Friday, July 01, 2005

Where I am Posting...

I've switched blog homes. I'm updating on Typepad these days if you want to see more recent posts.

Friday, August 06, 2004

"Pulling a Homer"

Maybe President Bush "Pulled a Homer": "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we,"said Bush. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." The White House acknowledged it as a gaffe. Fine. But an opportunity was lost by both campaigns to seize on statement as an acknowledgement that we need our best intelligence folks thinking like terrorists and that we shouldn't be critizing legitimate efforts to innovate.

Personally, I don't think innovation includes actions that are beneath the ideals and values of the United States. That said, we cannot restrict our thinking, imagination, and creativity for we are certainly fighting an enemy with a seemingly endless imagination for mass murder.

I think President Bush's statement should have been used to open a wider discussion on creating an environment where our intelligence community can think and innovate. Joe Scarborough is wrong to criticize the CIA for meeting with Hollywood executives. Innovation is well facilitated by seeking the experience of smart (i.e. successful) leaders in far flung areas. Similarly, the Pentagon's Terrorism Futures Market was an attempt at the sort of imagination and creativity necessary to innovate.

A shame the creative process was short-sheeted by politics and the media.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

E-Voting to Be a 'Train Wreck'?

I don’t know that anyone is actively working to rig American elections and I tend to trust that our public officials and the companies entrusted with safeguarding electronic voting would not dare interfere with the democratic process. That said, the potential may very well exist, we have some very determined foreign enemies, and they are by no means computer illiterates.

I have not been following the e-voting business, but I certainly hope they have deployed the proper safeguards, and consulted the right security experts to ensure clean, smooth, and transparent elections all Americans can be proud of, even as they may not like the results.


Monday, July 05, 2004

Recent thoughts

The cover story of this week's The New York Times Magazine entitled "The Chinese Century," by Ted C. Fishman is a fascinating read.

Having visited China this past year, I was taken by the sheer scale of everything, including the availability of labor for any project. As Fishman points out, that labor comes cheaply, it comes motivated, and it comes increasingly skilled and talented.

The article inspired much of the thinking behind some *very* recent writing for one of my clients. Without giving them away, here is an excerpt:

The world isn’t changing, it has changed. If the “China Price” means anything to you, then you are already well aware of this fact. To stay competitive, North American manufacturers will gather and use intelligence more effectively and spend capital more efficiently. These are the new rules and they are disobeyed at great peril.

What struck me most in this article was a quote from a policy brief for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in which Sandra Polaski, a former State Department special representative for international labor affairs writes that:

if all U.S. jobs were moved to China, there would still be surplus labor in China.

As we are learning from our experience in India, there will likely be very few, if any 'safe' jobs in the global economy. Watching China grow is as astonishing and exciting as it is frightening. The plummeting price of goods and services means much harder and more turbulent competition for American businesses. The rapidly increasing demand for raw materials such as steel, concrete, and oil are rising, and their use surely cannot be good for the environment.

That said, China's emergence will likely be a boon for America just as it is for China. Exactly how I can't really say, but I have faith that new technology and the competitive crucible will produce winners on both sides of the Pacific.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Presence, syndication, and identity management

This week I am at the Supernova conference in Santa Clara. Aside from there being very little to do in Santa Clara I am really looking forward to this show. The conference's theme is decentralization and it seems to hit directly into some of what I am seeing in my business.

I am increasingly coming across companies that are building the various components of information clearinghouses that serve as real-time intelligence hubs. What crystallized my thinking on these hubs was something Bob Woodward spent a few pages on in Plan of Attack:

During the invasion of Iraq, the NSA set up a series of multi-user chat rooms, into which information from satellites, field assets, signals intercepts and other inputs flowed. Presence and syndication (maybe the most important components combined with federated identity) were managed in a manner that allowed the data points to stream back out as actionable intelligence to green screens in M1 tank, military air traffic controllers, snipers on the ground, and other resource that could act upon the intelligence and create a lethal strategic advantage.

I continue to hear more on the theme of real-time intelligence clearinghouses from sectors that span financial services, healthcare, homeland security, retail, manufacturing, and more. At the point where presence, syndication, and federated identity intersect, there is a lot of activity and a lot of opportunity, both for vendors and the early movers. I expect this will be a point of discussion in Santa Clara this week.