Stories by Simon Sharwood

High expectations

"China", my chief financial officer said to me at the start of what I thought was a casual chat as we both packed up to leave for the day, "can close a quarter in a fortnight."
"I'm sorry?" was all I got out as a reply.

Written by Simon Sharwood05 May 10 22:00

Blocking blunders

"What did you get for Christmas?" my deputy asked as we both returned to the office for the first time in 2010.

Written by Simon Sharwood05 Feb. 10 22:00

The misfits

A Chief information officer friend just called in a state of excitement that reminded me of a five-year-old on Christmas morning.
"I'm allowed to hire someone, Simon," he enthused. "We're adding a whole, new, permanent person to the payroll. We'll need a new desk, a new chair. Pencils. Computer. The lot."

Written by Simon Sharwood06 Dec. 09 22:00

Playing it safe

The middle of a global financial crisis is a bad time for nasty surprises, so my heart leaped into my mouth when I walked into my monthly catch-up with the chief executive and found our chief financial officer, Frank, there too.
"I have to offshore some jobs without being eaten alive by the media," the CEO said. "I won't have the time to be a decent manager while that's going on and you deserve better than that. So I've decided you'll be reporting to Frank from now on. You two play nicely."

Written by Simon Sharwood27 April 09 22:00

A grassroots approach

A funny thing happened recently: a very, very large IT company asked
me to travel more than 20 kilometres on congested city roads at peak

Written by Simon Sharwood13 Dec. 08 22:00

Brave new world

On the day the global financial systems melted down, a mate who is a
chief information officer at a bank called me with gallows humour in

Written by Simon Sharwood02 Nov. 08 22:00

Collaborate, don't pontificate, in the new social era

The central tenet of Web 2.0 is that online audiences are no longer mute drones to be lectured from on high. Audiences now have the tools to talk back and expect the organisations they acquire goods and services from to at least acknowledge their input.
Yet businesses who decide to adopt these interactive technologies sometimes find that that they cannot apply the same principle to the networks they create for themselves. Commercial social networking services allow some customisation, but are not entirely open to their users shaping the experiences they offer to their own, closed, communities. Nor are these services private. Some social networks allow closed communities, with users' data only made available to pre-approved persons. But they are not entirely exclusive.

Written by Simon Sharwood09 Sept. 08 22:00

Attack of the killer Bs

If your first attempt at guessing the function of a central processing unit involves imagining it at the heart of a Stalinist bureaucracy, or if you think biometrics is a new exercise fad, then brace yourself for business process management (BPM), a practice (and acronym) for which a universally agreed definition is elusive.
"Is it work flow?" asks Hydrasight analyst Michael Warrilow. "Or is it business rules integration? Or business process definition?"

Written by Simon Sharwood07 July 08 22:00

Wonks in solidarity

I'm sorry to break this to you, but one of your colleagues thinks you are aggressive, unreasonable and habitually mean.
Before you get all offended about this, I can redeem you. To understand how, know that the person who dislikes you so much is your business' contact centre manager.

Written by Simon Sharwood03 July 08 22:00

Sound bytes

In the blizzard of news, commentary and advice written about IT, you don't often hear technology's tools telling their own story. In this series of exclusive but anonymous interviews, we redress the balance.
Interview 1: The server

Written by Simon Sharwood12 June 08 22:00

Idle no more

One of the technology industry's many dirty little secrets is the fact that computers spend a lot of their time doing almost nothing.
To understand why, consider a business process you only run every couple of weeks, like processing a payroll. Because it is so sensitive and simply has to happen on a few days of the month, businesses tend to acquire a large, powerful computer that can process a payroll without ever really being taxed to the point at which the process will be disrupted.

Written by Simon Sharwood28 April 08 22:00

Introducing: Remote deletion

BlackBerrys and other portable computing devices are often recognised as a serious threat to the social life - and sometimes even the marriages - of their owners. Businesses that dole them out to executives are now realising that these devices are also a serious threat to the security of their most precious information.
The threat comes from the fact that mobile devices can contain sensitive information, yet are often taken well beyond the walls of the office and into situations where they could fall into the wrong hands.

Written by Simon Sharwood27 April 08 22:00

Protect privacy

Sages hoping to make their name by adding a new inevitability to the list currently headed by death and taxes could do worse than spend a week or two exploring the information security industry.
The time would be well spent because even the bitterest of foes and fiercest competitors in the industry agree that hackers have morphed from clever kids showing off their skills into deadly serious cyber criminals intent on fleecing anyone and everyone they can find online.

Written by Simon Sharwood15 April 08 22:00

Work wanted

Sydney's inner west is a notoriously hard place to find a taxi late at night. But the many cinemas, pubs and restaurants are not the only cause of the problem. Another important contributor is a small, unsophisticated, Pakistani restaurant not far from the entertainment precinct that sucks cabs off the street thanks to what plenty of expats swear is the most authentic home cooking this side of Karachi.
Another temptation on offer on the restaurant's walls are posters that proclaim that a couple of thousand dollars spent attaining certification as a Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) or Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) could be the ticket out of a cab and into a better job and a better life.

Written by Simon Sharwood23 March 08 23:00

The write stuff

Over the past few months I have been engaged in the writing of a white paper for a significant IT vendor - work I undertake from time to time in order to keep the kids shod and my appreciation of the ridiculousness of corporate life keen. So in case you have ever wondered what goes into one of these documents before they land in your inbox with their promise of white-hot transformational insights, here's how they come into being.
It starts, as do so many things these days, with an email from an old colleague who remembers that I write for a living and am capable of spelling HTML. That achievement is generally accepted as meaning that as a writer I can churn out anything from a 1000-page technical critique of Intel's latest chip to a passable sequel to Hamlet.

Written by Simon Sharwood22 March 08 23:00