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relating work to outside world

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  • From: Shelley Henderson <>
  • To:
  • Subject: relating work to outside world
  • Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 09:04:42 -0700
  • Organization: University of Southern California

Has anyone else on the grouper/signet list read the new book "The
World is Flat" by Thomas L. Friedman? I am working my way through it
in snatches and grabs, and the following comments must be read
realizing that I'm only on page 181 of a 469-page book.

If you ignore the lame technical explanations, what Friedman describes
is what we're working to further, and what we as infrastructure
developers have lived through. For instance, take the case (from pages
180-181) of WPP:

...consider the example of WPP -- the second-largest
advertising-marketing-communications consortium in the wrold. WPP,
which is based in England, did not exist as we now know it twenty
years ago. It is a product of the consolidation of some of the biggest
names in the business -- from Young & Rubiam to Ogilvy & Mather to
Hill & Knowlton. The alliance was put together to capture more and
more of big clients' marketing needs, such as advertising, direct
mail, media buying, and branding.

"For years the big challenge for WPP was how to get its own companies
to collaborate," said Allen Adamson, managing director of WPP's
branding firm, Landor Associates. "Now, though, it is often no longer
enough just to get the companies in WPP to work together per
se. Increasingly, we find ourselves pulling together individuals from
within each of these companies to form a customized collaborative team
just for one client. The solution that will create value for that
lcient did not exist in any one company or even in the traditional
integration of the companies. It had to be much more specifically
tailore.d So we had to go down inside the whole group and pluck the
individual who is the right ad person, to work with the right branding
person, to work with the right media person for this particular

When GE decided in 2003 to spin off its insurance businesses into
a separate company, WPP assembled a customized team to handle
everything from the naming of the new company -- Genworth -- all the
way down to its first advertising campaign and direct-marketing
program. "As a leader within this organization," said Adamson, "what
you have to do is figure out the value proposition that is needed for
each client and then identify and assemble the individual talents
within WPP's workforce that will in effect form a virtual company just
for that client. In the case of GE, we even gave a name to the virtual
collaborative team we formed: Klamath Communications."

When the world went flat, WPP adapted itself to get the most out of
itself. It changed its office architecture and practices, just like
those companies that adjusted their steam-run factories to the
electric motor. But WPP not only got rid of all its walls, it got rid
of all its floors. It looked at all its employees from all its
companies as a vast pool of individual specialists who could be
assembled horizontally into collaborative teams, depending on the
unique demands of any given project. And that team would then become a
de facto new company with its own name.

It will take time for this new playing field and the new business
practices to be fully aligned. it's a work in progress. But here's a
little warning. It is happening much faster than you think, and it is
happening globally.

I bring this up for (at least) two reasons:

1) reading the book is giving me a vocabulary in which to discuss
the value-added of infrastructure with administration types; and
they recognize the name "Thomas L. Friedman" -- he gets quoted a
lot in their circles;

2) reading the book is giving me use-cases for our infrastructure.

The book lists ten "flatteners" that have led to a "triple
convergence" -- there's lots of annoying jargon (as opposed to the
transparent writing in technical papers on middleware). But what I
haven't seen so far is an awareness of the necessity for enhanced
online authN/authZ, which is required for all these "flatteners" and
"steroids" to catalyze that "triple convergence."

I think we're at the bleeding edge -- okay, the bull's-eye -- of the
catalytic reaction, and a catalytic agent may be PKI if it can be
made to work as easily (from the user's POV, not necessarily from the
implementor's POV) as slapping up a WordPress blog (which, by the
way, uses https and a password for authN and simple assigned access
levels for authZ).


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  • relating work to outside world, Shelley Henderson, 07/13/2005

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