Thursday, July 23, 2015

IT & Enterprise Architecture Conference 2015 - Day 2

Today was the second and final day of the IT & Enterprise Architecture Conference 2015. Below is a summary of my key notes.

Going beyond IT. What EA can really mean for your organisation
John Pearson, Business Architect, IAG
  • Consider the Demand vs Supply side of architecture
  • IAG is using traditional TOGAF domains (Information, Application, Technology Infrastructure and Security) with business architecture being used to better align with the demand from the business
  • Enterprise Business Motivation Model (EBMM) - Accenture, Nick Malik (
    • anchor diagram for business architecture
    • using to understand change impact
  • Bake business architecture approaches in early in the architecture journey
  • Understand the business, its priorities and where value can be added
  • Understand architecture capabilities in service to the business
  • Understand key stakeholder needs and communication preferences
  • Become involved in the strategy conversation
    • Technology Strategy - development and alignment
    • Corporate Strategy - business strategy development
    • Divisional Operating Model - operating model
    • Digital Strategy - knowledge of distribution models and digital opportunity
  • Build credibility through insight, advice and technology knowledge
  • Have a kit bag of techniques and visual props
  • Move from being regarded as a technologist to being a business enabler
  • Apply business architecture principles to our own “EA business” (c.f. Business Model Canvas for EA)
    • Business Model
    • Key Capabilities
    • Operating Model
  • TOGAF World Class EA is useful to guide demand and guide supply (
  • Elicit guiding business principles prior to programme execution
  • Metrics are being evolved to measure EA team, but include
    • System reduction
    • Business satisfaction with EA team

Business Transformations: How to survive high rates of change
Ian Bedwell, Strategy and Architecture Manager, Foodstuffs North Island
  • 130+ full time people creating a new retail platform, $150m total to complete
    • SAP-based
    • New business process
  • Moved from onsite data centre to using Datacom for data centres and this has been a good experience
  • Had lots of disparate systems, primarily due to acquisitions / mergers
  • With a merger
    • Do we understand the degree of changes needed?
    • What do we need first? second? ….
    • What do we need to stop? start? change?
    • Understand possible priority conflicts across the execs
    • Why are we doing this?
    • What will the new company look like?
    • Ensure Management is committed
    • Align Performance measures and rewards
  • Vision —> Strategy —> Action
  • Business change is NOT about technology
  • Factor in the people elements first, above technology and process otherwise you will fail
  • What staff see is more influential than what staff hear
  • Do practical reinforcing stuff
    • Join up the networks
    • Normalise rules
    • Give equal access
    • Make step changes
  • Understand risk vs reward appetite
  • Speed of execution vs risk of rework
    • c.f  over analysing vs gut instinct based on experience
  • People risk and capability risk are likely to be an order of magnitude greater than technology risk
  • Principle: Permission to fail (as long as you never impact the customer)
  • Be open and as fast as practical with people impacts
    • Organisational uncertainty will make people vote with their feet
  • Technology exists to server the business not the other way around. Don’t lose site of the goals
  • Giving certainty sooner is better than technical elegance too late
  • Do not expect due diligence to discover the “nasty” things hiding under “rocks"
  • Keep partners and suppliers up to date with thinking - even if it may appear to be negative to them
  • Prioritisation and governance and more prioritisation
  • Moving to being customer led
    • From from “I have a deal for you” to “What does the customer want?"
  • New POS terminals know the price of all products on that day for if they go offline

Extending company’s boundaries. A security perspective
Ofer Reshef, Manager - Security & Risk, Fonterra
  • shows real time attacks around the world
  • Time to compromise is getting faster and faster
  • Identity management is often a key perimeter
  • Vision for cyber security at Fonterra: Sharing information with confidence on any platform
  • “How experts gain influence: HBR July 2013 (
    • Trailblazing
    • Tool making
    • Team working
    • Translation
  • 43% of users directly re-use passwords across sites
  • There is a company that can phish you on request
    • 20% of users will click on phishing package email on average
  • Can buy denial of service as a service
  • shows world-wide denial of service attacks
  • What business data can go externally?
    • Use a Impact vs Duration scale
  • Cross-boundary data encryption can be useful with business partners
  • Fonterra has a Enterprise Security Architecture that defines key activities and patterns for solutions
  • US Department of the Interiors Cloud Computing Technologies has criteria for assessing cloud providers (

Strategic vs Tactical – the eternal debate
Alexey Zhavoronkov, Domain Architect, Vodafone New Zealand
  • Classes of tactics
    • Strategy aligned
    • Strategy neutral
    • Strategy negative
  • Strategy and tactics are tightly connected
    • Strategies without tactics are fantasy
    • Tactics without strategy is chaos
  • Understand What (Strategy), Why (Business Vision) and How (Execution) of a solution. These need to work in sync.
  • EA practice
    • Business capability map (based on eTom)
    • As Is business & technology landscape
    • To be business & technology architectures
    • Review current system & project states (strategy aligned, neutral, negative)
    • Transition architectures & roadmap
    • Governance
  • Are you too busy to improve?

Delivering value through Big Data
Phillip Higgins, Big Data and Analytics Architect, SAS Institute (@HigginsPhillip)
  • Volume, Variety and Velocity
  • Big Data Analytics Top Priorities (Source: Gartner Sept 2013)
    • 1. Enhanced customer experience
    • 2. Process efficiency
    • 3. New products/business models
    • 4. More targeted marketing
    • 5. Cost reduction
    • 6. Improved risk management
    • 7. Monetise information directly
    • 8. Regulatory compliance
  • New Zealand: Trends and Use Cases
    • NZ cautious about adoption
    • A number of businesses have plans or are devising strategies for Big Data
    • Where are NZ companies at
      • Educate 35%
      • Explore 35%
      • Engage 25%
      • Execute 5%
    • Customer insight is #1 use case
      • Customer Lifecycle Management
      • Total Customer Experience
  • Thomas Davenport “Big Data @ Work” is worth checking out
  • Promote constant learning for staff
  • Patterns for Big Data (levels of maturity)
    • Store and Explore
    • Predictive Analysis
    • Actionable Analysis
  • EDW can be a Big Data data source
  • Big Data moves beyond the structured EDW construct to handle all types of data
  • NoSQL + Hadoop (HDFS and MapReduce) recommended
    • Hive - SQL access for Hadoop
    • Impala
    • Spark - next generation processing engine for Hadoop

Enterprise Architecture and true agility, lessons from mobile development
Steve Greenley, Independent Enterprise Mobility Consultant
  • Examples of mobile disruption:
    • Uber disrupting the taxi industry
    • Google Maps for navigation and routing based on traffic
  • “Today, companies have to radically revolutionize themselves every few years just to stay relevant. That's because technology and the Internet have transformed the business landscape forever. The fast-paced digital age has accelerated the need for companies to become agile.” Nolan Bushnell
  • Types of Mobile App:
    • Native
    • Hybrid
    • HTML5
  • ionic ( is Steve’s favourite framework at the moment for producing lots of mobile apps rapidly. Being used in Fletchers innovation lab.
  • Integration approaches for mobile (from most to least desirable)
    • REST
    • SOAP - sometimes too heavyweight for mobile solutions
    • Direct database access
    • Screen scraping
  • Embrace Agile Principles
  • True agility
    • Reducing overheads in the delivery process
    • Applying best practice to get things right first time, more of the time
    • Application templates
    • Component re-use
    • Writing only as much software as necessary

21st Century Organisations and what we can learn from game designers
Owen McCall, Managing Director, SuccessfulCIO (@OwenMcCall)
  • Only 20-30% of the workforce is engaged. Since there is a skills shortage, they can find work elsewhere.
  • Adapted from Heskett et al.
    • Design Work —> Create Engagement —> Exceptional Service —> Produce Results
    • Customer advocacy is fundamental to achieve great results. Create exceptional customer service consistent with your brand, utilising a highly engaged team. Build an organisation that builds a team focussed on supporting your team to be successful.
  • Engagement is key
  • Game designers are the best in the world at creating engagement
    • People pay to use the game
  • What is it that MMO game architects do that can be learnt from to drive better engagement?
    • Context - tell you what you are going to be doing
      • Overall purpose
      • Your role
      • What you need to do now
    • Clear objectives
      • measurable and time-constained
    • Understand capability
      • build skills and capability over time
    • Feedback / Progress
    • Rewards
      • Individual or Group awards
    • Support
      • FAQs, Forums
    • A game never prescribes what you need to do, it lets you work out how to do it, since that is how you build skills over time, and it provides avenues to support you.
      • i.e. Don't prescribe what to do, provide autonomy for people to work out how to do something (with support), since that is how they will build skills and get better engaged.
    • Motivation Science (popularised by Daniel Pink in Drive)
      • Autonomy - let me decide how to do my job
      • Mastery - give me the opportunity to improve my skills and capabilities and provide feedback on my process
      • Purpose - how does what I do contribute to a greater goal

EA for benefits realisation – Adapting to the changing environment
Iain Sanders, Managing Director, Game-Changing Innovation
  • Criteria for EA Benefits Realisation
    • EA agility - achieve greater flexibility through customised architectural models
    • EA delivery - 
    • EA maturity
  • John Boyd's OODA Loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act
    • developed from context of winning a dogfight in the air
  • Operate inside customers’ and competitors’ OODA loops
  • Be resilient to change

Embracing the digital age
Denis O’Shea, Chief Executive, Mobile Mentor (@denishoshea)
  • From clicks and keystrokes to swipes and taps
  • Wearables and nearables (e.g. beacons) are here now
    • captures information that provides context
  • Mobile brings unique context to the content
  • Uber is mobile first and mobile only
  • Price of beacons is significantly dropping. They will be in more and more assets moving forward.
  • 3 Beacon zones
    • Far
    • Near
    • Immediate
  • Beacon apps typically need to integrate with many systems; CRM, CMS, Alerts & Notifications etc.
  • Retail Use Case: Proximity based offers
  • Transportation Use Case: Real time traffic data
  • Hospitality Use Case: Hilton lets you skip the front desk and then provides you instructions where to go and to get into your room
  • Arts Use Case: Proximity based information on the art
  • Denis’ expectation is there will probably move to a multi-tenanted architecture where beacons for multiple organisations are handled by centralised companies and notifications can be centrally managed (e.g. by Westfield).

Summary of my key takeaways

  • Move from being regarded as a technologist to being a business enabler
  • Apply business architecture principles to our own “EA business” (c.f. Business Model Canvas for EA)
  • Elicit guiding business principles prior to programme execution
  • Factor in the people elements first, above technology and process otherwise you will fail
  • What staff see is more influential than what staff hear
  • People risk and capability risk are likely to be an order of magnitude greater than technology risk
  • Giving certainty sooner is better than technical elegance too late
  • Keep partners and suppliers up to date with thinking - even if it may appear to be negative to them
  • 20% of users will click on phishing package email on average
  • US Department of the Interiors Cloud Computing Technologies looks useful for assessing cloud providers
  • Strategies without tactics are fantasy; Tactics without strategy is chaos
  • Assess initiatives as to whether they are strategy aligned, neutral or negative
  • NZ companies have been cautious about big data adoption but this is now starting to grow momentum with a key focus being customer insight
  • Today, companies have to radically revolutionize themselves every few years just to stay relevant.
  • Consider ionic ( as a mobile application framework
  • Only 20-30% of the workforce is engaged. Since there is a skills shortage, they can find work elsewhere.
  • Learn from MMO game architects about driving better engagement (context, clear objectives, under capability, feedback / progress, rewards, support)
  • Don't prescribe what to do, provide autonomy for people to work out how to do something (with support), since that is how they will build skills and get better engaged.
  • Mobile brings unique context to the content
  • Price of beacons is significantly dropping. They will be in more and more assets and locations moving forward.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

IT & Enterprise Architecture Conference 2015 - Day 1

Today I attended the first day of the IT & Enterprise Architecture Conference 2015 at the Crowne Plaza in Auckland. This was my first time at the event and it was a good opportunity to network with the wider IT & Enterprise Architecture community. Below is a summary of my key notes.

Setting the scene: Enterprise Architecture 2015-2025
Craig Pitout, Senior Manager IT Advisory, EY (@CraigPitout)
  • Cloud, Mobility, Big Data and Social Media are key forces of Digital Disruption
  • Themes affecting enterprise agility
    • Customer centric
    • Product centric
    • Internal efficiency
    • Regulatory requirements
  • Force for uniqueness vs Force for commonality
  • Quantifying the impact
    • Innovation impact vs Value potential
      • Disruptive - disrupt the core
      • Adjacent - change and expand
      • Sustaining - incremental improvements
  • EY Business Reference Model - Agile (

  • Agile behaviours
    • Responsiveness to change
    • Value-driven
    • Practical experimentation
    • Empowered, self-managing teams
    • Customer communication and collaboration
    • Continuous improvement
    • Respect for people
  • W123 - World-Class EA: The Agile Enterprise (
  • The six qualities of business architecture
    • Stakeholder experience
    • Risk
    • Alignment
    • Efficiency
    • Agility
    • Business Achievability
  • W146 - World-Class EA: Business Reference Model (
  • Moving forward
    • Become a digital practice
    • Build a business architecture capability
    • Establish agility goals
  • In addition to To Do list build a To Don’t list

Facilitating system transformation across the Public Sector
Regine Deleu, All-of-Government Enterprise Architect, The Department of Internal Affairs (@rdeleu)

  • Five Business Areas
    • New Zealand Society
    • Individuals and Communities
    • Businesses
    • Civic Infrastrcture
    • Government 
  • Data and Information
    • Motivators
      • Plans
      • Controls
      • Contracts
    • Entities
      • Parties
      • Places
      • Items
    • Activities
      • Cases
      • Events
      • Services
  • Nine Application and ICT Services Domains
    • Corporate Application
    • Common Line of Business Applications
    • Specialist Line of Business Applications
    • End User Computing
    • Identity and Access Management Services
    • Security Services
    • Data and Information Management Services
    • ICT Components, Services and Tools
    • Interfaces and Integration
  • Four Infrastructure Domains
    • Platform
    • Network
    • End User Equipment
    • Facility
  • Structure and Artefacts

  • Accelerate Delivery Methodology (ADM)

CIO perspective: Leveraging the value of EA
Mike Clarke, CIO, SKYCITY Entertainment Group
  • Proactively engage with business leaders on new ideas and enhancements
  • Conversations distill into four pillars
    • Digital Transformation
    • Business Alignment & Direction
    • IT Structure and Cost
    • Security
  • Business strategy has an IT delivery mechanism (c.f. IT strategy and delivery aligned to business strategy)
  • "Cloud computing is not a technical construct, it is a commercial construct"
  • Delivering value
    • Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?
    • Pragmatic
      • Sufficient documentation, sufficient governance, sufficient testing
    • Meets business need / solves the business problem
    • Accelerates time to business value
    • Makes the solution easier to support
    • Makes the solution easier to expand
  • Data is a key enabler to make decisions and drive change
  • Attitude, Skill & Knowledge (ASK) is key
  • Pragmatic approach
    • Avoid an academic approach
    • Purpose before action
    • When / where required
    • Focus on business value - investment needs to match the value
    • Focus on improving IT delivery
  • Right people in the right roles
  • Debunking the SaaS myth - i.e. this is not an excuse for not having governance
  • Relationships are key
  • Be as transparent as possible
  • Recruit IT people with a business focus

Value creation. Winning the challenge in small-medium organisations
Angus Wall, Enterprise Architect, Unison Networks
  • Storytelling is super important
  • Where do you invest money? EA is between strategy and system implementation
  • Get involved in the business planning. Move away from strategy being done to us and being part of the process (partnership model).
  • Business Disruption —> Target Business Outcome and Measure —> Architecture Strategy
    • Align architecture strategy to business outcomes
  • Assessing Business Impact
    • Network & Operations
    • Contracting
    • Procurement & Logistics
    • Commercial
    • Finance
    • HR
  • Roadmap done for each domain, then aggregated
  • Business Capability Model (kept at a high level)
    • Manage Risk
    • Sell Unison Products
    • Operate Business
    • Marketing & Communications
    • Operate Network
    • Procurement & Logistics
    • Build & Maintain Network
  • Make sure collateral is published and business focussed

Panel Discussion: EA for management utilisation. Are we on the same page?
Angus Wall, Enterprise Architect, Unison Networks
Michael Tapp, Principal Architect, Cyma (@MichaelTapp2)
Keith Delle Donne, Associate Director, PWC
Martyn Bowis, Enterprise Architect and TOGAF Trainer, Architecting the Enterprise
  • Communication and Relationships is key, understand their motivations
  • Get out of your business unit and engage wider across the organisation
  • Work with the business to assist them with their strategy
  • Be involved in the construction of the Business Plan
  • Have a Business Capability Model and use this as a key discussion vehicle
  • Super-impose a story over a picture the business is familiar with
  • Minimum viable architecture
  • You don’t want headless chicken agile, have guided agile
  • Use industry models (helps with using the same language)
  • You can teach skills, you can’t really teach attitude
  • EA needs to cover with both strategic and tactical initiatives
  • Principles guide decision making
  • Share your vision
  • Set expectations early on (particularly re bad news)
  • Come with solutions, not problems

Masterclass: Bridging the communication gap
Rachael Cotton-Bronte, Director, FLINT-box (@Rachael_CBronte)
  • Communication is the art of being understood
  • "The problem with communication... is the illusion that it has been accomplished” George Bernhard Shaw
  • We live in a time of unprecedented change
  • Diversity is the norm
  • Communication networks are increasingly complex
  • From command & control to power & enablement
  • Communication is essential to organisational success
  • Communication is the key to building trust, promoting understanding, empowering and motivating others
  • Words are like smashed eggs, once they go they go
  • Plan your Message
    • What are the key messages?
    • Why is the message important?
    • What are the possible objections?
    • How will I address any objections?
  • Avoid jargon
  • Don’t make assumptions about levels of knowledge
  • Communicate same message through multiple channels
    • different people prefer to absorb information in different ways
    • Paper, Audio, Video, Phone, Whiteboard
  • Keep content below 111 words
  • "Nothing I say this day is going to teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn I must do it by listening” Larry King
  • Components of communication
    • Physiology 55%
    • Voice tones 38%
    • Words 7%
  • It’s what you don’t say that counts
  • Listen actively
    • Body Language
    • Explore
      • Question Open
    • Reflection
      • Clarify summarisation
  • Understand your audience
    • Think, See, Feel, Do
  • Putting it together
    • 1. Key message
    • 2. Telling the story
    • 3. Layering information
    • 4. Test & Evaluate
  • Talk about the elephants in the room (e.g. risks). Manage expectations.
  • What do different people want?
    • CIO
      • Stability
      • Cost of IT
    • CMO
      • Customer experience
    • CEO
      • ROI
      • Stakeholder complexity
    • CFO
      • Where is most of the money going?
      • Risk
  • How do you measure success? What are your business metrics?
  • Project Managers at e-bay - 50% are INTJ
  • People characteristics
    • Conscientious
    • Dominance
    • Steady
    • Influence
  • 10:20:30 rule for pitching from Guy Kawasaki
    • 10 Slides
    • 20 minutes
    • 30pt font is smallest that should be used

Would you hire yourself? The must-have skillset for proficient Architects
Paulo Rocha, Enterprise Architect, Watercare Services Limited
  • EAs usually come from a variety of different paths; often from IT though and this impacts the perception of EA.
  • Penn State University now has a degree for Enterprise Architecture (, nothing yet in NZ
  • “World Class Enterprise Architecture” framework from the open group is about the “What”
  • EA competency model has 7 core areas. Different roles (e.g. Designer vs Business Architect) require different aspects of this:
    • Analytical Thinking
      • Strategic Thinking
      • Problem Solving
      • Systems Thinking
      • Creative Thinking
      • Critical Thinking
    • Architecture
      • Design
      • Information Analysis
      • Modelling
      • Process Improvement
      • Roadmap Development
      • Scenario Building
      • Standards Development
      • Systems Development
      • System Integration
    • Interpersonal skills
      • Conflict Resolution
      • Emotional Intelligence
      • Influence
      • Integrity
      • Negotiation
      • Political Savvy
      • Relationship Bulding
    • Communication
      • Elicitation
      • Facilitation
      • Oral Presentations
      • Written Communication
    • Finance
      • Cost Benefit Analysis
      • Budgeting
    • Management
      • Asset Portfolio Management
      • Coaching and Mentoring
      • Decision Making
      • Industry Regulation & Compliance
      • Information Management
      • Lifestyle Management
      • Rick Management
      • Project Management
      • Performance Management
    • Leadership
      • Cyber & Information Security
      • Emerging Technology Monitoring
      • Enterprise Change Management
      • Information Assurance
      • Inspirational Direction
      • Policy and Governance
      • Project Portfolio Management
      • Strategic Planning
      • System Quality Assurance
      • Technology Governance
  • Need to also consider experience in addition to skills i.e. leverage lessons learnt through experience

Quick fire session: Where should an EA sit in the corporate organisation?
Paulo Rocha, Enterprise Architect, Watercare Services Limited
Michael Tapp, Principal Architect, Cyma (@MichaelTapp2)
Abhishek Anupuri, Senior Analyst, PWC
Martyn Bowis, Enterprise Architect and TOGAF Trainer, Architecting the Enterprise
  • It is more important about where you can impact change as opposed to where you are in an organisational hierarchy
  • Leadership is about influence rather than a particular title
  • Outcome is more important than output and process
  • With too much process you kill the art

Summary of my key takeaways

  • Continue to embrace agile behaviours (Responsiveness to change; Value-driven; Practical experimentation; Empowered, self-managing teams; Customer communication and collaboration; Continuous improvement; Respect for people)
  • The six qualities of business architecture would be useful for rapidly assessing the impact of an initiative (Stakeholder experience; Risk; Alignment; Efficiency; Agility; Business Achievability)
  • GEA-NZ has some good information publicly available that is worth checking out for evolving an EA
  • Sufficient documentation, sufficient governance, sufficient testing
  • When recruiting in IT, recruit people with a business focus
  • Get involved in the business planning. Move away from strategy being done to you and be part of the process (partnership model).
  • Align architecture strategy to business outcomes
  • Use Business Capability Model to show at a high level where work is occurring
  • Make sure collateral is published and business focussed
  • Communicate same message through multiple channels
  • Physiology is 55% of communication, voice tones 38%, words 7%
  • The EA competency model could be useful for recruitment and working out areas to grow in

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Gather 2015

I attended the inspirational Gather 2015 unconference today. As described on the website for the event “It is the digital, technical and creative community’s big day out”. There were several sessions running simultaneously and it was hard to choose what to go to since there were so many interesting topics. Below is a summary of my key takeaways (or interpretations thereof) from the sessions I attended.

UAVs, Internet of Things, 3DVR: What are we going to do with these things? How do we get us/our companies/NZ to lead the way? What can we do to take advantage? These are the questions - does the room have the answers?

  • Future
    • Skynet
    • Remote Monitoring
    • UAV Tour - e.g. rent a UAV and do tour of Egypt
    • Auto-herding
    • GPS in humans
    • Better battery life
    • Sensors inc. in building beams to say if leak problem
    • Track robber
    • Traffic control
    • Drone based terror
    • Evidence-based thinking
      • Data —> Interpretation
    • Auto milk ordering from fridge
    • Mesh networks / Less centralisation
    • Constant health monitoring / Early detection of problems
    • Ethical choices of how to handle certain things automatically (e.g. auto-brake, auto swerve into car with less people in)
    • Vehicle to Vehicle communications
    • Computer learning
    • Drink drive detection in cars
    • Increased auto detection of breaking the law (e.g. speed detection, lack of registration, lack of WOF)
    • Flexible screen technology whereby from an art perspective could have people involved
    • Sell your body as a working advertisement
    • Immigration and migration pressure (people move to get access to tech)
    • Privacy is a key consideration
  • New jobs
    • Building drones
    • Drone recovery
    • Visual recognition and avoidance
    • Distributed air traffic control
    • Designing and building the logic
    • Laws to enable these new devices
  • Questions that emerge
    • Who do we trust to look after our security?
  • What can we do in NZ to be best in the world?
    • Since NZ is seen as a trusted country
      • Create the open model
      • Open doesn’t necessarily mean trusted through
      • Medical data on your person or in the cloud (user choice)
      • Control of the data is probably the key area
      • Legislation is a key consideration
      • There is a potential opportunity in this space
    • Test market since a small country
      • Transport / Autonomous vehicles
        • We can change our laws relatively quickly
        • Less legal liability in NZ
        • Why would the car companies want to of this in NZ though? 
      • Air traffic control (distributed)
        • i.e. not as much traffic here.
      • Search & Rescue
      • Drones to deliver to remote locations
      • Building sensors
        • Sensors to test structural integrity of buildings after earthquakes
      • Digital money / contactless money
        • More-so than now

The talk we should have every year on what you need to know about starting a startup and getting funded. 

@sponno @asknicely   
  • Launched @asknicely SaaS one year ago; 2 founders
  • Run from home / “the shed", so lean
  • Idea —> Validate Idea
    • Prototyped in under two weeks
    • Trialled with snapper
    • Get data and learn
    • Then focus on getting $
  • Threaten to cut off service if not being paid
  • Use of particular tech doesn’t matter; just use what you’re happy with, investors don’t care
  • Get as far as you can with your own funding. Important to get high valuation early.
  • Used Digital Ocean for servers (super cheap)
  • Mandrill, Google Docs, Swipe HQ for Payments (really good),, Autopilot for managing email, Calendarly is great for online booking of demos, for voice/video/sharing conferencing to give product demos, Google Ad Words 
  • US Phone number with Skype
  • Legal docs (founding doc based on back of the napkin, employment contracts)
  • Never run out of money; consider lead time of getting money
  • Investor is adding equity, so consider that in terms of their share of the company (e.g. 500k, 250k invested ==> 33% of company)
  • Pitch deck focuses less on product than growth and the team
    • Create a story. Super important. Talk up being lean and team history.
  • Find a lead investor. They are usually for the next round of money.
  • Has found angle networks to be good.
  • Board is important for ensuring you are focusing on the right metrics
  • Over half of money spent on marketing
  • Vanity metrics mean nothing (e.g. website hits).
  • “Money only buys you time. Without money you are dead"
  • Spending about $700 to acquire a customer. Cost of Acquisition.

Prototyping and Designing - let's talk tools and collaboration. How to work together and iterate fast.

@natdudley (and you, please)
  • From user design team at Vend
  • Tools include:
    • HTML
    • Photoshop
    • Balsamiq
    • Sketch
    • Omnigraffle
    • Framer (Javascript framework to build awesome interactions)
    • Invision
    • Post-its
    • Lucid Charts
    • Evernote
    • Keynote
    • Powerpoint
    • Pen & Paper
    • Unity 3D
    • InDesign
    • Mindmaster
    • Avocode
    • ConceptBoard
    • Wake
    • Atomic
    • Illustrator
    • TinkerCAD
    • Slack for communications (super important)
    • Flowdock (similar to Slack)
    • Neurally (good for working with remote participants)
  • Sketch & Invision key tools at Vend (used together)
  • Invision ( enables clickable prototype, can add comments
    • Not great for prototyping, but good for communication
  • Wake is like a Pinterest board for your company
  • Wake and Relay are both about creating ambient awareness of what your company is working on
  • Shouldn’t have too high res too early
  • Xero is looking at their own version of Bootstrap
  • Fails
    • Too much detail too soon
    • Too low res
    • Lack of communication in some orgs & feeding back early and ongoing
  • Do workshops
    • Helps people to understand why something is being done
  • How to take Print-minded designers on the journey
    • Show them an example of a live example
    • Be clear on requirements
    • Provide avenues for getting increased clarity
    • Show examples of previous work
  • Balsalmiq is a key tool used by many

Interviewing for talent. We've all been on both sides of the table. Let's talk about what works, and what doesn't work.  

@HaikuGeek (Lisa Wong)
  • Everybody filled in Post-its which they then categorised into the following areas
    • Hiring
      • Like
      • Don’t like
    • Hiree
      • Like
      • Don’t like
  • We then split into teams to discuss each category. I went to the Negative Hiree team.
  • We then grouped the common themes and presented back to the group.
  • Hiring - Like
    • Telling people what to prepare for and what the process is
    • Technical skills in interviews
    • Getting to understand the thought process of the hiree
    • Cross-functional interview teams
    • Tell a story to the candidate to understand their empathy
  • Hiring - Don’t like
    • People haven’t researched the company
    • Being put on the spot
    • Interviewers asking wrong questions
    • Interviewers correcting Hiree
  • Hiree - Like
    • Opportunity to explore culture
    • Understanding what they are being hired for
    • Options to get into detail about experience
  • Hiree - Don’t like
    • Technical testing in interviews (people don’t like)
    • Personal/Fluffy questions
    • Sugar coating company culture
    • Recruiters & time between feedback

The Gathering — Panel: "How we work" 

featuring Lance Wiggs, Dale Clareburt, Robyn Kamira, Amie Holman and you! Moderated by Nat Torkington
  • The human value of what you do is important
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad - breakdown of different jobs
  • Being self-employed
    • greater risk
    • need to be able to live at the bottom of the trough
    • consider charging companies that can afford it more to supplement other work (inc. for voluntary initiatives) and down time.
    • self promotion is important (feed and water people that may provide work, not selling, listening about problems)
  • Employee in an organisation
    • regular money
    • can still make a difference
    • can be a great training environment and learning how to work with others
    • multiple stakeholders
    • often too many rules
    • huge opportunity to change the lives of many
    • can start a startup at the same time
  • Owning a startup
    • can setup company how you want
    • exciting to grow the company, albeit hard
    • like living on steroids all the time
    • huge sense of responsibility to pay people and care for them
    • you never know when an opportunity will cross your path; be prepared
    • failing is hard, but think what is the worst that can happen
    • keep learning; if you’re not learning you are a psychopath
    • go in with your eyes open
    • working in a startup is a great way to see if starting one yourself is for you
  • Be your own best supporter
  • Fear is sometimes a perception, front up to it
  • Valuable book: How to make friends and influence people
  • Look for companies you fit with first, job second.
  • Know what you are good at and what you passionate about
  • Support others

Adventures in App Development the making of Speaking Email. Introducing a new app that speaks your email and how we built it. Core tech - cordova, gmail api, text to speech, voice recognition 

  • Free tool (for iPhone) for first 1000 downloads
  • Key Use Case: Driving
  • Found Cordova was easy to get going with and free
  • Cordova has plug-ins for different native implementations (e.g. accelerometer)
  • Used Ratchet for UI. Good framework by same people that made bootstrap.
  • Context IO is quite good for using IMAP, ended up using Gmail REST API initially
    • Lots of parsing required with Gmail REST API
  • Don’t use local storage if you will have lots of data
  • GapDebug is a good debugging tool for mobile apps built using Cordova or PhoneGap
  • Discussion from room:
    • Would be good to summarise emails

What Do We Expect from Front End Developers - what skills and knowledge do we expect; how does someone become a front-end developer.

  • HTML + CSS + JS
  • Development
    • Pre-requisite (if doing JS)
  • Making things look pretty (implementing the design)
  • Making something that people actually interact with
  • Discussion re whether HTML + CSS + JS all required to be a front end developer
    • Different opinions in the room
    • A continuum (designer/front-end/back-end)
  • On the job learning
  • Continuous learning
  • Building Kickass Developers by Kathy Sierra is worth checking out
  • Service-side front end development is sometimes considered part of front-end development (not everywhere though). Even more-so is New Zealand is the need to be a jack of all trades.
  • Scrum can also mix up roles; i.e. the job needs to be done, back-end dev may end up doing front-end.
  • Market expectations have changed over time as to what a front end developer does
  • JS is a must for a senior front-end developer, may be okay for a junior not to know.
  • Front-end development is the crafting of the design

Show off your software stack!

Describe you site's stack, from hardware/hosting up to everything else (or maybe just the cool bits). Approx 3-5 minutes each (depending on interest). If you want a slide or two please send in advance to the organiser.


  • Micro-services to common API back-end. Same commitment to API consumers as internal team.
  • Use feature flags to determine who gets a certain feature (controlled groups)
  • AWS enables increased focus on features than infrastructure
  • Docker being used by a bunch of orgs
  • Raygun is great for error tracking
  • RabbitMQ commonly used for messaging
  • Bamboo recommended for Continuous Integration
  • Slack and Hipchat both seen as great collaboration tools
  • Linux is key OS being used (RHEL and Debian in particular)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review: ArchiMate 2.1 Specification

Having used ArchiMate for the past few months (with guidance from an ArchiMate guru) I decided to read the specification.

The specification is fairly dry reading, quite academic at times and is more of a reference guide. I found myself wanting a more practical book so have subsequently ordered what has been highly recommended to me; "Mastering ArchiMate - Edition II" by Gerben Wierda.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Using Raspberry Pi as a Time Capsule to backup a Mac

Time Machine is the built-in backup feature of OS X. It keeps a copy of all your files, and remembers how your system looked on any given day so you can revisit your Mac as it appeared in the past. Apple sells a device called a Time Capsule, but rather than buy one of these I opted for a diy approach using my Raspberry Pi and so far it seems to be working well.

My setup consists of:
  • Raspberry Pi Model B running Raspbian connected via network cable to a router
  • MacBook Pro running OS X Yosemite v10.10.1 connected via Wifi to a router
  • External 2TB drive (with separate power) attached via USB to the Raspberry Pi
It was relatively easy to setup following the instructions at . I am reiterating the instructions here just in case the page disappears (with a couple of additions I needed):
1. Start with a clean installation of Raspbian, configured for your network

2. Power down your Pi, connect your storage drive, and boot your Pi back up.

3. Since my Pi only has 2 USB ports, I wasn't able to have a Keyboard, Mouse and USB drive connected without using a USB hub. Since I didn't want to use a USB hub I installed a VNC server on the Pi and a VNC client application on the Mac using instructions from which can be summarised as follows.
$ sudo apt-get install tightvncserver
$ tightvncserver
$ vncserver :0 -geometry 1920x1080 -depth 24

4. Install netatalk and gparted
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade
$ sudo apt-get install netatalk gparted

5. Start up the graphical desktop on your Pi using startx, and run gparted (it's under "preferences" in your start menu). Select your storage drive (not your SD card), delete any existing partitions, and create a new single partition of type ext4. Then exit gparted.

6. Set your Pi to connect to your storage drive when you boot, and create a place in your Pi's filesystem for it to go
a) create the directory with appropriate permissions
$ sudo mkdir /mnt/TimeMachine
$ sudo chmod 777 /mnt/TimeMachine
b) setup auto boot
$ sudo echo "/dev/sda1 /mnt/TimeMachine ext4 defaults 0 2" >> /etc/fstab
This command came up with a Permission denied error so I instead manually updated the /etc/fstab file using nano with the entry in quotes (/dev/sda1 /mnt/TimeMachine ext4 defaults 0 2) added at the end.
$ sudo nano /etc/fstab
c) mount the drive
$ sudo mount /dev/sda1

7. Configure netatalk to share the directory
a) setup netatalk
$ sudo echo "/mnt/TimeMachine \"Time Machine\" options:tm" >> /etc/netatalk/AppleVolumes.default
This command came up with a Permission denied error so I instead manually updated the /etc/netatalk/AppleVolumes.default file using nano with /mnt/TimeMachine "Time Machine" options:tm added at the end (Note: the \'s have been removed from the echo command).
$ sudo nano /etc/netatalk/AppleVolumes.default
b) restart netatalk
$ sudo service netatalk restart

8. On your Mac open your Time Machine preferences, click Select Disk, and choose Time Machine on raspberrypi. I found initially that I couldn't find the Time Machine share so I went to Finder and connected to the Raspberry Pi at afp://pi_ip_address

9. The backup should commence after a couple of minutes.

Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation
Apple, Mac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, OS X, Time Capsule and Time Machine are trademarks of Apple Inc.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Book Review: The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich

"The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich" by Tim Ferriss is one of those books I had heard about but not got around to reading until now.

My key takeaways:
  • Think about what parts of your work or personal life you could outsource to free up time to do other things (some good references are provided in the book such as elance, Your Man In India and Brickwork). 
  • There are some good reminders about time management, handling interruptions, testing (even down to product name testing via Google AdWords) and keeping it simple for the customer by reducing the number of decisions they need to make.
  • Some good advice was provided about having a minimum advertised pricing clause in order to prevent wholesaling wars (not only by organisations, but also by discounters on eBay)
  • There are some useful links to tools and sites to get a website up and running quickly, some good advice about projecting that your company is bigger than it is (e.g. by having multiple email addresses for multiple departments) and using this as an enabler to scale later.
I skimmed over many of the other parts of the book since it was a bit too verbose.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Book Review: Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man That Invented the 20th Century

I found Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man That Invented the 20th Century to be a very quick read and a well written synopsis of Nikola Tesla and imagination. I had heard of Tesla but didn't know much more and this book was a great introduction to an amazing person and a great inspirational read about genius being a path anybody can take, never giving up, thinking being the enemy of creativity and varied knowledge and experiences being more likely lead to fresh ideas. It is not a book for getting an in depth understanding of Tesla or in depth information about self improvement or imagination, but it is a good short inspirational read.