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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pizza equation

FOund on the web when doing some research on analytics:

If a pizza has a radius 'z' and a depth 'a', that pizza's volume can be defined by Pi*z*z*a

Great equation ...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Where Am I?

Serendipity lead me to this quote ...

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I needed to be” – Douglas Adams

Real positive way of presenting your path in life ...

Monday, February 11, 2013

On the importance of the first followers

Why the first followers are key to launch a movement? Sometimes a short video worth a long powerpoint presentation:

I feel the same with my blog ... Dancing on the world wide web, with only a few of "aficionados".
Thank you for following, and thank you for spreading the world about this blog!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Multimodal or Door to door: Travel search reimagined

Multimodal search is a hot topic in 2013.

Multimodal could be defined by combining metro (subway), train, bus, bicycle, walk or car to go from one place to another. The other terminology used is "door to door", in that case, you have to add taxi and black car (car with chauffeur). Multimodal is emerging mainly due to the high speed train network, but also due to the sustainable travel trend (reduce CO2 emission and fossile energy cost).

EU is very engaged in multimodal search ... You can have a look at European commission multi-modal Journey Planner project here.

What is very interesting is to see is how many companies are trying to promote such planning engines, some to promote their own product they want to sell:
- car vendor: for example citroen with multicity
- Train : Db Germany or SNCF innovation lab new myTripSet
- a simple user playing with Google maps here
- mtrotter a mobile app
- you can also contribute to OpenTripPlanner Mobile and crowndfund it!

Now, due to Google open GTFS platform and API, static and Real-time Transit information could also be used (see here). GTFS benefits from the Open data movement really well developped in transportation in the USA and UK. I know that France is very late on the subject, even if some companies are evolving in the right direction (SNCF, RATP). Of course, we can imagine that Google will provide multimodal soon, within Google Now or Google Maps or Google Travel suite of tools.

I have to admit that my preferred multimodal tool is Rome2Rio. Blazing fast and accurate even on mobile.

KDS Neo is second on my list, but I have to admit that I did not have a chance to play with it directly (just saw demo).

The remaining issue is that most of these tools are great for planning ... not for booking ... since not every "trip segment" can be booked online. But most of them or mobile ready since day one.

Facebook: Mobile, Social to disrupt travel ...

Facebook's Daily Mobile Users Exceed Daily Desktop Users For The First Time. Facebook has 1.06 billion users, an increase of 25% year-over-year. Daily active users increased 28% to 618 million on average. More than 680 million users log in using their mobile devices each month, an increase of 57% since last year.

Facebook’s new Graph Search, enables you to search the social network for restaurants, games, music, photos and friends, will soon be adding hotels as a category, and that should give surviving social travel startups something to think about. Lee McCabe, Facebook’s new head of travel, explains that hotels will be added to the mix, adding that he believes Graph Search “will be a game-changer for travel.”

Imagine now that Facebook creates a new kind of "page" just for Hotelier and let them enter all information you can find in an hotel search. This tool will also enable them to manage "availaibility" and "flat" pricing ... This could shift a lot of booking ... And also let people promote the hotel, chat with hotelier and call for free (users in the U.S. could use Facebook's Messenger app on iOS to make in-app phone calls to anyone else with an iPhone).

What do you think? Do not think of Facebook as a "chat platform", but as a social business platform of a new generation?

PS: cross posted in Linkedin group: the Beat Travel

SOA for real - Part 2 - Let's talk about service

Lets talk about service. The most difficult part of SOA is to find the right services. Here several schools are fighting:
  1. Software engineering: Design a service in order to reuse it as much as possible
  2. Business Process Management: Design a service in order to manage all its lifecycle states from a business objects
  3. Interface Management: Design a service in order to offer CRUD services in a uniform way
Of course this is highly depending on your SOA program objectives. Anyway, the apporach we followed was the following one:
  1. Define and describe semantically each business objects and its relationships with other business objects (static and dynamic vision). This job could be done for internal and/or external usage (in order to protect Intellectual Property or to comply to security / privacy regulations). Do not forget to define error management, and impact of end of life on a business objects (do we need to archive, destroy physically, etc.).
  2. Then describe each object lifecycle. Each transition in the lifecycle will become a service. Pre and post condition are described using Business rules (OMG provided new standards in this area since several months). All Business event should be clearly described, since talking about SOA, most people think request/reply. But today dynamic architecture require to support intelligent and complex information/process flow break-up or exception handling. So, sometimes a full conversation using message exchange patterns (MEP) should be described instead of a list of stateless request replies. That's where WSDL 2.0 supporting several MEP is providing a definitive improvement. Of course, this is also true for REST based communications.
  3. Map each business object to one or more XML schema format. Make all Web service use this schema.
  4. Build a service catalog. Define the cost, SLA, monitoring of each service created and propose a clear an concise documentation (with examples and client code snippet). When possible implement the service catalog on line.
  5. Virtualize services in order to meet customers needs and to reuse existing services. Another way to do it is to use orchestration of existing services.
  6. Review the service catalog every month. Services could be then deprecated, extended, merged, ant it pricing could evolve.
  7. Protect your IP. Every asset can be protect as IP from XSD to WSDL or services name.
This is the first part of your work: the design time part. Try to be technology agnostic when doing this work. So, if you create your WSDL, do not generate it. The recommended practice here is contract first approach.

Then you can move to the realization of the planned services. What is needed now is:
  1. Implement the service with the technology you want, but do care since the beginning that today access to the data is the main bottleneck. So, do not forget to evaluate caching data in memory (Memcached, terracotta) or using new kind of DBMS adapted to high volume (couchDB, etc.)
  2. Define where the services will be deployed (internally, cloud, etc?).
  3. Developing the service and deploying it in production.
  4. Using your web service management platform to deploy the service policies and provide reporting on Key Performance Indicator, usage statistics, errors and SLA.

Continuous change and Innovation

I read several great articles recently on the subject of continuous change and Innovation. Here are three of them that I found very interesting.

1/ On the notion of Fair Process

This article is very interesting. It emphasizes the fact that "People are sensitive to the signals conveyed through a company’s decision-making processes. Such processes can reveal a company’s willingness to trust people and seek their ideas—or they can signal the opposite".

The Three Principles of fair process

Here are the three principles provided by the authors:
  1. Engagement means involving individuals in the decisions that affect them by asking for their input and allowing them to refute the merits of one another’s ideas and assumptions. Engagement communicates management’s respect for individuals and their ideas. Encouraging refutation sharpens everyone’s thinking and builds collective wisdom. Engagement results in better decisions by management and greater commitment from all involved in executing those decisions.
  2. Explanation means that everyone involved and affected should understand why final decisions are made as they are. An explanation allows employees to trust managers’ intentions even if their own ideas have been rejected. It also serves as a powerful feedback loop that enhances learning.
  3. Expectation clarity requires that once a decision is made, managers state clearly the new rules of the game. Although the expectations may be demanding, employees should know up front by what standards they will be judged and the penalties for failure.
Notice that fair process is not decision by consensus. Fair process does not set out to achieve harmony or to win people’s support through compromises that accommodate every individual’s opinions, needs, or interests. While fair process gives every idea a chance, the merit of the ideas—and not consensus—is what drives the decision making.
Nor is fair process the same as democracy in the workplace. Achieving fair process does not mean that managers forfeit their prerogative to make decisions and establish policies and procedures. Fair process pursues the best ideas whether they are put forth by one or many.

The (High) Price of Unfairness

Historically, policies designed to establish fair process in organizations arise mainly in reaction to employees’ complaints and uprisings. But by then it is too late. When individuals have been so angered by the violation of fair process that they have been driven to organized protest, their demands often stretch well beyond the reasonable to a desire for what theorists call retributive justice: Not only do they want fair process restored, they also seek to visit punishment and vengeance upon those who have violated it in compensation for the disrespect the unfair process signals.
Lacking trust in management, employees push for policies that are laboriously detailed, inflexible, and often administratively constricting. They want to ensure that managers will never have the discretion to act unjustly again. In their indignation, they may try to roll back decisions imposed unfairly even when the decisions themselves were good ones—even when they were critical to the company’s competitiveness or beneficial to the workers themselves. Such is the emotional power that unfair process can provoke.

Difference between Distributive Justice and Procedural Justice

It exists to complementary paths to performance. But procedural justice is the one to use to achieve better engagement and nurture innovation.


Amazon: Fair Process: Managing in the Knowledge Economy (HBR OnPoint Enhanced Edition) 

2/ Netflix’s company culture document

From the article: Facebook’s No. 2 top dog, COO Sheryl Sandberg, recently said that Netflix’s company culture document “may well be the most important document ever to come out of the Valley.” The document, a bullet-point-happy PowerPoint, has become a cultural manifesto for the Internet’s economic epicenter, amassing over 3.2 million views on Slideshare.net.
Here are the most striking points.
  • Creativity is Most Important: In procedural work, the best are 2x better than the average. In creative/inventive work, the best are 10x.
  • Prioritize Discovery Over Job Security: Many people love our culture, and stay a long time. They thrive on excellence and candor and change….Some people, however, value job security over performance, and don’t like our culture. Politically, this principle is the most fascinating: no major Internet company has a union, despite consistently ranking as some of the best places to work. Creative enterprises have been able to replace the long-cherished values of worker compensation and stability with a challenging, enjoyable environment. “Risk” is an often-praised characteristic of tech founders, who are now asking their employees to jump down that same rabbit hole. The future of work is likely to be as insecure as it is unforgivable. For some, this is utopia…for others, not so much.
  • Poor Employee Behavior Is Caused By Misunderstanding: Managers: When one of your talented people does something dumb, don’t blame them. Instead, ask yourself what context you failed to set. High performance people will do better work if they understand the context. Hierarchical 20th century management structure was modeled off of authoritarianism, a philosophy based on the idea that individual disagreements can only be settled through power. Netflix takes precisely the opposite approach–that workers normally operate under consensus. Acting “stupid” is actually caused by a failure of communication. It is a profoundly different view of human nature.
  • Unlimited Vacation: Netflix Vacation Policy and Tracking. There is no policy or tracking. Employees are left to decide when and for how long they should go surfing in the Caribbean. Netflix also proudly replaced the entire bureaucratic apparatus sounding travel expenses with five words, “Act in Netflix’s Best Interest.


Slides : http://fr.slideshare.net/reed2001/culture-2009

3/ Cultivating Outraged

This article written in French is from Pierre Pezziardi, 41, co-founder of Octo and the founder of Octopus Microfinance (a leading ERP microfinance). He helped also to launch Babyloan, a microfinance peer to peer platform . He was previously, CIO of BRED Banque Populaire, where he deployed techniques and culture of Lean Management.

On change Management

For this, he applied a quite simple theory: there is no change prompted by the above, there are only changes  wanted, and desired by the bottom, that converge with the interests of the above. So when you want to make a change, the emergence of new things, we must look to the presence of two factors:
  1. a place where problems are (quality, cost, time ...)
  2. the presence of a person who wishes to sincerely address them.
If you do not have these two properties, if you do not have people who are outraged by the situation, do nothing! So hunt for indignants. Other can recognize an issue, but they will not be willing to fight and take risks to find solutions.

You need to empower indignants. This will annoy others, of course, because it breaks "the status quo" (poor quality call center, poor in this mammoth project, poor quality in ...). Status quo is the result of the organization as it is, and in a bureaucracy, this is what is reinforced. Whoever says "I do not agree, I am outraged, it could be otherwise" is a renegade who takes a lot of risks, including ostracism, of being seen as a barbarian who endangers the sustainable equilibrium of the organization.

The challenge is then to protect and support outraged, without replacing them (no substitution, he should do the job). The best equilibrium seems to be 80% of coaching (protection, how to behave) and 20% of consulting (how to make things happen by  "inflicting help").

In order to make thinks happen, you have to do small steps, instead of big plan. The small steps are made to react to problems (Kaizen). The 5 why technique is used to understand the roots of the problem. Then, the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act!) is used to follow actions made, results and decisions (yes it should be tracked).You could make mistakes, that's why you have a checking phase before acting.

You are part of a system or building it, and you will improve it step by step in order to create value for your internal or external client. he main objective is client value. So everything is done in order to make people better understand how things work, why decisions are taken, improve trust but, the root of all this is generating value. This is what the author called the "lean culture", to be dissociated with the lean tools ...


Article: from LesManagersIT, here