Category Archives: The Social Enterprise

Review: Beyond Modernization by Paul Conte

Beyond Modernization is a trilogy of eBooks by Paul Conte. If you have signed up for LANSA email notifications or subscribe to the blog, you have no doubt have seen the info about this set of eBooks. This is my take on them. If you like, you can head to the Beyond Modernization web site to download all three.


I was impressed before I read a word because the books are beautifully designed.  The backgrounds, the bullet points and graphics, the important points that are set apart all look great.

My only design gripe, and this applies to technology articles in general, is with stock photos of people that look like posed mannequins. They only detract from the message.

Book 1: Prepare For Your Journey

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first book.  It was written directly to the LANSA architect in me.

Book one talks about IT game changers such as the explosion of mobile devices, ubiquitous internet access, and cloud storage.  By becoming a member of this world, our iSeries shops can not only stay relevant but can excel.

“When you see what a company like Google has accomplished by pushing their use of these capabilities to the limit, you realize other companies — possibly some of your competitors — won’t be far behind. The potential for leveraging technology is enormous.”

My favorite part of the book was the discussion of what should drive IT business decisions. Make your customer happy! Paul gives some great suggestions such as providing sales and service to our customers any time any where on any device. Make sure our business is open 24×7. Applications ought to be localized and ought to handle multiple currencies.

He goes on to shore up his point that all solutions should be business-driven and not based on a particular technology. Don’t ignore the technology but make sure that we are implementing a business solution.  I couldn’t agree more as long as the business is focused on the customer. Our customers require more of us. To keep them as customers, it helps tremendously to become a social enterprise.

In the section on Enterprise Application Architecture, he talks through how to implement an architecture that integrates the systems assets that we already have into this new world.  This is an involved and detailed section that I really enjoyed reading.

The first book concludes with some kick-in-the-pants encouragement:

“But as I’ve tried to lay out in this book, there are sound ways to approach the problem. The most pivotal step is to consistently follow a business-driven strategy. This involves understanding what drives the need to transform your IBM i applications, both from your own enterprise’s business requirements and the dramatically changed technological landscape upon which your enterprise — and its competitors and partners — conduct business.”

Paul makes a lot of sense and the entire first book seems to have been written directly to me.

Book 2: Be a Savvy Traveler

Book two walks the IT manager and the project manager through the process of ensuring the modernization project is a success. He covers it from top to bottom and makes one key point about putting the right developers onto the project.

“A developer who understands your business, knows your current RPG programs inside and out, works well with other business units and delivers quality code at a reasonable pace is just who you need on the bus. And the right seat is one in the front row, helping establish your application architecture.”

There is significant risk in moving to a new architecture and the final portion of the book talks about mitigating that risk.  Two pieces of advice mentioned are to stay focused on your business drivers and to change incrementally and iteratively. That seems like sage advice to me.

Book 3: Embark with Confidence

Book three stresses the importance of using an application generator when modernizing.  It is written to the IT department that does not use one. It came THIS close to feeling like a sales pitch except no product was mentioned by name. For the RPG shop, it makes the case for an application generator streamlining the process of getting where you want to go. Paul details four scenarios to keep in mind when preparing to modernize:

  • The immediate need for exploiting new technology such as mobile devices.
  • The immediate need for workflow and integration.
  • The intermediate requirement for multi-platform support.
  • Long-term agility, productivity and quality improvements.

He then summarizes some best practices for transforming applications.  This is a good list and I recommend reading through it.


If you are an IT manager, this entire series is a worthwhile read. It will make you think. If you are a developer, I suggest reading through the first and third books with an eye on pleasing the end customer, on keeping your skills current, and on proactively pursuing modern technologies.

After reading this series, I find myself wanting to read more from Paul Conte.

The Social Enterprise

In the office, the word social will often lead to thoughts of the bubbling water cooler, the well-used coffee maker, and employees being unproductive. Step outside the office and the word social is a beautifully fresh way to describe connecting and communicating.

When you as a person are online, how social are you? Do you keep current on email correspondence? Do you interact with others on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook?

When you as an organization are online, how social are you? Do you keep current on email correspondence? Do you interact with others on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook?

In reference to the online presence of their employer, many people respond saying, “You are kidding, right? We barely have a web site let alone a Twitter account.” That is a sad state of affairs because you will be discussed.

Interacting With Your Customers

The online conversation is constant and it is growing. If your organization is not being discussed, it will be soon.

Make sure you are in a position to give instant feedback and awe-inspiring customer service. Engage your customers and talk to them. Build apps that build your reputation. Make it easy and fun for your customers to interact with you.

They will keep coming back.

Empowered Employees

Managers enable and constrain their people in order for them to be as effective and productive as possible. Enabling services like Twitter and LinkedIn often seem like the opposite of being effective and productive.

Convincing a decision-maker to block access to these communication mechanisms is as easy as pointing out some awful communication. Admittedly, there is bad with the good. For better or for worse, though, the bad exists in the news, it exists in search results, in fact it exists in every corner of our online world.

So we filter.

Interacting With Your Peers

As an IT professional, there is a significant amount of information that comes across my Twitter feed and through the LinkedIn groups I subscribe to that affects both my clients and my career. I use the relevant information and leave the rest. More than consuming, though, I am also a writer, a mentor, a developer, and a community builder. The more you contribute, the more help you will receive so become a wise investor of your limited time.

Imagine asking a technical question and getting a couple dozen answers and options. Imagine interacting with your peers in other organizations or with peers using the same tools or with peers dealing with similar issues. As long as you are a good citizen and are contributing to the conversation, people will help.

You are now more productive and more connected.

The Social Enterprise

In order for your enterprise to stay relevant with your customers, it will need to interact; to be social. If you want loyal customers, give them a view into your organization. Engage them in conversation. Be brave and ask them what they hate about you. Let them vent, respond with compassion, then ask them what they love. Social can bring goodwill.

In order for employees to have access to their peers and to this timely and relevant information, they will need to interact; to be social. I’ll bet you end up surprised at how useful being social is to you.

I care deeply about the enterprise, the customer, and the employee as well as about software architecture and mobile enterprise development. Guess what? You can find me on Twitter!