to pay higher prices to keep down foreign competition.”

With the upcoming presidential election, “the Democratic mantra is now, ‘fair trade, not free trade.’”

“Most Democratic leaders insist they don’t want to, nor believe they can, halt the global flow of commerce. Where they hope to connect with voters is by promising to strengthen the safety net.” This includes special training programs, tax incentives for companies to relocate to where workers have lost jobs, and expanding unemployment benefits.

I agree that we cannot retrench into isolationism, although a little protectionism sounds about right and fair. We need to architect our nation’s role in global trade, so that we are not running huge trade deficits, losing valuable jobs to overseas workers, and buying shoddy products from overseas.

Enterprise architecture is about identifying the baseline and setting a target and transition plan. Well the current baseline, as outlined, is ruinous for the U.S. economy. The target is clearly a more strategic trade policy that protects our vital economic industries, interests, and workers. And the transition plan is to establish the laws and policies to change our wayward direction and quickly.

Finally, businesses must look beyond the quarterly financial statements and daily stock prices of their companies and instead establish longer-term targets that focus on retaining strategic assets and know-how at home here in the U.S., rather than trade it away for a quick buck on the quarterly income statement.


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January 26, 2008

Doomsday and Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture is about planning and transitioning from the baseline to the target state.

However, as architects, there are times when we need to plan for the worst and hope for the best, as the saying goes.

As the price of oil has reached and exceeded $100 a barrel and significant new findings of oil are becoming a rarity, some people are starting to get nervous and are planning for a day when oil will be scarce, pricey, and society as we have come to know will cease to exist. Yikes, doomsday!

Are these people simply uninformed, pessimists, or non-believers that technological progress will outpace the demands we are placing on this planet’s resources?

The Wall Street Journal, 26 January 2008, reports about everyday people, like the Aaron Wissner in Middleville, Michigan, a school computer teacher with a wife and infant son, who became “peak-oil aware.” This term refers to his “embracing the theory that world’s oil production is about to peak.

These people fear the worst; “Oil supplies are dwindling just as world demand soars. The result: oil prices ‘will skyrocket, oil dependent economies will crumble, and resource wars will explode.’” Mr. Wissner’s forebodings include, “banks faltering” and “food running out.”

And they believe that we cannot stop this from happening. “no techno-fix was going to save us. Electric cars, biodiesel, nuclear power, wind and solar—none of it will cushion the blow.”

So Mr. Wissner and his family are preparing and transitioning themselves for the worst, they “tripled the size of his garden…stacked bags of rice in his new pantry, stashed gold…and doubled the size of his propane tank.”

According to the article there are thousands of people that adhere to the peak-oil theory.

Of course, there are many doomsday scenarios out there that end in war, famine, disease, and so on. During the cold war, people built bomb shelters in their back yards, and school children had drills hiding under their desks. These days, many fear that globalization will drive this country to economic ruin. Al Gore and other environmentalists espouse the global warming theory. And since 9/11, fears are heightened about terrorists hitting us with nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological agents. Even Hollywood has entered the fray with movies such as Armageddon about meteors hitting the Earth or The Day After Tomorrow with the greenhouse effect sending us back to the ice-age.

Whether you adhere with any of these various doomsday scenarios or visions of the future (their believed target architecture, not necessarily their desired one) and how they are preparing (transitioning) to it or you think they are just a bunch of nut-balls, it seems important as an enterprise architect to recognize that targets are not always rosy pictures of growth and prosperity for an organization, and the transition plans are not always a welcome and forward movement. Sometimes as architects, we must plan for the worst--hoping, of course that it never comes--but never-the-less preparing, the best we can. As architects, we don’t have to put all the enterprise’s eggs in one basket. We can weigh the odds and invest accordingly in different scenarios. Our organization’s resources are limited, so we must allocate resources carefully and with forethought. Of course, no architecture can save us from every catastrophe.


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January 24, 2008

Globalization, Localization, and Enterprise Architecture

The world economy is globalizing, but sales and marketing is still a local activity.

How should organizations architect the way forward to address the duality of globalization and localization?

The Wall Street Journal, 23 January 2008, reports that “Disney Localizes Mickey to Boost Hong Kong Theme Park.”

Disney has gone global and extended their famed theme parks to Asia. However, the first couple of years have not been a success. “Since it opened in 2005, Disney’s Hong Kong park, the media and entertainment company’s flagship for the booming Chinese kid’s market has struggled to connect with consumers. The park a joint venture with the Hong Kong government, missed public targets of 5.6 million visitors for its first year of operation, and attendance dropped nearly 30% in the second year to about four million.”

Where did Disney go wrong in going global?

Disney did not localize their brand or product to their foreign consumers. Instead, they expected the global consumer to behave the same as their U.S. counterpart with no differentiation for culture, nationality, beliefs, values, and so on. “In the past, it was the Chinese consumer who was expected to understand Disney, or so it seemed. Chinese tourists unfamiliar with Disney’s traditional stories were sometimes left bewildered by the Hong Kong park’s attractions.”

Disney also did not tailor their marketing to the local Chinese consumer, in a big snafu. “Disney’s marketing efforts also have misfired. A Hong Kong Disneyland ad in the summer of 2006 featured a family of consisting of two kids and two parents. China’s government, however, limits most couples to just one child.” Ouch!

So how is Disney changing their Mickey Mouse tune?

“Now, Disney is going on the offensive by going local. Its first big opportunity on the front is a stroke of astrological fortune. In the traditional Chinese calendar, it will soon be the year of the rat. As the Feb. 7 New Year holiday approaches, Disney is suiting up its own house rodents, Mickey and Minnie, in special red Chinese New Year outfits for its self-proclaimed Year of the Mouse.” This sounds good, though I’m just not sure Mickey and Minnie mouse appreciate being equated to rats, as in year of the rat.

Disney is also changing their park exhibitions to address local tastes. “Inside the parks, vendors hawk fried dumplings and turnip cakes. The parade down Main Street, U.S.A., is being joined by “Rhythm of Life Procession,” featuring a dragon dance and puppets of birds, flowers, and fish set to traditional Chinese music…” This also seems good and local, except shouldn’t this be Main Street, Hong Kong or China and not U.S.A.?

Anyway, according to Disney, they are going local all the way to their brand. “We are working as the ‘Chinese’ Walt Disney Company—ensuring that all the people who work in Disney understand the Chinese consumer to forge a deeper emotional connection with the brand.”

From the perspective of User-centric enterprise architecture, we need to focuses on the end-user and stakeholders. Going global and ignoring localized culture, nationality, beliefs, and values may be a cost conscious approach, but a poor architecture one. EA must respect individual, national, and cultural differences, and promote trust, respect, and integrity in doing so. A unified, consistent brand is good, but outreach to consumers based on their localized needs and requirements is absolute. Whether we are dealing with product, process, marketing, brand, or technology, EA must on one hand develop standards and seek out enterprise solutions where possible, but on the other hand, must tailor the enterprise’s offering to local tastes and requirements. It’s not always a one size fits all.


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