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Posts Tagged ‘Computers

Web Data Mining and Orwellian Risks for Abuse at the Private Individual Level

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This posting consists of my comments per a guest post published on by Chris Taylor, a technologist with TIBCO Software, founder of, & fellow member of LinkedIn group ‘Disruptive Technologies’.

The ever burgeoning data explosion and the resulting technologies being developed to interpret meaningful information from it (e.g., Data Mining; interpretive/predictive analytics; etc.) are here to stay.  The competitive advantages which stand to be gained by companies and the military/security sectors of governments that can effectively glean valuable information from the morass of personal data now available on the world-wide web is immense.  Personal data that is gathered and analyzed/stored at a sector group level seems to present less of a threat to each individual’s personal privacy when used in traditional ways (e.g., company marketing studies).  But the “Orwellian” risks for abuse at the private individual level as the current data mining technologies in use become increasingly more sophisticated cannot be ignored.  Furthermore, the judicial systems of developed countries have not been keeping pace with the burgeoning privacy violation ramifications of the information revolution that is currently taking place.  Exacerbating all of this is the fact that for increased revenue purposes, social networking users are being urged by the likes of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to become more transparent by revealing more of their personal information on these sites; a factor which is serving to make personal transparency in public forums a current “popular culture dynamic”.  So the genie is definitely out of the bottle here, which should behoove users of all social networking sites to become more familiar with the “primitive” privacy settings made available by the provider and use them to tailor who gets to see what parts of their personal information that gets generated as time goes by.

Finally, to effectively manage the increasingly sophisticated video parsing technologies currently being utilized by data mining entities, the use of iconic “monikers” in lieu of facial snapshots for one’s social networking sites would be the best option to use in order to remain anonymous per the analysis of video data by companies (and unscrupulous governments, where they may exist).  In addition, video and photo tagging on social networking sites should also be meticulously controlled via one’s privacy settings as well.

Link to Chris Taylor’s article “While You Slept Last Night: Big Data, Privacy, and the Public Square” –

Chris Taylor’s twitter handle is @Successful Work.

Interested LinkedIn readers are invited to join ‘Disruptive Technologies’ group for discussions on this & similar issues!

Status of Object-Oriented Database Management Systems?

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Being a senior business systems (IT) consultant who has always utilized hierarchical (IMS) and relational database management systems (RDBMS), I’m wondering whatever happened to the concept of object-oriented database management systems (ODBMS), which at one point (i.e., 10 years ago) was considered to be the database structure design of the future by some IT academic types for object-oriented software applications?  Do the newer data storage mechanisms and/or models currently out on the market represent various hybrid versions of ODBMS?  Or has this concept completely gone by the wayside before it ever had a chance to take off due to its being considered “too disruptive” of a technology by IT management?  My impression has always been that an ODBMS persistence structure would need to be in place in order for a true object-oriented software application to be able to make use of (and persist) intensive object nesting, cross-referencing, data type extensions, sub-classing, and inheritance support functions. But perhaps the more powerful RDBMS engines and the extended versions of the same have now enabled object-oriented software applications to circumvent some of the traditional performance and storage issues that traditionally have occurred with RDBMS’s. This would also include circumventing some of the object-to-relational and relational-to-object translation mapping issues that traditionally occur when persisting/recovering software objects using an RDBMS. This translation mapping issue occurs here because the developer has to break the objects apart and then store the different object parts in the various database tables (or files) making up the RDBMS, thus making the translation mapping process tedious at best due to the resulting “semantic gaps” that occur. In any case, my assumption is that providing for the full functionality of an ODBMS, which would also enable developers to persist full class information (including object methods), is the biggest hurdle for the ODBMS genre to try to pass, thus rendering the ODBMS niche as being “too disruptive” of a technology for most IT management types.

Interested LinkedIn members are invited to join the ”Disruptive Technologies” professional group (URL below):

Will Apple’s ‘Disruptive Innovation’ Product Strategy Continue On?

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The following is a very insightful ‘Disruptive Innovation’ genre quote per Apple Computers from the 24/7 Wall St. blog article ‘Apple Clobbers the Competition: The Carnage of Apple’s Spectacular Success’ (by Ashley Allen & Douglas McIntyre, 2010). 

“Apple is an anomaly.  It has the disruptive force of a startup and the consistent message of a mature company.  It is one of the largest tech companies, and yet it is a darling of Wall Street.  It is a hardware company that is also software company, content company and now consumer-electronics company.  It has manufactured not one but three revolutionary consumer products back-to-back, and all on a content distribution model that seems to evolve with the needs of the product.  It’s a killer because it continues to be the first to market and often times the only game in town”.

Being a technology driven company, Apple is driven by the technological challenges presented by the computer and electronics industry sectors.  But Apple is also driven by defining the new business models that need to be adopted in order to help propagate its disruptive-innovation based products.  Apple’s iTune has basically turned the recording (or record) industry on its head in that consumers can now purchase and download individual songs at home instead of having to pay for entire albums of songs bundled onto CDs at record stores.  As a result of this disruptive business model, record stores are now a thing of the past as iTunes has revolutionized the music industry at the retail level due to its lower costs, increased conveniences, and more desirable product selection changes.  As a response to this, many retail record stores then moved over to the movie/DVD side of the industry, but this extended business model has now met its demise as well due to the arrival of even more disruptive innovations in the movie industry per new online delivery technologies (e.g., better internet streaming methods immediately come to mind).

I’d now like to expound on the premise that Apple has been a real master at disrupting the environmental scanning attempts of its competitors via a “sleight of hand” (or misdirection) strategy favored by the late Steve Jobs.  This strategy has always caused much consternation with Apple’s competitors and industry analysts alike in their attempts to interpret and follow the product-line direction that Apple (as industry leader) is heading.  Apple is also willing to canibalize its own existing product lines as part of this misdirection strategy, which is disruptive from the standpoint that most competitors find themselves unable to continue following Apple’s lead due to the fact that they cannot cost-effectively canabalize their own product line while following and competing with the industry leader.  In effect, this “follow-the-leader” strategy becomes cost-prohibitive for Apple’s more cash-strapped competitors, who then either phase down or abandon entirely the particular product line that they are competing with for market share (e.g., HP’s Tablet product-line immediately comes to mind).  Apple’s huge cash position basically enables it to “toy” with its product-line competitors and weed out those who cannot afford to stay in the game with them (i.e., just about everyone). But I’m sure that the remaining competitors are now reassessing (i.e., retooling) their competing product-line strategies in the wake of Steve Jobs’ unfortunate demise as Apple may no longer be able to disruptively innovate without him.

NOTE:  Interested LinkedIn members are invited to join LinkedIn DT Group ‘Disruptive  Technologies’ .

Does Predictive Analytics (BI) Field Represent a Potentially Major Disruptive Innovation?

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Does the burgeoning field of Predictive Analytics (PA) and the competitive advantage that it can potentially reap represent a potentially major disruptive technology of the near future?  Or will it go by the wayside (i.e., in terms of being disruptive) in the same manner that Artificial Intelligence (AI) computer technology and applications did in the 1980s and 90s?

Several big name companies like IBM and SAIC are making serious runs at developing PA based software applications as their major business models.  IBM is pulling out all the stops here as it recently bought out Cognos and SSPS for their PA assets and high levels of expertise in order to build up its new PA consulting model for its Global Business Services consulting group.  In addition, engineering firm SAIC has recently announced a major PA application system that is now market ready (i.e., SAIC plans to market this new PA application on a worldwide basis alongside its hardware and consulting services).

To elaborate, SAIC’s new “Distribution Monitoring System” is designed to proactively predict the occurrence of failures in distribution and transmission systems in a matter of days, weeks, or even months before they occur.  The utilization of a “complex-event” processing engine evaluates masses of data (i.e., data mining) against rules laying out the relationship between specific, fairly obvious events in the life of a particular device and the likelihood that such a device will fail (and when it will fail).  Millions of records containing event driven data can be run either daily or in real time against these rules of thumb (or indicators) that have been designed to identify potential failure points and the timing of their occurrence.  This process then utilizes a knowledge database that can correlate  faults and failures (i.e., it learns to proactively detect problems that can cause failures).  A neural network is then utilized which can determine whether a failure will occur at some point and can also assess, with a stated probability, when the failure will occur.

In support of the above premise that PA could become a major disruptive technology in the near future, a recent study by McKinsey Consulting Group infers that corporations are going to have to embrace disruptive technologies that will shape the new economic terrain that is evolving out of the latest global economic downturn.  As economies around the world emerge from the recent economic downturn, many companies are starting to grasp that what follows most likely won’t be just another typical turn of the business cycle.  The resulting new economic terrain will undoubtedly be shaped by persistent uncertainty, tighter credit, lower consumer spending, greater consumer saving, and more pronounced government involvement in business (i.e., McKinsey terms this as being the “new normal”).  The use of powerful PA and Business Intelligence (BI) technologies may be the difference maker for companies in terms of removing the persistent uncertainty factor and, as a result, being better able to proactively address potentially serious problems before they become detrimental to the bottom line (i.e., a distinct competitive advantage).  The premise here is that those organizations that don’t invest heavily (or effectively) in PA and BI technologies may be left behind the “eight ball” in the currently evolving new economic order.

So the key question here is, does the burgeoning field of Predictive Analytics and the competitive advantage that it can potentially generate represent a major disruptive technology of the near future (i.e., in terms of dominant business models and profitability)?  Or does it represent just another trendy (and costly) “fad” that will go by the wayside without much impact?  My bet is on the former.

Addendum:  One factor to consider in the disruptive technology genre is the impact of the new technology (or innovations) on the existing business model.  It seems as if many disruptive innovations are really not “disruptive” in terms of the technological challenges presented, but are disruptive from the standpoint of the resulting business model challenges that don’t get managed properly.  Polaroid’s handling of the digital imaging technology when it was new is a real good example of this (see Case below).  It lends creedence to the premise that promising new technologies can end up falling through the cracks due to the failure of their supporting business models (and companies).  As a result, the necessary business model changes also need to be considered and implemented whenever a  new disruptive technology is being implemented in order to be successful.

 Case -> Comparing Polaroid’s Film-Based Business Model with Apple’s iTunes Model –

I).  Being a technology driven company, Polaroid was all about the technological “challenges” presented by the instant photo processing industry at the expense of marketing challenges involved (resulting in Polaroid’s eventual bankruptcy filing).  When digital imaging came on the scene Polaroid was able to deal with it from a technological standpoint, but it could not change its existing film-based business model based on polaroid film sales over to one based on digital imaging/processing  (i.e.,  no film involved).  As a result, the arrival of digital imaging technology served as a very disruptive innovation from a business model standpoint for Polaroid as it went from being very profitable to “collapsing” revenues in a short period of time.  This was evidently due to Polaroid’s propensity to view the new digital imaging technology as a technological challenge only, while ignoring the business model challenges presented by the technological change.  The key point here is that disruptive innovations are not primarily technological challenges, but actually business model challenges instead if not managed competently.  

Footnote:   In Polaroid’s defense, there are numerous hurdles involved in restructuring business models, which include  a). re-educating employees;  b). initial lower profitability;  c). current product cannibalization;  d). increased  management/stakeholder/customer conflicts;  e). complex organizational changes (including culture, etc.);  and f). conflict with traditional (i.e., successful) core competencies. 

 II).  Also being a technology driven company, Apple too is driven by the technological challenges presented by the computer and electronics industries. But unlike Polaroid, Apple is also driven by defining the new business models that need to be adopted in order to help propagate its ”disruptive innovation” types of products.  Apple’s iTune has basically turned the recording (or record) industry “on its head” in that consumers can now purchase and download individual songs at home instead of having to pay for entire albums of songs bundled onto CDs at record stores.  As a result of this “disruptive” business model, record stores are now a thing of the past as iTunes has revolutionized the music industry at the retail level due to its lower costs, increased conveniences,  and more desirable product selection changes.  As a result, some retail record stores have moved over to the movie/DVD side of the industry, but it is just a matter of time before this extended business model meets its demise too due to the arrival of even more disruptive innovations in the movie industry.  These innovations will primarily be based on new delivery technologies (e.g. better internet streaming methods, et al).

NOTE:  Interested LinkedIn members having disruptive technology interests are invited to join LinkedIn Group ”Disruptive Technologies” .

Tech Professional Certification: ICCP’s CCP vs. PMI’s PMP Debate.

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For starters let me state that I do value my Certified Computing Professional (CCP) certification and display it proudly (along with the certificate number) on my resume and LinkedIn profile.  Originally my certification was the Certified Data Processor (CDP) designation, which I obtained in 1990, with specializations in Core IT Skills, Systems Development, and Management.  These specialties complement my MBA degree, which I obtained in 1989 from the University of Houston with concentrations in Management Information Systems and Management (and now Finance as well).  In addition, it was an MIS professor at UH who recommended that we obtain the CDP certification to complement our MBA (in MIS) degrees with.  Then the CDP certificate became the CCP at some point during the 1990s due to the restructuring/reorganization move that occurred within the Institute for Certification of Computer Professionals (ICCP) at the time.  Anyway, I believe that the name recognition and status that was then associated with the CDP designation went out the door somewhat with the ICCP mandated name change.

As far as the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is concerned, it seems as if many of the IT team lead and/or project management job requirements being published these days either require the PMP or state that it is a desired credential.  This is why I have stated in previous discussions that the PMP appears to be the credential in vogue these days.  Again, this is primarily due to its claimed recognition of demonstrated knowledge and skills in leading/directing project teams and delivering project results within the defined constraints of schedules, budgets and/or resources.  These skills are what technical project management types are distinctly looking for these days, so perhaps the ICCP should tailor the CCP exams to become more like the PMP, but with a strict adherence to IT applications (i.e., not the generic things that could apply to any technical/scientific project like engineering, etc).

In addition, I firmly believe that the Project Management Institute (PMI) does a real good job of promoting and/or marketing the value-added properties of the PMP certificate to companies and consulting firms (e.g., Accenture, IBM, et al).  And a big part of the issue here has to do with the perceptions (i.e., image) that are out there.  As a result, maybe the ICCP needs to gear up and study the techniques being used by the PMI in order to see what could be implemented to promote the same value added properties of the CCP certificate to IT organizations.  Perhaps the CCP should be marketed as being a certificate that proves to IT (and user) organizations that the holder has obtained the requisite proficiencies in both the basic IT technologies and project management areas.

In terms of comparisons, the highly regarded Certified Public Account (CPA) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designations both command a lot of respect within professional circles due to their being required certifications in order to practice and advance within the applicable professions.  In addition, they are both difficult to obtain and take countless hours (and dollars) of dedication and hard work just to get prepared to take each level of the multi-level exams.  There are always a large number of candidates willing to go through all of the “hoops” to obtain these certifications due to the high level of professional status that they both afford and because the top-tier (i.e., high paying) firms require them as basic credentials in order to become employed and move up the ladder to more lucrative positions.  If these requirements were not in place, then no one would be willing to go through the time and expense involved to obtain these two certifications.  Therein lies the problem for the ICCP -> because the CCP is currently not a required credential within the IT project management world, it can never become the demanding, highly statured designation that the CPA and CFA have become. The PMI folks seems to recognize this issue and are doing a good job of promoting (or marketing) the PMP certificate as being a required credential for IT and other types of technical project management openings.  In addition, one other factor that lends credibility to the PMP certificate is that the PMI requires a minimum number of years in a leadership position (e.g., 4 years of project management work) on top of passing the difficult exams in order to get chartered as a PMP.  

One caveat to the importance of certifications is that alot of them seem to come and go based on changes in technology and business models.  I remember when the Microsoft certifications were hot items for a few years (in the 1990s), to the point where MS had convinced IT professionals and companies that it was a necessary credential in order to work on MS products.  But this is no longer the case as the existing products have evolved and other companies’ products have eclipsed some of MicroSoft’s products in the industry, thus rendering the old MS certifications pretty much useless.  The CCP and PMP should not have this particular problem, but it just seems as if PMI is doing an excellent job of promoting the PMP as the certification of choice in the IT world and is convincing alot of companies that it needs to be a required certification (i.e., much like the CPA and CFA). 

In conclusion, the ICCP has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to keep the CCP designation from being entirely eclipsed by the PMP designation over the next few years as a lot of companies seem to be getting on board with the PMI’s mantra.  As a result, I firmly believe that the ICCP needs to study the successful marketing techniques being employed by the PMI in order to emulate them for use in promoting the CCP certificate and bringing it up to par with the PMP in terms of name (or brand) recognition within the IT project management world.  One advantage that should be publicized by the ICCP is that one must pass all ICCP exams with a score of 70% or higher in order to get certified as a CCP; whereas one only needs to pass the PMI exams with a score of 60% or higher in order to get certified as a PMP.  In addition, the ICCP exams are applicable strictly to the IT sector of technology, whereas the PMI exams are not really IT specific in scope as they seem to try to encompass all types of project management sectors (e.g., engineering, etc).  So there are several areas of advantage that the ICCP has over the PMI in the IT certification sector that need to be exploited and publicized by the ICCP in order for it to become a more recognized player in the industry.

NOTE:  Interested LinkedIn members having IT/Technological interests are invited to join LinkedIn Group ”Disruptive Technologies” at .

Ten Most Disruptive Technologies of 20th and 21st Centuries!

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My choices for the ten most disruptive technologies of the 20th and 21st centuries per the related Discussion issue in LinkedIn professional group “Disruptive Technologies” are as follows:

20th Century –

01).  Advent of nuclear technology, which drastically changed the balance of power in the world via its weapons applications, and it is still a burgeoning factor as the technology spreads.

02).  Advent of the automobile and airplane, which revolutionized the transportation industry and made traversing the world alot more feasible in terms of time, distance covered, and costs.

03).  Advent of Wernher von Braun’s rocket technology, which revolutionized the communications industry (via satellites), made space travel possible, and drastically changed military strategies and power structures.

04).  Advent of digital data processing at the large mainframe level (starting with Rand’s Eniac).

05).  Advent of the transistor, which replaced vacuum tube technology and allowed for start of integrated circuit technology.

06).  Advent of the integrated circuit technology from transistors, which enabled the commoditization of computer technology via the resulting dissemination of higher speed, lower cost computers (and more portable computers due to the resulting miniaturization).

07).  Advent of the personal computer, which replaced the mainframe as the primary means of computing and has greatly expanded access to computer technology to the masses.

08).  Advent of the world wide web (Internet), and the resulting information and communications revolution that it has invoked.

21st Century (so far) –

09).  Advent (emerging) of nanotechnology and its potentially huge impact on medical technologies and society in the not-too-distant future (e.g., “Singularity” type issues, etc).

10).  Advent (emerging) of teleportation technology at the level of the atom, which is in the beginning stages of greatly increasing the speed and overall power of computer technology (i.e., quantum information processing); its crossover to other applications includes possible revolutionary changes in travel technology at the surreal level by the end of the century.

Addendum1:  Taking item 10’s discussion a step further within the context of disruptive microchip techology, I still like the idea of developing data teleportation technology at the level of the atom, which stands to greatly increase the speed and overall power of computer technology (i.e., quantum information processing). The possible crossovers to other product applications, including surreal, revolutionary changes in travel and shipping technology, is what has really piqued my interest. But in discussing this issue with an executive at one of the major chip firms over the holiday, it was conveyed to me that the atomic teleportation of data is still at least twenty years away in terms of becoming feasible enough to be a disruptive technology per the quantum information processing genre. I would think that the speeding up of the development process for this entity would have to represent a major competive advantage for a developer within the microchip (or academic) industry, especially considering the possibilities represented by revolutionary crossover product development (i.e., major disruptive technologies)!

Addendum2:  the fulfillment of emerging items 09 and 10 is hghly contingent on the continued mitigation of item 01.

Note: From an IT standpoint, I especially like the world-class Gartner Group’s clear, concise definition of what constitutes a disruptive technology from a business systems standpoint: “…[as] one that causes major change in ‘the accepted way of doing things’, including business models, processes, revenue streams, industry dynamics and consumer behaviour”:

Interested LinkedIn members are invited to join the ”Disruptive Technologies” professional group (URL below):