Blogging Idol update: Here come the newbies!

New challengers entered the Blogging Idol fray this week with thoughts on ERP and the Apple iPad, while others kept up the momentum by focusing on open data and cloud computing.

Former IDC analyst and ex-Microsoft Canada executive Joel Martin launched his bid for the $1,000 cash prize in the six-week competition with a series of posts aimed squarely at the enterprise IT crowd. This included an exploration of software-as-a-service (SaaS) as it might apply to the enterprise resource planning (ERP) market, which he framed in a “duck vs. chicken” debate:

“The ‘duck’ represents more complex line-of-business SaaS offerings that integrate into existing systems and can be entwined with other systems via industry standard (.Net or J2EE) code or in some cases proprietary legacy code,” he wrote. “Think of the later as that layer of fat on a duck beast that needs to be cooked perfectly to create that flavour and texture worth paying a premium for – or in the context of an business application it represents the custom tailoring to generate competitive advantage. Meanwhile ‘the chicken’ in most cases may be the ERP SaaS for the rest of us. It’s not as glamorous as the duck, but do we really need it?”

Another Blogging Idol newcomer, GHY International’s Nigel Fortlage, turned his attention to the most popular story of the week: the coming of Apple’s iPad device.

“I see it as a real device that could bring a revolution to Web video conference capabilities such as Skype. By supporting applications like Skype which to my limited understanding it can not do currently, but also add a front facing camera to enable video conference features,” he wrote. “If I could acquire iPads in this configuration it would make for easy roll out to branch office for a mobile video conference enabled platform.”

Blogging Idol regular Tania Samsonova took up the week’s suggested topic, open data, and pointed to what she saw as a shining example of a site,, which was created by a Toronto developer.  

“The site performs web scraping to capture information from government sites about contracts awarded to various contractors. This is, officially, publicly reported information. It is, however,  displayed and stored on hundreds of disparate government sites in various forms, and this hinders the search and use of the information should anyone need it,” she wrote. “Now . . . the process of contract awarding became more transparent as allows the public to better identify regular recipients of government contracts.”

Michelle Labelle, meanwhile, weighed in on an issue of perennial interest – and frustration – for IT managers: Why project management is so difficult.

“It is just as easy to be working on the user interface and reports as it is to be working on the underlying data structures and architecture.  As a result we tend to change the “architecture” as we progress through the development and implementation phases of the projects,” he wrote. “Most of us understand intuitively that you just can’t change the building’s fundamental architecture once the foundation is laid, yet in IT projects it is often the case that 2/3 rds of the way through the implementation we see the systems architecture challenged and changed due to user requirement changes.”

ComputerWorld Canada’s Blogging Idol continues until May 7.

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