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Saturday, March 01, 2008


Well I am finally done, retired, complete and finished with the big soap company. This marks my thirtieth year. Although I only worked there for 27 years. I spent a few years working a start-up, which is yet another story.

I started as part of the analytics and graphics group, first primarily doing applications of optimization for the supply chain. This was in the early days of being able to readily visualize results interactively on a computer. It turned out to be a very effective way to make things clearly understandable. So we implemented things like visualized woodland harvesting plans, supply network options and simulation results. Simulate, optimize and visualize the results, that worked well.

The next big chunk of work had to do with what in the late 80s was very optimistically called 'artificial intelligence'. What we mostly implemented was called 'expert systems'. We collaborated with several of the big players then, notably Teknowledge. We had a dozen or so folks in our team, and built a number of systems to do things like coffee blending, machine analysis and selection and even stain analysis. There were a number of successes, some very lucrative, but we never matched the speed or expectation of management. So after a few years success was declared and the group disbanded. Too soon I think, there were many opportunities we had in the hopper that could have prevailed.

In the early 90s, well before Mash-ups and Google maps, we implemented systems that used Geographical Information Systems (GIS) as front-ends to help management to make difficult choices whose results would impact the design of corporate systems. Really a mix of simple optimization and simulation, with output and input taken from GIS interfaces

Then we looked at the idea of immersive innovation. This started with skunk works home and store centers that built contexts for understanding and engagement with consumers and other organizations. Despite all the cynical IBM ads, these can result in some powerful engagement dynamics.

In the last few years I have been involved in the practical application of Web 2.0 capabilities to track the application and implementation of emergent technologies using blogs. What I did during this time was to track everything I did using an internal blog, which I left behind as an archive when I retired. This is a useful example of knowledge management, a means to easily capture a stream of knowledge, and allow you to stream it back as needed later on. The blog was read by thousands a week internally, and led to lots of consulting relationships.

Now on to new challenges.

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