More (or less?) on MURA and on secretaries and social networking

Editor Neil McNaughton puzzles over the contribution Microsoft’s Upstream Reference Architecture made to the Siemens/OpenSpirit deal in this month’s lead. He then turns to social media and offers a few words of advice to would-be bloggers and LinkedIn groupies.

Pondering the Siemens/OpenSpirit announcement in this month’s lead, and passing, for the moment on what Tibco’s acquisition means for the deal, for OpenSpirit and its clients, I was fascinated by the insight that this deal gives us into the Microsoft Upstream Reference Architecture—MURA. MURA’s contribution to the deal can be ascertained by solving a couple of equations as follows. First, we have something like, Outcome (‘O’ of Siemens/OpenSpirit deal) equals the sum of the contribution of the parties, to the deal i.e. Siemens (S), OpenSpirit (OS) and MURA (M). So we have...

O = S + OS + M.

But we also learn from Siemens that the same functionality would have been achieved without MURA. This gives us another equation

O = S + OS.

Now I have been staring at these two equations for a while, trying to remember my elementary algebra. I finally came to the conclusion that by a judicious bit of subtracting, we can solve for M to give ...

MURA = 0!

(The ‘!’ is an exclamation mark, not a factorial, by the way, although this does not make much difference to the math.)


A while back, when working for an employer of a rather established olde worlde nature, I was surprised when, following some behind the back murmurings and complaints, I was gently reprimanded by the CEO. My crime? Writing my own reports on the computer, rather than going through the proper channels of the secretarial pool. My reaction was to ignore what seemed to me to be complete nonsense. And in so far as the big picture goes, I was right. Secretarial pools are no more, and everybody now uses the computer to write just about anything. As far as the smaller picture goes, I was arguably wrong, as I was soon ‘let go’ by said organization for this and other similar misdemeanors.

Those were the days though. When you had a big chair behind your own desk and a couple of little ones to make your guests feel small. At the time, even a middle manager would have his (or, much less likely, her) own secretary who when not typing out a memo did other cool stuff like ‘managing’ a phone call. The idea was always, even if you were actually making the call, to have the other guy hanging around at the other end of the line, while you seemingly busied yourself with business before just managing to attend to the call. This exercise led to pitched battles between secretaries in the two camps as they made sure that their adversary was actually waiting on the line before putting their boss through.

Later, but in a similar vein, when an email came in, it was beneath the dignity (and probably beyond the capability) of a manager to reply. So an incoming mail from manager A’s secretary would be printed out, placed in an in-tray, examined by boss B who would probably get his secretary to reply by fax. Nowadays, everyone is in front of the computer all the time and such silliness has gone—or has it?

Actually, a similar phenomenon is taking place today as somewhat out-of-touch managers wrestle with the new fangled ‘social media.’ Now I have to admit that there is a lot of social media that I don’t really ‘get’ myself. I have been around too long in IT and it seems that a lot of it is not actually very new. I met a friend at a recent tradeshow who has become a Facebook aficionado and brandished her Blackberry at me saying, ‘see how I am kept informed about all this stuff. Our users can even see what the current state of our printer is and plan their usage accordingly.’ I peeked over her shoulder at the magical device and saw what looked to me like an RSS feed—something Oil IT Journal has offered for about five years already. But I digress…

There is one facet of social media that I believe that I do understand—blogging. I even started a blog once. A short lived thing which stopped when it occurred to me that blogging, at least for me was exactly the same as writing an editorial. As I had been doing this for several years before blogging was invented, I saw no reason to change and stayed with the present media. Having blogged/editorialized for a while puts me in a position to offer some advice to those in a corporate or organizational environment struggling with the new technology.

So what makes a blog a good one? Two things, focus and disclosure. This is what your audience is looking for—whether you are a socialite telling all or a technologist unveiling the next i-Thing. Let’s turn this simple notion around and see how companies and organizations perform at the intersection of focus and disclosure...

Companies and orgs may or may not have focus and they may or may not want to disclose what it is. The blog is potentially a window into the program, business plan, emerging technology and other stuff of a sensitive nature. The modern CEO seeking to ‘leverage’ social media can no longer turn to his or her secretary. So instead, they engage public relations ‘boutiques’ offering social networking services. This means that blogs are filtered and diluted. Information goes from those that know through those that may or may not understand and what is often an insipid, inaccurate post results. Dilution occurs of the most ludicrous kind when postings divert completely from the blog’s focus. To give just one example, the virtual takeover of the SPE LinkedIn discussion group by a news outlet.

It is curious to note that the instigators of such blogs and LinkedIn groups are so enthused that they have amassed a head count of a few hundred users. What they should be looking at is alignment of social media with their goals. Is it focused? Is good stuff being disclosed? Has the blog been hijacked by an individual or a competitor?

Right, that’s that editorial finished—just got to get my secretary to type it up and post it to my blog...

Click here to comment on this article

Click here to view this article in context on a desktop

© Oil IT Journal - all rights reserved.