Technology does not fix process problems, but that's still what people want to see

A lovely example of the "Someone screwed up. What are you going to buy to fix it?" mentality that plagues this industry:

an employee accidentally disabled the computers while running a routine test on Unimatic, United's flight operations system...More than 260 United flights were delayed for an average of 90 minutes, and nearly 70 other flights were cancelled altogether. The timing couldn't have been worse. The system crashed between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Chicago time, right in the heart of the morning rush..."As soon as it happened, the I.T. employee who made the mistake knew what it meant to the system," says Robin Urbanski, a United spokeswoman. "It was just simple human error during a routine test of our flight operation system. It's unfortunate, but we're developing new processes that will prevent future issues like these from impacting our customers."
Making matters worse, according to Urbanski, was the fact that this testing snafu also knocked out Unimatic's backup system. She declined to comment on what new processes would be implemented, or if new software and hardware would be installed.

Why on earth "new software and hardware would be installed" when it is a process problem that they are addressing is beyond me. But this is the immediate assumption of industry watchers, not least of whom are the managers and executive.

"To fix a problem you got to buy something". Just changing the way we do it is not reassuring.



As anyone who's ever worked for a living knows, organizations don't run on information. They run on relationships - relationships with members, customers and suppliers and relationships between peers and colleagues. Information matters; but it's the quality of the relationships through which information is exchanged that ultimately determines the success of an organization.

So is it any surprise that most organizations are frustrated with their high tech investments. "Information" technology addresses only a tiny segment of the organizational challenge. Organizations need a different technological revolution; a revolution in which the word relationship replaces the word information.

We need to build tools, technologies, and environments that generate productive relationships, not just data rich individuals. The next breakthrough won't be in the individual interface, but in the team interface. Organizational networks need people and partnerships that are more concerned with the relationships these technologies create than with the information they carry.

Our design inspirations should be collaborative relationships. Unfortunately, today some organizations lose sight of the objective for which they were designed, rather than create shared spaces where people can collaborate. The idea of building network architectures that encourage collaboration rather than simply the distribution of data is just beginning to catch on. Some people call this new design ethic interpersonal computing; others call it computer supported cooperative.

This emerging ethic reflects the belief that the old information paradigm no longer works. The mission is now shifting from "networks" - that enable people to better communicate to "worknets" that become a new organizational medium to innovate.

Slowly but surely, organizations are beginning to realize this. Both emotionally and intellectually, people genuinely care about the quality of their professional relationships. Sooner or later, they will grasp for the tools that augment their abilities to collaboratively create. If these tools are appropriately crafted and suitably robust, they will grasp sooner, not later.

ooh i like "from networks to worknets".

ooh i like "from networks to worknets". I think this is much the same concept as "enterprise intranet 2.0" - the application of Web 2.0 concepts to the workplace.

It is a more advanced version of the community theme I keep banging on about, usually in the context of the ITIL world. I'm all for building relationships between creators and users of ITIL, but if Best Management Practice and ITIL-officialsite and are anything to go by, they just don't get it.

Completely agree with you Jim and thanks for giving me a fresh and broader perspective on the topic.

Hidden talents... and the emergence of the Servicenet


You have a hidden talent I am beginning to appreciate more and more, have you considered bidding for the rewrite of the Service Strategy book, or perhaps helping me with the Foreword on the next ITSMBOK? I'm serious. The world is morphing before our very eyes into one where service and service management is enabled by technology, and as you say, networks become worknets thanks to the integration and seamless cooperation of devices, service providers and people.

Just take the lauded iPhone as the latest example, its effectively Spock's Tri-corder device, in facts its a .... octa-corder over which services flow! Well it will be once they add Flash and fix its speed over EDGE. The next generation and the generation after that are already here in the form of our kids and their kids.

I was reminded again of that story Ed van Schaik (grandfather of ITSM) tells when pressed about his 4yo grand-daughter heading straight for his PC when he baby sits. She can logon, find the Fisher Price home page and play games - at 4! our service management industry is just beginning. Its time for bold thinking and careful observation - of the worknets, playnets, and information-nets, perhaps even service-nets we are now all part of... enabled by the Internet.


Be more than happy to!

I don't buy the iPhone hype

Sure it's a neat little geegaw for the mindless masses to spend their money on, but its business value is low. The Crackberry has showed that messaging is a useful channel for hand-held devices. Any number of other toys have showed that the internet is not.

It's the form factor. I recently moved from an i-mate PocketPC to a Jam, sold it, and moved back. People need screen real-estate to interact with the Web. You can't peer at little screens like watch faces and do effective work.

In cases of extreme mobility, people struggle with smaller screens because they have to (eg couriers). But many of them have a laptop in the car, not an office-on-a-phone. And you don't see them surfing.

Until a useful virtual screen (and keyboard) is commercialised, gadgets like the iPhone remain consumer toys.


Ah, yes, sad to say I'm counted as one of the mindless massess...I have an iPhone. Don't get me wrong though, I did NOT wait on line to get one (there was no line the next day), and I agree it has some ways to go to be an 'industrial strength' business tool.

But I did not buy it for that anyway. I wanted an iPod and my other phone was shot...stricken by the fever, sucked into the madness, I met the marketing buzz saw and caved.

There's one thing it got me, that all the technology in the world will never get though. My kids LOVED it. I guess it was very much a consumer buy (emotional).

So while the web experience is still likely to make you blind, and I'd rather have web radio than have to pay downloads for albums I've had for 30 years,

the hugs were priceless.

John M. Worthington
MyServiceMonitor, LLC

the web experience is still likely to make you blind

"the web experience is still likely to make you blind" LMFAO!

The iPhone

I have an 8525 from AT&T (the new AT&T mind you, not the OLD AT&T that bought up smaller companies and created a monolithic oligarch that dominated the industry with average quality - hey wait a minute!) made by HTC.

When compared to the iPhone the 8525 does almost everything that iPhone does except it also works in Japan and Korea and the screen is slightly smaller. As for the unique call back feature on voice-mail, T-Mobile had that years ago (unfortunately they don't have an 8525 that works in Korea and Japan yet)

Maybe I am the only person that thinks that iTunes sucks and that having it integrated into my phone is a disaster, but then again I am prone to a little P2P dabbling that doesn't seem to sit well with Steve Jobs.

Great markting - small difference. I do agree with Michael that marketing makes a difference in attitude if not perhaps substance.

Take Live Earth - tonnes of carbon to put on the show but if 10% of the 2 billion watching especially in the USA, swap their light bulb and turn off the damned airconditioning while they are on vacation!!! - hey it was worth it. A game changer.

Let's not knock marketing to the uninformed as a way to change the game and Apple does that better than anyone else. Even if the phone is average it does look a lot cooler than mine.......

A T & T

I have an 8125 with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, IE (not bragging here) and a navigation system tht works here, Canada, and the UK. The iPhone may be attractive, but it lacks Windows functionality!

they don't change anything

but what would you do different in business with your HTC PDA/phone? How does it change the paradigm? it doesn't

Mobile phones did, faxes did, voice mail did a bit... and the biggies: email, internet, spreadsheets, wordprocessing.

Blackberry did, as anyone who has suffered a colleague with one knows full well.

SMS didn't much.

PDAs dont.

they're cool. they're status symbols, like ties. But they don't change anything.

some valid points but too narrow

The iPhone didn't roll out in a vacuum. A pure functional analysis, or one that confines itself to an ambiguous (and growing more so) concept like "business value", misses it's significance. Apple's the flagship for the design imperative/paradigm, the device will expand truly mobile internet access, and thus a larger pool of folks than ever before will do something with it. It just might end up being significant one way or another. It reminds me of Napster. I had downloaded my first mp3 file several years prior to Mr. Fanning even writing the program. One handy interface later: whammo 10s of millions of file sharers.

If the iPhone changes the demand picture for what you have (pretty accurately in today's terms) described as net connected "toys", then it takes the market to a different place. Convergence may be the oldest and tiredest term of the last 20 years, but often times it is still a critical reminder. Depending on the number of millions of units it sells, it may converge a range of technologies and forever change the herky jerky march toward ever ubiquitous and robust connectivity.

The above is unapologetically thin. Nevertheless, each idea is totally relevant in just saying: you sound far too certain in your assessment of the relevance of the iPhone. 30 years ago, no device was permeated through an entire culture the way the iPhone is today. While it may indeed be another dud in the litany of limited use mobile connectivity no one can yet say.

One more thought in case your still stuck in the tidy dichotomy of "consumer" and "business". iPods were most definitely a consumer toy, right? But what about the unforeseen consequences in "business" of the podcast? Or for that matter of strapping a 30gb portable storage device on millions of hips? 'Consumer' can change 'business' and vice versa as companies stab at relevance as they bring to market pieces of unimplemented technology in fits and starts. Oh, and try to attach meaning to it all via design. I should have mentioned this above when I mentioned design: the iPhone only has to do half the work and be functionally enhanced somewhat. The other half is what Apple et al can convince people is the meaning of having one.

Disclaimer: I have very little current interest in the iPhone personally. I do not own one (nor have I seen one up close), and don't expect to, although I could get sucked in one way or another I suppose. I will soon be going with an email enabled phone (Blackberry and Samsung in the running) with a Qwerty keyboard, a must, and a strong desire to keep a camera as I have slowly come to appreciate this capability in a variety of situations.

Read my lips: the screen is too small

I'm not sure you said anything.

Read my lips: the screen is too small.

Uncalled for response to a

Uncalled for response to a carefully worded post ... you won't win a lot of friends like that!!

won me....

all he said was that the screen was small..

post-modernist marketing hype phrases


I'm sure your post is very carefully worded. To me it just doesn't say much and it certainly completely ignored my point.

Business value is a clear and easily understood concept. Does it deliver value to the organisation to justify the money spent and is it a better use of funds than alternatives?

Please explain

  • how an iPhone will "expand truly mobile internet access" over the existing phone-sized web browsers
  • What "range of technologies" it converges
  • how it will "change the ...march toward ever ubiquitous and robust connectivity"
  • what are the unforeseen consequences in business of the podcast [podcasts provide a mildly amusing but inconvenient channel to reach a small number of people who require a justification for their technology investment. their impact on the conduct of business is zero]

"30 years ago, no device was permeated through an entire culture the way the iPhone is today". The telephone enjoyed penetration into every household. I don't know anyone who owns an iPhone.

Your post is a string of almost meaningless post-modernist marketing hype phrases that have very little content. They derive entirely from the self-absorbed internet pop culture that thinks blogs and podcasts are important. I cannot find a single argument of substance that suggests the iPhone is any more than potentially exciting in indefined ways.

The iPhone is too small. You can't read documents. You can't see a decent screenful of data. You can't even efficiently read an email. Try looking at a week's worth of calendar and see what you have at a glance. Operating a spreadsheet or editing Word would be near impossible.

Sure I'm certain in my assessment. Blind Freddy could see this is not going to change the way we do business. It is going to have little effect on the way we carry stuff around either.

I'm reminded of the Segway. Remember the marketing hype when the only name it had was "it" and it was going to revolutionise the world like no invention before it? We haven't had to widen the footpaths for the legions of Segways yet.

Marketing nonsense or not...

Bullets one and three: numbers. Lots and lots of people.

When I said nothing permeated an entire culture 30 years ago, I meant the marketing for a product launch, not market penetration. I can't turn on the television without hearing more about the bloody iPhone, and these are not commercials but shows including "news" and even comedy acts (The Daily Show and Colbert Report both did bits on it to name 2 examples).

The converging technologies are phone, mp3, and internet: the latter being potentially expansive as this device creates more demand for small screen usefulness. Also in the mix: digital pictures, video and podcasts. I realize none of these combinations are new, but again it is back to numbers.

Look, I don't disagree with 90% of your criticisms, and on a personal level, my reaction is very similar: big fuckin deal. What I am arguing is that it will change the march towards expanded internet connectivity on a mobile phone because, sucky or not, design and marketing alone will ensure this device will sell millions of units. Did Napster change mp3 technology significantly? No, but it got 25 million people to use it in less than a year. Game changer.

Blogs and podcasts are important, and I never said the iPhone was exciting in any way. Simply that it is and will be crammed down the throat of the marketplace and therefore is a game changer based on numbers alone.

And Pat, I'm not looking for friends per se, just interesting discourse..

You can't pull a cow through a drainpipe

You can't pull a cow through a drainpipe. The millions of WAP-enabled phones in the world have already proved that.

I've already got a phone that plays mp3 and browses the internet. As you say BFD. My phone has a 3.5" screen. And runs Windows. And it is too small to do business on.

The iPhone doesn't change jack.

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