Jack Santos

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Jack Santos
Research VP
5 years at Gartner
40 years IT industry

Jack Santos is a Research Vice President with Gartner. He is part of the Gartner for Technical Professionals product and focuses on professional effectiveness for IT practitioners. Mr. Santos covers organizational development, leadership and management practices, governance, and innovation and collaboration approaches. Read Full Bio

2013 Healthcare Breach Report

by Jack Santos  |  April 14, 2014  |  Submit a Comment

If you have followed my blog, you know that I annually review the US HHS breach report, just to see what kind of year we had in healthcare security.  Well, enough time has gone by since the end of year reporting to make sure we have captured the stragglers.  Prior years observations are here for 2010,  here for 2011, and here for 2012.

This year I firmed up our counting rules.  For example, I count all the multi-year breach counts in the year that the last breach report ended.  So there are some slight variations from prior years reporting.

A couple of observations:

  • 2012 now seems to have been an anomaly around breach reporting, we got back on a growth track in 2013 for breaches.  Something to look forward to (uggh).
  • We are at 30 Million individually identifiable healthcare records that were breached to date.  In four years we have exposed protected health information for 10% of the population.  I don’t think this cadence of breaches will change – in fact it may very well accelerate.  Get ready for a world where your health info is readily available – legitimately or not.
  • There is a whole lot of press on the 40 Million credit card numbers that were hacked at Target.  That’s an estimate, probably at the high end, and we don’t know how many of those were (or are) still valid numbers.  Not a word in the media about the 30 Million healthcare records out in the wild.  Healthcare is more than just about “What’s in your wallet” (apologies to Capital One).  That said, stolen credit card numbers are easily monetized, while stolen (or lost) healthcare records are a whole different story (note that some of these breaches included card numbers).  Which one is the more serious breach type, I’ll leave to a discussion for another day.
  • In 2013 Advocate Health in Illinois  joined a very exclusive club –  ”The Over 4 Million Records Breached” club.  There is only one other member – TRICARE in Virginia.  The next largest breach of all time is almost 2M Million records – ostensibly by IBM working for Health Net in California.

Here’s what the number of breaches over the past four years, based on government data , looks like:

 

2013 Healthcare breaches

 

Then there is the hall of shame.  Let’s recap the top 3 largest breaches by year:

 

   Provider  State  Business Partner Number of members affected
2009
AvMed, Inc. FL 1,220,000
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Inc. TN 1,023,209
Affinity Health Plan, Inc. NY 344,579

 

2010
New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation’s North Bronx Healthcare Network NY GRM Information Management Services 1,700,000
South Shore Hospital MA Iron Mountain Data Products, Inc. (now known as 800,000
Triple-S Salud, Inc. PR Triple-C, Inc. 398,000

 

2011
TRICARE Management Activity (TMA) VA Science Applications International Corporation (SA 4,900,000
Health Net, Inc. CA IBM 1,900,000
The Nemours Foundation FL 1,055,489

 

2012
Utah Department of Health UT Utah Department of Technology Services 780,000
Emory Healthcare GA 315,000
South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services SC 228,435

 

2013
Advocate Health and Hospitals Corporation, d/b/a Advocate Medical Group IL 4,029,530
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey NJ Horizon Healthcare Services, Inc., 839,711
AHMC Healthcare Inc. and affiliated Hospitals CA 729,000

 

And from the “will they ever learn?” department, these cases jump out:

Utah Department of Health UT 2010

1,298

2012

780,000

2013

6,332

 

Indiana Family & Social Services Administration IN 2013

187,533

2010

757

 

Health Net, Inc. CA  2013

8,331

2011

1,900,000

 

Cook County Health & Hospitals System IL 2010

556

2010

7,081

2013

22,511

2011

32,008

 

Can’t wait to see what happens in 2014….

 

 

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Category: Fun Healthcare security Uncategorized     Tags: , ,

The Importance of Being Work Flow

by Jack Santos  |  March 20, 2014  |  Comments Off

In this era of Big Data we often forget that data without process is like a day without…well you get it.  It being tax season in the US, I came across a prime example which I initially thought was a stretch, until it happened to me!

In the good old days of (say) ten years ago, the tax process was simple: you either did it yourself, or you had a third party do it – but in either case you sent the paperwork (forms etc.) with the check (if you owed money).

Well, electronic submission has changed all that.  Now the common practice (especially if you don’t trust turning over access to your bank account to the IRS) is to send a check separately from the form.  And the repercussions of that could be huge.  What was a single communication stream like this:

1

 

 becomes this:

4

No -This is not a rant about taxes – which would be entirely inappropriate for this blog – but it is an observation about what could  happen when we decouple data from process.  Miscommunication between preparer and citizen (wrong amount, missed email, etc. etc.), the inability of the bureaucracy to match receipts with forms, any number of things can go wrong – that wouldn’t have happened before  (or would have happened fewer times).  Then we need to think about how we remedy that ( if we allow the new process to exist)  - more process on top of process, more disruption, more cost.

Analytics is part of the puzzle.  The new scenario could complicate analytics (do we now need a data warehouse to match money to form and method? or to analyze the decoupled data and more complicated process?).  And let’s not even get into what’s the “meta data” – ala NSA concerns – especially now that they are two disjoint streams.

And this week, while writing this blog post, just when I thought this couldn’t possibly happen to me, I received an unexpected check from – guess who – the IRS.  I  am more in the habit of giving money to the IRS – not receiving it.  So imagine my surprise when I found out that an estimated payment, sent in correctly and appropriately, was somehow not able to be matched to me.  So they sent it back. with interest.  I am spending the $1.24 all in one place.

Of course the simple solution to this workflow conundrum on the citizen end  is to give the money to the preparer so it emulates the initial process – the preparer sends in the money with the form.  But most preparers don’t do that, now that electronic filing has come of age. 

Or give the IRS access your bank account.  Yeah. That’s a good idea.

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Category: Externalization Information Management Innovation IT Governance management Managment Outsourcing practitioner Uncategorized     Tags: , , ,

Work for Free!

by Jack Santos  |  March 6, 2014  |  Comments Off

This month’s Strategy and Business had this article:

Would Your Employees Work for Free?  Leaders who manage volunteer work forces have much to teach leaders who manage employees.

I suppose they are suggesting that a measure of employee engagement is whether I as an employee would still do the job for free…

So I am reflecting on experiences where that were born out:

1)      The hospital:  hospitals (up until recently) paid much less than other sectors for IT help – to the point where they would just train low paid clinicians to do IT.  The typical CIO salary was 1/2  to 1/3rd what he/she could earn at a comparable for profit.  The up side was “the mission” – helping save  lives vs. creating a system that optimizes sales is a compelling legacy and (sometimes) makes up for a lot of comp

2)      The college radio station: EVERYONE in a typical college radio station works for free.  I ran one as station manager for two years and technical director for one.  Through administration budget meetings, student strikes, sit-ins, and precarious race relation negotiations.  And always wondered why I (or any of the other 100+ volunteers) would put up with it for nothing.  Music and drugs helped ;)    It also provided a good work experience to be used later.

3)      The start-up:  this was more a case of delayed gratification – if I work for free or near free now, maybe I’ll be filthy rich in the future and not have to work at all.  It’s a Las Vegas crap shoot, but still something many employees (and ITers) buy into.

So  “delayed gratification”  could be the underlying motivator in all these “ideal engagement” scenarios…whether its feeling good about what you did with your life, recognizing skills that could come in handy later, or just hoping for the big payout at the end of the time you put in.  If  it’s no $, then it may be that employees have to see other visible results…or risk the perception that their time is wasted.

The fallacy with equating positive employee engagement with “working for free” is that humans often put up with a lot of hassle for a period of time for a variety of motives – and it may not reflect true “engagement”; also finding someone with charismatic qualities  to follow may also be a factor – playing on that need for security and  shared purpose.  That works for cult leaders, at least for a while.

There’s also a fallacy with equating employee satisfaction with engagement, or the fact that people will work under duress for free… for a while… until they find something else; or the need to achieve an organizational goal for a higher cause – sometimes you have to put up with a lot to accomplish a noble goal — like in a just war (e.g. the Greatest Generation).

Even more importantly – it’s not about top down leadership, but what Tom Friedman recently wrote about in an interview with Laszlo Bock at Google.  He called it “emergent leadership” — the ingrained motivation within all of us, components of which are humility, responsibility, ownership.  That’s what I’m talking about when I mean “engagement”.

During our changing IT career research we found the CIO who was not competing for employees on pay, but competing on career development. He found out what each one wanted to pursue and helped them do it. He gave them assignments knowing that eventually they would leave out of necessity to find more pay, but while they were there they got the opportunities to improve their career. Now THAT’S engagement!

For those of us in IT, these are not academic topics — and that’s why Mike Rollings and I are focused on them in our professional effectiveness research at Gartner.

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Category: career management Managment Social Media Strategic Planning Work Place     Tags: , , , ,

US Government Shutdown Lessons for IT and Businesses

by Jack Santos  |  October 11, 2013  |  5 Comments

Just read an interesting analysis by George Friedman over at Stratfor: The Roots of the Government Shutdown.  He ascribes the shutdown as an unintended consequence of the change of the US political landscape from a political boss system to a money-lobby driven system.  And the confusion of principles with ideology.  We have transformed from a principled people, to ideologues.

Everyone disparages Washington DC for this kind of behavior, but my observation from Facebook and other venues is that the behavior of no-holds barred stand your ground on principles and ideology is rampant in our society, fueled by online media (Facebook, blogs), as well as traditional media (Fox News).

Now this is not normal territory for a Gartner Blog topic, but I bring it up because my Research Agenda in Gartner is “Professional Effectiveness”.  Sure, we talk about influence, persuasion, the power of the individual because of the internet, career topics, and the failure of the hiring process.  Anything that can make the IT Professional more effective. For a quick look of our Professional Effectiveness research, go to “GTPCareer.com” – that provides an overview; any further exploration and you’ll need a Gartner ID.

Professional Effectiveness is not just about your career, or your ability to get the job done.  It’s also about understanding what’s happening in society, and business, that affects how you do your job – like my upcoming research on best practices for online/anytime/anywhere work (which – HP and Yahoo aside – is an inevitable growing trend).  We need to think about our  impact in a world where what you say can be read by millions within minutes of posting, but what that also means to how you do your job, and your business peers do theirs .

As I watch Facebook discussions around US politics (Obamacare, mayoral elections) degenerate into the kind of standoff we see in DC, it occurs to me that our ability to connect is central to how we develop real, impactful business systems – whether it’s how you interrelate with your business partner, or convey requirements to your subcontractor or outsourcer.  How you integrate that latest SaaS  app, whose roots were in a business area “shadow IT” skunk works.  And how you connect with your boss and peers.  What’s happening is DC is just a mirror to ourselves and how we interrelate – at home or business.

And for my international friends, don’t think this kind of behavior is a uniquely American phenomenon (which, if you agree, refutes Friedman’s analysis).  The level of discourse internationally - whether it be about Arab springs, Roma settlements, unemployment, or Olympic spending inequalities, is worldwide.  That’s not to say that human disagreements  has always been relatively civil  up until now — just that it is starting to take a particularly significant  unpleasant turn; my hypothesis is that is a consequence of Internet side effects.

So the  roots of the US government shutdown help me realize that what we do with our professional effectiveness research is, in some ways, understanding how we avoid the kind of  behavior in our daily lives in business that leads to dysfunctional organizations.

That’s what me and my colleagues – Mike Rollings, Jamie Popkin, and others at Gartner that contribute to our research, do.  We are the Corporate Dysfunction trouble shooters, AKA the Enterprise Collaboration Shutdown avoidance team…

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Category: career Innovation IT Governance management Managment practitioner Social Media Strategic Planning Work Place     Tags: , , , , , , ,

Management 500: Leadership

by Jack Santos  |  October 7, 2013  |  Comments Off

A few weeks back I gave some advice to new managers under the title “Management 101“.  This post is for  the more advanced crowd, and just like graduate level courses, it can be controversial, and not “settled law”. But worth repeating, especially for managers that are still unsure of themselves.

This note recently came across my desk:

In a previous job I had a boss who called me into his office to tell me he didn’t approve of the job performance of one of the employees that reported to me. He told me to have a talk with him. I called the employee and told him, “Bob wants me to tell you how much he appreciates the job you’re doing.” Several weeks later my boss called me back into his office and told me, ” I can see you’ve spoken to <the employee>, what a difference!” Choose encouragement over criticism, always!

Now for you hardliners out there, there are many things wrong with this approach:

She explicitly went against her supervisor’s direction
She didn’t challenge her boss on a basic assumption, didn’t have an open, honest dialogue
She fundamentally wasn’t honest with her employee

And what about the performance evaluation process? What went wrong there? What happened to frequent, periodic reviews?  Or the process to ensure a fair and equitable rating and feedback process?

Now that all said, it was a gamble, and it worked… for now.

Nonetheless, it’s a great example.  Management is about human beings, and there is nothing black and white about humans.  Every employee is frequently put in this position – whether it is with subordinates, in dealing with an issue with peers, or even working with superiors and navigating political waters.

In fact, there is a lot here that is counterintuitive.  This manager made the right call, knowing the perceptions and preconceived notions involved.  At least the right call for now.  What happens next, when her “little white lie” comes out?  It may, it may not.

But I love how in this case the manager took the initiative to do what they thought was right.  Soon, her manager may report to her.

Some call it manipulation.  My touch stone has been this famous Eisenhower quote:

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” 

Maybe the corollary is:

“Leadership is getting the results you want by getting others to think they did it”.

Or

“Leadership is getting the right results in a way that encourages everyone to a higher level of performance, whether they realize it or not”.

What is clear to me is that the same skill and judgment that went into this little case study is something that is not  peculiar to supervisors and managers – the traditional definition of “leaders.”  Everyone is a leader.

What do YOU think?  What would YOU do?

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Category: career management Managment practitioner     Tags: ,

The Tyranny of Reference Architectures

by Jack Santos  |  September 30, 2013  |  Comments Off

For a profession that loves TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) it’s amazing that this TWP (Two Word Phrase) “Reference Architecture” (RA) has lasted as long as it has.

Funny; when we talk about Georgian, Federal, or Colonial (or god forbid “Vernacular”) in the original “architecture” space, no one calls those reference architectures.  In fact, we are more likely to call them “styles”, or more specifically, architectural styles.  And then there are blueprints, and engineering drawings, which are related to “architecture”.  But still no “reference”.  So this is uniquely an IT thing.

A Google search finds that RAs are usually defined as templates, are  graphical, and encompass guidelines and best practices.  I get it.  But RAs seemed to have become the name that any vendor slaps on its sales collateral that has even an inkling of real technical depth.  The operative word is “inkling”.

Amazon has a reference architecture.  Actually,  more than a few…
So does OracleMicrosoft …and the public sector gets into the act too, so do the standards agencies.

I feel like I can speak with some authority here, since 30 years ago or so ago I was the proud recipient of a letter from the American Institute of Architects, threatening a cease and desist order for the use of the word “Architect” in my business card, letter head, and company tag line (Systems Architect, Enterprise Architect) .  Wish I had saved that letter.

So what we do here at Gartner for Technical Professionals is important: real, usable, actionable Reference Architectures (for lack of a better term) that reflect not only what we have seen from a multitude of companies we work with, but some additional insight based on where we see things going.  And, it’s not from a vendor trying to sell you their related solutions.

The bottom line is that Reference Architectures are meant to be a quick start for different approaches to computing solutions. They are meant to save you time and money, and provide some ready-made diagrams and pointers that any company can use.  Certainly invaluable when bringing a newbie, or a fresh CS graduate, on board.  It can even help get seasoned veterans think about new perspectives.

And given the wholesale butchering of the concept market-wide, it’s no wonder we have an effort internally to really look at the whole idea of “reference architectures” and how we describe them.  We have a good base to start with, but I expect when we are done, we’ll be taking the concept of “Reference Architectures” to a whole new level.

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Category: Innovation IT Governance Strategic Planning     Tags: , ,

Analytics: My Deepest Fear

by Jack Santos  |  September 24, 2013  |  Comments Off

“My deepest fear is not that our data are inadequate. My deepest fear is that through analytics, we are powerful beyond measure.   It is the light of knowledge, not the darkness of ignorance, that most frightens me.”

  …. apologies to Marianne Williamson,
                          
whose quote I hacked .

Few people realize it, but I actually started my career as a DBA, doing lots of meta data work in an insurance company;  and there was no end of it.  Thirty years later, one could read the above thought of mine and call me a troglodyte, a Luddite, a moron.  Maybe.

It’s not that I am saying ignorance is preferable to knowledge. Far from it.  I think the inverse of that has been well established in our culture.  My deepest fear is that the pursuit and analysis of data at all costs – through data analytics , metrics, database analysis… it could be the most damaging trend I am seeing today.

Simple examples of this is a large quest for certainty taking place in many organizations – at the expense of timely action.  If George Washington (The US Revolutionary War general and first US president) had waited to gather all the data (spy reports, observations, exploratory troop reports) to achieve certainty on British troop movements – well, we in the US would still be speaking the King’s English.   There’s a more modern term for this: analysis paralysis.

My fear encompass our ability to measure everything and anything, collect that data, report on it longitudinally, correlate it, find interrelations, define context,  and analyze it statistically.  So within enterprises what we are seeing is a strong trend to measure every work product – especially at the individual level – to unprecedented levels.  It makes me long for the piece work days of sweat-shops in the early 20th century – because (unchecked) that could be the end game when our mantra becomes “metrics”.

As pointed out by my colleagues, there is also the issue of having so much data waiting for some kind of analytics, that it may thwart really understanding the question you are trying to answer – or even if it is the right question.  At the other end of the cycle, not really understanding how to apply the knowledge or how to measure the “appropriateness” of application of the knowledge could be a big problem.  Getting a result doesn’t imply we really “get it”.

Finally, the recent Snowden revelations layers on a third  component to my fear — the absolute tyranny of having too much data (personal and otherwise) that is like honey to the bees of authoritarian forces – as good intentioned as it may be.

Is my fear justified?  Are there mitigating actions we can take to avoid the fear of analytics run amok?  Or is the light of knowledge like moths to a flame?  You tell me.

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Management 101

by Jack Santos  |  September 13, 2013  |  Comments Off

Let me one-up HIPAA and share with you a medical condition I am dealing with: Bell’s palsy.  It came on suddenly, and (I expect and hope) will be gone within a month.

Interesting, though, that its onset reminded me of advice by an early mentor, Richard Connell.  Richard was my boss at Aetna and Liberty Mutual for many years, and moved on to Selective Insurance as CIO and eventually CAO.

Back to Palsy.  A few weeks ago on my last plane trip I had an earache – the sharp, painful kind that affects you with the air pressure change during ascent or descent on a plane; unusual, I thought nothing of it;  i.e., this too shall pass.  Last Tuesday, the ear ache returned.  By Wednesday, it had developed into a headache, and discomfort with my contacts, as well as a slight tingling of my face.  Thursday morning I awoke with full on symptoms (paralyzed half face) and went to the Emergency Room (or ED in medical parlance).

Which reminded me of Richard.  His advice was always to pay attention to the details, act early, and act decisively.  Doing that gives you runway to deal with changing circumstances, more options, and more opportunity for correction.  Don’t ignore the early signs.  Act on them.

Of course, one must temper that advice with a dose of calm rationality (Richard was always good at that), and not overreact to every little thing, or micromanage a person or situation.  But it’s good advice, and should be page one of any management primer.  Pay attention to details, act early, act decisively.  True in many aspects of life, not just management.

Our research (The Changing IT Career) is leading us down a path where we discover that management skills and leadership skills (the two are different) are applicable to everyone, not just folks that supervise people.  In this era of mobile work and increased autonomy, EVERYONE is a leader…and companies are looking for that.  We’ll have a lot of research coming out on that topic in the coming year. 

So my recent experience reminded me of some basic management skills — directly applicable to people managers – and probably true for task managers that aren’t involved in supervising – Like IT professionals and practitioners.  This tidbit was one of them.  Welcome to Management 101.

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Category: management Managment Work Place     Tags: ,

MicroKia or NoSoft?

by Jack Santos  |  September 3, 2013  |  Comments Off

If someone said they didn’t see this one coming (Microsoft buys Nokia handset business) then let me introduce you to the man with one eye in the land of the blind.

In fact, I had a briefing with Nokia senior IT management way back in 2010 and proposed that this would be the way it played out….to guffaws and howls.  They had invited me (then with Burton Group) to tell them something different than what they were hearing from my  (now) esteemed colleague Nick Jones  – with which there was no love lost.  After all – he’s the mobile expert, not me – I am just an ex-CIO.  Apparently they were going to keep trying with analyst firms until they heard what they wanted.  Since then, Gartner bought Burton, and Microsoft bought …

It’s a match made in hell. (The MS/Nokia deal, not the Gartner/Burton deal, which is working quite nicely, thank you).

With all due respects to Nokia, they faced an innovator’s dilemma.  Back then, I told them that bragging about their 3rd world non-smart phone sales was not the future.  Started as a paper mill, Nokia has faced these challenges before, but unfortunately they won’t be facing them again (unless MS decides to break itself up sometime in the future…)

My heart goes out to Helsinki – a beautiful city, and home to Nokia — it’s almost a factory town.  This can’t be good long term…but they’ll survive.

…and MS/Nokia?  There’s still a chance.  I have been playing with the MS Surface all weekend, and boy was that cool.  The IT geek in me loved it.  The consumer in me is still eyeing iPhones and Androids. And the libertarian in me wants a three horse race, not two….

 

 

 

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Ballmer: up close and personal…

by Jack Santos  |  August 26, 2013  |  Comments Off

I first met Steve Ballmer around 1988 over breakfast at the then newly built Boston Harbor Hotel. Even then, Steve’s reputation preceded him: master marketer, the business brains of Microsoft (Gates was the techno geek visionary). By then he had already established himself in the annals of computing history.

Ballmer played to the Gates & Allen (Allen was gone by then) mystique, not unlike Jobs played to Wozniak. But the outcomes were oh so different. Jobs, for one, is no longer with us. Ballmer is. He’s a survivor.

I didn’t like him. He struck me as rather oafish, probably a brute and a bully behind closed doors. Not the lovable teddy-bear that Woz was (and still is, based on his Dancing with the Stars gig). Even then, the button down management at my company – and I was only a rising star mid-level manager –didn’t see why they should meet with Steve – much less Bill Gates. No doubt these kids would burn out and be immaterial in the IT equation at our F100 insurance company. So they sent me.

Over eggs and bacon, I remembered thinking this guy was a heart attack waiting to happen. Big, and not exactly social. Microsoft was in the midst of their big Windows push, and following the not so secret kill OS/2 strategy (which I think they would admit was stumbled upon, rather than carefully planned). Ballmer and Gates had, to their benefit, the rising tide of techno geeks behind them prepared to scale the walls of Big Blue. Today we call that the consumerization of IT.

Ballmer wasn’t yet President or CEO. Gates often bowed to investor pressure for adult supervision – like with Tandy corporation lifer Jon Shirley. I really liked Jon. He knew he was in a different game, and quickly fell back into a role of parent advisor, went off into the sunset to polish his stable of classic automobiles, significantly richer from both the Tandy and Microsoft experiences. Microsoft needed an adult, Jon brought corporate respectability for a while (83-90). He came in after Gates had a particularly difficult time with another adult supervisor (James Towne) whom I never met – and was by all accounts the wrong guy for the job. Shirley lasted longer; he was wiser in the latitude he gave to the kids, and the role he played.

When Shirley went into the sunset (I particularly liked discussing cars with him, so was sad to see him go), Mike Hallman, with an IBM pedigree, took the reins. Hallman was Boeing’s CIO – and I felt we connected because we both understood what it meant to run a large IT shop (although, admittedly, I was still reporting 2 levels down from the CIO at Aetna).  Alas, he was too corporate, and it wasn’t much longer than one year that he, too, was history.

Hallman’s departure resulted in an innovation: office of the president, which had three people. The discussion at the time was whether any large company could have one person really handle the job when three would do – and whether this was the future for corporate management. Or what it really was – a beauty contest. And in the office of the president was the requisite bean counter (Frank Gaudette, the CFO), Mike Maples ( another outsider from IBM), and Ballmer. One could make the argument that this was a test between Maples and Ballmer; Maples (the outsider) was well liked by engineers and had good, strong, Blue processes in his blood. Ballmer was still a loose cannon, could be a bull in a china shop, and was a FOB (friend of Bill), which only meant that maybe – since he didn’t have the technical chops – he didn’t have the management chops as well.

Bob Herbold, a P&G veteran, was there during that period in various roles: COO, CIO, ran their consulting (if memory serves me). He was pretty instrumental IMHO, to keeping things together through the many management changes from 1994-2001 – maybe as much as Gates.

Ballmer took the president reins in 1998, CEO in 2000, and made public statements about wanting to keep doing that until 2018. Obviously he isn’t going to make it. It was a stupid thing to say, anyways. Typical Ballmer…

Call me Woody Allen’s Zelig, fortunate enough to have looked at most of these guys in the eye, shook their hands, maybe even broken bread. And then went off and made corporate decisions based on what I saw. Ballmer has turned out to be very impressive. Tenacious, and (like I said) a survivor. Since I graduated college in 1977 (the same year as Steve) I have kept a book called “the Computer Entrepreneurs” – which had one page portraits of early PC and computer pioneers. Ballmer is one of the last to still be around actively engaged in the industry. During his tenure Microsoft’s annual revenue surged from $25 billion to $70 billion, while its net income has increased 215 percent to $23 billion, according to Wikipedia.

I suspect, every pundit (and analyst) will be forecasting Microsoft as the next Blackberry, IBM, or DEC. I can’t predict the future. But I can report on the man.

Kudos to Steve Ballmer on a great run. I’ve warmed to you, but still don’t like you. First impressions last a long time…

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