Friday, December 16, 2011

Tremendous Turnout for Rapid Development & Deployment Summit

Greater than 150 participants turned out for the Rapid Development and Deployment Summit presented by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council's Software Development cluster. This fast-paced conference covered a lot of ground in two keynote presentations and four panels.

Rapid change challenges software architects and developers

David Skok, General Partner, Matrix Partners, kicked off the morning with an overview of the challenges that rapid change has created for software developers and architects. His presentation included a discussion of the acceleration in the number of applications and users--and the technology trends that are disrupting the development environment.

As functions disappear, new opportunities emerge

Then, he delved into some of the implications:
- Incorporating new technologies, especially in combination, provides users with exceptional power but dramatically increases complexity for developers
- Everything is changing from the way developers build products to how companies distribute them to the ways in users access them.
- Self-service technologies are replacing personnel at various stages of the product development process.
- The proliferation of data has created a market opportunity for business intelligence applications that can provide actionable insights
- Proliferation of new products has produced lots of data--now users are seeking tools to turn data into actionable insights
- Consumerization of enterprise applications increases demand, usage and engagement
- Businesses are getting faster better applications sooner and less expensively

Mobility isn't what makes mobile interesting

Bill O'Donnell, Chief Architect, Kayak shared insights gained from his company's experience with mobile. Perhaps most interesting was the company's misconception about the use case for travel--and how they learned what users really wanted.

Kayak implemented mobile early on, and more than once. When the company decided to launch an IPhone App, developers incorrectly assumed that travelers would be most likely to use mobile when there was no access to other platforms. That is, when they were in an airport and needed to check a flight's status or change their plans.

Customers let them know they were wrong, dead wrong, via a feedback mechanism incorporated in the app, itself, that goes directly to the development team. Many complained that they weren't able to access the full feature set on mobile.

At first, developers questioned the feedback. Then they turned to the search data and learned that customers were using the mobile app the same way they used the web application.

So, they squeezed more features into the mobile app--and usage went up. To their surprise, users didn't seem to mind the small screen or that it took a lot of time to process transactions. Today, 15% of Kayak's traffic is mobile.

Check out Bill's presentation to see his perspectives about some of the challenges associated with being a development company in a mobile world, both technically and financially. That said, Bill predicts that mobile apps are here to stay because users like them. They're easy to find, easy to install, easy to maintain and don't use a lot of power. In short, the characteristics that make mobile apps desirable--have very little to do with their mobility.

Building high performance teams

The moderator of the breakout session on the Anatomy of a Team, Julia Austin from VMware, began by asking panelists to define high performing teams and followed with a series of questions. Panelists offered multiple perspectives on best practices for attracting talent, hiring the right people, increasing productivity, encouraging team cohesiveness, and motivating teams to do less glamorous projects.

Advice from the experts

A show of hands confirmed that software developers and engineering managers are in high demand, even in Boston and in this economy. To attract talent, panelists advised companies to know and promote their unique differentiation. When hiring mid-managers look for individuals that are building an app in their free time.

To increase cohesiveness, seed teams with members that excel at creating a community. To motivate teams to do less glamorous projects let developers fix it the way they way want it, earn the opportunity to do more interesting projects, or bask in users' appreciation of a problem fixed and a job well done.

Maintaining quality while moving fast

Much of the conversation on maintaining quality centered on Agile: advantages, disadvantages, and challenges. One advantage is that it forces developers to consider factors they might not otherwise have thought about. Another is that frequent testing of prototypes with users catches problems early.

Disadvantages include an emphasis on the short term, at the expense of the long term--and paradoxically the constraints imposed by a system that requires setting priorities in advance. One panelist said his company found that 3-week lead times are too confining for designers. Kanban, on the other hand, lets designers reorder their priorities so that they can focus on what they're doing.

Despite challenges, Agile processes universally favored

A major challenge is managing the technology deficits that emerge in infrastructure when the focus is on implementing new features. Panelists offered solutions ranging from incorporating "fixes" into each sprint to assigning a special project team to reduce the backlog to putting development of new features on hold.

Nevertheless, panelists appeared to agree that the value of quick sprints outweighed the costs. One panelist says he now advocates using small, localized additions of procedural code to add new functionality, rather than investing in re-architecting the product. His rationale is that it's hard to know in advance which features will prove valuable.

Another challenge is motivating developers to do peer reviews. One panelist suggested having incumbents "mentor" new employees. Another periodically has the whole team participate in code reviews after the daily "standups". A third delays implementing a new feature until a team member tests it and signs off on its quality.

Two additional sessions followed on aligning strategy with development and leveraging the cloud in a rapid dev shop. A video and blog post will follow shortly on the cloud session, moderated by Michael Skok of North Bridge ventures.

Rapid learning

Overall, the morning was outstanding. Panelists packed a lot of information into a short time--and audience members left with insights they could apply to their own work environments. Thanks to our sponsors and all who participatied. Look for future programming on agile, measuring engineering productivity and virtualization.

Guest post contributed by Barbara Bix, BB Marketing Plus

For additional commentary, please check out the blog posts from guest speakers below:
Active Endpoints blog post:
Future of Cloud Computing blog post:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

MassTLC Member Dassault Systèmes Dedicates North American HQ: A New LEED-Certified Campus in Waltham

MassTLC member Dassault Systèmes, a world leader in 3D and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions, had quite the party this past Friday to dedicate their new North American headquarters in Waltham. The event included speeches by His Excellency François Delattre, France’s Ambassador to the United States, Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, Dassault Systèmes President and CEO Bernard Charlès and North America Managing Director Al Bunshaft, as well as a tour of the campus and demos of the company’s latest 3D technologies.

Located in Waltham, the award-winning 27-acre campus is heralded as a showcase for sustainable innovation, the creation of lifelike experiences using 3D, and has been LEED-certified, demonstrating the company’s commitment to conserving national resources.The campus was designed and outfitted with sustainable innovation in mind. More than 2,000 tons of recycled steel were used in construction and 61,000 tons of structural materials re-used as fill. The heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) units use a chemical-free electrostatic water treatment unit instead of chlorine. Overall energy use is reduced by 29 percent through a combination of high-efficiency rooftop HVAC units and boilers.

During his welcome address Bernard Charlès stated, “What you see behind me is not just a building. It is a living laboratory for our Dassault Systèmes vision. From this place, we will reach out to the world with our technology and services. This is where we will help creative people visualize solutions to the challenges that face the world, validate that those visions will work, and plan how to bring those visions to life in the most efficient, sustainable way possible.”

Al Bunshaft added,
 “We wanted to create a healthy work environment where people would love the space they work in, while promoting creativity and collaboration.”

A little bit about Dassault Systèmes: As a world leader in 3D and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions, Dassault Systèmes brings value to more than 130,000 customers in 80 countries. A pioneer in the 3D software market since 1981, Dassault Systèmes applications provide a 3D vision of the entire lifecycle of products from conception to maintenance to recycling. The Dassault Systèmes portfolio consists of CATIA for designing the virtual product - DELMIA for virtual production - SIMULIA for virtual testing - ENOVIA for global collaborative lifecycle management, EXALEAD for search-based applications- SolidWorks for 3D mechanical design and 3DVIA for online 3D lifelike experiences. For more information, visit

Sustainable Practitioners talk "Green Marketing" at Energy Seminar

A recent Harvard Study revealed that over the long term (18 years in the case of this study) highly Sustainable companies outperformed low Sustainable companies. These highly sustainable companies understand the holistic relationship between customer, employee, community, environment, and shareholder.
On Tuesday, December 6th, MassTLC hosted a panel of highly sustainable practitioners that are not just educating their customers, employees, and shareholders of their sustainable efforts, but engaging them and motivating them to make these practices personal. Jim Nail, founder of communications consulting practice Speaking Sustainability, led the discussion with panelists, Kristine Kalaijian, Director of Environmental Compliance and Sustainability, Philips Electronics; Monica Nakielski, Project Manager, Sustainable Initiatives, Partners Healthcare; Frank Marino, Corporate Environmental, Health and Safety Manager, Raytheon; and Susan Hunt Stevens, CEO and Founder, Practically Green.

Jim Nail opened the event noting that "green marketing" has low credibility with consumers and corporate social responsibility reports reach a small niche audience. A new approach is needed to reach broader audiences who are critical to a business' success and are increasingly interested in what the firm is doing to address environmental and social issues its operations impact.

Companies such as Unilever are making sustainability personal in order to motivate their workforce remarked Susan Hunt Stevens. She went on to describe how Unilever's campaign has given everyone in the company the title Head of Sustainability. Why is it so important for companies to engage employees and customers on this level? Raytheon, Phillips and Partners Healthcare all shared that they have set aggressive sustainability goals for the near term and will need their employees incorporating sustainability into their daily tasks to meet these goals. For example, by 2015 Philips will improve the energy efficiency of its overall portfolio by 50% and double the global collection and recycling amounts of their products, as well as double the amount of recycled materials in products. View Susan's presentation here

Kristine Kalaijian explained that sustainability at Phillips is broadly defined to encompass social and ecological goals throughout their different businesses of healthcare, lighting and consumer lifestyle. Philips defines sustainability as improved health and well being while respecting natural resources. Philips uses a specific framework that balances the Human Development Index with Ecological Footprint
Raytheon has also embraced the make-it-personal model by increasing employee awareness with a simple quiz and naming those that finish the quiz Energy Citizens. Taking it a step further Raytheon has around 12,000 Energy Champions embedded within the business who lead specific energy conservation and efficiency projects. View Kristine's presentation here

Monica Nakielski is new to Partners Healthcare and is rethinking the status quo which has been focused on environmentalism and buildings. Partners wants to tie together green teams with energized leadership to move beyond buildings and look at sustainability at a broader level that includes personal well-being. Sustainability has been embraced at the Chief executive level by the very nature of their business, since healthy people need a healthy environment.

So it sounds like everyone is on board right? Well not exactly, there are still challenges to overcome. For example, employees that do not want to change or do not want another check list item on their "to do" list may be harder to engage. Frank Marino talked about how Raytheon still has room to grow mainly since it is a conservative company that is risk averse. View Frank's presentation here

Phillips has used sustainability as a means for growth and innovation but larger projects where the return on investment is longer term and harder to measure can still get stalled. Monica Nakielski noted that the issues on the agenda of some Partners senior executives may not match what is top of mind for employees and part of the employee engagement process will require sharing and education of both groups.

So how do you integrate the skeptics? Social media can play a part. Raytheon is using an in house social media tool to help link together passionate individuals. Zimride uses gamification, Seventh Generation and Stonyfield give small rewards to customers. These types of programs also have metrics built in so the benefits are measureable for the company. Awareness of a company’s commitment to sustainability can also help employees and management engage. Raytheon has done a lot to green their dining areas. This is a place where all employees can see a demonstrable change. These beliefs that are being embraced in the workplace are then coming home with people. Phillips is encouraging this type of community engagement.

One key theme is that achieving sustainability goals requires more than information and a traditional communications approach that emphasizes broad distribution of messages. The goal needs to be to change the audience’s behavior to adopt sustainable behaviors. Susan Hunt Stevens referred to the work of Dr. Robert Cialdini and Jim recommended the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath. Both provide insights from academic research demonstrating that change often begins with a small action, not with a change in attitudes.

One thing has become clear in behavior change for employees, customers and even companies; they would rather fit in than get a reward. Bringing about this type of culture change can bring about big wins for companies bottom lines and also for the overall health of our population and environment.
To wrap up, the panelists noted firms whose sustainability communications they admire:
- Kaiser Permanente
- Cleveland Clinic
- Hewlett Packard
- Patagonia
- Nike
- Marks & Spencer

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mass Technology Leaders Join Governor Patrick on Innovation Economy Mission to Brazil

MassTLC chairman Mohamad Ali, CEO Tom Hopcroft, and eight other MassTLC members will accompany Governor Patrick on his Massachusetts-Brazil Innovation Economy Mission next month. The trade mission, which includes 27 of the state's top business leaders (plus an additional 10 academic and 12 government leaders), is designed to encourage greater collaboration between Brazilian and Massachusetts companies, academic institutions, and government entities, resulting in greater economic benefits to both our economies.

(Delegation members at a trip briefing)

The mission is part of the Governor's effort to market Massachusetts to key growth markets and centers of innovation around the world, and supports the Council's goal of increasing tech sector employment in Massachusetts. Brazil, which already boasts one of the world's fastest growing economies, has recently emerged as new hotbed of technology innovation and entrepreneurial activity.

MassTLC is serving as the lead non-governmental tech sector organizer for this trip, as it did on a recent mission led by the Governor to Israel and the U.K. earlier in the year. MassTLC members will take part in roundtables, company visits and meetings with government, academic, and business officials - all designed to encourage new collaborations and investments that will support our efforts to grow the Massachusetts tech economy.

(Pictured left to right: Consul General Fernando de Mello Barreto, Ambassador Mauro Vieira, and Governor Patrick briefing the delegation)

"We are committed to competing for every job in every corner of the Commonwealth, and the world," said Governor Patrick, in the press release announcing the trip. "To continue our recovery, we need to position Massachusetts for success in growing markets like Brazil, to drive job growth and catalyze international investment."

The MassTLC team will visit Brazilian companies, universities and government leaders during stops in Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiero. Last year, bilateral trade between Massachusetts and Brazil topped $475 million - representing more than $396 million in exports to Brazil and more than $80 million in imports to Massachusetts.

MassTLC President & CEO Tom Hopcroft featured on NECN discussing the trip:

The official delegation list is below.

Governor Deval Patrick
Secretary Greg Bialecki, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
Secretary Joanne F. Goldstein, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development
Secretary Paul Reville, Executive Office of Education
Secretary Rick Sullivan, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Senator Marc R. Pacheco, State Senator, First Plymouth & Bristol District
Susan Windham-Bannister, PhD, President & CEO, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
Pamela Goldberg, CEO, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative
Patrick Larkin, Deputy Director, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative
Patrick Cloney, Executive Director, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
Kenneth Brown, Executive Director, Massachusetts Office of International Trade & Investment
Josiane Martinez, Executive Director, Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants

Dr. Dennis Berkey, President, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Dr. Robert Caret, President, University of Massachusetts
Dennis Carr, Assistant Curator, Art of the Americas, Museum of Fine Arts
Jason Dyett, Program Director, Brazil Office, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University
Laurence Madin, Executive Vice President and Director of Research, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Dr. Bruce Magid, Dean, International Business School, Brandeis University
Dr. Dana Mohler-Faria, President, Bridgewater State University
Maria Muller, Deputy Director, External Relations, Museum of Fine Arts
Ben Schneider, Director, MIT Brazil, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Karina Xavier, Manager, MIT Brazil, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Aron Ain, CEO, Kronos Incorporated
Mohamad Ali, Chairman, Mass Technology Leadership Council; Senior Vice-President, Avaya
Priyanka Bakaya, CEO and Founder, PK Clean
Brian Burke, Northeast Director of Government Affairs, Microsoft Corporation
Wayne Canty, President, Heat Trace Products, LLC
Bob Connelly, CEO and President Madico, Inc.
Robert Coughlin, CEO and President, Massachusetts Biotechnology Council
Walt Doyle, CEO and President, WHERE Inc.
Marcia Fournier, Founder and CEO, BIOARRAY Therapeutics
Chris Goode, Vice-President, Global Corporate Affairs & Public Policy, EMC Corporation
John Harthorne, CEO and Founder, MassChallenge
Winston Henderson, Vice President and General Counsel, Nano Terra
Tom Hopcroft, CEO and President, Mass Technology Leadership Council
Florian Hunziker, COO, Harmonix Music System
Edvaldo Morata, Managing Director of Corporate Banking, Sovereign Bank and Banco Santander
Linda Moulton, CEO, TRU Corporation
Steve Papa, CEO and Founder, Endeca
Robert Perez, Executive Vice-President and COO,Cubist Pharmaceuticals
Brad Rinklin, Vice-President, Global Marketing, Akamai
Kristen Rupert, Executive Director, Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) International Business Council
Dr. Ido Schoenberg, CEO and Chairman, American Well Corporation
Joel Schwartz, Senior Vice-President and General Manager, Global New Business Development, EMC Corporation
Greg Shell, Manager, GMO LLC
Dr. Riccardo Signorelli, CEO and President, FastCAP Systems
Per Suneby, CEO, PMC Biotec
Kirk Sykes, President and Managing Director, Urban Strategy America Fund, L.P.
Andrew Tarsy, President and Executive Director, Progressive Business Leaders Network

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hundreds Pack Microsoft NERD for Tech Tuesday: Meet the Rockstar Developers of MA

Last night's Tech Tuesday, Meet the Rockstar Developers of MA, was fantastic and truly showed what the Stay in MA campaign is all about. Over 300 people turned out, including over 100 computer science students from regions colleges and universities. There was a great vibe all night with so much buzz about the cutting edge technologies that are being created in the region.
(Pictured Left to Right: Dharmesh Shah, Walt Doyle, Jeremy Wertheimer and Vinit Nijhawan. Photo Credit: Dan Bricklin)

Kicking off with a panel of "rockstar" developers moderated by Vinit Nijhawan from BU and including Walt Doyle from WHERE, Inc., Dharmesh Shah from Hubspot and Jeremy Wertheimer from Google. Highlights from the panel included:
  • Create code everyday and hit send; get it out there fast.
  • Biggest hurdles of starting a company: rapid development and shaping expectations.
  • Finding the right team is crucial, and keeping them happy leads to further company success. 
Following the panel were some shout-outs talking about some of the coolest new technologies coming down the pike for companies, including Black Duck Software, Telerik, VMware, MEDITECH, Microsoft, Big Belly Solar, Funkitron, AisleBuyer, and many more (download app at for full listing of exhibiting companies).
(Photo Credit: Dan Bricklin)
 The latter part of TT was all about the networking. You could not move without hearing some great dialogue among the developers and soon-to-be developers. The action was also taking place upstairs on the 11th floor where we heard of at least 1 great candidate was being wooed by a rapidly growing company.

#RockstarMA continued to trend today and we’d like to see the dialogue continue. Dan Bricklin captured the night with pictures, if you were there, I’m sure you can find yourself in one of them. If you weren't take a look for a better idea of what you can experience next time.

And be sure to stay tuned for our next Tech Tuesday on January 17, 2012 to keep this energy going.