My latest read – The Changing Role of the CIO

We live in a world of constant change in IT. O’Reilly’s The Changing Role of the CIO provides a foundation regarding Big Data for any IT team and every manager, executive or board member. Today if your not embracing change your getting run over by it whether you know it or not.

The Changing Role of the CIO From the corporate boardroom to the campus research lab we indeed are undergoing a fundamental paradigm shift in our digital lives.

Without a doubt it is also an educational shift. Questions of Excel cubesets in a world of unstructured big data analytics will be a much needed training opportunity not for your IT team but actually or your entire workforce.

The Changing Role of the CIO is about the opportunities to engage your IT team over data. Today data is fueling actionable analytics not just vanity metrics. The IT team needs to embrace the idea that data is the new oil.

After leading your organization to a cloud solution that eliminates in-house, legacy enterprise systems you never can look back. Helping my organization migrate to a CMS public cloud that reduced just one enterprise service $400,000 annually resulted in our senior leadership never looking at me the same way. You gain a seat at the table.

And due to the nature of the mobile beast, The Changing Role of the CIO shows its now easier than ever to measure quality engagements in real time with your customers. The future of data, how it can be measured, immediately reported within your office or from the other side of world is a game changer.

My latest read – Big Data at Work

Big Data at Work is a good book for reviewing tested analytics case studies by Tom Davenport. As I began reading this I found myself reading an update to Tom Davenport‘s great analytics book Competing on Analytics that I read in 2008 which IMHO really set the standard. Big Data at Work is the follow up with tested business cases.

It seemed like an eternity that analytics are now realized as a critical business strategy for universities. Peter Drucker said it best: if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.

While much shorter than his Competing on Analytics, Big Data at Work is a must read. In Higher Education alone the Big Data at Work case studies by Davenport can serve as near perfect blueprints in the dynamic world of campus networks and services migrating to cloud.

Davenport needs to convince nobody that Big Data is a growing field, yet even in 2014 the number of colleges offering degrees in Big data science is not yet up to speed. More importantly he shares how traditional Business Intelligence is struggling to adjust to the analytics and big data era.

For as much as Big Data at Work contributes to the requirements in both technology and IT professionals, his suggestions that management stands in the way of more game changers outside of Silicon Valley. Yes Hadoop and MapReduce have forever empowered LInkedIn, Google, Yahoo and other startups. Healthcare, banking and insurance are markets who have already embraced and are excited about the abilities of big data for their customers.

Davenport is pretty upfront about what is needed: colleges have not fully embraced Big Data. Their mistake is assuming Big Data is a Computer Science degree. A good chapter of this book reflects on the inability of management to adopt Big Data for today’s competitive market. Is it surprising to see only a hand full of college programs sending grads to the likes of Google? More and more companies are looking to regional campus partnerships for Hadoop big data efforts. Yet many of those colleges still have no existing undergraduate or masters-level degrees in Big Data.

My latest read – Embers of War

Fredrick Logevall won the 2013 Pulitzer for Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam. Today America continues to hold a quiet, deep divide when looking inward to find the truth regarding our long nightmare in Vietnam.

Logevall traces America’s involvement to Paris at the end of World War I. A young Nguyen Ai Quoc sought support at the June 1919 Paris Peace Conference from US President Wilson. Quoc carried a declaration addressing a free Vietnam. He never met with Wilson.

At the conclusion of the conference Nguyen Ai Quoc, translated to mean “He Who Loves his Country” changed his name to Ho Chi Minh.

Embers of War

Astounding that in 1919 a young revolutionary could patiently wait 50 years for his opportunity to bring independence to Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh would become (much to our regret) one of the most famous revolutionaries in history.

He led his country to defeat two western powers in a devastating war that lasted over 30 years. His cause was a war of independence against the French and then the Americans.

Interesting to learn how well Ho Chi Minh understood America. He lived in Boston and New York City. He worked as a cook, a baker and later a production line manager for General Motors before returning to Europe.

Embers of War beautifully illustrates how the US State Department shifted policy from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Harry S. Truman. It was only strengthened under Eisenhower. It is still difficult to imagine the level of initial support in men, money and weapons we gave to support Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh against French colonial rule after World War II. It is a stark wake up to read how CIA advisors met with Ho Chi Minh and our US Army units training his troops.

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Think like a freak

think like a freak

How many options do soccer players have before a penalty kick?

Think like a Freak, out TODAY from Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner is really, really enjoyable. I would stop just about everything (In a perfect world) to read this cover to cover. More to come….

Dong Xoai and the required US shift in Vietnam

Moyar’s final chapter in Triumph Forsaken reveals his deep understanding of the 1965 Vietcong attack at Dong Xoai and the aftermath – yet another change in Saigon’s leadership. This closing chapter illustrates for Moyar the aggressive communist attacks taken throughout the central highlands as a synopsis for the war.

triumph forsakenWhat will surprise many unfamiliar with Vietnam’s countryside, the battle was just 100km (or 62 miles) from Saigon. One of the spoils of military victory is writing history. The NVA claims to have killed over 4,500 South Vietnamese and 77 Americans at the Dong Xoai battlefield. (via Google Maps)

Today this would shock Americans to think a massive Vietcong battle was fought less than a two hour drive to Saigon. As reference, the distance is shorter between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Cannot help but wonder about Moyar’s theme: South Vietnam was destined to collapse by 1965. Yes Johnson’s remark to historian Henry Graff “The worst mistake we ever made was getting rid of Diem” rings true. Regardless of Moyar’s short timeline American interests never groomed a worthy successor to Diem. Despite a series of aggressive communist attacks in the central highlands in early 1965 the role of the US military was still restricted by the White House at 72,000 Americans in country. At Dong Xoai a US Special Forces camp assigned only 20 Americans to support 400 local soldiers from two militia companies.

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Triumph Forsaken: The Prize for Victory

Moyar’s book Triumph Forsaken has a deep view in Chapter 16, The Prize for Victory: January–May 1965 regarding the risk Johnson faced in considering an exit strategy from Vietnam. Moyar has written an interesting aspect of America’s effort in defending Saigon after a less-than-stellar-efforts by the South Vietnamese Army throughout 1964.

triumph forsaken

Moyar’s view is Johnson lack of strong, even overpowering reprisals against the North in 1964 opened the door to global criticism of America’s policy in fighting communist expansion.

Was global domination reaching a tipping point? According to Moyar China was America’s threat not in 1964 but in the future. Russia was clearly not a long term threat.

Stemming the tide against growing communist expansion in Southeast Asia Moyar indicates the White House was measuring the geopolitical shifts within Asia and beyond.

In chapters 13: Self-Imposed Restrictions: January–July 1964 and chapter 14 Signals: August–October 1964 Moyar illustrates a range of points for the overall failure of the South Vietnamese Army to recover from previous confrontations with the North and Vietcong.

Moyar continues to see the failure of Ap Bac in early 1963 as a defining point for America’s policy. The South never recovered according to Moyar from Diem’s assassination. Did a real opportunity to pull out of Vietnam in 1965 impact Johnson? Moyar documents his view throughout Chapter 16:

In the event of a precipitate American withdrawal from Vietnam, Johnson told his advisers on one occasion, the Southeast Asian nations would label the United States a “paper tiger,” and the United States would see its credibility plummet in the region …. Rusk informed the President on one occasion that if South Vietnam fell, the United States would lose its alliances with Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, and in addition the Chinese would dominate India, while America’s European alliances would remain intact.

During a meeting with Eisenhower in February, he read the former President a State Department message on Thailand as evidence of Vietnam’s international significance. In the message, the U.S. ambassador to Thailand described a discussion with Thai Foreign Minister Thanat Khoman in these terms: “This morning, in my first meeting with Thanat after my return, I found him in a rosy glow over the vast improvement in morale throughout Southeast Asia as a result of American and South Vietnamese [air] strikes on North Vietnam.”

Ho Chi Minh told an African diplomat that a Vietnamese Communist victory would “help the people of all nations see that they need not be afraid of the Americans,” and that “once the United States is defeated in Vietnam it will never be able to win anywhere else in the world.”

Aside from France, which doggedly called for the neutralization of South Vietnam to gratify old grudges against the United States and assert its independence, the countries of NATO supported America’s stance on Vietnam. NATO’s Expert Working Group, composed of representatives from NATO countries small and large, asserted in the spring of 1965, “It remains a vital interest of the West to prevent a Communist victory in South Vietnam which would stimulate similar developments throughout Southeast Asia.” Many NATO nations – including the two most powerful, West Germany and Britain – said that America’s willingness to defend Vietnam was a key indicator of whether America would protect its allies not only in Asia but also in Europe.
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