Albada Jelgersma Coats of Arms

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It turns out there is large amount of family crests that I am associated with. I thought it was a great project to start with Pinterest.

So check this out: http://pinterest.com/pajonline/albada-jelgersma-coats-of-arms/.

If have additional info on each of my “Pins” – leave me a comment.

How are my friends helping you make the change?


[This blog post is a repost of http://blog.atos.net/sc/2011/12/16/watch-this-space-how-my-friends-are-helping-you-to-make-a-change/ ]


Are you a good manager?

That may be a difficult question to answer these days. Different managers manage different things and therefore need different skills.

Their skill set can be seen like a Swiss Army Knife, on which every item on the Army Knife represents a different skill.

Now, let us talk about your skills to manage change. You will easily find out you need not only knives but also scissors, pinchers and most likely other items on the Army knives as change is a complex thing to manage.

The Atos Scientific Community also studied the aspect of organizational change and came up with an additional toolset for you; Social Network Analysis.

The reason for looking into this was the overall feeling that social networks show the informal organizational structure of a company.

This is addressed in a whitepaper on the subject:

“Informal networks have always played a huge role in how works get done in organizations, as many strategically important networks don’t reside on the formal organization chart. Good managers have understood the role of these networks and people who know how to leverage them. “

I already knew that and you probably did so too. However, making sure you understand this informal network before you implement a change was always a very difficult thing to do.

You must recognize that, after the change, your employees, team members and others will be able to tell you why moving a particular person to another part of the organization was a bad idea; you yourself may even notice that some parts of your organization are not running smoothly anymore. So you change something again, and again, and again.

There is another way:

“(…) what is different today is that there are now tools & methods available to get insight in these informal networks. That is what Social Network Analysis (SNA) does. It helps you to find out the underlying, informal structure in organizations. It involves the mapping and measuring of these normally invisible relationships between people and provides the company with an organizational X-ray. Key in understanding and managing networks is to find the critical connectors or the unofficial organizational roles.”

and:

“Would it not be great if you could reveal the real experts in your enterprise and who is accessing them. Target opportunities where increased knowledge flow will have the most impact and also detect information bottlenecks. Or detect opportunities for increased innovation, productivity and responsiveness. “

These insights in the way we can utilize social networks to implement successful changes in your organization is addressed by the authors.

There is even a bigger benefit. By using Social Network Analysis in a structured way, you may find a method to continuously change your organization to meet the changing business goals and still be as effective as possible.

Understanding your blind spots in your social connections may even be as important as understanding your portfolio and your competition:

“There are no “right” or “wrong” network structures; there are just networks that may be less effective in achieving their goals. If (…) organizations undertake social network analysis, it can help them to find the blind spots and manage the gaps which can lead to smarter organizations. “

Do you agree? Are you already using Social Network Analysis for organizational change? Do you see pitfalls, problems and obstacles? Let me know.

Big Data – Big Problems?

International Bibliography of Periodical Liter...

International Bibliography of Periodical Literature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


[This blog post is a repost of http://blog.atos.net/sc/2011/12/09/watch-this-space-big-data-%e2%80%93-big-problems/ ]


When you run out of space in your cupboard, you go out and buy a new cupboard. You might even choose a similar model so it looks good in your bedroom or kitchen.

If you run out of floor-space in your house, the problem is a bit more complex from a financial point of view – but the solution is similar.

I think we had, for many years, the same expectation in IT. If we ran out of storage, we would buy additional storage. Well, it seems we need to wake up and face the problem, because the solution is not that simple anymore. In a published whitepaper from the Atos Scientific Community (“Open Source Solutions for Big Data Management”) I read:

“[…] several major changes in the IT world have dramatically increased [data storage and processing needs] rate of growth.

[…] Computer capabilities have not increased fast enough to meet these new requirements. When data is counted in terabytes or petabytes, traditional data and computing models can no longer cope.”

This problem forces us to have a different view on storage and database technologies.

Traditional databases that use a relational model cannot process the data quick enough and adding additional computing power and memory is not the solution.

The issue is luckily addressed by storage and database vendors – they coined the term “Big Data” and are developing new solutions to make sure we can cope with the rapid increase in the information we want to be available online.

Unfortunately the impact of these new technologies is big (no pun intended) and there is limited experience in the way the technology is applied successfully and sustainable.

Some vendors are looking towards changes in hardware and provide dedicated storage-boxes that are hardwired to handle large databases or large data-files. Others are looking to provide solutions using new database software.

Most of the software developers and vendors that are facing big data issues are reconsidering the ‘traditional’ relational database model and are bringing new ‘NoSQLdatabase models into view.

Based on the amount of marketing and buzz , this ‘NoSQL’ seems to be the next best thing to go with for these type of solutions.

So, do we really need all of this stuff? The Scientific Community whitepaper claims:

“In most situations, using NoSQL solutions instead of RDBMS (relational database management systems – paj) does not make sense in cases where the limits of the database have not been reached. Although, given the current exponential growth of data storage requirements, these limits are increasingly likely to be reached in the future. Unless RDBMS evolves quickly to include more advanced data distribution features, NoSQL solutions will become more and more important.”

The specialists have spoken – it is important. We need to care and we need to take action.

Additional problem is that the field is evolving quickly, good solutions are provided by small companies and will soon become part of large providers through acquisitions or other business activities.

I also expect some patent-conflicts (do we not love those?) and maybe some bad choices leading to loss of data.

My recommendation is you start looking for areas in your organization where this challenge will become a problem very soon. Ask your systems administrator about the time they need to do backups of databases and restore times. Ask your system developers if they foresee issues with your next generation document management or transaction processing system.

And while you are at it – ask your business analyst about the data they need to create meaningful business intelligence reports (and how much time it takes to create them). This will give you a good overview of your Big Data improvement areas.

Do not ask your vendor before having done an internal assessment. You do not want to be stuck with the wrong technology.


The Atos whitepaper can be downloaded here


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Are the financial markets going for an uncontrolled science fiction scenario?

English: Photograph shows stock brokers workin...

Image via Wikipedia


[This blog post is a repost of http://blog.atos.net/sc/?p=273 ]


A storm is coming…” (Sarah Conner in “The Terminator”, 1984).

There is more than one doomsday movie that refers to robots or artificial life forms taking over the world. Skynet, introduced in the movie “The Terminator” (James Cameron, 1984), is such a computer based entity that, in the end, almost destroys all of mankind, while it was built with the best intentions.

This scenario came to my mind when I was reading a whitepaper the Atos Scientific Community. In this paper, called “Computational Finance”, the authors show that;

“…New mathematical algorithms, the latest high-performance computer systems and high-frequency trading(HFT) are taking over from human stockbrokers “

On top of this, the effect on the financial markets stability is not fully understood, leading to extreme volatility of the large stock exchanges and their indexes. That does not sound good. Putting our current predicament in an historic perspective:

“In the early 2000s, the biggest banks and hedge funds developed and expanded algorithmic trading. Complex investment strategies and orders, which would have previously needed several days to process and experienced specialists to process them, could be settled in minutes or hours, with almost no human interaction. “

And apparently it did not stop there, because nowadays even more complex methodologies are introduced:

“The current focus is on so-called high-frequency trading (HFT), a sub-class of algorithmic trading strategies aimed at taking advantage of high-performance computing and low-latency communication networks. Hundreds of stocks are bought and sold in the blink of an eye, with some orders lasting only a handful of microseconds. “

Clearly, in a collaborative or competitive arena, where timing of decisions makes a big difference, it is easily understood why such an approach on technology is embraced; and research shows that it is now commonplace:

It is estimated that at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), more than 60 percent of trades are currently carried out without direct human intervention.

By now I am getting worried, because without proper understanding of the relationships between the complex algorithms and interdependencies in the program, we could end up in a situation that is… let’s call it “as of yet undefined”. A situation that apparently already occurred, although on a small scale with only one index:

“Recent events, such as the May 6 2010 stock market crash, when the DOW Jones took the single largest plunge in its history, made the trend for high-performance computing headline news and led people, from the simple newspaper reader to regulatory institutions, to try to figure out just how prevalent HFT really is. The fact is, no one really knows.”

Again, not very reassuring. The current situation can be analyzed in great detail to explain the different financial models and mathematical concepts currently being used and also the technology that supports this progress. The conclusion is crystal clear:

“In order to properly address this issue, it is required to fully assess the current state of art of both new mathematical concepts (used for modeling, forecasting and risk assessment) and the latest associated technological solutions (.e.g. High performance / low latency computing).”

And

With the combination of new Market expectations, Advanced mathematical models and high performance computing leads to new business opportunities: banks & trading agencies, Stock Exchanges, and regulation authorities will new a new set of services, from real-time information flow using sentiment analysis to Intelligent Watchdogs for early anomaly detection.

So, while the whitepaper is an interesting read of where we are and why all this technology is used in the stock markets, it also cries out that we need to get proactive in understanding what we are doing in order to avoid future catastrophic events. What do you think; are we re-enacting ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’, or is Skynet already active?


The whitepaper can be downloaded here


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My interview in “Finance On Windows”

I was fortunate to be invited for an interview in the global magazine "Finance On Windows" (the digital edition can be found here). The interview, titled "The Forefront of Innovation", focused on the role of the Atos Scientific Community and my role as a track leader, focussing on Cloud Computing.

(Paul…) has a personal interest in alternative delivery models and cloud computing in particular. When asked if he considers cloud computing to be transformational, he explains that it depends on one’s definition of the term. "If you consider cloud computing to be a means of standardising IT, it isn’t particularly transformational," he says. "But if it is seen as a means of allowing IT to behave as a service, then that is very significant indeed.

The full interview can be found here (it is on page 26). Other topics can be found on the website www.onwindows.com.