My advice to graduates wanting to work in the software industry.

My readers will know I have an abiding interest in Design Thinking, and how it can and must be applied to improve software.  I’m convinced that Design will become a critical skillset, not just for the creative types, but throughout the business.

I’m planning to do some more research on this, so if you know of innovative uses of design thinking,  especially if applied to HR type processes, then drop me a note.

If you are graduating from  University, and wondering what to do next,  I’d suggest you head over to Potsdam and spend a year learning about Design.


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Cars and software

On the A5 autobahn this morning , I happened to see a camouflaged version of a soon to be released Mercedes.  Looks like the new E class.



I’d never seen a car covered to avoid spy photos on the road before. 

Later, as I sat in the stau near Darmstadt,  I thought about parallels between the software industry and the automotive industry. 

We hear a lot about how the software industry needs to become more industrial, and learn how to build and reuse components, but what struck me this morning was how cleverly the automotive industry manages the flow of information about new products. 

Mercedes Benz and others are masters at building excitement in new products,  and showcasing futuristic innovations, but what is really impressive is how they do it such away as not to damage current product sales.

When I look at how software marketeers manage the launch of new products, they ought to hang out with  some automotive marketing types.

1. How to market future innovations without freezing the current pipeline.

2. Pricing transparency and financing

3. Market segmentation. BMW’s Mini and One series have an overlapping target market. BMW are cool with that.  Buyers of the 5 series  might be tempted to go for a well specced 3 series instead.  This too is fine.  A multi-product line has overlaps, and you can’t wish these away by trying to create artificial segmentations.

4. Managing upgrades.  Car makers manage to get most of us onto the next release with ease.

5.  Position a brand – competing beyond function and feature.

6. Naming convention consistency.  Porsche 911 anyone?

Math(s) and Africa

I’ve blogged a few times about education and innovation in Africa before, but I figured it would be worthwhile mentioning the AIMs School  just outside Cape Town.

From the website.

The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is an educational centre in Cape Town, South Africa. The goals of AIMS are:

  • To promote mathematics and science in Africa.
  • To recruit and train talented students and teachers.
  • To build capacity for African initiatives in education, research, and technology.

The Institute is focussed around a nine-month, postgraduate course covering many of the most exciting areas of modern science, taught by outstanding African and international lecturers. The course develops strong mathematical and computing problem-solving skills and leads to a postgraduate diploma in the Mathematical Sciences, formally accredited by the three partner South African Universities and taught in association with the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, the Division of Physical Sciences at the University of Oxford, and the University of Paris-Sud 11. Students with good mathematics, science or engineering degrees are invited to apply and will be supported on bursaries where needed.

There are some videos and details over on the TED blog.   Well done Barclays for the 20 scholarships. This all grows out of 2008 TED Prize winner Neil Turok’s wish — that the TED community will help him to educate the next Einstein in Africa.  Spend some time looking at Neil Turok’s talks. Humbling stuff.

Building a grasp and love of mathematics in what will thousands of Africans is a brilliant way to invest in the long term success of the continent. 

BTW.  They are looking for post docs and researchers .

New perspectives. Redwood, Berlin and telescopes.

(photo from klara on flickr, danke)

I’m not in Orlando this week at Sapphire, partly because I spent last week in the San Francisco and Bay Area.

The main purpose of the visit was to meet the folks at Oracle. Having competed against Oracle and PeopleSoft for much of my working life, it was more than a touch surreal entering the Redwood Shores complex.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I met a group of smart, engaged, friendly and deeply knowledgeable people.   They have an interesting blog too. 

I’m having something of a Hubble experience since joining Gartner.  I’m realising there is a lot more going on out there in the HCM space than I did when my orbit was tethered to Planet SAP.  (more on my Paris trip in another post)

In a couple of weeks I’ll be heading to back into the SAP zone, to  Berlin for the European  Sapphire. I’ll be looking at SAP through a new lens.

Sure,  I’m interested in the goings on with Business By Design, and the business objects integration,  but there are colleagues here at Gartner that will be covering that in depth, and I expect there will be  lots of blog coverage too. 

I’d like to talk to customers at Sapphire,  and I hope to understand more about what they are actually doing with the SAP HCM products.  I’m seeking evidence of ERP 6.0 traction beyond the technical upgrade.  There are several potentially  interesting presentations on the agenda.  (The search engine  on the sapphire site doesn’t work properly, so you need to dig to find them.)

I’m also very interested to look at RIA deployments in an HCM context. There are some funky funky tools out there, but I’m keen to hear about actual deployments.  I’ll also wander the halls and check out what the partners are up to.

It will be excellent to meet up with old colleagues, and also to see some new ones too.  I also get to go to Berlin, which as many of regular readers know, is my favourite city.


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