Monday, June 25, 2007

A Unique Series of Blog Interviews

Debbie Timmins’ blog is a pretty special place as she has been doing this interesting ‘Interview with an IT Professional’ series. Debbie is an ACS member, doing a great job within the Young IT space and is currently the Advisor to the ACS national Young IT Board and is a former Vice Director of the same.


Through this series she has been trying to bring out inspirational stories of successful IT professionals so that it helps others who have joined or who wish to join the IT industry.


Among the many interviews done by her, the one with Sonja Bernhardt, Director & CEO of an award winning technology company and the one with Sheryle Moon, CEO of Australian Information Industry Association are especially encouraging ones for women in our industry. The interview with the PC Authority Magazine Editor Ed Dawson brought out some insights of an area which most of us were not aware of. ACS Young IT director Yohan Ramasundara, ACS SA Branch Execs Rob Farley and Peter Griffith were some of the others who featured on this series.


The latest one in this series is none other than me! If you are not bored of me yet, have a read at this.


I thank Debbie for interviewing me and wish her all the best in continuing this very popular unique blog interview series in the future, which has taken the blog culture to a new level.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

IT Vs ICT Vs BT

I was involved in an interesting discussion at Mike Schaffner's blog on the best name to call our industry, which is now mainly called as the IT industry. The discussion was around whether it should be called as IT (Information Technology), ICT (Information and Communications Technology) or BT (Business Technology).
The comments I made at this discussion showcase my opinion on this matter, so I’m directly publishing them here.

"There are some valid arguments to call it as BT. But, I think what we really provide is the technologies to process and communicate information. There is layer above that which really operates the business and they are responsible for business operations whereas we are responsible of managing the technology for information that lies behind that. So, we are really more toward I than B. So, IT is more suitable.
Everyone today understands that IT is the lifeblood of any business. SO, we really don’t have to fuss about renaming it to get any added recognition.
Posted by: Yasas Yasas Jun 10, 2007 10:25:14 PM

The key valid argument to call this industry as BT is due to the fact that it provides the soft technologies to run businesses. But what about hardware such as machineries? They are also technologies, I would call them as hard technologies (if you don’t mind) and they also provide support for the business. So, then there could be an argument to call them as Business Technologies (BT) as well.

Then in the next comment, I explained further about the recognition for our work within the business environment.

I personally think we have got the due recognition or at least we are in the midst of getting that recognition.

As a BA/Consultant, I continuously talk to business and business system users and I clearly see an increase in confidence in us than it was ever before. They see us as ultimate helpers of business even though most of them have had some bad experience with regard to IT, unfortunately. Yes, they know the business operations better than us, but can they operate without us providing them with best technology solutions? Definitely Not.
Refer to the 'Productivity Growth' section of the following text on Aussie IT industry by Australian Information Industry Association.
Quote from http://www.aiia.com.au/i-cms.isp?page=909


"According to a government report released in March 2006, the ICT industry contributed to some 85% of productivity growth in the manufacturing sector and up to 78% in the services sector in the last two decades."

So, we are getting the recognition, may be it’s not up to the level that we would like it to be, but it’s on the increase. One thing that’s important for technology is to keep the momentum going on this increase in recognition is to be Business focused and run by business rather than IT. Business driven projects are much more successful than IT driven projects.

While we are having this discussion on IT and BT, there is another discussion on IT Vs. ICT. The ACS, of which I am also an active member, promotes ICT as oppose to IT. We introduce ourselves, as "The Australian Computer Society (ACS) is the recognised association for Information & Communications Technology (ICT) professionals". This is why in my previous comment I explained what we do as 'technologies to process and communicate information'. Communication plays a major part in IT, therefore in the bigger scheme of things, it should be included in the naming. Without that C component, IT won't work. Today we are taking steps to promote this component of IT as never before and this identification shows the change of scope and focus in our industry because a national organization which initially started for Computers, then moved to IT, and now to ICT. At this stage, given all my reasonings, I don’t think we should move towards BT.
http://www.acs.org.au/tb/ntsig.htm
http://www.acs.org.au/tb/
Posted by: Yasas Yasas Jun 11, 2007 9:56:47 PM



The British Computer Society (BCS) still hasn’t identified the Communications component that significantly within the industry. However, most countries today have identified this component, but as an industry, it hasn’t come to a unified naming standard.

In my opinion, it’s not mandatory to have such a universal agreement on the name as long as the concepts are accepted and the industry focus is aligned accordingly.
If you are interested, you can visit the following location to see the whole discussion and the necessary references.
http://mikeschaffner.typepad.com/michael_schaffner/2007/06/whats_in_a_name.html

Friday, June 8, 2007

Father of Sri Lankan ICT industry Passes Away

Sri Lanka’s ICT industry suffered a great loss when its most valued member Prof. V.K. Samaranayake passed away on Tuesday in Stockholm while attending a review of the Swedish government’s ICT development assistance programme.

Prof. Samaranayake (68) was the Chairman of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka from 2004. He was also the Emeritus Professor of Computer Science of the University of Colombo. He was the founder Director, University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) of the University of Colombo.

As a past student of the University of Colombo, I am saddened by this news. He never really did a lecture for us (if I remember correctly) but UCSC and the whole Computer Science study stream at the university was his brainchild.

Over the past few months, he was attacked heavily by the media and also by the blogosphere. There was even a dedicated blog to sling mud at this great Sri Lankan, who brought ICT to Sri Lanka in a difficult era. There may be mistakes and wrong doings here and there, but the service he has done to the country is too enormous to blame him in such a bad fashion and is against basic human qualities.

He continuously served the University of Colombo for 43 years since his first appointment in 1961 following his graduation from the same University. He was the founder of the Department of Statistics and Computer Science (DSCS) and of the Institute of Computer Technology (ICT) of the University of Colombo.

The Government of Sri Lanka has honoured Prof. Samaranayake for his contribution towards IT by the award of Vidya Prasadini in 1997 and the national honour Vidya Jyothi in 1998. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has presented its President's Award for International Cooperation to Prof. Samaranayake in 1996 in recognition of his contribution. He has been recognised at international level as well, which obviously brought respect to Sri Lanka.

At its convocation held in January 2005, the University of Colombo conferred on Prof. Samaranayake the Degree of Doctor of Science for his outstanding contribution to the University. Incidentally, this was the convocation that my batch received the degree certificates.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Top Ten Dead (Dying) IT Skills

Whilst going through this month's Computer World Magazine, I found this interesting article. They have done a study and have come-up with a list of dead or dying IT Skills that were considered very important at one time. The list is given below.

COBOL
Non relational DBMS
Non/IP networks
cc:Mail
Cold Fusion
C Programming
PowerBuilder
Certified Netware Engineers
PC Network Administrators
OS/2

The key message is, if someone is working hard now on one of these technologies, it's worthwhile to question whether it's the right investment.

I am not surprised at this list. However, I was under the impression that C Programming is still popular in some domains like Reserach/Science. I didn't think that PowerBuilder, Netware Engineers and PC Network administrators are getting obsolete as well.

It's amazing how fast things change in this industry. Some of these technologies have had a very high demand at one time but today no one wants them. This is a good eye opener to everyone who is involved in IT because if we don't up-skill ourselves and learn new things, we are going to be redundant in the near future.

The link to the full article is given below and I suggest reading it if you are doing something related to IT. It really shows how the IT landscape changes overtime.

https://webmail.adelaide.edu.au/horde/util/go.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.computerworld.com%2Faction%2Farticle.do%3Fcommand%3DviewArticleBasic%26articleId%3D9020942&Horde=eebc64d93ab451953fcfeaa6c2860349"

Monday, June 4, 2007

Risk Management

I forgot to blog last week about a training I participated at work. The relevant staff went on a training on Risk Management essentials, which was based on the AS/NZS 4360 Standard. I later went through the Standard doc in detail together with its' guidelines spec.

The key message that I brought out of it was the fact that Risk Management should not be an additional process/burden imposed on the teams but should be a part of the organizational culture where attempts should be made over time to make it a second nature. For those who are interested in an overview summary, the following link is good.

http://www.unovision.co.uk/index.php?id=81

In case you are interested in more details, I can provide following links. However, due to copyright issues (probably), the standard docs are not available online freely.

http://www.saiglobal.com/shop/script/Details.asp?DocN=AS0733759041AT
http://www.treasury.act.gov.au/actia/Guide.doc
http://www.riskmanagement.com.au/
http://www.noweco.com/risk/riske09.htm

Friday, June 1, 2007

A World Free of Drugs & Alcohol?

My eye caught the following yahoo photo news.

Sri Lankan students carry a giant dummy of a cigarette as they stage a street drama on the eve of Anti-Tobacco Day in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, May 30, 2007.
In the background is the Colombo Town Hall building. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

This reminded me of my time when I campaigned against drugs and alcohol. As a group formed by ADIC (Alcohol and Drug Information Center) we did many campaigns in Colombo as well as in regional locations. The name of our group was 'Organisation of Youth Against Drugs and Alcohol' (OYADA) and I was the Vice President. It really gave me a unique experience and also a high self-satisfaction for doing a service to the community. Directly talking to people on alcohol related issues and educational campaigns were experiences for a life time. One of the best events was when we did an educational campaign on a long distance train. We walked through each compartment giving speeches and acting out dramas to educate people on the bad side of alcohol.

A giant Tobacco Company used to sponsor a popular Sri Lankan arts exhibition every year. It was just like having cigarette and arrack ads in sports grounds, trying to give a feeling that drugs go with arts without a problem. Many school children took part in this exhibition, so they tried to impose ideas into their heads by presenting themselves as helpers of art. We staged a campaign against this right there at the exhibition! (It was in either end 1999 or early 2000) We covered the whole fence of the exhibition centre (Kala Bavana) with posters expressing our displeasure of drug dealers being involved in art. We filled their comments books with our ideas! It was hilarious.

The following is a photo taken at a campaign at Galle (A town in Southern Sri Lanka). A voyage ship traveled all around the world promoting a popular cigar brand and it was scheduled to come to Colombo port, but due to high opposition from pressure groups, they changed the destination to Galle port. We didn’t want to confront with them, so we went a week ahead of them and tried to educate people, especially school children. The photo was taken when we addressed people at the central bus stand (was later completely washed-off by the 2004 tsunami) and it was well received.