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Did you happen to catch last night’s Charlie Rose’s 60 Minute interview of IDEO founder David Kelley?

If you haven’t, it’s worth a quick view.

Rose’s interview doesn’t reach the level of inside baseball, but he manages to have Kelley sum up his firm’s design philosophy as “empathy for the consumer” and describe his firm’s multi-discipline group development methodology.



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I’ve been pretty silent this week due to Hurricane Sandy. It hasn’t been because I’m still one of the thousands of residents in Hoboken, NJ without power and Internet access.

Luckily, I planned  a four-day visit to see family before Sandy hit. Now it has turned in to an 11- or 12-day visit.

So far my evacuee experience has been relatively painless, save for my car.

After several years of dedicated service, my 1984 190D decided it was time to go to great parking garage in the sky. I guess it just didn’t want to deal with New Jersey’s current fuel shortage, road work and downed trees.

Work-wise, things are beginning to get back to normal as more people get back to business. Thanks to various online storage, office applications and Skype, I’m back too. These cloud-based applications and storage services made it easy to pack up my necessary files and go.

Yes, I could have left home with my local back-up drive in hand and move all of my files to my off-site FTP server, but that would have taken a bit more time and would meant that I had the foresight to know that I was going to flee Sandy.

These cloud-based applications make the workflow process easier by using the same interface whether I am running them locally or over an Internet connection. I can save documents locally or store them in the ether. Actually I do both if I can’t find a Wi-Fi spot.

This common interface approach reminds me of a recent conversation that I had with NICE Actimize president and CEO Amir Orad just before Sandy.

As it’s been reported in the press, NICE Actimize recently purchased Redkite Financial Markets. Through this acquisition, NICE Actimize now has its existing client-hosted AML and regulatory platform as well as  Redkite’s cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering.

The vendor plans to continue developing both platforms for different client segments, says Orad. Actimize will remain the platform for Tier-1 clients while Redkite provides an offering for Tier-2 clients that might not have deep pockets when it comes to IT spending.

One of the first synergies Orad expects from the deal is an updated Actimize’s user interface (UI) based on Redkite’s current UI slated to be released sometime in the first half of 2013. This update will make Actimize’s UI more user-friendly and let users move between the separate technology platforms without thinking about it.

This is just one of the latest situations I’ve observed where software vendors realize the importance of the user experience (UX) now that clients are turning more and more to cloud-based services.



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This morning I received an email explaining that by deploying this vendor’s Big Data solution, it would let me outperform my business rivals while it goes on to balance my checkbook and wash my car on Sunday.

I get a tons of these unsolicited emails every day as a journalist. I’m not naming names since after reading the correspondence a few more times, the sender’s life seems difficult enough.

Marketing hype aside, this ignorance running through the industry about Big Data and its capabilities really sticks in my crawl.

Let me make this perfectly clear: Big Data is not a panacea for all your data ills.

If someone tells you it is, run! Run hard; run fast and don’t stop until you have as many secured doors between you and the idiot as possible.

Stuffing all of your organization’s terabytes and petabytes of data willy-nilly into a Big Data environment will not solve your problems.

Remember the first rule of programming, Garbage In Garbage Out (GIGO).

If you don’t know what you want achieve at the beginning the process, there’s no technology that will give you what you want at the end. Know what you are looking for at the outset and which data sets will help you find your answer.

Big Data is not a magic box. It is a way for applications to access heterogeneous data formats without needing to go through the time or expense of converting existing data into a common format.

In other words, it protects your existing data’s sunk cost when it comes to storage while making it easier to exploit by other applications.

This promise has a lot of people throwing all their data, as well as a few kitchen sinks, into Big Data projects.

Don’t be one of them. It just will be an expensive and painful lesson in how not to make your goals.

Again, lay out what you want to achieve with your project before deciding which data and applications you’ll need to integrate into it.

One approach in selecting which data sets to integrate first is to view data as a commodity. The most accessed data sets are liquid commodities while infrequently accessed data set are illiquid commodities.

Address the liquid markets first since that is where you can find the immediate returns.

Handling the illiquid data is a bit trickier. There are benefits in accessing illiquid data in Big Data environments like trading illiquid instruments on the market. However, apply the same risk-reward analysis before you make the investment. Will the return from incorporating the illiquid data sets into the Big Data environment justify their integration expense? Could better returns be found elsewhere?

Each organization needs to make its own call.

As with any project, be sure you know what you want to achieve, select the proper tools for the job and you’ll go far.

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During yesterday’s TabbForum MarketTech conference Jeff Bell, executive vice president, clearing & technology at Wedbush Securities and CEO of Lime Brokerage, set the audience buzzing with his opinion that the industry would see mashup-based trading systems operating from a cloud environment in the future.

He quickly qualified the statement saying that such a trading system architecture would not meet the needs of everyone’s trading strategies (read: high frequency and latency arbitrage traders), but it would for many trading firms.

Bell didn’t go into further detail on whether these trading systems should reside in a firm’s private cloud or be delivered as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering.

I might be showing my age, but I believe that we are already there.

What is the major difference between a mashup-based trading system and a trading platform using service-oriented architecture and federated identity management to deliver trade-related operations? Not much, but marketing hype.

If your firm uses a hosted order or execution management system, it doesn’t matter how the vendor is operating their platforms on the other end of the router as long as they maintain their service level agreements (SLAs). A few might offer clients dedicated hardware, but many already take advantage of a shared infrastructure’s economy of scale to lower their operation costs.

It’s the same discussion we’ve had for the past several years, just with new buzzwords that haven’t lost their shine yet.



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According to a recent survey of about 1,000 IT respondents and sponsored by Serena Software, the answer seems to be “Yes.”

However, you must remember that Serena is in the business of selling orchestrated IT and product development tools to enterprise clients.

The vendor-produced chart below shows that most of those surveyed are fine with their development process. It is getting detailed project requirements and rolling out the final version are where the development process falls down.

To access the complete survey results, you’ll need to go through a quick online survey where you’ll benchmark your organization’s performance to that of those surveyed while providing Serena with a qualified sales lead.

Is taking humans out of the process the only, or best, model? Could firms address this with the proper the proper project-management approach?

Please share your thoughts and experiences.



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