The Perils of Petascale IT Projects

PetascaleITProjectsI have an article published in the current issue of FCW: The Business of Federal Technology on petascale IT projects.

Good news: We no longer have to talk about megascale IT projects. Large-scale ventures that typically cost $1 billion or more, megaprojects used to be all the rage, but they are quickly being superseded by petascale IT initiatives. Those projects can cost even more, involve complexity on a truly massive scale and require petaflops of computer processing. Despite the horrendous track record of delivering on even moderately complex IT projects, public-sector CIOs continue to embrace the design, planning and execution of petascale IT projects. To read more, please click here.

To view the article in the digital edition of the magazine, please click here.

Big Data and Urban Informatics at UIC

logoILChicagoI am in Chicago to attend the NSF sponsored Workshop on Big Data and Urban Informatics. I will chair the Crisis and Emergency Informatics track and will present the following paper.

‘Big’ Data + ‘Open’ Data + ‘Mobile’ Data: Urban Informatics

I take the view of a city as a platform. As a platform, a city has infrastructure, processes, organizations, individuals, and technology as components. Additionally, cities are comprised of technical (e.g. sensors), social (e.g. humans), and socio-technical components (e.g. processes). The glue that holds these components together and enables integration and coordination to occur is data and information. The effective and efficient management of information is not only critical to ensure that each of the components operate optimally but also ensures that the overall system, the city, achieves its overall objectives. In this paper, I focus on three key data dimensions in the context of urban informatics: big, open, and mobile data. Key issues within each data dimension are presented. The paper builds on several research projects on smart cities, urban informatics, and policy informatics. Data collected during these projects includes over 45 case studies, over 60 interviews with key informants, analysis of over several thousand pages secondary data, and an examination of over 70 technology solutions that span mobile apps, online crowdsourcing platforms, sensors, analytical and visualization technologies, and associated urban technologies. The paper puts forth several considerations that need to be accounted for when discussing the potential of data and technologies to transform our urban spaces towards the goals of making them intelligent, livable, sustainable, and resilient.

Talks in Norway – BI, Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology, and SINTEF

Starting on Thursday, I will be visiting Norway to give several invited lectures. My first stop will be at the BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo. I will be delivering my talk to the Leadership and Organizational Behaviour group.

imagesDisastrous Large-Scale Technology Projects in the Public Sector: Unpacking Complexity
I will examine what accounts for ‘complexity’ when we consider large-scale technology projects in the public sector. There are several examples of such projects from the IRS Business Systems Modernization to the Seattle Monorail Project and, most recently, healthcare.gov. Complexity could arise from the ‘public’ nature of these efforts. Issues to be considered include: the ability to manage expectations of a diverse stakeholder population, the lack of capabilities when it comes to IT management and governance, the fact that these projects are laden with a higher-level of risk from the start as the efforts have a higher degree of innovativeness, setting up of false expectations, escalation of commitments, etc. The paper develops a series of propositions based on data drawn from cases of large-scale technology projects that have turned out to be disasters. A theoretical model is put forth for consideration.

ntnuI will then head up to Trondheim, where I will deliver a talk to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The talk titled, Data Governance versus Big Computation: Tortoise and the Hare, draws on my current work on big data and analytics for the public good.

Over the last few years, we have certainly seen a flurry of activity around big data. Widespread efforts by a number of academic communities – including computer science, engineering, mathematics, and statistics - have led to advancements in how we capture, store, analyze, visualize, and apply big data. Unfortunately, these advancements have not kept up with innovations in data governance. Deficiencies in data governance limit our ability to truly take advantage of computational advances. In this talk, I will highlight challenges and opportunities in data governance in the context of big data. I will draw on illustrative examples from my work in big data in the public sector and from tackling social challenges (e.g. countering human trafficking).

sintefDuring my visit to Trondheim, I will also spend time with researchers at SINTEF, the largest independent research organization in
Scandinavia, discussing issues of knowledge management and process improvement in the context of software engineering systems and organizations.

Keynote at the 3rd International Conference on Management and Organization

logo_engI will be delivering a keynote lecture at the 3rd International Conference on Management and Organization organized by the Slovenian Academy of Management. My talk, Ideas, Knowledge Management, and Innovation Walk into a Bar: An Incomplete Theory of Intrapreneurship, will draw on my book and recent work on designing challenges/competitions for innovation. I will also deliver a research talk at the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana.

Speaking at Technological Innovation in Government: Toward Open and Smart Government Symposium

SSTIG-Logo3-300x214I will be speaking on Big Data at the Technological Innovation in Government: Toward Open and Smart Government Symposium organized by the Section for Science & Technology in Government of the American Society for Public Administration. Other speakers at the event include Jane Fountain (UMass), Elizabeth Bruce (MIT), Chris Osgood (Office of New Urban Mechanics, City of Boston), and Bill Oates (CIO, Commonwealth of Massachusetts), among others. For more information on the event, please click here.

Conference on Economic Resilience, Braga, Portugal

ConferenceEconomicsI am heading to Portugal for the Conference on Economic Resilience. I co-organized this event along with two colleagues, Isabel Ramos (University of Minho) and James R. Martin, II (Clemson University). The conference will be held at Largo do Paço – Rectorate. Attendees at the event include:

  • Norio Okada, Director of Disaster Recovery Governance Research Institute, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan
  • Alejandro Pinto-Gonzalez, DG CONNECT Policy Office, European Commission, Belgium
  • Helena Molin Valdes, Deputy Director UN-ISDR, Switzerland
  • Francis Ghesquiere, Manager for the World Bank’s Disaster Risk Management Practice Group and Head of GFDRR Secretariat
  • António Cunha, Rector of the University of Minho, Portugal
  • Alvaro Santos Pereira, Minister of Economy and Employment of Portugal

TechniCity – MOOC – A Vision for Smart Cities

coursera_logoWhile at Ohio State University, I recorded lectures for the TechniCity MOOC. This course is being offered by two of my colleagues, Jennifer Evans-Cowley, Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Administration, City and Regional Planning Section, Ohio State University and Tom Sanchez, Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning, Virginia Tech. Check it out!

Speaking at the GSA on the Future of Challenges and Contests in the Public Sector

GSAlogoOn April 18, I will deliver a webinar from the General Services Administration on the future of challenges in the public sector. This presentation will draw on my work funded by the IBM Center for the Business of Government on Challenge.gov. The webinar will also highlight findings from my recent work that is looking at how to leverage collective intelligence on participatory platforms. I will conclude with guidelines on how to manage ideas within public agencies based on my book, Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas Within Your Organization. To register for the webinar, please click here. The webinar is organized by DigitalGov University.

Speaking at the Society for Information Management’s Advanced Practices Council

headerI will be presenting my research on innovation and intrapreneurship to the Advanced Practices Council (APC) of the Society of Information Management. This presentation is based on my recent book, Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas within Your Organization, and will take place in Atlanta, GA on January 22, 2013.

desouzabookAn organization’s ability to compete and continuously renew itself is contingent upon how well it leverages the idea creators in its midst. When organizations fail to leverage their employees' ideas and when employees stumble in their ability to effectively manage those ideas, the loss of energy at all levels – from individuals to organizations and even to society – is tremendous. In this presentation, I will outline how to drive change within organizations through a focus on intrapreneurship. Intrapreneurship-focused organizations give employees resources, time, and budgets to work on their own ideas because they know that creating space for their employees to be inventive may yield the most valuable contributions. Moreover, these organizations do not simply give employees space and then forget about them. They know how to hold employees accountable for their ideas, support employees in their efforts to develop and commercialize ideas, and encourage the intrapreneurial spirit. Drawing on my research and experience consulting with thirty global organizations, I outlines ways to manage all types of ideas, including blockbusters with the potential to create radically new external products and services, and more incremental innovations for improving internal processes. With practical frameworks and real life examples for both employees and managers, I will help you to identify the value in your own ideas and those of others to ultimately benefit your organization. In today’s competitive environment, an organization is only as good as its ability to manage ideas. Successful organizations will be able to design, build, implement, and sustain intrapreneurship processes that are superior to those of their competitors. It is through these processes that organizations will be able to act quickly and effectively to introduce new products and services, avoid blind spots, and attract and retain the best minds around.