Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Managing Information Technology Meetup - Kirkland, WA - 6/20/2017 - Recap Notes and Podcast Prep

In attendance were: Richard Schurman (Attorney), Mark Mitchell (CFO), Eric Veal (Technologist), Richard Webb (Technologist), Dominic Wong (Management Exec), Steve Kubacki (Psychologist and Inventor), Kifaya Dawud (Marketer)

RW talked about “Business Stacks”.

RW talked about how good the Amazon TPM (Technical Program Manager) role is:

They own the architecture, PM role and tech
They have clear scope
They are organized to work together
They are measured objectively and fairly: difference between TPM doing poorly themselves (as a leader/worker) and the thing they are producing failing

Example TPM role: there is a person who is responsible for running “events” for Amazon (like father’s day).  Mark: Walmart did this as well with stores in Texas with stuff like Cinco de Mayo.

Amazon TPM rollup structure:
Regional TPM
Top TPM – meets with Bezos

Same role with widening scope that aggregates

Communication flows up and down this TPM chain

Tools for organizing management:
- Mark: adaQuest has a way to communicate strategy throughout the org
- Also ManageHub - Eric and Mark to further look into ManageHub for organizational uses for process improvement with Doug Hall

CRM Systems
Are they important?  Eric says they are central but there is an issue of adoption and data capture, data quality and people playing games with their data like hiding it strategically.

Examples of modern integration frameworks: Zapier, IFTTT, etc. for integration vs. old tools and people that integrated systems.  "We don't do it like we used to.  It's all as a service now." - EV

RW coined that these types of integration utilities are “(Hardware and Printer) Drivers at a different level”.  Totally agree, very interesting.

Drivers are hard to write because they break if either end changes, which prevent scale.

RW had some funny commentary about SOAP and REST and why one didn't work and other did: "SOAP didn’t work because programmers are dirty.  REST worked because programmers are lazy."  Microservices architecture becoming a big deal.

Eric had a recent VR experience with HTC Valve simulating “in the office” where he made coffee, 3D printed things and ate a donut.  Very amazing stuff.  Changes your mind and belief of what's possible.

Current “dialogs” and programs are too linear in their current form and are too project/product-oriented (developers need to finish and can't guild the lily, just want the basics to get done). 

Eric's vision of the world of the web now (as different from APQC + Process Triggers 10+ years ago):  There are "Listeners" (the people gathering the data with instrumentation and telemetry) + they provide or sell WebHooks to others who + People that write services that hand off of the events.

EV had a question, “Can we teach computers how to HARD SELL and effectively CLOSE a person on a big transaction while the person knows it is happening?”

We seemed to agree that we could and that it was actively happening now.

RS said that it depended on how the information is presented and when.

Richard gave examples of Blue Apron knowing if he read an email from them or not (by tracking a pixel).

Mark said that Google know if you walked into Nordstrom (location services on).  This is clearly very powerful for very many marketing-related things.

Companies every day are designing and running campaigns that work against (with/for) people’s weaknesses, predilections and interests.  Insidious from one perspective, genius, smart, intelligent and useful from another.

Excellent sales processes happen all the time in games (in app purchases), etc.

This can get into some edge / unethical realms if there is blackmail, for example. Open issue/question:  What's a person's recourse against these systems?

Richard talked about how Americans respond best to English and Australian accents, so they are used a lot in advertising to us.

We talked about humans training computers (other-learning) vs. computers training themselves (self-learning).  Humans can also train humans and computers can train humans and humans can train themselves.  Lots of vicious loops and cycles here.

We wondered, "What are the limitations of IT today?"
Richard said, "We have to get rid of the I.T. and make it “we” (make it work for us)

Eric and Richard talked about Enterprise Architecture, strategy and a recent HBR article on data strategy which talked about Offensive and Defensive uses for data.

Steve Kubacki showed up and was entertaining as usual.  Steve, “How many project managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?  It depends on the location of the lightbulb?”  Har-de-har-har but also fairly insightful and true in my opinion; everyone is or should be a PM.

SK when talking about Virtual Reality applications and Andrew Sengul's work with Scenario Tech, "You want people to come forward with their own imagery."

LISP.  Andrew Sengul and Ben Sidelinger are both working on modern applications using the LISP language now.  What's up with that?  List of JavaScript LISP implementations.

We had a discussion about the design/experience of video games being way too open or way too closed/structured and cited examples.

Eric talked about a future computer design where there is immediate feedback between the writing of code and the existence of the application (run time and design time).  "Real time run time."  You heard it here, folks!

SK had many great quotes:
“The Theory of Totality”.  Everything is incomplete.  Goedel. 
SK: Can a corporation have empathy?
SK: “A corporation “has a” sociopath.” (as a property) pretty funny
SK: “We are fundamentally social creatures.  Self-interest is directed by the social interests.”
SK: “Brownian motion” how things aggregate

Eric made the point to Steve at some point about different types of grouping: Aggregation (requires a common interface of the members) vs. Composition groupings (no commonality required, they are simple assembled and joined...but could be very well designed to work together systematically like a car has many parts).

Steve made some great points about how we need to intentionally design and implement systems that decentralize.  Such a great point and such an interesting area.

Someone said that IT Development has been declining over the last 20.  I guess this was something Eric Schmidt of Google has said.

Steve says that we are seeing an increase of democratization within the workplace which sounds like a really good thing to me.

Eric made the point that "ownership" (of the work ie things were fully delegated) was previously delegated to the VPs (for example, the APQC model would probably recommend that someone owns each area and are responsible for throughput and continuous improvement of it) and is now delegated to actual and real units of business (products and projects).  This is the TPM role and how this power has shifted/is shifting from functions and processes to products, which is generally great for innovation, for example.

Steve shared more ideas about how different the culture will be on Mars: it is an un-earth-based culture.  Totally different than anything we have ever known?

Richard Schurman talked about some book tech and mentioned Scrivner, 

Kifaya showed up, too.  Thanks for coming, Kifaya!