Archive for May, 2013

Texas Senator Cornyn at HomeAway: Patent Reform for Innovators

May 30th, 2013


Today a group of central Texas technology executives gathered at the Austin headquarters of HomeAway where a panel of Austin tech leaders discussed patent trolls and Texas Senator Cornyn’s recently introduced Patent Abuse Reduction Act (or PARA).

PARA strengthens congressional efforts to control unscrupulous patent trolls which now account for the majority of all patent litigation. Existing policy places the burden of defense on innovators which lack the resources and expertise to protect their property and hard work.




The Panel Participants:

Julie Huls – Executive Director, Austin Technology Council

Johnathan Greenberg – SVP, General Counsel, Freescale

Ross Buhrdorf, CTO, HomeAway

John Cornyn, United States Senator from Texas

Joshua Baer, Founder and CTO, Capital Factory

Alan Schoenbaum, SVP and General Counsel, Rackspace

Dekek Willis, General Counsel, Volusion




More here:

Patent Trolls Threaten to Bankrupt Companies and Stifle Innovation by Laura Lorek

S. 1013: Patent Abuse Reduction Act of 2013


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Research | Advisory | Speaking


Summary of the Nebraska IT Symposium

May 25th, 2013


efm Omaha 00

The Nebraska IT Symposium brings together the area’s IT leadership to inspire, to collaborate, and maintain the competitive advantage in an industry that demands more for less. It is recognized as the leading event in the state for IT leaders. The event attracted over 240 executives from more than 84 of the region’s top IT organizations.


Russ Finney

Russ Finney of Stryve | itmWEB starts his presentation about current and future trends in IT.


efm Omaha 00p

Russ Finney


Key areas of interest which could impact IT departments over the next five years:


– Business priorities and the business perception of IT

– Internet and cloud developments

– Security threat evolution

– Mobile – customer and enterprise facing

– Analytics and business intelligence including big data

– e-Learning

– Applications development trends toward ALM, DevOps, and Agile

– The state of packaged software versus SaaS

– IT organization shifts

– Infrastructure and IaaS predictions and outlook


Chris Roberts - One World Labs

Chris Roberts of One World Labs talks about the risk of finding your data on the internet – and how a company can take proactive steps to prevent leaks.


Chance Irvine - Proxibid

Chance Irvine, Director of IT Operations & Infrastructure, Proxibid

He talked about various cloud technology strategies and implications.


Jim Pomeroy

Jim Pomeroy, IT Director, CSO, Seim Johnson

His topic was “Solving Real-World Business Problems with Next-Generation Firewalls”.


Steve Dee, CIO, Hayneedle

Steve Dee, CIO, Hayneedle

Steve gave an insightful talk about “The New IT = iIT: Innovation, Information & Technology”.


Dr. Philip Burian, Chair, Business & Management, Colorado Technical University

Dr. Philip Burian, Chair, Business & Management, Colorado Technical University

He spoke about “LEADERSHIP: Thoughts, Experiences, and Lessons Learned”.


Andrew Buker, Director of Technical Services, University of Nebraska - Omaha

Andrew Buker, Director of Technical Services, University of Nebraska – Omaha

His topic was “Flexpod: Converged Infrastructure for VDI Initiative”.


Shawn Paskevic, CIO, NEBCO - Steve Dee, CIO, Hayneedle - Gary Acromite, CIO, Gavilon

IT Executive Panel

Shawn Paskevic, CIO, NEBCO, Inc

Steve Dee, CIO, Hayneedle

Gary Acromite, CIO, Gavilon

The moderator of the panel was Brian Young, Vice President, Creighton University.


To learn more about itmWEB’s research activities please follow this link:

To see an outline of our advisory services and expertise follow this link:


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Report from the Austin IT Symposium

May 22nd, 2013


efm Austin 00

The 3rd Annual Austin IT Symposium was attended by over one hundred CIO’s and their executive management teams.


Dr. Nickolas Vitalari

Dr. Nickolas Vitalari, Author of The Elastic Enterprise, gives a keynote presentation covering the key concepts contained in his book.


Elastic Enterprise


Here is a sample book excerpt explaining the five key elastic enterprise concepts:


  1. Radical adjacency
  2. Mass differentiation
  3. The new scale economics
  4. Sapient leadership
  5. Active strategy
  6. The five dynamics of the elastic enterprise


Radical adjacency. Adjacency moves are notoriously difficult for companies to make. Elastic enterprises are showing it is possible to make radical adjacency moves, moves into geographical markets or new product areas that do not reflect a company’s core competency. In fact radical adjacency redefines core competency (more of which later). It means stepping outside the core and operating in new markets with assurance and ease. Elastic enterprise leaders typically implement radical adjacency strategies.

Mass differentiation.  Markets can no longer be segmented on traditional demographic lines. In a new global economy companies must elicit market segments from data and customer interaction. Customers are defining their own needs and their own market reference groups.

In essence the long tail is becoming the market.  That means companies must be capable of offering far more diversity in their product offerings. Expedia, for example, revamped its affiliate program in order to empower affiliates to frame product offerings to their hyper-local, and hyper-niche markets. Instead of one Expedia there were suddenly dozens of new hyper-local, content rich travel offerings in the market. This is typical of an elastic enterprise, creating mass differentiation, and securing great customer loyalty through partners.

The new scale economics.  Mass differentiation is part of the new economies of scale. Traditional scale economics were built by growing a company’s internal resources, through capital investment and hiring. Today scale takes place through ecosystems of freely collaborating third parties.

Sapient leadership.  Because growth takes place through business ecosystems, those free floating collaborations of independent businesses and creative people, leadership can no longer be commanding and demanding.

Both Apple and Amazon have had to concede ground to their ecosystems and their businesses have benefited immeasurably from it.

We call the new leadership sapient because we want to convey a new capability. That is the ability to appear, to an independent ecosystem, as a leader operating on behalf of the mutual interests of the group.

Sapient leaders are constantly in the eye of their peers, are judged by their peers daily, and their peers are running smart, educated, savvy businesses. The relationship matters critically to success. The leader has to be perceived by peers as wise. Like them, the leader will think like a founder.

Active strategy.  In a world where markets undergo global mass differentiation, strategy has to be both continuous (as distinct from episodic) and active – in pursuit of new opportunities that emerge even in real-time.

Active strategy is also defined by the presence of active strategic portfolio management, a continuous creation of new strategic options, and knowing when to execute or to hold back.  Active strategy requires a significant change in the mindset of the senior executive team and the strategy execution process.

The five dynamics of the new operating model.  Finally we will talk about five dynamics of the elastic enterprise. These are business platforms (iTunes for example), business ecosystems, which we already mentioned, universal connectors (technologies that facilitate friction free commerce through automated online interactions, for example RSS feeds and application programming interfaces), Cloud computing (the new friction free IT infrastructure), and of course sapient leadership.

These new capabilities are being driven by global change and by specific technological advances. The most important are mobility and data. Although we allude to these throughout the book, we have chosen not to make this a book about mobility or data. It is specifically about how the capabilities of the elastic enterprise position businesses to exploit the new technological and global landscape of business.

It is about the transformational response to dramatically changing conditions, brought to you by highly effective business leaders.


More information about both Nick and the book can be found here:



Diane Kenyon, SVP of IT, Harden Healthcare, Teri Pennington, Deputy CIO, City of Austin, Jack Yang, VP of Engineering, Home Away, and Steve Williams, CIO, ONR

IT Executive Panel

Nick Vitalari served as the moderator for the forty five minute discussion of “How Leadership Changes in the Elastic Enterprise: Experience from the Field”.

Seated from left to right are Diane Kenyon, SVP of IT, Harden Healthcare, Teri Pennington, Deputy CIO, City of Austin, Jack Yang, VP of Engineering, Home Away, and Steve Williams, CIO, ONR.


To learn more about itmWEB’s research activities please follow this link:

To see an outline of our advisory services and expertise follow this link:


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Summary of RISE Austin 2013

May 20th, 2013


RISE Week offers entrepreneurs a combination of interactive learning sessions, inspiring keynotes, unique competitions, funding opportunities and celebratory networking events.

Here are  a few photos from the RISE Austin event:


Monique Maley 04

Monique Maley, founder of ArticulatePersuasion, talks about the “Top Ten Tips for Presenting your Investor Pitch” – More here:


Rise Opening Keynotes

The opening night session with keynotes was a huge event at the Texas History Museum.


Rise Bijoy Goswami 02

Bijoy Goswami talks about”Weaving the fabric of your team” using his MRE model – more here:


RISE Social Awards

The Dell Social Innovation awards were streamed on the internet to countries all over the world.


Rise Tom Dever

Tamera and Tom Dever talk about how to make money from publishing your own book – more information here:


acl 01 edit

During Thursday night of RISE week a tribute to Lloyd Maines was held at ACL (it was unrelated to RISE – but hey – there is a lot of stuff going on in Austin – especially related to music). The concert was performed at the Austin City Limits – Lloyd has been on the ACL stage more than any other performer.


acl 02 edit

The Dixie Chicks also performed – Natalie Maines is Lloyd’s daughter!


RISE Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits

One Friday morning Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits who are the NYT Bestselling authors of “The Lean Entrepreneur” spoke at the Capital Factory about The Lean Entrepreneur and the Myth of the Visionary. A link to the book can be found here:


More general information about the RISE conference can be found here:


To learn more about itmWEB’s research activities please follow this link:

To see an outline of our advisory services and expertise follow this link:


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Vision Dynamics: Left Brain | Right Brain Thinking

May 14th, 2013


Using Left Brain | Right Brain Thinking To Build Better Teams

Derived from a presentation authored by Russ Finney (Twitter: @rfinney)


What we at itmWEB call “vision dynamics” actually means the process by which people perceive the world around them though their own mental lenses and filters. This is further influenced by which side of the brain a person may favor when processing their never ending stream of sensory information.

Understanding these concepts can you help you to become a better communicator and can help your organization to build better teams!



We use visual clues to make important decisions and assumptions – sometimes when we don’t take the time to study the problem and gather all the facts – our assumptions can be invalid.

Is the helicopter about to land on a red solo cup?



We very quickly gather the context of a problem and make important observations – but what we are describing can look perfectly sensible to ourselves – but may sound farfetched to others.



(Click the image to see the animation)

Some debate exists regarding how good of an indicator the spinning lady is for determining left brain or right brain preferential thinking – but without question people see the spinning orientation differently (clockwise or counter-clockwise). Some can see her rotating both directions.



(Click the image to see the animation)

This graphic can help to see her spinning in the other direction.



Can you find the face in the coffee beans? Right brainers can often find it quickly – left brainers sometimes simply give up the quest.



Do you see one face or two? It is possible to see this image both ways. We tend to highly trust our first perception – and can often be surprised when others see a different image. This dynamic happens within project teams – and it can actually be a strength.


Chairs 01

The large version of this image sees ordinary and somewhat forgetful. But if you study the photo closely you will find that it is actually quite unique.


Chairs 02

Over 5,000 red chairs are lined up on the main street. An image which the brain will probably quickly discard and forget becomes an image which shows a unique perspective never seen before and worth remembering. Finding similar unique and surprising insights to add into business presentations can increase the possibility of having them be retained within the minds of others.


Top View

Is the man running to the left or to the right? Take a moment to decide before reading below.

We tend to make rapid perception decisions based on the context of a question. But what if the question is wrong? Our mind shifts into the framework of the question – and we can then miss important facts based on the filter done by our framework assumptions.

In the case above – the man is not running at all – he is actually laying on a set of stairs.



Are the squares straight or curved?



How about these? Straight or curved?

In both cases the lines are perfectly straight – but we still don’t believe it – we give the benefit of the doubt to our own perceptions. This can also happen within teams of people who bring their own filters and bias to a project.



What season of the year is it in this photo? Take a moment to decide.

Depending on where you live you may choose fall or winter (sometimes in colder countries the observer may choose spring). The coats and white spots are visual clues which we zero in on because of the context of the question.

The other visual information becomes much less relevant. Our inquiry content can focus our mind away from nonessential information.

Including the fact that the newspaper reader is laying flat on his back.

We do the same thing in our own problem solving efforts – we tend to screen out other details to zero in on the needed information – and sometimes this can cause us to filter out important facts – which could have an even bigger impact on an observation or outcome.



Here is the same photo from another angle.



In complex organizations sometimes the information can look a little like this photo – only the most obvious details emerge. Finding more detail requires more visual effort. Executives and project leaders face this dilemma everyday – too many information layers obscuring the essential information.

Another point is that sometimes innovations are hiding in plain sight – but they can be obscured by too many institutionalized processes and too many details

By this point many of the right brain thinkers have probably already found the cat within the photo – the left brainers continued reading.


Comfort Zone

Our left brain likes order and predictability. It thrives on perfecting a process.

The right brain craves creativity and vision – it is always seeking out a new and better way.

Keeping these two drivers in balance is important – not only within ourselves – but within our companies, teams, departments, and projects.

Having advocates perceiving from their dominant mental perception viewpoints (left being textual and process focused – right being visual and creatively focused) can give a totality of view into a team based effort.

Balanced teams remove perception blind spots, insure multi-view lines of sight, inject creativity mixed with discipline, and build a healthy perception tension within combined goal oriented efforts.


Left Right Organization

A simple model to remember is the organization created to build the US at its founding (we can’t confirm the historical accuracy of this model).

If Benjamin Franklin is considered a right brain visual thinker and Thomas Jefferson is considered a left brain textual thinker – then the proper balance was achieved for greater success.

But that is not always enough – in many cases a facilitative personality is needed to guide the combined team toward the balanced and optimal decisions as well as the final goal and outcome.

Are your teams in balance with contributions coming from both right brain and left brain oriented members?



To learn more about itmWEB’s research activities please follow this link:

To see an outline of our advisory services and expertise follow this link:


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Presidential Visit to Austin on Thursday May 9th – Updated

May 9th, 2013


Adding some photos from the President’s visit:


Obama at Stubbs

Eating lunch at Stubb’s BBQ – great food downtown – the ribs are awesome!


Barack Obama, Todd Park, Josh Baer

Walking into the Capital Factory (a start-up incubator) with Todd Park, US CTO and Josh Baer the Capital Factory founder.


Barack Obama, Matt Wensing

Getting a demo at the Capital Factory from Matt Wensing, CEO of Stormpulse.


Obama at Applied

Taking a tour of Applied Materials.


The President is visiting Austin where he will stop by a high school with a focus on technology. He will also visit Applied Materials – a company which manufactures semiconductor production equipment.


Here is today’s schedule for President Obama’s visit to Austin, Texas:


12:15pm     arrives Austin, Texas (ABIA, open press)

12:45pm     tours classrooms (Manor New Tech H.S., travel pool)

1:05pm       delivers remarks  (Manor New Tech H.S., open to pre-credentialed media)

4:00pm      tours Applied Materials Inc. (open to pre-credentialed media)

4:40pm      delivers remarks (Applied Materials, open to pre-credentialed media)

5:35pm      departs Austin, TX (ABIA, open press)


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Report from the Wisconsin IT Symposium

May 9th, 2013



The Wisconsin IT Symposium is recognized as the leading event in the state for IT leaders. The 2013 event attracted over 220 executives from more than 90 of the regions top IT organizations.


efm_wi01 crop

Several hundred IT executives gathered for the morning session in Milwaukee for the 11th Annual Wisconsin IT Symposium.

This was my first trip to the city and I was impressed with the quality of the topics, the great people, and the excellent venue.


Michael J O'Brien, VP of IT for Journal Communications

Michael J O’Brien, VP of IT for Journal Communications gave a keynote presentation about “IT – Moving the Business to the Cloud”.

Michael gave a fantastic overview of the cloud strategy he is following – here is a partial list some of the SaaS products the Journal has implemented:

– ChartBeat

– Diligent

– joget (workflow)

– Visual Revenue

– Coupa

– Salesforce

– RunMyJobs

– Google Apps

In additional he gave good insights into the PaaS/IaaS strategies being employed within the various operations. I found the overview to be really forward looking – and Michael gave a fairly balanced view of the pros and cons of each of the technologies the Journal is using within the cloud.


Mike Biagioli, CIO of Waukesha County

Mike Biagioli, CIO of Waukesha County, speaking about “Mobility and Beyond!”.

The event had dozens of good break-out sessions – Mike’s talk centered on the current state of mobility as well as some new technologies which are out on the horizon.


Vision Dynamics

I gave an overview of “Vision Dynamics: Left Brain | Right Brain Thinking”.

Based on my experience with this material from a week before in Fargo – I beefed this presentation up with a considerable number of surprise photos and cut way down on the decoys – and I feel that it was much better received by the conference attendees. I had fun with the material and I think the lunch crowd did as well – the exercise was well received.

My own self input is that having about ten more minutes to cover the use of the Vision Dynamics techniques a bit more concretely would probably put the final impact touches on the material.

For those who are interested – a longer posting explaining Vision Dynamics – including some of the key photos I have been using in my presentations – and all of the key take-away points I mentioned in Milwaukee can be found here:


Denis Biederman of Actuant

Denis Biederman of Actuant was honored by SIM as the Enterprise IT Executive of the Year.

He it the Global IT Director at his company and his career has spanned over thirty five years!


Nelson Still of Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek

Nelson Still of Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek was honored by SIM as the Corporate IT Executive of the Year.

He serves as the Director of Operations and Information Technology and he is highly focused on goal setting, culture creation, and staff challenge.


Kathy Lang of Marquette University

Kathy Lang of Marquette University was honored by SIM as the Non-profit IT Executive of the Year.

She serves as the CIO of the university and she is all about leadership, communications, and relationships.


Congratulations to the great group of IT professionals who were honored by SIM!


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To see an outline of our advisory services and expertise follow this link:


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North Dakota IT Symposium Update

May 3rd, 2013


North Dakota 01


I attended the North Dakota IT Symposium for the first time and was really impressed by the tight-knit community of IT professionals and vendors who gathered for the event. Several hundred people were in attendance for a day filled with keynotes, break-out sessions, and panels.

I gave the opening keynote which was a presentation around what I call “vision dynamics” which is really a leadership overview of using left brain / right brain thinking to strengthen any team, group, or effort. This is one of my favorite speaking subjects and a great “first thing in the morning” wake-up topic.


Vision Dynamics

I changed this presentation from my long used past version to include an up front walk-through exercise with a number of surprise photos and a number of decoys.

After I finished I realized that the exercise had way too many decoys – and not enough good examples and take-away points. I have since modified the exercise based on feedback from a number of attendees who were kind enough to discuss their experience with me in Fargo.

The following week I gave the same talk again in Milwaukee – and I feel that it was improved in both content and flow (most of the changes I made can be seen through the link below).

My thanks to Fargo for showing me the way on this one…

For those who are interested – a much longer posting explaining the concepts of Vision Dynamics – including some of the key photos I have been using in my presentations and all of the key take-away points – can be found here:


A great day of break-outs and sessions

Four different breakout tracks were running – so I had a big challenge to decide which sessions to attend throughout the day.

The first session I went to was an overview of Identity Management given by Gary Inman who is the SVP of IT at Bell State Bank & Trust – and he is a really good speaker as well. Gary gave a good overview of the challenges, opportunities, and technologies which are the key highlights of this topic. Bottom line – provisioning and single sign-on are in the early stages but we still have to embrace and adopt these approaches in our enterprises.

Next I attended a breakout given by Marc Windahl (who also moderated the afternoon CIO panel) about EMV and all the new changes rolling out for credit card transaction processing. Marc is the VP of IT at Scheels All Sports. This was probably the best overview I have ever seen on the topic – Marc has a complete understanding of the complex challenges and he can discuss the various issues and details with clarity. I came away with a much better understanding of the very big task facing retailers over the next few years.

The lunch keynote was Lizabeth Lehrkamp from the FBI who gave an overview of the state of security and cybercrime. I have now already changed my passwords and cleaned up my Dropbox folders. Seriously.

The last breakout I listened to was a presentation about STEM efforts in North Dakota given by Doug Dean who is an IT Systems Manager at John Deere. Recruiting technology people to North Dakota is a bit of a challenge (but I thought Fargo was a great place and absolutely worth checking out for work – especially since Microsoft has a big footprint in the city with a big and modern campus for Dynamics development). The STEM effort is all about growing local talent to fill the high technology jobs which are an important part of the Fargo economy. Doug gave a good overview of all the STEM projects which are thriving with a good dose of local corporate support.

The final event was the CIO panel which was done with a wide flow across all of the same IT issues I hear everywhere that I travel. These are seasoned IT executives – and I came away with the feeling that the IT departments of the Fargo business, government, and educational community are in very confident hands.


Ryan Stall - Border States Electric - Pete Lambertz - Noridian - Gary Inman - Bell State Bank & Trust

IT Executive Panel:

Ryan Stall – Border States Electric

Pete Lambertz – Noridian

Michael Troy –  First International Bank & Trust

Gary Inman – Bell State Bank & Trust


Keep an eye on this page for downloadable research reports related to the topics above:

To see an outline of our advisory services and expertise follow this link:


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