Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Beyond interactive voice response - connecting data and voice communication channels

Connecting a voice and a data channel in the context of a customer interaction is a fundamental challenge for call center technology.

Attaching a data channel (IM, Screen-Sharing, Web-Sharing, Video) to an already established conventional phone call requires manual interaction by the customer. The agent needs to provide a "session ID" to the customer, so that the customer can initiate the data session (using the web browser or a custom software e.g. for screen sharing) and by providing the session ID he will be able connect it to the existing voice session, i.e. route the data connection to the agent who is already talking with him on the phone.

The more elegant alternative is to establish both connections at once. Through the web browser or custom software the customer requests a combined session. The session request needs to be routed through an ACD engine in the call center. As soon as an agent is available, the data connection is established. Then a unique phone number for the session is generated for the customer, the customer calls this phone number and is directly connected to the agent. Alternatively the customer has supplied a call-back number with his session request and is now automatically called back. The third and most elegant option is using the existing data connection for voice with VoIP.

If an agent needs to refer the caller to someone else, the data channel should be handed over together with the voice call.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Staff meetings

Two things to ask from time to time:
1. If you had my authority in the organization, what changes would you make right now?
2. What am I doing that gets in the way of you doing your best work here?

How many times over should you pay for software?

"No on-demand customer pays simply for the privilege of accessing the software. They pay because the software delivers business results. The traditional applications software industry's products don't actually work until they've been tweaked and customized by customers or partners, and therefore the licence of itself has no out-of-the-box value to the end user. Asking people to pay for the privilege of using the software isn't offering a service, it's taking a liberty. If I'm paying a fee to watch a movie, listen to a song, or use an application, I expect to experience a professional, finished execution. True on-demand application vendors understand this. Conventional software vendors seem to think the world still owes them a living, just for bothering to write some software." (Copyright ©2005 CNET Networks, Inc.)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Local Instance Networking by Silver Peak

These appliances are designed to provide high performance IT services to remote offices from a central datacenter, i.e. without having local server infrastructure. Instead of just doing compression and QoS like conventional WAN optimization appliances, Silver Peak goes a step further by analyzing the network traffic on a byte level and by detecting recurring byte patterns. Those byte patterns are cached locally on disks. This is similar to the WAFS approach (wide area file system), however they are not optimizing on the application layer but on the networking / packet layer. They call this approach "Network Memory". They even support high availability deployment (1+1 for N+1 with failover and load-balancing). In addition they support compression, per-application QoS, and "latency and loss mitigation". I have no idea how "latency mitigation" works ... They support inline deployment / bridge mode(between Ethernet LAN and WAN-Router) or out-of-path deployment (router mode) where only some traffic is routed through the appliance.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Monday, October 24, 2005

Vanco -

Interesting Business Modell: a virtual global network operator

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Thursday, September 22, 2005


"eine flexible Runtime Development Plattform zur Individualentwicklung"

sounds interesting

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Radical promise of BPM

BPM systems provide the same infrastructure capability as an RDBMS, but applied to application processes rather than simply data.

"The reason people are thinking of and implementing BPM is that they face a host of process related issues. That's similar to what happened with data because it all became embedded in applications, and people said there had to be a better way of managing the data. But now applications have become the problem, with business process fragments locked away in stovepipe applications, and people want a better way to manage end-to-end processes. The IT litter across the organization has become so voluminous that people are looking for a way to renormalize it and put it into a standard form."

Saturday, September 10, 2005

IT Value

"A CIO has to look at a network of separate variables that affect IT effectiveness. At the top level they are business alignment, process maturity, technical architecture, and human performance.

The CEO has a different perspective: All he or she usually cares about is cost, value, project success, and system uptime (and maybe performance).

Cost is easy.

The project success rate is easy.

System uptime and performance are semi-easy.

Value is the kicker, since IT is an enabler of value rather than a driver.

One approach: Make sure all projects define their expected business value - this is the business sponsor's responsibility, not IT's responsibility. If the only accepted value measure is money, insist that Finance provide an accepted means for translating various forms of intangible business benefits into financial measures. If your company makes use of a Balanced Scorecard, the impact of each project on the Balanced Scorecard measures should do."

(From:, Advice Line by Bob Lewis, (c) IDG Network)

Monday, September 05, 2005

Cool tools for SQL Server developers - includes SourceSafe Integration

Apex SQL Edit (
Imceda Speed SQL IDE (
SQLScriptSafe (

"Lockdown Enforcer" appliance to challenge Cisco NAC

The appliance is connected to switches and does not let any client access the network unless the client is compliant with patch-level-policy, or anti-virus-policy. Non-compliant clients are moved into a quarantine VLAN.

Alternative approaches are "Inline-Solutions" (Vernier Networks, InfoExpress, Sygate which is currently been swallowed by Symantec) and homogenous switch-based solutions like Cisco NAC.

Cisco NAC eventually requires switch upgrades and the Cisco Trust Agent on each client. Lockdown's solution however works agent-less as long as the client is a member of the administrative domain (whatever that exactly means); guest-systems are supported by an applet-agent (whatever that exactly means ...).

Interesting stuff, especially now that DELL switches are so dirt cheap.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Jotspot - The Application Wiki

This is a hosted wiki server with some special features normal wiki's don't have, e.g. email from/to page, and structured data through forms.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Aruba - Centrally Managed WLAN infrastructure

Microsoft announced that it replaced its 6 years old Cisco WLAN infrastructure with a centrally managed solution based on WLAN switching from Aruba.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Benchmarking VMWare ESX Server 2.5 vs. Microsoft Virtual Server 2005

ESX shows excellent performance when using more than one physical CPU in combination with the "virtual CPU" feature and disabling HT.

"It becomes clear with the numbers in front of us that Virtual Server is in serious trouble compared to ESX 2.5. The main areas of concern are Memory Bandwidth and file system IO. For a single processor system the Memory Bandwidth was running at 34% and 33% relative to a bare metal installation for non hyper-threaded and hyper-threaded respectively. Similarly, the file system IO was at around 40% of the bare metal installation compared to ESX which hovered between 80% and 98% depending on the processor and hyper-threading combination."

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Why Men Hate Going to Church

"Das christliche Übermittlungsinstrument, die Ortsgemeinde, ist perfekt, um Frauen und ältere Menschen zu erreichen. Darum sind die Kirchen voll mit diesen Adressaten. Aber dieses Kirchensystem versagt, wenn es darum geht, die Herzen der Männer zu berühren. Und so bleiben (besonders die männlichen) Männer weg. Die meisten Kirchen bieten eine sichere, gepflegte Gemeinschaft, eine Oase an Stabilität und Vorhersagbarkeit. Laut Studien sind das genau die Werte, die vorwiegend von Frauen und ältere Menschen gesucht werden."

"Die meisten Möglichkeiten für freiwillige Mitarbeiter in der Kirche gehören zum traditionellen Rollenbild der Frau. Singen, Handarbeit, Kochen, Kinder hüten, Unterrichten, karitative Anlässe vorbereiten, und so weiter. Da gibt es nichts für einen Kerl zu tun, ausser er nimmt gerne an Treffen teil oder schreibt Gemeindebriefe."

"Ein Mann muss vom ersten Moment an, in dem er eine Kirche betritt, spüren, dass Kirche nicht nur für Grossmütter ist, sondern etwas für ihn. Es darf nicht sein wie in einem Frauenverein. Ein zu langer Händedruck mit dem Banknachbar, Gebets- und Zeugnis-Zeiten oder andere, hochemotionale Momente schlagen Männer eher in die Flucht. Noch konfuser für Männer sind die heutigen Lobpreislieder – oft fromme Herzschmerz-Lyrik von romantischem Gepräge. Kerle finden es nicht natürlich, einem anderen Mann romantische Lieder zu singen. Männer wollen einen Leiter, und kein Liebesobjekt. Christen verwenden Worte wie "sich austauschen" und "Gemeinschaft". Das sind Worte, die ein typischer Mann nie brauchen würde. Es wird viel von den Geretteten und Verlorenen gesprochen. Männer wollen weder das eine noch das andere sein. Und hier ist eine Aussage, die viele Kerle verwirrt: "eine persönliche Beziehung mit Jesus haben". Das starke, männliche Kommando von Jesus: "Folge mir nach!" lautet heute: "Habe eine Beziehung mit mir". Damit wird das Angebot von Jesus auf weibliche Weise uminterpretiert.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Portable Database Images / Personal Data Warehouse

"Portable Database Images (PDIs) condense the essence of terabyte-sized databases into only a few megabytes while preserving all analysis-relevant information. PDI frees users from the technical limitations of classical analysis methods, limitations that are at the core of the fact gap - a disconnect between data and decision makers, who have only cumbersome access to required knowledge.

- compresses the comprehensive statistical knowledge into only a few megabytes
- is an explorative report with up to 1500 dimensions
- crystallizes facts out of data at the speed of a mouse click
- shows up important interconnections, automatically and fast
- makes corporate knowledge portable"


IT resource management planning and coordination across projects, intranet-based portfolio management and prioritization

tangible architect - model driven database application development in .NET

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Another example for an AJAX framework for "rich" internet applications.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Online Conferencing Tools

Macromedia Breeze
Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2005

Macromedia Breeze seems to be the only one you can host on your own.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Screen Resolutions

Once in a while I try to figure out screen resolutions. For future reference, here's my summary:

4:3 Displays - normales Seitenverhältnis

VGA : 640 x 480
SVGA : 800 x 600
XGA : 1024 x 768
SXGA : 1280 x 1024
SXGA+ : 1400 x 1050
UXGA : 1600 x 1200

16:9 Displays, 16:10 Displays - Widescreen

WXGA : 1280 x 800
WXGA+ : 1440 x 900
WSXGA : 1600 x 1024
WSXGA+: 1680 x 1050
WUXGA : 1920 x 1200

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Monday, April 25, 2005

Productivity and IT

A nice Dilbert cartoon - quite funny but at the same time something to think about.

Interestingly, Kevin Kelly writes in his book "NetEconomy" that computers have do not lead to increased productivity. The main advantage of computers is that they offer new possibilities, i.e. things we could not do in the past.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

ConSol CM

Interesting webbased solution for service management (Helpdesk, Support, Customer Service), lead management, process management / workflow.

Monday, April 04, 2005

SXG75 - Siemens Mobile Phone Available Sept 2005

This is hard to believe - all in one tiny mobile phone:
- integrated GPS / Mobile Navigation System including POI (!)
- integrated 2M Pixel Digital Camera for Pictures
- integrated 2nd camera on the front for video conferencing
- Radio Receiver with RDS (Senderkennung)
- MP3 Player
- Email and Instant Messaging Client, Calendar, Tasks, Notes
- 128 MByte Memory
- RS Multimedia Card Slot e.g. for Memory Expansion
- Bluetooth

Seamless Terminal Server Windows

This is an interesting development. More and more solutions based on Microsofts RDP protocol are being developed to bring applications to the desktop with seamless Terminal Windows (without the full desktop that usually comes with the Microsoft RDP Client). In the past this was typically a domain of Citrix, which is quite expensive.

Open Source Seamless RDP Client with Source Code

AppliDis Seamless Client - Applidis free module

Tarantella Carnaveral IQ - not free but much cheaper than Citrix

WTS Gateway Pro - lowcost ressource-based Terminal Server Load Balancing - works very well!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

jobdoo - Handwerksauktionen, Jobauktionen - Versteigern Sie Arbeit!

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Wow, what a movie! Well, its a boxing movie, but actually much much more. It's about determination, about not missing opportunities for securities sake, about living the dream of your life, about loneliness and rejection.

This movie is rated 8.3 at IMDB which put it into the league of Das Boot, The Pianist, Se7en, Saving Private Ryan - the highest rated movie in 2004.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

"Ajax" - a new name for rich web applications

This article introduces the term "Ajax" for rich web applications based on asynchronous data retrieval using XMLHttpRequest and dynamic display and interaction using JavaScript and the Browser DOM. Google Maps and Google Suggest are given as examples. The technical principles are several years old already, but "Ajax" is a nice new "brand" name for it ...

Friday, March 11, 2005

IS Project Duration and Success Rate ...

A quote from an interview with the CEO of MIS AG:

"There is a strong dependency between IS project duration and IS project success rate. Everything that lasts longer than one year has a dramatically declining success rate. Everything in IS that lasts longer than 6 months is not a project - it's a problem."

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

EAI on the UI level instead of middleware or database level (Computerworld)

Base: sales force automation system from application service provider Inc.

UI-Integration Tool: Above All Studio - enables semitechnical users to map functions.

Rather than go into one application, write down a number, then key that into a second application, you can integrate that into one screen that looks like a single application but with the underlying applications still there. That's different from simple data integration in which databases share data. User interface integration implies integration of functionality as well as data.

Such integration can be achieved with a variety of technologies, including the following:
- A services assembly and orchestration product like Above All Studio.
- An interface-reuse technology, such as a programmatic interface server like Jacada Ltd.'s Fusion, which developers can use to create an interface that can input or retrieve data from underlying applications, or Corizon's User Process Management software, which assembles new interfaces from bits of existing ones.
- Rich-client technology, such as products from Nexaweb Technologies Inc., JackBe Corp. or Macromedia Inc.
- Interactive portlets in a portal, like IBM's WebSphere Portal or Plumtree Software Inc.'s portal product.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

RIM Blackberry RSS Reader

I tried to download and install, but got an "invalid JAR" error ...

Secardeo PDF-Gate Signer and Verifyer

A product suite for automized server side generation and verification of X.509 based PDF signatures. The solution consists of "PDF-Gate Signer" for generating PDF signatures and "PDF-Gate Verifyer" for automatic verification of incoming signed PDF documents.

PDF-Gate kann PDF-Dokumente automatisiert mit einer qualifizierten elektronischen Signatur versehen.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

CanyonBridge -- Web Services integration framework and deployment platform

"Using cbIntegrate, CanyonBridge's Web Services integration framework and deployment platform, CanyonBridge applications can be easily combined as 'application blades' with other enterprise applications to create a new and exciting generation of enterprise software with rich, highly interactive clients for Web browsers and wireless devices that rival installed desktop applications. "

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Sun rolls out pay-per-use computing

- $1 per microprocessor per hour
- $1 per gigabyte used storage per month

Why JP Morgan Chase Really Dropped IBM - And Got Swallowed by BankOne

In August 2004 JP Morgan cancelled a $5 billion outsourcing contract with IBM after 21 months. Why? Because in the meatime they merged with Bank One, which had gained a reputation for consolidating data centers and eliminating thousands of computer applications.

The company's CIO, Austin Adams, said at the time: "We believe managing our own technology infrastructure is best for the long-term growth and success of our company ... to become more efficient." JP Morgan Chase would now switch from IBM to self-sufficiency to take advantage of BankOne's cost-cutting know-how.

But there's more behind it.

Here's some very interesting figures (MEDIAN VALUES, 1999-2003):

JP Morgan Case <-> Bank of America / Citicorp / Wachovia / Wells Fargo
I.T. spending per employee: $ 28.297 <-> $12.729
Compensation per employee: $110.702 <-> $55.057
Return on shareholder equity: 9.45% <-> 15.79%

JP Morgan Case simply paid way too high salaries to its employees, and in the consequence got swallowed by its competitor.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

InfoWorld Interview with SAP's Kagermann: The role and importance of a Business Process Platform

SAP plans to extend the Netweaver platform into a Business Process Platform.

Kagermann: Behind NetWeaver is a fundamental shift in architecture, which we call enterprise service architecture, or services-oriented architecture as it is also called in the industry. The idea behind this architecture is to give people on the outside access to functions inside our technology. In this sense, NetWeaver is a kind of composition platform for them to compose services.

We could stop with NetWeaver, but if customers really want to adapt more quickly to new business models and be more innovative with their use of business software in the future, then they also need to be able build new services faster and with greater flexibility. To achieve this, we will take what is generic enough in our technology, such as components, business objects and processes like billing, and put these into an application platform. So if a company wants to develop a new add-on application, it now has access to functionalities such as CRM (customer relationship management) and SCM (supply chain management) through open interfaces.

What all this means is that we want to create reusable processes at the application level and combine these with NetWeaver. This, in a nutshell, is the idea behind our new Business Process Platform. It's essentially an evolution of NetWeaver with the added capability to run ready-to-run processes.

IDGNS: Does this mean you ... give customers the choice between developing their own applications like CRM and SCM to run on your platform or buying these ready-built from you?

Kagermann: Exactly. Customers won't have to plug into our CRM application completely if they want to use our CRM technology. Instead, if they so choose, they can make use of reusable pieces -- available through the new Business Process Platform -- to compose their own application. A reusable part, for example, could be the order management function of our CRM application, which is the same in our ERP system. ... Now with the Business Process Platform, we're taking NetWeaver and melding it with a piece of the applications layer. This new platform, in turn, supports a higher services layer, which isn't hard-coded but model-driven. Here I can imagine consultants composing processes and building analytic tools. We will offer applications at this level but so will others in competition with us. ... Oracle still believes everything revolves around data. We say everything revolves around processes.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

About Hiring Software Developers

Joel: "In fact, one thing I have noticed is that the people who I consider to be good software developers barely ever apply for jobs at all. I know lots of great people who took a summer internship on a whim and then got permanent offers. They only ever applied for one or two jobs in their lives.

It's pretty clear to me that just because you're hiring the top 0.5% of all applicants for a job, doesn't mean you're hiring the top 0.5% of all software developers. You could be hiring from the top 10% or the top 50% or the top 99% and it would still look, to you, like you're rejecting 199 for every 1 that you hire.

By the way, it's because of this phenomenon—the fact that many of the great people are never on the job market—that we are so aggressive about hiring summer interns. This may be the last time these kids ever show up on the open market. In fact we hunt down the smart CS students and individually beg them to apply for an internship with us, because if you wait around to see who sends you a resume, you're already missing out."

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Global Economics Paper No. 99: Dreaming with BRICs: The Path to 2050

This is the original Goldman Sachs Report about "BRICs"

BRIC economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China

"The Goldman Sachs global economics team released a follow-up report to its initial BRIC study towards the middle of last month. Just as the initial report focused on the growth potential of the so-called four BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) economies, the new report takes the analysis one step forward and focuses on the impact the growth of these four economies will have on global markets.

The report focuses on the impact of these economies on global commodities (using oil as a proxy), demand for consumer goods (using automobile sales to make the point), and the impact on global capital markets.

While the main conclusions of the report are quite dramatic, one must keep in mind that these results ultimately depend on these economies delivering the high growth rates projected in the first report published about 12 months ago. The main conclusions of the report are as follows:

Over the coming years the strong growth profile of the BRIC economies and their increasing importance will push up trend global growth to over 4 per cent, compared to the trend of the past 20 years of 3.7 per cent. An increase in the global trend growth rate of this magnitude has enormous positive implications for the entire world.

The BRIC economies' share of world growth could rise from 20 per cent in 2003 to more than 40 per cent in 2025. Their total weight in the world economy will also rise from approximately 10 per cent today to more than 20 per cent within 20 years.

As the centre of global economic activity continues to shift towards the developing world, all market participants, whether they be investors or corporates, need to put together a coherent strategy to address this shift.

The number of people with an income over $3,000 (approximation of middle class) should double within three years in these economies, and within a decade over 800 million people will have crossed this threshold.

Never before has this type of scale been observed in terms of gross addition of numbers to the ranks of the consuming class. In terms of sheer numbers, it is equivalent to the addition of a new America and Europe to the global consumer class.

Within 20 years, there could be approximately 200 million people in these economies with incomes above $15,000 (as a point of reference that is more than the population of Japan). Therefore, the huge pickup in demand will not be restricted to basic goods but impact higher-priced branded goods as well.

Despite the balance of growth swinging so decisively towards the BRIC economies, the average wealth level of individuals in the more advanced economies will continue to far outstrip the BRIC economy average.

Goldman Sachs estimates that by 2025 the income/capita in the G-6 will exceed $35,000, only about 24 million people in the BRIC economies will have similar income levels.

China and India will emerge as the world's largest car markets over time. Within 20 years, China most probably will have overtaken the US as the world's largest car market. India will also displace the US about 10-15 years later.

Highlighting India's greater inefficiency in energy use, the data indicate that within 15 years India's contribution to global oil demand growth will overtake China's. India's share of actual global oil demand will also peak near 17-18 per cent, similar to China's.

The report makes the point that the emergence of the BRIC economies has already had an impact on global commodity markets, namely the impact of China. The huge price run-up in most industrial commodities is attributed to strong Chinese demand.

The next stage will be the impact of the huge emerging middle class in the BRIC economies on consumer goods demand, and finally longer term will be the impact on financial markets.

The interesting aspect brought out by the Goldman Sachs report and one which you increasingly hear spoken by global asset allocators, is the dramatic under-representation of these economies in the global capital markets.

The share of these economies in global capital markets is currently 3.5 per cent, and depending on the extent of capital market development, they could account for anything between 10 and 17 per cent of global equity markets by 2020.

Market capitalisation in the BRIC economies could increase by a factor of four times or $4 trillion (source: Goldman Sachs). While these markets will still remain dwarfed by the huge size and liquidity of Wall Street (despite such rapid growth), they will come close to approximating the size of Europe within 15 years.

If either of the above assertions is correct, then this should have huge implications for global capital flows and asset allocation trends.

In the world of low nominal returns I expect for the capital markets of the advanced economies over the coming decade, a large percentage of the incremental wealth created globally will occur in the stock markets of the developing world.

Imagine if in 15 years the stock markets of the BRIC countries really approximate Europe in size.

Is there any global portfolio investor positioned adequately to handle such a seismic shift in index weightings? Europe currently accounts for approximately 15-20 per cent of most global stock indices, compared to 3-3.5 per cent for the BRIC markets.

As the size of these markets converges over time, so too should their index weightings (some differences may persist for liquidity and free float reasons).

Can global long-only investors, wedded to relative performance, profit from this inevitable directional move, or will only the hedge funds (with no index fixation) benefit?

Given all the data above as well as the conclusions of the first BRIC report, can any asset allocator really justify having only about 3 per cent of his/her equity assets in stocks of emerging market countries?

Money has to move in this direction; the hedge funds, being more nimble and less constrained, have already begun to appreciate this fact.

The huge flows to Asia and more broadly emerging markets over the last 18 months, to me at least, are just the beginning of a multi-year trend.

There will obviously be cyclical ups and downs in these flows, but the secular trend is clear. More money has to flow into this region to properly represent its growing economic clout.

Do you want to be pre-emptive and anticipate this money shift or join the party later, when it becomes more accepted as conventional wisdom? Every institution has to make up its own mind."

(c) India

Monday, January 24, 2005

Weblog Netzwerke funktionieren wie ein Gehirn

Udell weist in diesem Artikel über Parallelen zwischen Weblog-Netzwerken und der Funktionsweise eines Gehirns hin. Ich denke der Vergleich ist sehr treffend.

Ein Weblog für sich alleine ist relativ witzlos, aber ein Netzwerk von Weblogs funktioniert auf ähnliche Weise wie die Neuronen in unserem Gehirn. Jedes Weblog, bzw. jeder, der ein Weblog schreibt, ist ein Knoten (ein Neuron). Er nimmt Informationen aus seiner Umwelt auf, insbesondere indem er andere Weblogs liest. Er filtert und verarbeitet diese Informationen und gibt etwas davon weiter, indem er es in seinem eigenen Weblog veröffentlicht. Die Information wird dann wiederum von anderen gelesen und weiterverarbeitet, die dieses Weblog lesen.

Im Weblog-Netzwerk bilden sich genau wie im Gehirn Synapsen aus: ich lese das Weblog von jemandem, der ähnliche Interessen hat wie ich selbst. Der Autor verweist in seinem Weblog wiederum auf andere Weblogs. Ich stelle fest, dass eins davon für mich interessant ist und nehme es daher in die Liste meiner „Blog-Feeds“ auf, also die Liste der Weblogs deren neue Artikel ich zukünftig regelmäßig lesen werde. Damit ist eine neue „Synapse“ entstanden …

Ein Netzwerk von Weblogs ist also praktisch ein globales Super-Brain. Es kann beliebig wachsen und praktisch unbegrenzte Mengen an Information verarbeiten. Es hilft aus der Fülle des „Information Overload“ die wirklich wesentliche Information herauszufiltern. Wichtige Informationen oder wichtige neue Ideen verbreiten sich sehr schnell im Weblog-Netzwerk, sie werden von sehr vielen Personen in ihrem Weblog zitiert und damit weiter gefunkt. Unwichtiges und uninteressantes dagegen wird ausgefiltert und nicht weitergegeben. Das Netzwerk ist fehlertolerant da jeder mit vielen anderen Neuronen / Weblogs verbunden ist - wenn ein von mir gelesener Weblog-Autor eine wichtige Information übersieht, wird vermutlich irgendwann ein anderes von mir gelesenes Weblog das Thema aufgreifen.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Maintaining corporate employee directories - HR systems and Active Directory

With Exchange 2003, employee information that is held in Active Directory (ADS) and in the Email-System is the same. This makes it interesting to think about how to keep this data up to date.

There is another important system with employee data: the HR system. Today’s HR systems usually come with a web-based self service portal. To seamlessly authenticate users with the self service portal, the HR system does need a link between its employee database and ADS … which is a very valuable link! And this link will even “maintain itself” – if it’s broken, the employee will very quickly complain to the HR department.

Further on, the HR self service portals usually have a process that allows employees to file vacation requests. The self service portal will automatically ask the employee’s manager for approval. Again, this is very nice because it is a mechanism that will ensure that the employee-manager relationship that is stored in the HR system is always up to date. If it’s broken, the employee will quickly complain to the HR department as soon as he’s going to plan his next vacation …

Another nice thing about HR systems is that we can expect them to maintain up-to-date links between employees and cost centres. This is an important part of the company’s financial controlling and I can assure you that if any of these links is not up to date, it will very quickly be corrected when the head of the department will receive his next cost centre budget report.

Pulling this together: HR systems with self-service portal functionality and vacation approval mechanisms make sure some very important data links are always kept up to date:
- employee -> ADS account
- employee -> manager
- employee -> cost centre

Therefore I argue that manager + cost centre information should be pulled from the HR system and replicated into ADS. This can probably be done by a fairly easy script.

Phone numbers and room numbers are missing in this picture so far. They are often not kept in the HR system, which is probably ok because HR would not be able to keep them up to date anyway. So I guess the right place to be the “master” of this information is ADS – and the IS department is responsible for maintaining this information and keeping it in sync (manually) with the phone system and the IS hardware inventory. This actually makes sense: IS gets informed about phone number changes anyway, because IS has to implement them. IS gets informed when the employee’s room number is changing – at least sometimes. And if not, well, then IS will catch up when doing its annual hardware inventory …

Finally, a script is needed to pull the phone number and office/room information from ADS and update the HR system's database. Having this data in the HR system's SQL database makes sense then the data can be queried on the HR intranet - no need any more for manually updated employee/phone lists in Excel! Having this data in a SQL tables does also make it easier to integrate it into other systems as well (e.g. the IT helpdesk system).

Saturday, January 08, 2005

"Let the world change you... and you can change the world"

At my traditional friday movie night I saw this movie ("The Motorcycle Diaries" / "Diarios de motocicleta" / "Die Reise des jungen Che"). Worth seeing!

"Im Jahr 1952, noch als Studenten, unternehmen Che Guevara und Alberto Granado eine neunmonatige Reise durch halb Lateinamerika: Zuerst auf einem alten Norton-500 Motorrad, dann, als dieses seinen Geist aufgibt, zu Fuß, per Amazonas-Dampfer und auf den Ladeflächen unzähliger klappriger Lastwagen. Aus den unbesorgten Jünglingen, die sorglos in den Tag hineinleben und mit fantasievollen Abenteuergeschichten die lokalen Dorfschönheiten bezirzen, werden im Laufe der Reise nachdenkliche Männer, die am eigenen Leib die wahren Tragödien Lateinamerikas erfahren. Eine endlose Geschichte von Armut und Reichtum, Stolz und Tradition, Temperament und Lebensfreude, Unterdrückung und Ungerechtigkeit ... "

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Why Saving the Church may be a self-defeating mission

by Brian McLaren, Leadership columnist

I often hear someone say, "We're exploring new ways of doing church." Or "We're seeking church renewal." Or even "We're developing a postmodern church service. It's very cool. We're very innovative." In all these ways, my colleagues and I, for all our good intentions, show that we may not be likely to succeed.

These efforts overlook one small detail. Whatever we change (style of music, style of preaching, use of art, candles, incense, etc.), we're not changing the thing that needs changing most.

Which is? One might recall Jesus' words about saving our lives and in the process losing them. Could it be that the church is as it is in so many places not because of a lack of effort or a lack of sincerity or a lack of spirituality (or even a lack of money, commitment, or prayer), but rather because our sincere efforts, passionate prayers, and material resources are all aimed in the wrong direction—the direction of self-preservation, self-aggrandizement, self-improvement?

What if saving the church is a self-defeating mission?

Lesslie Newbigin often spoke of the greatest heresy of monotheism (in its Jewish, Christian, and Islamic forms): cherishing Clause A of the Abrahamic call while conveniently suppressing, forgetting, or ignoring Clause B. So, we want to be blessed (big, exciting, vibrant, wealthy, healthy, wise). We want to be great (a great nation, a great denomination, a great congregation). To this end we pray and pay and read and plead and strive and strain and yearn and learn and groan and labor. And we give birth to wind.

Meanwhile, might God be otherwise occupied, scanning the earth for people who will also cherish Clause B: to be made into a great blessing, so that all people on earth can be blessed through us? Are we seeking blessing so as to be a blessing to the world God loves?

Do you see the difference between renewing the church as our mission, and blessing the world?

Our persistent "bless-me" bug, like a nasty flu into which we keep relapsing, creates what some of my friends have called "the great commotion," a close approximation of the Great Commission, but a miss nonetheless. Seminar junkies accumulate plastic-covered notebooks that could fill an oil tanker. Authors like myself write books whose combined gross weight may exceed the weight of our congregations after a pot-luck dinner. But not much changes.

Our efforts are all bent to renew or strengthen the current systems, which are perfectly designed (as Dallas Willard has said) to deliver the results we are now getting.

So if we are a self-centered church in America, it is because our systems—including our theological systems—are perfectly designed to produce such a church. It has been said that the greatest obstacle to the coming of the kingdom of God is the church, preoccupied with her own existence. Could our preoccupation with making better churches rather than better blessing the world be the heart disease that plagues us? And could our Clause-A theological systems be the high-fat cause of that heart disease?

This is what's really going on beneath all the superficial talk of "emerging church." Far more than cosmetics are under consideration: the very purpose of the church, the gospel, and the pastorate are being re-thought. If that doesn't disturb, surprise, or excite you, you don't understand what is being said.

Everywhere I go, on the fringes and in unexpected places (including in all the wrong denominations where this sort of things shouldn't happen), I discover churches and leaders who are grappling with these deep questions. They want to be blessed in order to be a blessing to the world. Their dream does not stop with the church. They're thinking about God's kingdom coming on earth as in heaven.

These are good signs. Hopefully, the early signs of even better signs yet to come. How ironic if the church were to find life by losing it, by giving it away.

Copyright © 2004 by the author or Christianity Today International/Leadership Journal.

"I'm Leaving Church to Find Jesus"

"I'm Leaving Church to Find Jesus"
by Dan Kimball

"I just had a conversation with someone who grew up in a large evangelical Bible teaching church. She got to experience the whole quality spectrum of what a church provides for youth with great Sunday programs, camps, ski retreats etc. Yet, as she has reached adulthood and now is a mother of young children, she said that she is now “leaving church to find Jesus”.

Interesting comment. She says that she has become disillusioned with the evangelical church. She mentioned how “church” has become so shallow in terms of the teaching. Instead of teaching focused on the historical Jesus, the preaching is more about the how-to’s of basic life skills that may or may not even mention Jesus. She knows that how-to teaching was helpful, but she feels she needs to move on from there. In a way she feels she has “outgrown” this type of church. She feels there must be more. She wants to know Jesus more, and for her it means leaving the church to find Him.

She says that she is viewing church a lot different lately. She finds that the PowerPoint used by the worship team and way the words come up remind her of the Disney sing-a-long videos for children. She says that she is looking for intelligent discussion to grapple with the depth of the faith, and how to think of world religions, and how to process the issue of homosexuality – but instead she only finds that people sit and listen to the charismatic preacher and never question anything.

She is now visiting some smaller churches which focus more on liturgy where she feels there is more of a Jesus focus. She also likes that that many of the people there have higher levels of intelligent conversations about the historical Jesus that she never was able to find in her larger evangelical church. She now thinks she may even try and find more of a home church than an established church or denomination. She hopes to maybe find others who are looking for Jesus in the same way she is. And after listening to her, I have a strong sense she is not alone. I have a pretty strong hunch that more and more younger people who grew up in the contemporary church are experiencing the same thing."