3D Printing, that’s how
3d printing seems to be taking a back seat when it comes to the press but I’ve been watching this for quite a while now. It’s unusual as often jounalists hail any new technology as world-changing only for it to be a little less than that.
It will change the world and faster than we think.
Imagine being able to “print” i.e. manufacture just about anything you want in your own home or office anywhere in the world.
Imagine the new car, a new pair of glasses, toys, medicine, food (yes food), body parts (yes body parts), clothes – it will all be printable.
Raw materials and their distribution will become a key factor (and by the way some of this is bio produced, i.e. made from growing crops!) as will design and copyright protection – open source? How do the designers get paid?
Oh boy are some people going to have to think hard in the very near future.
Me, well I’ll just print myself a new iPhone and call up some buddies, see what they think.
I’ve been working on the content for our workshop event in January and am trying to use real-world examples for this and to find some common themes that would be useful to everyone.
I was just in a conversation about “lock-in” (my term meaning suppliers who design apps in a way to ensure you spend loads along the way and can’t use anyone else) and was asked whether I thought a latest quote from a software supplier was too much as the change seemed quite small.
Now remember I am in the business of software development so I immediately felt I was on both sides of the fence (i.e. uncomfortable!) – first reaction was “yea that’s a bit expensive”, second reaction was “well actually the change is a whole new area of functionality and will deliver a huge amount to the business”.
So you know what conclusion we reached?
It’s not about the cost of providing 178 lines of HTML and ASP code and 3 PNG images and comparing the pounds per line and whether it would be cheaper to go to China.
It’s about the people, relationship, dialogue, trust, value for money and business objectives.
Epilogue: End result was they spoke to the developer about their budgets and by taking some functionality out could reduce the cost a bit – simple, everyone was happy.
Note: It doesn’t always happen that way …!
Cumulus or Stratus?
Wow so much talk of cloud computing these days.
- Start with owning some server hardware in your own offices (own data centre even, if you are lucky)
- Move to rack space rental (you still like to own those servers)
- Move to server rental (maybe you got fed up with them but you still like to know what colour they are?)
- OK now over to the cloud (half a kilogram of power, two feet of storage, and about a dozen bits of functionality would do the trick nicely)
Quite simple really?
Would you ever build one on purpose?
Now I really love spreadsheets, they are so flexible and powerful. But would I ever design one or more into the core of a multi-million pound business?
I don’t think I would.
But a lot of companies have mission critical spreadsheets (it takes a while to admit to them …) – often these spreadsheets start as a good idea and become key to the business in a very short time. They must have something to offer then?
They can’t really be beat in terms of viewing and analysing data (I know I have tried!).
But as a source of data and data transformation well they are very good but anything can happen; from an incorrect cell lookup (oops it’s the purchase price and not the sale price I just quoted …) to some duff maths (how do you calculate net margin then?). And I’m assuming regular backups are taken, they are locked in a safe overnight and have secure logins … ?
So not so good at the security and robustness tests then maybe?
How about we compromise then – hold the data itself in a nice tough, secure, fast and flexible SQL Server database and allow the users to access this though an Excel spreadsheet?
Saves a lot of development work on analysis and reporting tools, you can sleep well too …
I got asked this a while back – it was difficult to answer without making a direct comparison.
I thought a bit then came up with this:
- Fully engaged with the business, part of the business
- Respected by the business
- Delivers apps and systems as needed and of the right calibre
- Positive attitude
- Cost conscious and business case focussed
There are loads of benchmarks out there for more tangible metrics, look at the BCS for some examples, but these don’t give you a flavour of the team and often don’t really work for smaller teams anyway. Rather like average goals per match or number of aces hit per game, useful stuff but it doesn’t paint the full picture.
Taking a business focus in the development team can pay big dividends.
Why get the dev teams involved too early?
Well I say you ought to for two reasons:
- They will be prepared if the project does run
- They can often make significant contributions to the project
Leaving it too late is what I call “chucking it over the fence” often onto an already over-loaded team. Not good.
The dev teams on their part also have to ensure they stay positive (or they won’t get invited again!) and understand things from the business perspective. Things such as “fluid”, “unknowns” and “can do”.
So … you’re in the same game but the team is not working well?
A well performing team can deliver up to 10 times than the same poorly performing, demotivated team (yes really, I’ve seen this first hand) .
Turn that into cost – and you can do that easily – then you’ll get why we spend a lot of time on this subject.
It’s easy to demotivate hard working performers – try telling Federer (for example) that his forehand isn’t fast enough … you get the idea (if you stay around long enough)!
It’s also easy to motivate hard working performers too … spot the difference …