Sunday, 29 March 2015

Finding the right balance between the group and the individual

'Balancing Rocks' by Viewminder
under a CC license
We often hear that successful organisations are based on effective teams. Almost equally often we hear that successful organisations are those with charismatic, efficient leaders. Those statements are complementing rather than contradicting each other. However, as the headcount and complexity of structure, operations and objectives of organisations increases, the importance of the teams that operate them becomes increasingly important. A major challenge in teams of a given composition is how to balance between the needs/ priorities of the individual and the needs/ priorities of the group.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Open source software: a helping hand for growth

Open source software is one of the things that occasionally gets entangled in the webs of ideology, politics and corporate marketing talk. However, open source software is a rather simple idea: Develop something, using an open, collaborative approach if possible, make it available to the public as a product, together with its source code and let them use it as they please. That simple.

Does this development model even make sense? Why would anybody do this? How can open source development pay their bills and, more importantly, who provides support to open source software users?

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Is e-mail dead?

I don't think so (as I've argued in the past). Not yet. But it has seen better days, at least as a means of personal communication.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Is internet access a critical service?

Internet access is a mission-critical factor for most modern businesses. Even for individuals, internet access is amongst the top priorities covering both work and leisure reasons and has increasingly found its way to bars, hotels of any price range, libraries and public spaces. At a political level, Information Society (a part of which is internet infrastructure and services) is considered to be a tool for maintaining and strengthening human rights, while there are voices supporting a further upgrade of internet access as a civil/ human right.

'Internet open 7 days til late'
by duncan c under a CC license
Having said that,  the penetration of internet access across the population varies a lot from country to country (and from region to region). Recent usage statistics indicate that internet access ranges between about 26% of the population for Africa to about 88% for North America. For Europe the figure is at about 70%, ranging from 42% for Ukraine to 98% for Luxembourg. While increasing trends exist in nearly all regions world-wide and internet has established presence even in remote areas, access to internet is still far from, say, access to mobile telephony services, where, for instance, in Europe there are 125 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.

Despite the fact that a small-but-significant of the population don't have the means to access the internet, wherever internet access has been established it has had a marked impact on business practices, both in the private and the public sectors. Communication, ordering, data gathering, information dissemination, archiving, networking, etc., are processes that tend to be done exclusively via IT and internet resources in places where such resources are available, of course.

But is internet access being treated as a critical service?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Optimising services in the public sector

Improving the public sector for the benefit of the citizens is, maybe, the (quiet but constant) wish of citizens and the (occasional but loud) promise of politicians. Quite rightfully so, especially in countries where considerable sums of public money are channelled to support the various social state functions, such as education, healthcare, welfare services, etc.
'Winner' by Alessandro Capurso
under a CC license

So, why not try to optimise the public sector as would any business do with its core processes?

Interesting idea, probably not-that-new, certainly always tempting, but with its pitfalls. So, not so fast!

Optimisation, in the mathematical sense, is the selection of the best element(s) against a pre-determined set of criteria. This implies that, in order to optimise something, one needs data to for performance and cost parameters. In the typical scenario, one would have a large set of variables, with the corresponding datasets, and would need to select the target for the optimisation process, providing any constrains that may apply to the variables. It sounds easy but it's not.