Collect only actionable data

We are collecting more and more data, but using less and less.

You only need data for two reasons:

  • To take action based on the data
  • To store for possible future reference

Every time I shop online or interact with a support service, I’m inundated with requests to review and answer surveys. Not much of this is useful. If I rate your support staff 7 out of 10, what action will you take? Do not gather these useless vanity metrics.

Designing Door Acoustics

I just watched a video with a very dedicated professional. He was in charge of door acoustics at a major car manufacturer – in effect, his job was to make sure that the door makes a satisfying sound when you close it.

It is this kind of attention to detail that differentiate brands. An Audi shares 80-90% of components with Volkswagen and Skoda, but still manages to command a hefty premium.

Are you building a Bentley, an Audi, a Volkswagen, a Skoda or a Lada? Don’t spend time on the door acoustics unless that’s something your users value and are willing to pay for.

Useless Documentation

Not all documentation is created equal. Too much time is spent on formal design documents that are immediately outdated, and too little is spent on writing code comments.

Useless DocumentationMake sure your process requires and rewards good code comments. And make sure your architecture diagrams are kept up-to-date.

This illustration is from my weekly “Technology That Fits” newsletter – sign up here.

White Elephant Requirements

I’m often engaged with clients helping them respond to Requests for Proposals (RFPs), and there are way too many bad RFPs out there.

These bad RFPs not only specify what the customer actually needs, they also specify that the customer can possibly think he will ever need. Typical requirements are that the user must be able to add extra attributes to all entities, or that the user can dynamically change which attributes are mandatory, or that the user can freely configure the order in which fields appear on the screen.

These are not real requirements. But because the customer isn’t sure there will be money to maintain the system, he specifies a system with enough flexibility to ensure that he will never have to speak to a programmer again.

Unfortunately, meeting these requirements takes complex and expensive code, and the customer ends up paying for a lot of flexibility he will never need. Specify only what you need.

New issue of OTech Magazine

The summer edition of OTech magazine has just been published – 111 pages packed with information from international Oracle technology experts.

Authors and topics are:

  • Sten Vesterli – The Spiritual Programmer
  • Scott Weseley – APEX 5.0 New Features
  • Patrick Barel – Dear Patrick
  • Emma Groomes & Crystal Walton – KScope 2014
  • Anar Godjaev – How to protect your sensitive data using Oracle Data Vault
  • Debra Lilley – Women in IT Initiative
  • Lonneke Dikmans – What’s new in Oracle Case Management 12c?
  • Mahir M Quluzade – Oracle Data Guard 12c: Cross platform transport non-CDB to PDB using RMAN Backup Sets
  • Lucas Jellema – The Next Generation: Oracle SOA Suite 12c
  • Ric Van Dyke – Adaptive Query Optimization: Will the real plan please stand up!
  • Simon Haslam & Ronald van Luttikhuizen – Provisioning Using Chef and Puppet, Part II
  • Kim Berg Hansen – External Data From Within
  • Bertrand Drouvot – Graphing ASM Metrics
  • Osama Mustafa Hussein – Upgrade OBIEE and Enable Mobile Designer

Download a copy right away!


The Internet of What?

Gartner has just released another iteration of their classic “Hype Cycles.” They are up to more than 100 different topics now, but one interesting graph is one is the one for Emerging Technologies.

Source: Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2014

I want to comment on a couple of points from this graph:

  • Internet of Things as peaking – completely agree. Everybody is talking about it but what do we have? An internet-connected smoke alarm.
  • Big Data is moving down from the peak – disagree somewhat. Big Data is still mostly talk and very few success stories.
  • Cloud Computing is in the Through of Disillusionment – I don’t agree on that one. Many organizations are successfully using cloud solutions today

The IT business is producing buzzwords at a dizzying rate and you need to be able to peer through the fog to find the solutions that make sense for you. Make sure your organization has someone keeping a lookout.

Book Review: “Write the Perfect Book Proposal”

I’m not in favour of calling books a “must-read”, but if you want to get your own book commercially published, I have to say you must read Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why, 2nd Edition.

The main force of this book is that it explains the publishing industry from the inside: What a publisher is looking for. The authors honestly explain what the publisher will and will not do, and that you should plan on marketing your book yourself because the publisher won’t.

It was a surprise to me that I have to build a whole business case with market analysis, competitors and marketing plan, but with the information in this book I feel confident I can write a good book proposal.