The speed of the Social Landscape

So, I was talking to my 15 year old daughter the other day and she made the comment; “Dad, Facebook is for adults!”. Now, for full disclosure I have a Facebook account and quickly tired of it as well; but that might be more of a personality issue on my part. She was referencing the fact that she has a Facebook account however will only use it now if she has to.

What happened?

Well, she and her friends, tired of it; found Instagram much better for what they wanted to do. You might say problem is solved with Facebook’s purchase of Instagram but not so. You see, she and her friends are now cooling on Instagram as well; not sure if it is the Facebook influence or something else but “it just isn’t the same anymore”.

What’s next?

Snapchat of course.

Where does it end?

This is the part that is most interesting to me as a Start-up technologist; the generation coming up is not afraid to “Find the next interesting thing” as loyalty is not a word in their vocabulary.

So what do we do? Recognize it and embrace it. If you are out there innovating, building, growing new products you also need to be recognizing changes quickly and jump on it. If you are not taking time to innovate and push the envelope you will find yourself loosing those same interested users who jumped in so quickly.

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We work in a “Roll forward” world

I was reminded today about a release that my team had done some time ago, everything went fine except that one of the features that was planned did not work as expected.

Problem, absolutely; frustrating, oh yes; Roll Back, Heck no!

In the technology environment that we live in today every moment we are not moving forward we are being passed by, this goes for “roll backs” as well. The process of rolling back, retesting, re-releasing is time not implementing the next critical piece of functionality. Also releases quit often contain many Service deployments, db changes, script updates, etc to get even the smallest change deployed; rolling these back are sometimes more involved than rolling the updates in.

Now of course if you have just released that new feature and everything is “down” please stop reading this and go fix it.

Now back to my release mentioned above, we deployed about 6 new features and 1 was not working. As Murphy’s Law would have it my favorite QA tester in production, my CEO, found the issue. His first response, as expected and correctly so, was roll back; after a moment of discussion however we came to a meeting of the minds to “Roll Forward”.

We, the technology team, spent the next 30 minutes discussing and evaluating the release; brainstorming possibilities for both what caused the issue as well as how best to fix it. In the end the issue came down to a missed JavaScript file that did not get deployed. We deployed the file to all servers, retested and moved on to verifying how not to have the same issue repeated again.

The goal of course with every release is zero defects and zero issues; however at the pace of development these days unless you have government sized teams and timelines issues will surface. As technology leaders let me be very clear, we must NEVER be ok with issues because the moment we do the more we will experience. Just as important for us is to keep the momentum moving forward and continue to accelerate with the speed of business.


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Responsible Business Outsourcing

Responsible Business Outsourcing is a term I have used for the last 10 years and it garners different responses depending who my audience is.  CEO’s tend to like it because it implies savings without disruption; Marketing likes it because “there seems to be a good article in there somewhere”; and the technology team at least pauses momentarily before the resume polishing begins.

Having been in the tech industry for the last 20+ years I have seen the emergence of the Offshore model including some huge successes, colossal failures and many in between.  I have since applied my own ideas and practices into my teams when integrating an offshore team into what has been primarily an onshore only model.  This has allowed for a smooth integration without too much disruption.  Now I must first preface this by saying most of my experience has been in small companies/online startups where teams tend to be onshore rather than offshore to start.

So what do I do that is different?

Well, I am a big fan of SOA/API’s and also very protective of Intellectual Property so I have built my offshore teams around Web UI Development.  As the Web continues to change it remains a challenge with shrinking budgets/teams to stay current everywhere while also supporting all necessary core development.  In my web projects upwards of 65-70% of the code is in the UI; add on the need to adjust, modify, and redesign that UI and the development never slows.  This split has also allowed for the development and protection of company IP by keeping those responsibilities with company employees.  Just as we have used outside companies to design many of these products (rather than staff designers) I am able to add specific expertise to a team as needed for the length of time they are needed.

Does this mean there are no issues, of course not, and it does take strong commitment by everyone involved.  When implemented however the benefits can be seen in product lifecycle savings as well as cost savings; isn’t that the goal going in.


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