Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Virtualising the Workforce

I've been intrigued in recent days by the idea of procuring virtual workforces to complete projects successfully bid for by lead organisations. One or two leading organisations in the UK are toying with bringing such a service to market. The proposition is particularly useful for smaller businesses, aiming to bid for more business but wary of commitments to recruit a permanent workforce on the off-chance of winning. It works thus: A business has proven expertise to structure and deliver a service to a customer but does not have the capacity to flex to meet demand. It engages a third party with access to skilled resources to back its bid and on winning the business, the project team is deployed in the name of the contract winner to deliver the goods. Such a model relies upon clear leadership and competence of the lead organisation, proven skills and capacity from the service provider offering the skills required. But, its a realistic model for the more fluid organisational world that we are migrating towards. It offers the same sort of flexibility to scale that Virtualisation and Cloud offer, and for the skilled individual, the ability to gain valuable experience and add to a CV in times which are proving challenging for permanent employment prospects. Its a win, win, win. For those of you who think that this is a new concept, I commend Charles Handy's book Inside Organisations and particularly his work on the Clover-Leaf organisation. This is a 1980's vintage piece of work in which Handy, a management researcher, speculated on the form of future organisations and the decline of the first job to retirement employer in place to that date. Its a live topic today, see

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

UK Government and the Green Challenge

Things are moving at pace in the Cabinet Office in the area of Efficiency and Reform Group improvements. The latest being an incitement to work together with contractors to reduce energy usage by 10%. See here . This is a call to arms from Government to their network of service providers to help to accomplish the targets for improvement. This specific call is to adopt the new Energy Efficiency Code. This states that all departments should:
  • work with facilities management contractors to prepare plans to cut carbon by ten per cent by May 2011;
  • give serious consideration to private sector ideas to cut carbon emissions; and
  • agree to explore agreements, possibly through changes to existing contracts, which benefit government departments and private companies in their pursuit of reducing carbon emissions.
In response, contractors are asked to share their expertise with public bodies and actively identify opportunities to reduce energy emissions.

Could this be the pattern of things to come? I think so. Helping to achieve targets will move the government forwards and perhaps is the best portend of the opportunity ahead for the G-Cloud programme. Now headed by Chris Chant and Andy Tait in John Suffolk's team at the Cabinet Office.

To help with the reduction in Carbon Emissions, we have a number of tools in our armoury in the IT Industry, perhaps here is the opportunity to begin to show what they can accomplish. After all, didn't someone say that Green IT is free? I.e. we should be able fund investments to reduce energy consumption through savings on our energy bill and operating costs?

And once we accomplish improved efficiency in our own shops, we can use our capabilities to support  collaboration and remove the need for travel and commuting, and thus really gain traction in saving carbon emissions. The Carbon Neutral Data Centre, a possibility? 

Certainly investments such as Virtualisation and selective Technology refresh can make a positive return. See our KTN website and the Green IT group for more!

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Trusting your Cloud Service Provider

One of the key challenges faced by users and suppliers alike in the new world of IT as a Service - is who am I dealing with? What can I find out about them? Can I trust them to run a service for me? Will they be there tomorrow. Colleagues in the UK service provider industry have developed a proposal which might help. The Cloud Industry Forum is an initiative which seeks to allow Service Providers to declare themselves in a coherent and open fashion. So that you will know who you are dealing with, who owns/runs the company and where their facilities are. These are key elements in developing an outsourcing relationship and this initiative is a good start to the process of openness. Let's face it, we are walking into a world where we do business on a personal or a professional level, with people we have never met in places we don't know exist. You try finding out where Amazon has its Data Centres! Take a look and let the team know what you think. Next step is knowing who we are when we strike an online deal with a service provider ... but that's another story!

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