Knowledge? We Don’t Need No Stinking Knowledge…

Hilarious, I know.

And also, false.  We do need knowledge.  Now more than anything.

I am launching the fourth edition of the knowledge management usage study for customer service to find out how we are doing.  Last year we found some morsels of Tiedosta (remember? to know, about knowledge) that pointed us to maintenance as the weak link in the KM equation and some confusion as to how to deal with communities.

What will this year find out?

Kate Leggett, esteemed colleague and Forrester analyst, recently said that KM is the foundation for Customer Service and CRM – and I couldn’t agree more.  She explores in her article what needs to happen – and some of those principles are reflected in my research as well.

But I am also exploring the next generations of KM: stored knowledge versus knowledge in use, leveraging subject matter experts, and my personal favorite — communities and knowledge.

Please help me by taking this survey – made it simple and easy, just 15 minutes or so of your time in exchange for a — well, ton of knowledge… about knowledge.

disclaimer: this is a sponsored research.  this year for the first time Microsoft stepped up and backed my research.  for that i am eternally grateful – but not grateful enough to give them editorial (or any other type) of control.  i wrote the questions, the thesis, and will collect and hold the information.  i will analyze and follow-up with respondents, and i am the sole responsible party for this.  if it works, as it has in the past, they will get some killer content (as others have in the past). if it doesn’t — well, i am not sure what happens since i have never failed. hilarious, i know.

Thinking Cloud? Think About These Roadblocks

Organizations are migrating to the cloud in droves these days. The leaders of the pack are investing in an open and public cloud model. Others are slowly moving towards that by first testing the waters in a private cloud. This is fine as long as the vision remains clear and the private cloud model is viewed as a way to get to the open and public model. Realistically, a three-tier cloud model is a foregone conclusion, a commoditized element that all organizations have in their future.

The migration to cloud computing is complicated, to say the least. Besides the “tip of the spear” issues of capital expenditures (including amortization of the assets) versus operating expenditures (which will make anyone’s head spin), there are many other issues to consider. The following are the top seven issues to consider when moving to the cloud – in no particular order – with a simple explanation of why each matters (or doesn’t) in a cloud computing architecture.

  1. Architecture: A cloud computing architecture has to have three layers running on top of a public network, or else the benefits are lost. The three layers — infrastructure, platform, and software — roughly correspond to the main functions they perform: storage and connectivity, logic and processing, and presentation. If your provider or vendor offers anything other than three independent layers that can be interconnected or even replaced, you are not getting cloud computing components but most likely legacy SaaS or hosted components.
  1. Security: Much has been said about security in an open network, but not all of it is true. There is plenty of research that shows that cloud-based security is as secure as (if not more secure than) anything that can be done on-premises. If you hire a security provider, or your cloud provider does the security, you are getting the latest and greatest implementations of security managed by a team of experts that is bigger and more experienced that anything you could hire in-house. Further, they are invested in keeping things secure, versus being one of the functions your team performs. There is no matching the investment cloud providers can make on security while they distribute the costs.
  1. Software: This is probably the biggest problem you will face as you migrate into cloud computing. Vendors who have enterprise licenses already implemented have a hard time letting go of the security of knowing the licenses and maintenance fees will continue to roll in as long as the contract is renewed. In cloud computing, there are no certainties – it’s far easier to rip and replace if the vendor does not do a good job. The cloud computing architecture is based on the premise of replacing and extending by hiring one or more vendors that do the same function. As such, the fees are not paid for access to the application, but for usage; the model is based on value delivered. Planning, and your vendor, must conform to new models.
  1. Hardware: As mentioned above, amortization and customs of doing things a certain way play a major role in preventing, or rather delaying, migration to a cloud computing architecture. The hardware that has been purchased, maintained, optimized, and used for many years is now no longer under the control of the same people; cloud providers own it and rent it out as necessary. This changes a large number of traditions in the organization, and the people behind them are not going to be happy. Anticipate and plan for change management around them and the vendors behind the hardware.
  1. Integration: Organizations coming to the cloud from any other computing platform often have a hard time grasping the issue of integration. Integration in an on-premise, hosted or legacy SaaS application demands point-to-point work. You have to know where you are coming from and where you are going. You have to build an exclusive “pipe” between the two places, select the data you want to pass along, and then program it and hope nothing changes. In the cloud, it’s very different, since the metadata and services allow a platform to serve anyone who asks for the right information with the right security attached. If the person is authorized, the service runs and provides a result. If the data passed changes, the metadata handles that. If the call changes, the metadata handles that. In addition, a secure platform acts as an access point to any other secure and trusted platform, eliminating the need to do yet another integration point. This makes everything far easier and more powerful.
  1. Control: The control that your organization and the people in it have over the existing on-premises assets is going away. In spite of several industries and even some countries still holding on to the “location of the data” tales, the day is near where, as one CIO recently told me, “I don’t know where my data is, nor do I care. I know I can use it whenever I need it – that’s all I need to know.” It is not only the data, but the hardware, software configurations, management and maintenance of the assets, as well as the direct influence on how things get done. When a cloud provider delivers solutions to thousands of clients concurrently, there is not a lot of room for the users to derail the process. While we are starting to see more configuration and management options emerge via metadata, the amount of control that exists in the cloud is very different from on-premises. It isn’t worse, since it delivers more value. It’s just different.
  1. Business Transformation: This is one of the biggest items to consider when moving to the cloud. For digital transformation to occur, which is the next stage for business transformation in the upcoming decade, the cloud must be a commoditized, sunk-in investment that is considered to already exist and be implemented. Virtually none of the management and allocation of the data, knowledge, and content necessary for digital transformation to occur can be moved around without use of the cloud as the underlying infrastructure. Combined with the issues mentioned previously and all the benefits of cloud computing adoption, these things will make digital transformation happen.

Of course, each implementation is different, and these issues as well as others will vary from organization to organization. However, the past ten or more years of implementing cloud computing architectures have taught me these valuable lessons.

Do you have some others to add? Let me know in the comments!

disclaimer: Acumatica is a client, and this year the contributed to my research time exploring cloud.  I cross-posted this on their site and they are also using the content in other manners – part of my sponsored research model.  I do my research, I get paid to share some of the results, but I own the agenda, editorial rights, and distribution rights as well as intellectual property.  I appreciate their support of my vices (food for my kids, a place to sleep) and hope to continue working with them on research on cloud topics.  The thoughts and concepts in this post are totally mine.

More Cloud Stuff (Links To A Great, Long Interview)

I wrote last week about a framework to have better cloud discussions.  I said two things: it took me over a year to be able to write that short piece (which is true), and I will write many more things along those lines.

I also did an interview with an old colleague of mine who is now the CMO at Logikcull.  Started as a short discussion on industry cloud – but ended up being a full-on discussion on cloud concepts and misconceptions.  It was one of the pivotal moments in getting to my last post on cloud.

I wanted to share the three posts (yes, we talked for a while) that was published in their blog.  This is reading time of about 10-12 minutes per episode.  But, trust me – if you are interested in cloud computing and want to have a different perspective (the final post starts with the incredibly sentient sentence “It’s hard to say whether Esteban Kolsky is a contrarian or everybody else is just plain wrong”) please read through.

I will entertain comments and questions below or any other method you prefer.  Thanks for reading.

Part 1 – Debunking the Myths of Cloud

Admit it, when you think “cloud,” you think elastic. You think scalable. You think SaaS. And that’s right, but it’s not all-the-way right. According to Esteban Kolsky, the cloud — the true cloud, the pure cloud — is not nearly as simple as those buzzwords suggest, nor as ubiquitous.

Kolsky, a former research director at Gartner and widely respected technology consultant and commentator, has never been one to accept conventional wisdom. In this multi-part interview with Logikcull, he sets straight the commonly accepted, but ultimately wrong, notions, perceptions and definitions of cloud.


Part 2 – The Economics of Cloud

The first part of Logikcull’s interview with Esteban Kolsky addressed common misperceptions about the cloud, which Kolsky defined, strictly, as a three-tiered architecture divided between infrastructure, platform and software.

“It’s the three elements you use when you create an application: the presentation layer, the logic layer and the underlying network and database,” Kolsky, a former Gartner analyst and widely respected technology consultant, said.

Here we dive — into the weeds, at times — into the evolution of cloud computing, the economic advantages and challenges its purveyors face, and how companies like Salesforce are pioneering customized “industry clouds.”

Also, we answer the question: What the heck is industry cloud?

Part 3 – Fearing the Cloud is Nonsense

It’s hard to say whether Esteban Kolsky is a contrarian or everybody else is just plain wrong. Over the course of this three-part interview, Kolsky, a well-known technology consultant and former Gartner analyst, has debunked pretty much every commonly held notion related to cloud computing and its underlying infrastructure.

When we asked, for instance, whether “private cloud” is more secure than “public cloud,” he retorts, Private “cloud” is not cloud at all! 

In previous installments, Kolsky defined true cloud architecture and compared its properties to other architectures mistakenly assumed to be cloud. He then spelled out the economic incentives of cloud adoption for providers and consumers.

Here we pick up the conversation with Kolsky explaining why cloud vendors are moving to provide industry-specific solutions under the nom de guerre “industry cloud.”

Also, if you want to read more about the background research I’ve done, and more, in my Cloud Purist e-book – please download it here (no worries, i don’t ask for anything – free download).

disclaimer: I mention Salesforce, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and a few others in my interview.  I mention Logikcull in here.  Salesforce is a current client, so is Microsoft.  Oracle was a client (and doubt it would be again), IBM was never a client, nor will it be. Logikcull is not a client (and won’t be) as I did this interview as a favor for my friend  Dave Austin.  I may have missed someone else I mentioned – and they may or may not be a client.  But trust me, I know few people who would want to be mention in a series aimed at debunking what they sell.  So, yeah — kind of proves that being a client or not does not exempt you from being called on what you do wrong.  I also mention Amazon, Airbnb, Google, and a few other consumer companies – as far as I can tell, i did not mention any clients among those either — but I may be wrong (even if I did, it was public information – privacy clauses built into my end-user contracts prevent me from disclosing their names and status.  I try my best to not be influenced and to not ruin my reputation – trust me, every mention is warranted by their actions, not their status as client or not.