Thursday, April 06, 2006


InformationWeek Spring Conference (Part two of three)

This week I attended the InformationWeek Spring conference and figured I would share several of the wonderful conversations I had while there...

I had several wonderful conversations with a partner from a large consulting firm that has made great progress in penetrating the Federal Government in providing consulting services. We engaged in a conversation on why Government enterprise architecture is a big fat joke and seemed to have reached the conclusion that one of the main problems is that our government isn't able to attract nor retain young people with new ideas. He mentioned that at best, 10% of all the folks he works with on a daily basis are under 40! The government is usually the first to recognize diversity but still hasn't yet figured out the answer to this particular challenge.

We also discussed why the Federal government who happens to be blessed with an act of Congress (The Clinger Cohen Act) that mandates Enterprise Architecture while the rest of us in corporate America have to run around selling it and pushing metrics still can't be successful. It was encouraging to know that the federal government has finally realized that they too can at least learn from corporations and are starting to recruit consulting firms from this demographic instead of always going with the same old ones that got them in the hole they were in.

Many of the partners of large consulting firms tend to be only good at selling and otherwise don't have any real understanding of technology other than partyline oriented buzzwords they may get by reading magazines such as InformationWeek, but he was very different in that he had a deep understanding of many of the problems that are faced in this environment along with several novel approaches to solving them. I was also impressed with his knowledge of the identity management space.

On the way home, I ran into issues flying on Northwest Airlines (will blog this later) and ended up staying in an Econolodge where I met a single mother working behind the desk. She ended up bursting into tears for what appeared as no reason. She mentioned to me that awhile back, she was a victim of Hurricane Floyd and had her home destroyed by water damage. She said that she after the storm, she ended up working two jobs so she could save up enough to have a contractor repair the roof. The contractor did repair the roof but over time her house started to crumble.

I had asked whether her insurance company was screwing her over on fixing things when she stated that she never had enough money to afford homeowners insurance. She mentioned that the city inspector several days ago condemned her home. Apparently, she just started her shift and was in the progress of moving everything out of her old home into a trailer.

This was a pretty eye-opening conversation for me in that I am usually isolated from the working poor and am somewhat priveleged in that I pretty much have everything that I want and am for the most part blessed. I think I will have a different reaction when I return to work and hear my coworkers talking about how they are broke yet continue to shop at stores such as the Gap and Ann Taylor.

On the way home, I met a guy in the airport who was formerly a resident of New Orleans who lived in the fifth ward. He secured a job at the Jacksonville airport doing baggage handling, his wife has yet to find gainful employment. He told me that his house was destroyed and that it would cost too much to rebuild. He and his family was living in a one bedroom apartment but was hopeful in recovering.

The thing that saddens me the most is that these were two of the most humble people I have ever met and yet I wasn't in a position at the time to help. I got caught offguard without cash and couldn't provide any form of personal charity. I usually have a preference to help individuals over charities who have executives that make more than me. Maybe the best thing that I can do is to encourage others to not forget that victims of Katrina and Floyd are still struggling and that we should still pay attention to their needs and not have such a short attention span...

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