Home » Author Archives: Rob Thomas

Author Archives: Rob Thomas

Decentralized Analytics for a Complex World

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In 2015, General Stan McChrystal published Team of Teams, New Rules of Engagement For a Complex World. It was the culmination of his experience in adapting to a world that had changed faster than the organization that he was responsible to lead. When he assumed command for the Joint Special Operations Task Force in 2003, he recognized that their typical ...

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Second-Level Thinking

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Howard Marks is a well respected investor and the founder of Oaktree Capital Management. In a recent letter to investors, he introduced a concept that he calls ‘Second-Level Thinking’. In his words: This is a crucial subject that has to be understood by everyone who aspires to be a superior investor. Remember your goal in investing isn’t to earn average ...

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The Calm Before the Storm

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Have you ever spent an afternoon in the backyard, maybe grilling or enjoying a game of croquet, when suddenly you notice that everything goes quiet? The air seems still and calm — even the birds stop singing and quickly return to their nests. After a few minutes, you feel a change in the air, and suddenly a line of clouds ...

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Preparing your career for the data science revolution

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I became familiar with Geoffrey Moore in 2002, while consulting at Symbol Technologies, helping it transform from a product-only company into a solutions company (that is, both products and services). The president of Symbol mentioned Moore’s work, and he often used the terms “core” and “context” when describing Symbol’s business operations. As I began reading Moore, his ideas crystallized in ...

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Scale Effects, Machine Learning, and Spark

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“In 1997, IBM asked James Barry to make sense of the company’s struggling web server business. Barry found that IBM had lots of pieces of the puzzle in different parts of the company, but not an integrated product offering for web services. His idea was to put together a coordinated package, which became WebSphere. The problem was that a key ...

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Technical Leadership

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As companies grow and mature, it is difficult to maintain the pace of innovation that existed in the early days. This is why as many companies mature (i.e. Fortune 500), they sometimes lose their innovation edge. The edge is lost when technical leadership in the company either takes a backseat or evolves to a different role (different than the role ...

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Even Doctors Will Be Data Scientists

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We all know how it works. You walk into a doctor’s office complaining about some pain in your leg or otherwise. They take your temperature, get you on the scale, check your blood pressure, and perhaps even get out the rubber hammer. These measurements are simply snapshots at one particular instant in time and may be subject to error. This ...

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Legendary Product Development

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“Brand will not save you, marketing will not save you, and account control will not save you. It’s the products.” – Marc Andreessen I believe there is a recipe for winning in product development. It requires a delicate balance between pragmatism in planning, efficient execution, and the ability to see around corners (into the future). I’ve written this post to ...

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Drones and Big Data

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Two weeks ago, I had a conversation with some colleagues where I was postulating a future bull market for drones, as I envisioned a number of commercial applications (food service, surveillance, etc). Coincidentally, this topic has gained major momentum since Amazon’s disclosure of a drone R&D project for goods delivery on 60 Minutes this week. Suddenly, everyone has a drone ...

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A Framework for Enterprise Software

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For decades, the companies in this industry have produced sophisticated and complex products. They are difficult to assemble, require the stitching together of a variety of component parts, and its often a long time from the beginning of a project to when the end user sees value/success. Unfortunately, many times, the user is never satisfied. The product breaks or does ...

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