Monthly Archives: May 2015

Infinite Scroll

Infinite scroll, I just can’t abide.
Infinity is hard to comprehend.
You wouldn’t hear my screams,
Even in your wildest dreams.

Suffocation as I scroll the page.
Scared to load the next site
In case the scroll begins again.
Content changing, it will not fix.
Ever flashing, nightmare’s Styx.
Online haze, when will it end?
And will I transcend?

Restless browse, the mind’s in turmoil!
One nightmare ends another fertile.
Getting to me, too drained to surf.
But scared to leave now, too immersed.

Now that it has reached new heights,
I do not like the restless nights.
It makes me wonder, it makes me think,
How’d we get to this? We’re on the brink!
We should be scared of what’s beyond.
Someday our brains might not respond.
We had an interest almost craving,
but do we want to get too far in?

It can’t be all coincidence!
Too many things are evident.
You tell me you’re an unbeliever.
Technophobic? Well me I’m neither!
But wouldn’t you like to know the truth,
Of what’s beyond, to have the proof!
And find out just where we’re heading’?
Techtopia? Or to Armageddon?

Help me, help me to find
the true path without seeing the future.
Save us, oh save us from
torturing ourselves, unnecessarily.

There’s got to be
More to it than this.
Or tell me why the web exists?
I’d like to think that we evolved,
and our sins have been absolved,
as technology resolved,
limitations of the past
and evolved to the point where it can be grasped!

With many, many apologies to Harris.

And, in case it isn’t totally obvious, the doctor, who has already asked what idiots brought back infinite scrolling websites, would really like to see those idiots tarred and feathered. (If they can bring back infinite scroll, which is where we started back when all we had was HTML 1.0, then we can bring back tar and feathering!)

Happy 20th, Java!

That’s right, 20 yeas ago today the first version of the Java programming language was released, and the web was changed forever. (And with the exception of James Gosling, Mike Sheridan, Patrick Naughton, and their development team who worked on Oak [which was the beginning of the Java language project] between 1991 and 1995, the doctor becomes one of the few individuals who can honestly claim 20 years experience in Java and the Java platform — as he downloaded it in May, 1995 and was teaching it in Data Structures and Comparative Languages courses as far back as June, 1995.)

It might be hard to fathom that Java didn’t exist 20 years ago considering that the vast majority of desktops run Java, that it’s been the top rated development language (on the Tiobe index, for e.g.) for most of its existence, and that many enterprise systems (including many supply chain systems) run on Java, but it didn’t.

So while you’re having your cup of Java today, think about this and wish Java a happy birthday. Especially considering that it’s ancient in internet years and still going strong!

The First Four Questions to Ask During Any Mega-Acquisition

A recent guest post over on Spend Matters on Four Questions to Ask … During Any Mega-Acquisition was really good. These are becoming all too common and each and every one impacts your organization, often in negative ways.

But the post could have been better. More specifically, the questions could have been more direct.

To make sure that you understand the very important intent behind each of the four questions, SI is going to rephrase them in such a way that there will be no confusion.

1. How will we get screwed over on price?

Every acquisition brings with it the promise of economy of scale and lower price, but it typically takes years to understand overlap, redefine responsibilities and organizational boundaries, and identify staff reductions. And since, in the interim, change management experts, process consultants, and other resources need to be brought on board, overhead goes up and costs go up accordingly.

2. How will we get screwed over on quality of service?

The biggest fish in the combined company gets the best resources. And just because your current organization was a big fish in the old company, that does not mean your company will be a big fish in the merged company. Your company might just be a medium sized fish that gets the “B” Team, if it is lucky.

3. How will we get screwed out of innovation?

Will the merged company continue to develop the platform our company is on or will we remain locked in to a multi-year deal as the technology we bought withers and dies?

4. How will we get screwed in new and interesting ways?

What additional layers of complexity and confusion will the new, combined, legal team try to weasel into the contract and how will that bite your organization in its backside down the road?

Sometimes acquisitions are good, but mega-acquisitions often bring mega-problems and, at least in the short term, don’t’ end up being good for anyone.

Societal Damnation 52: Project Management

I’m sure you’re asking — what’s damning about project management? Isn’t good project management the key to success? After all, without good management, the chances of a project over-running its resource allocation (of time, people, and money), if not failing, increase significantly. Well, yes, it is. Provided you can manage the project.

One has to remember that project management has evolved over the last six decades or so to manage traditional types of projects that produce structures and goods against well-understood designs and project plans, starting with the need to effectively manage complex engineering projects in areas that include construction, defence, aviation, and shipbuilding.

When project management was being defined, the ENIAC was still in operation, Procurement was placing an order against a printed catalogue, and a company imported a small number of commodities in which they had contacts and expertise. There were no complex software projects, no complex Just-in-Time supply chain projects, and no automated factory mega-projects (which resulted in some of the biggest supply chain failures in history).

And, more importantly, projects were focussed on the production, or acquisition, of a single structure, product, or report. They had a defined beginning, a defined end, used well understood resources, required people with well-understood skill-sets, could be scheduled with reasonable certainty, and required a comprehensible amount of money.

Where software development is concerned, there is a rough definition of what is desired, but the beginning and end is a best estimate that is no more accurate than a wild guess in some cases, the resources required (while defined as software architect, developer, network specialist, etc.) are not well understood (as a non-skilled software architect cannot define what makes, or identifies, a good software architect), and the amount of money required is relatively unknown (due to uncertain work effort requirements, unknown support requirements, etc.).

And that’s just software. When it comes to supply chain, the difficulty is intensified. There’s the management of the sourcing, the management of the negotiation and contracting cycle, and the management of the procurement. But before that, there’s identifying the right supplier, which requires detailed understanding of the product technical requirements and the supplier production capabilities. There’s identifying the expected costs, based upon understanding material costs, labour costs, energy costs, tariffs, and overhead. There’s managing the supplier relationship. There’s dealing with disruptions and disasters. And taking corrective actions.

In other words, supply chain projects don’t have well-defined beginnings. Don’t have well-defined endings. Don’t have well-defined workflows. Aren’t limited to a fix set of resources. Don’t always have a well-defined team. And don’t always have a well-known cost (even if there is a target one).

Project Management hasn’t kept up. Sourcerors are often making it up as they go. And they’re damned every step of the way.

Navigating & Keeping Up with Digital Agency Landscape: Part II

In this three-part series of articles, Kathleen Jordan, Associate Director at Source One Management Services takes a look at the complex digital agency landscape and provides insight on the process of agency sourcing: considerations when sourcing, vast digital agency options, and the need for bridging the gap between marketing and procurement departments. Kathleen Jordan is a strategic sourcing subject matter expert with a wide range of experience in the marketing category who works closely with marketing professionals and helps alleviate challenges encountered when overseeing agency relationships.

In Part I of this series we reviewed common considerations for sourcing digital agencies. Continuing on, today we take a look at the vast types of digital agency options and what they mean for a company’s sourcing strategy.

The Many Agencies

One of the most challenging phases during an agency search is building the initial list of agency candidates and ensuring the list meets the basic criteria. Some vetting will be required through an RFI process or onsite capabilities presentations prior to the RFP phase and pitches. When a marketing professional casts a wide net into the digital agency pool, they will find a combination of large full-service digital agencies and smaller, more specialized agencies.

There are agencies that define themselves as primarily social media agencies, whereas other shops are comprised of digital developers — agencies that develop mobile apps, websites, etc. Other agencies are focused on search engine marketing — the leading required service and foundation of digital marketing, in which SEO and paid search campaigns are managed. There are also suppliers that offer analytic services where consultants study the results of a digital campaign and advise where tweaks should be made, tracking against key performance indicators and indicating ROI results. The list goes on to capture various other forms of digital marketing services such as the full-service model, website design and user experience, display advertising, e-mail campaign management, CRM platforms, etc. Todd Wasserman of Mashable wrote an article calling out a few additional agencies on the rise, including:

  • Viral video factories
  • Agencies specializing in the development of GIFs, referred to as “the animated billboard for the digital age”
  • Agencies focused on creating digital IDs for products; for example, ask yourself: What if my washing machine could recommend a trusted local service agent to perform maintenance or address issues when needed? These agencies are looking to make physical things smart, allowing a product to have its own digital profile.

Referring to the ever-changing digital marketing world, Wasserman writes, “this state of flux has swung open the doors for entrepreneurs, usual refugees from big agencies looking to capitalize on new opportunities while their counterparts are riding the TV gravy train to the last stop“. Overall, the digital landscape is continuously shifting, and some brands are already beginning to think about post-digital. Digital Marketing Depot’s whitepaper also notes that “dozens of specialty agencies have launched over the past five years” and the number continues to grow. In addition to Wasserman’s remarks about this trend, Digital Marketing Depot believes that the rise in specialty agencies was “prompted by the mid-market opportunity created by holding company agencies with huge minimum spends, and wireless technologies that have made it easier to start up small businesses“.

There is no right or wrong way to allocate your digital requirements across an agency network. The optimal model will depend on a company’s overarching marketing strategy and internal resources. A marketer may find that their current creative agency that supports their traditional advertising tactics is best suited to handle their digital channels as well. After all, the account management structure already exists and price breaks may be applied if the scope increases.

Regardless of the digital requirement that needs to be fulfilled, marketing professionals should keep in mind that their procurement counterparts can serve as decision support to help identify the agencies best suited to meet the advertiser’s needs. In the final part of this blog series, we’ll explore the need to bridge the gap between marketing and procurement.

Thanks Kathleen!