Paul Lewis

If they only knew what I actually think....

Blog Post created by Paul Lewis Employee on Feb 28, 2014

(version 2: minor edits from Director of Copying from Source)




    FADE IN to a crisp cold frost-bitten morning, cruising over

    planes sitting at gates while workers prepare them for takeoff

    TILT UP over the airport and FLY IN to a busy, gridlocked highway

    seemingly all headed toward the airport for a daily commute


    As we pass by cars OVERHEAD, we see various people in different

    moods and state of dress including a gentleman using an electric

    shaver and a lady spilling coffee in her lap while work multi-tasking


    FOCUS is changed to a single cheap black domestic car with a blurry

    eyed passenger, half asleep but staring intently out the window

    with both hands on the wheel


    The car pulls up to the long term parking entrance and pauses,

    the owner sighs, and pushes the button to obtain the receipt.

    The owner  drives endlessly around the parkade looking for a
    spot finally reaching the 12th floor, outside, back row




    The car is a mess, with an obviously disheveled owner.  Too

    many days on the road, too much time in the car as can be

    counted by the empty coffee cups scattered in the passenger

    seat and floor.


    Behind the driver is a result of a tornado of children complaining

    of long drives.  Car seats, fast food containers, fast food container

    miniature toys, and bits of fast food are spread across the floor

    and seats. Underneath the mess is more mess. Under that mess,

    still more mess.


    The driver is a little rough around the edges, youthful but

    grey-haired around the temples.  Sipping his coffee, he mentally

    prepares for his next trip that includes the next 90 minutes of

    security and border interviewing


    He glances at the time…


HERO (inside voice)


I still have 14 minutes.  Good. Maybe I can

rest my eyes for just a couple minutes.


    Silence is broken by loud car alarm


HERO (inside voice)


Guess not.


    The HERO unlocks his phone, answer’s two messages and

    takes another glance at the time.


HERO (inside voice)


Another vendor meeting today.  I have to fly 1000

kilometers to hear the same thing..


HERO (with a mocking tone for a vendor)


We know that you have a goal to have world class operations

and your biggest concerns are cost savings, a need to move to

an OPEX financial model, 5 9’s availability, and technology to

address Big Data and Cloud.  And we can certainly help you

achieve those objectives.


HERO (inside voice, with obvious disdain)


As expected, I get to nod and blindly agree as they show me slide

after slide of product features and benefits suited to saving me

money as compared to their competition.  Oh joy.  I can’t wait!


    Another car pulls in beside the HERO.  A family of 6 including 2 parents and 4 children

    under the age of 6.  I think we get the picture, and it’s going to get ugly, soon.


HERO (out loud with animated hand waving)


I can’t do it this time!  I have to tell them the truth!


     The children start crying, and the HERO mimes an apology to the angry parents.


HERO (inside voice, with obvious ranting tone)


No…I have to get them to understand that most of what

they think matters to me, in fact, doesn't.  For the most part the

vendors perception are end results, not the strategy behind the



Take cost savings and OPEX financials as an example.  I

wonder if they realize that most of the IT budget is

allocated to GROWTH initiatives for my business not

            maintenance. 80% of my projects exist to add features,

products and programs to existing or new businesses.

Think “transform and grow” versus “run”.


While there is an expectation for consistent

and stable cost management, and an occasional

expectation of cost reduction, the IT team will be judged

on new value its contributing far more often than dollars

saved per year.  OPEX spending actually requires more approval

and internal decision making than CAPEX.  OPEX requires

new, incremental and re-occurring spending for a budget that

generally needs to be consistent and stable quarter over

            For me to spend more money in OPEX, I need to

save OPEX money to net even WITHIN they operating year.



how and where I spend money before predicting what models

would be most appropriate for me.  I want the vendor to

work with my team to CREATE NEW VALUE far more than

focusing on saving money and work with me to build

innovative financial BUSINESS CASES presentable to the

executive committee to show that value. 


I laugh when I hear the need to achieve 5 or 6 9’s availability.

My business does not launch rockets or land planes.  The equipment

I sell does not saves lives or prevent disease.  And most importantly

the software than I build internally, BARELY achieves 98% availability.

So if the application doesn't even register 2 9’s, I have no expectation

that the infrastructure should be ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE more

            available. In fact, my preference is that the VENDOR builds systems

that ASSUME failure and appropriately recovers versus architecting

solutions that ASSUME the availability requirement is near 100% up-time.


WHAT I REALLY NEED FROM A VENDOR is to understand my business

MUCH MORE than just what is on my website.  I need them to

appreciate the services I provide to my clients, how I earn money

versus how I spend money, what my clients and business partners

expect from the quality and consistency of the services I provide,

and what external factors affect my business decisions.  Only then

will they appreciate how important availability, among other

nonfunctional requirements,  is to my business.


            And lastly my objective to deliver Big Data and Cloud solutions to the

            company. You might as well add SOA, Mobile, 3D printing, Converged,

Augmented Virtual Reality and Gamification. Mega trends are always

context dependent and magic bullets are a myth to solve business issues.

Viable solutions have and always will need commitment discipline, hard

work and skill.


Here is a secret most clients won’t tell you: We generally know about

trending technology even if we don’t understand the details enough to

present the concept to an audience, especially to those companies

who are likely more knowledgeable on the subject.  We generally know

WHAT the trends are, and WHY they may or may not apply to our

            businesses.  What we really don’t know is HOW TO JUSTIFY AND ATTRIBUTE

these technologies in an overall technology strategy that INCLUDES

the interaction and integration with a very long tail of existing solutions.


WHAT I REALLY NEED FROM A VENDOR is help solidifying my technology

strategies based firstly on how my business intends to change in the future,

and secondly how the change in technology over time should apply to

my business evolution or revolution.  I also need the vendor to FULLY

UNDERSTAND the interaction complexity of new technology.  While its

relevant to have the skillset needed to create a Mobile platform, I need

the vendor to provide experience and case studies so I can plan the impact

of hordes of new data created from the platform, and what elasticity is

needed from the infrastructure to provide for a much less predictable

usage pattern from my client base.



is this:  We want to help, but we need to know a lot more.

We are going to spend the first 4 hours understanding your business,

understanding your IT program delivery and spending requirements, and

your perspective on trending technologies and how they apply to your strategy.

The following 4 hours will be providing our experience in the industry and our

engineering expertise to help you to flush out your strategies, build justification

and context around your technology decision making, and help provide a

provable business case to show the real value you can and will provide to

your organization.  Our goal is to make you look good.


            That would certainly be worth the trip.


    He glances at the time…


HERO (in a loud voice)


Uh oh.  Late as usual.


    The HERO quickly escapes the car, retrieves his bags from the trunk,

    and as usual forgets to lock the car.



    Snow is settling on the pathway, covering up the ice the staff forgot to

    salt.  The future holds many falls from people in expensive suits.


    We CRANE UP as the HERO walks toward the parkade elevator, tripping

    over his coat belt in the process.  Swearing, he pushes the button down.