Do Developers Need a Hippocratic Oath?

Jeffrey Hammond

"I will utterly reject harm and mischief."

These words, taken from the Hippocratic oath, are ones that I think application development and delivery professionals should consider carefully as we watch the latest example of "Software eating the world" gone wrong. In this case the software algorithms in the "defeat device" that Bosch created for VW defeated emissions testing for millions of diesel cars. Now, 7 years later, VW is setting aside $7.3 billion to remediate the result. But this is just the latest example of developer complicity in creating algorithms of questionable quality. Consider:

  • Facebook's manipulation of users' news feeds. In 2014 Facebook revealed that it had manipulated the news feeds of over half a million randomly selected users to change the number of positive and negative posts they saw. It was part of a psychological study to examine how emotions can be spread on social media.
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World Retail Congress and kicking the discounting habit

George Lawrie

McGarrigle, Chairman of the World Retail Congress, makes his keynote opening address. © World Retail Congress



If you follow me on Twitter or if you attended WRC at the beautiful Cavalieri hotel in Rome  you’ll know that I had the privilege to moderate a panel of distinguished retailers to discuss the subject of discounting, specifically selling for less than the planned margin.

One of the event’s sponsors JDA had earlier presented data from a survey of retail leaders showing that their top foiur risk concerns included : increasing competitive threats (41%); margin erosion and cost reduction (39%); data security threats (25%), and attracting and retaining customers (24%).

Our panel, hosted by Congress sponsor and price optimisation software vendor Revionics, tackled the margin erosion issue asking: ‘How do we kick the discounting habit?’. The panellists, ranging across wholesale, fashion and apparel and general merchandise sectors, established a consensus view that discounting for its own sake, without a clear strategic goal and tactical execution, could be more damaging than beneficial to the bottom line – as was also arguably seen more recently with some of the more negative sentiment generated around Amazon Prime Day, as well as Black Friday.

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Some Thoughts On Shippable Software And Microservices

Ted Schadler

Stop reading now if you don't care about the machinations, architectures, and human reality of software. This post is for software philosophers and architects.

Dries Buytaert, the founder and core committer in chief of open source Drupal (according to Built With, the second most popular content management system software among the top million web sites) posted thoughtfully on keeping his open source software always in a shippable state. He writes this after a 3-year delay in releasing Drupal 8:

"We [will] create a feature branch for each major feature and only core committers can commit to feature branches. . . . Once we believe a feature branch to be in a shippable state, and it has received sufficient testing, we merge the feature branch into the main branch. A merge like this wouldn't require detailed code review."

This is sensible and now standard practice: Develop new features as decoupled components so committers and software managers can add them to the application without breaking it. That keeps the application always in a shippable state.

But the future of software is more than decoupled components. It also requires highly decoupled runtimes. That's called a microservices architecture: decoupled components available over the Internet as decoupled services. Think of it as a software component exposed as a microservice -- a microservice component. 

A microservice to place an order is decoupled from a microservice to alert you that your shoes have shipped. A microservice to display an image sized to your phone or computer is decoupled from a microservice to paint the page.

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Creating Security Conscious Developers

John M. Wargo
I recently completed preparing a presentation for the Forrester Digital Business Forum in Chicago this fall. The session I’m delivering is on delivering mobile app quality, and through my research, I’ve learned that security is an important part of app quality. My colleagues Michael Facemire and Tyler Shields recently published a report on The Future Of Mobile Security Development and that, plus some experiences I had working with a development team in a previous position, started me thinking about what it takes to make a developer that understands how to code apps securely. The report I listed above covers the security topic well, and makes some recommendations on how the security aspect of app development is likely to change, but beyond security capabilities and tools, how do you ‘create’ the type of developer that understands exactly what to do to build security into their apps?
I know trial and error works, but that’s expensive. Tools exist that can validate security aspects of an application, even tools that enforce security on apps, especially mobile apps, but those are last mile solutions – what do you do to help developers implement solid security into their apps in advance of those tools? If you have insights into this topic, can you reach out to me and let me know? I think this would be an interesting report to write.

CRM is Fragmenting. It's A Controversial Topic

Kate Leggett

CRM purchasing is undergoing a sea change. I see that companies are no longer purchase heavyweight, end-to-end CRM solutions that have had the reputation of being complex, expensive and hard to implement - even if they have great industry specific capabilities. They itend to mpede user productivity with a bloated set of capabilities that many users can't leverage. A number of dynamics driving this change in purchasing behavior:

  • CRM purchases are moving to the cloud. Companies are replacing legacy CRM with SaaS solutions at a higher rate than before.  Cloud CRM has gained traction, as it provides lower upfront costs, better flexibility, and faster time-to-value compared with traditional on-premises applications. It also shifts the burden of software maintenance to the vendor.

  • Cloud CRM extends the life of legacy CRM. Modernizing legacy CRM to support omnichannel customer journeys is a critical priority. Companies are using cloud CRM  to complement and extend on-premises implementations. Cloud  CRM provides the systems of engagement while legacy CRM provides business process support and data management capabilities.

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The Forrester Wave™: Agile Business Intelligence Platforms, Q3 2015

Boris Evelson

Consumers (and B2B customers) are more and more empowered with mobile devices and cloud-based, all but unlimited access to information about products, services, and prices. Customer stickiness is increasingly difficult to achieve as they demand instant gratification for their ever changing tastes and requirements. Switching product and service providers is now just a matter of clicking a few keys on a mobile phone. Forrester calls this the age of the customer, which elevates business and technology priorities to achieve:

  • Business agility. Business agility often equals the ability to adopt, react, and succeed in the midst of an unending fountain of customer driven requirements. Agile organizations make decisions differently by embracing a new, more grass-roots-based management approach. Employees down in the trenches, in individual business units, are the ones who are in close touch with customer problems, market shifts, and process inefficiencies. These workers are often in the best position to understand challenges and opportunities and to make decisions to improve the business. It is only when responses to change come from these highly aware and empowered employees, that enterprises become agile, competitive, and successful.

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George Lawrie

Many of your peers with heavy enterprise investment in SAP, are thinking about the business case for HANA.  In this research we looked at different HANA use cases and at early efforts to learn how to run an enterprise by predicting, in real time, the direction of a stream of granular observations, rather than by waiting for period end and then explaining variances from plan :

But now some firms are migrating to Suite on HANA or more correctly SAP Business Suite Powered By HANA in search of digital transformation opportunities such as the ability to manufacture a batch of one or to target a segment of one. More firms are planning to investigate S4HANA to simplify and streamline their data and processes to get in shape for the more intense competition of a more transparent and digitally empowered economy. We looked here at the stages in planning the transitions the skills and help you will need :

Look out for the next in the series in which we investigate HANA scalability.

B2B eCommerce Sites Must Look Beyond "Rogue" Buyers

Duncan Jones

If you’re trying to use e-commerce in a B2B context, it is no longer safe to ignore the procurement role within your customers’ organization. At the moment you may be able to market and sell successfully direct to end-user customers, but not for long. The growing imperative for chief procurement officers (CPOs) to guarantee compliance with various external laws and internal policies is driving a much tougher stance on so-called rogue buying.

I’ve been studying the customer’s side of B2B e-commerce for a number of years. The clients I speak with work in procurement, finance, and the part of I.T. that supports those two functions. One of their most common questions is: “how can I prevent employees buying stuff directly from sell-side websites?” This used to be purely due to concerns about cost—they assumed that their e-procurement application would direct employees to approved suppliers who would, they believed, be the cheapest. Now, however, the bigger issue is supplier risk. Issues such as corporate social responsibility, conflict minerals, corrupt practices, data security, and so on, are forcing CPOs to be much tougher in preventing purchases from unapproved suppliers.

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BI and data integration professionals face a multitude of overlapping data preparation options

Boris Evelson

Ah, the good old days. The world used to be simple. ETL vendors provided data integration functionality, DBMS vendors data warehouse platforms and BI vendors concentrated on reporting, analysis and data visualization. And they all lived happily ever after without stepping on each others’ toes and benefiting from lucrative partnerships. Alas, the modern world of BI and data integration is infinitely more complex with multiple, often overlapping offerings from data integration and BI vendors. I see the following three major segments in the market of preparing data for BI:

  1. Fully functional and highly scalable ETL platforms that are used for integrating analytical data as well as moving, synchronizing and replicating operational, transactional data. This is still the realm of tech professionals who use ETL products from Informatica, AbInitio, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and others.
  2. An emerging market of data preparation technologies that specialize mostly in integrating data for BI use cases and mostly run by business users. Notable vendors in the space include Alteryx, Paxata, Trifecta, Datawatch, Birst, and a few others.
  3. Data preparation features built right into BI platforms. Most leading BI vendors today provide such capabilities to a varying degree.
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The Breathtaking Future of Software Development -- It's Already Here!

Michael Facemire

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" -- William Gibson

I recently drove a Tesla for the first time. As a kid that grew up in a car dealership (my father and grandfather both owned one) I grew up with a love of cars, speed, and pushing limits. Driving that Tesla changed everything; as a developer I'm starting to feel a experience a similar set of feelings. Developers love change -- and technology provides a constant stream of bright shiny objects for us to chase. Fortunately we're being blessed by many of these objects to chase lately -- to the point that the current velocity of change _around everything we do_ is starting to take my breath away! I equate it to driving a Tesla at the edge of ludicrous mode; incredibly exciting with the knowledge that one false step means sure peril. The areas that are currently exciting me are:
The Web plumbing is changing. Earlier this year the Internet Archive put out a call to help building the new distributed web. They point to a number of challenges around the current web -- it's fragile, not reliable, not private, and needs a way to keep track of changes over time. Fortunately some early options are appearing about that I'm digging into, particularly Ethereum, IPFS, Blockchain, and HTTP/2. Each of these brings significant change to how we build, deploy, and scale applications.
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