Monthly Archives: May 2008

From Concours to BSG Alliance to nGenera

As can be seen from this press release, BSG Alliance (and all subsidiaries) has changed its name to nGenera Corporation. BSG Alliance acquired Concours Group last year, as well as New Paradigm and various, more technology-based companies such as Iconixx. The name nGenera represents a consolidation of the various acquired companies and signals a focus on the "next generation enterprise" – companies that use collaborative and Internet technology as an internal, native and natural arena for innovation and growth.

Consulting companies are fascinating – forever splitting and forming, driven by changes in content, business conditions and (to a rather large extent) by people chemistry. Though companies may change, the people very often remain the same – in a sense, even if you leave, you never really leave, but keep in touch (and use each other, if need be.) Modern technology underscores this sense of a cloud of people that know about each other and draw on each other when necessary, clustering around companies and ideas as need and economics dictate.

I started working in research-based consulting with Index, which was acquired by CSC, in 1994. I then moved on to work with Concours (which was formed by ex-CSC Index people plus some of their friends.) That relationship has lasted since 1999, and now it is time for nGenera, with an increased focus on collaboration technology (both in theory and practice) and an emphasis on what the future will be as well as how we will get there.

Stay tuned – a company that spans from Wikinomics to simulation technology promises exciting ideas and much to learn, while keeping a basis of solid IT management models and practices and a deep knowledge in talent acquisition and development. Stay tuned.

Splommentary irritations

Susan shows how PR agents have cottoned on to the value of blogs and linking, and started leaving not quite subtle enough product plugs in comment fields. To he it looks like Ms. Rosenberg is nothing more than a manual version of the botnets that every day leaves 4000 comments into my blog filter, most of them either gibberish or "Good site. Thanks." I want to preserve the ability to have people comment without signing in, but that requires tuning spam filters and doing a quick scan through the 4000 pieces of crap looking for false positives.

The answer to spam messages and comments is, in the long run, not filtering, but following the money and boycotting the companies that pays for them. I have had to turn off Track-Backs, a very useful feature, from my blog, because of spambots. That means I have not direct knowledge of who links to me, something I would like to know. (Yes, I can find this out in Technorati or Google, but I have better things to do.)

As for manual comment creeps, Chris Anderson solved his problem (300 emails per day, many of them from PR folks who didn’t bother to check that he would actually be interested) by blocking them all and publishing his block-file. An action that resulted in furious discussion and, eventually, an admission that Wired was kind of doing the same thing, with paper inserts in their magazines.

The thing is, I don’t mind product plugs. I love Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools (get the RSS feed, about one per day) and Amazon’s sometimes-brilliant recommendations. And if someone posts a note about an interesting piece of software that addresses something I have complained about, that’s great.

The Rosenberg approach is different, in that it attempts to write something pertinent to the blog post and then turn the conversation over onto the product plugged. If this person had been a real PR person, he or she would have found blog posts where MS Office is the relevant answer. That they are few and far between, does not mean that they do not exist – and if she could have found them, she would be a real PR person. Instead, her illiteracy and bad judgment is displayed for all to see.

It is to be hoped that Microsoft realizes the bad judgment they have displayed in hiring her and activate their filtering procedure.

Ubiquity interviews Vaughan Merlyn

John Gehl of Ubiquity fame has interviewed my pal Vaughan Merlyn, a stellar IT management consultant and all-around good egg who shares some of his experiences and views. Vaughan writes a fine blog and is extremely good at navigating the rather tricky no-mans-land that still lies between business and IT. He has spent much time and effort extending and deepening some of the strategic models of IT supply and demand that we rely on in this business, in light of advances in technology and IT savvy (or, as Vaughan calls it, IT maturity) in large organizations:

When I say business IT maturity, that is a short hand way of saying business demand maturity and IT supply maturity. I think that in the majority of cases, i.e., more than a half of the situations we see – there is a reasonable degree of similarity between the business ambition and the IT ambition. For perhaps a quarter of the cases, there is a CIO who is well ahead of business. And those are the most frustrating cases. The other case is where the business is well ahead of the CIO. And that usually sorts itself out pretty quickly because sooner or later there is a change of CIO.

Here is some hard-won experience on what advisory consulting is all about:

[…] I often find that what [clients] think is the problem they are looking for help with is quite different from the actual problem they are experiencing. And very often I find some of the most important work that we do happens before the engagement begins. I think it was Jerry Weinberg, one of the great wise men of the early IT days pointed out that one of the problems with project management is when a project officially starts, it’s already been going several months. It just hasn’t yet been called a project. So there is a lot of baggage already there. I think similarly, when you sit down with a client to frame up an engagement, I find the actual act of getting clarity on what is the issue, what would the outcomes be if we successfully solved this issue, that often is enormously helpful for the client – obviously it’s important for the consultant because you can easily spin wheels trying to solve the wrong problem. But I have seen the light bulbs go on with my clients – not just little glimmers of Christmas tree lights. I mean massive flashbulbs go off as you take them through a process of issue clarification. And they realize that perhaps the problem that thought they had isn’t the real problem. So I think that is a value that a good consultant brings to the table – helping to clarify what the real issues might be.

Budding consultants, take note!

ME in The Economist

There is a good article on Myalgic encephalomyelitis in The Economist, accurately (as far as I can tell) reporting the current state of research and the growing realization that this disease does in fact have a biological basis and is not the a syndrome of malingering from people wanting attention.

ME is a harrowing experience for those that suffer it and a drain on energy, social life and economy of their families. A complicated, exclusionary diagnosis and the fact that the loss of energy puts the patient in an especially weak position vis-a-vis the medical bureaucracy means that many suffer more and longer than they should. It is not being "burned out", "hitting a wall" and is not caused by stress or depression. It might cause depression in the patient, on the other hand, from being in a continually exhausted state.

A diagnostic test would help enormously. At present, a patient can go for years without adequate treatment because many doctors do not recognize ME/CFS as an illness at all. If the illness can be diagnosed fast, the patient can be helped faster – and will face less of a challenge understanding and making the surroundings understand what the problem is.

Fighting spam again

Comments are turned off until further notice. Comment spam storm. I am implementing comment challenges, and cursing the cancer of spam that threatens the freedom of the Internet at drains away badly needed productivity…..

Update later in the day: Opened again. Will try with a little tuning of keywords first….