How to teach integration development to management with Legos

The old saying goes: “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. In that sense it’s rather strange that a lot of the IT projects I’ve witnessed have skirted around the combined integration testing between two teams.

Usually this becomes apparent when the product is being demoed for the first time. The teams show how the two systems connect with each other. Then it’s time for the questions. I’ve got a pre-selected bundle of questions that I ask:

  • What happens if the system A tries to send information to system B but the system B is down? Is the message queued or is it lost?
  • What happens if the system A is sending information to system B but the data connection breaks during the send? Is the entire message resent? Is there a possibility that some of the data has reached system B and for instance the message’s unique id number is already filled?
  • Does system B send back any confirmation to system A? What if this confirmation is not sent? Will system A retry its message?
  • Does the system A allow system B to change anything? Is the integration push or pull or does it work with queries?

These questions might seem obvious and the answers to them should be obvious as well. If the development team can answer them right away with good arguments, the situation is good. However if any of them are answered with a blank stare and “well…I don’t really know” then the situation is bad.

[Read more…]

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? The Corporate Learning Quest

Source: Corporate Learning (Emily, 2012)

“Have a vision of life that inspires you, and then try every day to grow closer to the fulfilment of that vision.” This beautiful quote by Deepak Chopra got me thinking about future goals, the learning process and it’s link to the corporate world.

How many of us have been asked during our childhood “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I always had a standard answer. “I want to be an engineer like my dad”.

Will I respond the same way today? What are my options? [Read more…]

Viv’s Secret Sauce: automating the automators

Dag Kittlaus co-created Siri and now he presented something better.  Yesterday at the Techcrunch Disrupt event he showed a life demo of ‘conversational commerce’. A term coined by Chris Messina of Uber. Kittlaus took his phone and said things like “Pay Adam for the beers of yesterday”, and in a split second it was done. You might argue that Amazon Echo  could do the same (if their API talks with ‘Venmo’, the microservice that Viv is using). But  forget about the compeScreen Shot 2016-05-10 at 09.10.55tition between Cortana, Watson, Echo, Siri and Viv. What  is pretty amazing is shown in the slide left, when Kittlaus opened the curtains behind the interface. Viv is building a software program in real time, including the representation, each time a question is asked.

“When it understands intent of user, it generates a program as needed,” Kittlaus said. This is Viv’s secret sauce: Dynamic Program Generation. “Instead of having to write every code instructed, you’re really just describing what you want it to do,” said Kittlaus. “The whole idea of Viv is that developers can go in and build any experience that they want.

Here you can watch the whole demo:

McDonald’s interactive placemat

In the Netherlands, McDonald’s want you to make music while eating your Big Mac.The fast food chain in the country has unveiled a placemat, called a McTrax, that allows customers to bang out tunes as they dine. This digital placemat was introduced as a cool way to help foster creativity in McDonald’s restaurants. While the mat itself is simply made of paper, it’s printed with conductive ink that allows you to connect your smartphone to transform your entire tray into a DJ station.

New Report: Mastering Digital Disruption with DevOps

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 13.53.08Today we’re launching the closing piece of our research series on disruptive innovation: ‘Mastering Digital Disruption with DevOps‘. In the earlier works we sketched the design principles of the new competition. Two-sided market players are taking over control in every market and a new wave of platform innovation is to be expected: The blockchain.

There are no easy fixes. Startups are faster, more engaged and more customer obsessed. The only way to tackle the incompetencies of incumbents is to change the way the organization works: Its culture, its management, its obsession with bureaucracy. How should incumbents respond to these kind of market changes? The answer we present in the closing (fourth) report is:


1 Innovate management

2 By doing DevOps

3 In order to become anti-fragile


Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 13.29.10

The long term objective is to create an organization that gains strength form disruption. A state of Antifragility. Nassim Taleb has introduced the concept of the black swans. Well, the black swans have arrived and there are more to come. Antifragile organizations are welcoming them.

Want to master Digital Disruption? Download our new report on Disruptive Innovation and read all about DevOps as a strategy for management innovation here.







Challenges of a CIO – Part 4

CIO#4 wordleErikHaahr


In my last blog , I described some of the initial results from the change programme started by Peter Sommer when he joined Olfama as CIO and I described the challenge with project portfolio management.

Peter and John started to define the project portfolio management process with a brainstorming session. They found that the process should ensure that every corporate strategic initiative was supported by at least one project and at the same time there shouldn’t be too many independent projects supporting a single initiative. They knew that projects could be categorised in three distinct groups: Projects to help keep lights on (Run the business), projects to grow the business and projects to transform the business. Peter and John realized, that projects supporting a strategic initiative would fall into the “Grow” and “Transform” categories, and that the metrics for these projects would be different from [Read more…]

Minimum Viable Bureaucracy (MVB)


Bureaucracy-1How much bureaucracy can an organization bare in order to be able to respond to disruptive innovation? As less as possible. We can frame that as the “Minimum Viable Bureaucracy”, in sync with the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) from the Lean Startup and DevOps practices. We need just that level of bureaucracy to maintain the choas we need to be innovative, and the structure we need to not fall into total disorder.

But the tragedy of organizational culture is that in it tends to optimize on the wrong stuff. The result is that mediocracy will take over. Although we mean to do well (I think), we don’t know what we’re are doing in optimizing the less important stuff: HR procedures, useless meetings, weird IT procedures, it all alienates people and dehumanizes organizations. No wonder startups can win the fight. It’s taking away resources from the more important elements: humans, clients, obsessions to do  best for them.

It’s all there in writing. Either you look at Clayton Christensen’s “overshooting” theory on disruptive innovation, or in the systems theory of Hannah Arendt’s treatise on the “Banality of the evil”. In the end organizations end up to be mediocre, because they are obsessed with procedures and optimizing what the install based system needs. It just a matter of time for a new generation of companies to take over that focusses on matters of real life.

One way out is the Steve Job’s kind of leadership. He would not get fooled by mediocracy. The other is to introduce another system, the Minimum Viable Bureaucracy, and create a new space for innovation and creativity.

Disney launches a wall-climbing robot: Wally

They’re calling it VertiGo: a wall-climbing robot that is capable of transitioning from the ground to the wall, created in collaboration between Disney Research Zurich and ETH. But I think Wally would have been a better name 😉

The robot has two tiltable propellers that provide thrust onto the wall, and four wheels. One pair of wheels is steerable, and each propeller has two degrees of freedom for adjusting the direction of thrust. By transitioning from the ground to a wall and back again, VertiGo extends the ability of robots to travel through urban and indoor environments. The robot is able to move on a wall quickly and with agility. The use of propellers to provide thrust onto the wall ensures that the robot is able to traverse over indentations such as masonry. The choice of two propellers rather than one enables a floor-to-wall transition – thrust is applied both towards the wall using the rear propeller, and in an upward direction using the front propeller, resulting in a flip onto the wall.

How many passwords are we juggling with today?

Sogeti Labs Password juggler

Looking for a guaranteed job for the next decades? Worried about the future job of your children? Advise them to go and study IT security and specially authentication concerns. Be sure that for the next decade, this will be one of the main IT problem, companies have to cogitate on.

Some history. For years, more than 95% of Fortune500 relied mainly on Microsoft Active Directory authentication system (to which we can add around 90% of medium and large enterprises all over the world). As a legacy of the 90’s, we [Read more…]

Yo CEO. Want to learn Deep Learning?

Yo CEO, want to learn deep learning? Should you? It’s clear that machine intelligence and deep learning will impact the future of many organisations, if not all of them. We’re maybe not able to predict exactly how this will play out. Self driving cars, robots as a call center agent, Watson giving medical advise… they are only a few examples. All have the potential to disrupt your market completely. So if you can spare 40 minutes of your time, you can watch this recent talk by Jürgen Schmidhuber at the Deep Learning in Action talk series. Be warned. It’s quite a techie talk. But it will give you a good understanding of how deep learning works and explains the historical context. Working on your tech-savviness is probably on your agenda for 2016 anyway. So let’s start.

Jürgen Schmidhuber
Since age 15 or so, Prof. Jürgen Schmidhuber’s main scientific ambition has been to build a self-improving Artificial Intelligence (AI) smarter than himself, then retire. He has pioneered self-improving general problem solvers since 1987, and Deep Learning Neural Networks (NNs) since 1991. The recurrent NNs (RNNs) developed by his research groups at the Swiss AI Lab IDSIA & USI & SUPSI and TU Munich were the first RNNs to win official international contests. They have revolutionised connected handwriting recognition, speech recognition, machine translation, optical character recognition, image caption generation, and are now in use at Google, Microsoft, IBM, Baidu, and many other companies. The first 4 members of DeepMind (sold to Google for over 600M) include 2 former PhD students from his lab. His team’s Deep Learners were also the first to win object detection and image segmentation contests, and achieved the world’s first superhuman visual classification results, winning nine international competitions in machine learning & pattern recognition.