Alan Steele Nicholson

Innovatie in theorie en praktijk

| 12-04-2012

Innovatie wordt tegenwoordig steeds vaker besproken tijdens het vernieuwen van outsourcingscontracten. Er is dan ook een groeiende behoefte om het fenomeen innovatie, een moeilijk te vatten concept, te concretiseren. Met dit doel formeerde het Platform Outsourcing Nederland (PON) een werkgroep. Dit artikel beschrijft de uitkomsten van het onderzoek van deze werkgroep.

Auteurs: Bart van der Linden en Alan Steele Nicholson (Mitopics)

Bron: Outsource Magazine

Cloud versus Outsourcing: identical legal risks?

| 26-05-2011

Recently I spoke at the Heliview Cloud Forum Spring Edition on the risks of “Do-it-yourself Cloud procurements”. Ordering Cloud services is now so simple that anyone from your organisation can pick up the phone and hook the business up to the Cloud in a matter of minutes. Of course that can have major legal consequences.

During the Q&A, the moderator asked whether my comments weren’t just as applicable to any outsourcing. ‘There’s nothing new here’, he claimed. (The Cloud Forum was supposed to promote the Cloud. Perhaps he thought I was spoiling the party!)

That raises the question indeed whether Cloud is just another form of outsourcing. Not true. There is much overlap, but there are important differences: differences which could play an important role in your business planning.

Perhaps the biggest difference is how easy it is to get into the cloud. Minutes instead of months of contract negotiations with a “normal” outsourcing provider. So easy that you might be tempted not to read the fine print of what you’re asked to sign up to.

And there’s the rub. Unlike your typical outsourcing contract, many Cloud providers will not accept any responsibility for security or privacy. In the Google Apps terms, for instance, you agree to give Google a “perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, …, modify, …, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services”. Can you imagine a “normal” (reputable) outsourcing provider demanding that from its customer?

But there are more differences. You might not be able to know where your enterprise’s (personal) data are physically being stored. This could cause your enterprise to be violating (Dutch, European) privacy laws; you might not have the right to preform audits required by your regulator(s); you may have a more difficult time moving your data from one supplier to another; and you may find yourself agreeing to dispute resolution taking place in far-off America.

Thus while there are a number of similarities (the biggest being that you hand over physical control of your data to a third party), there are also a number of differences. Unless you are aware of these differences and know how to address them, you may be walking your enterprise into a field of landmines.

De black box van innovatie bij outsourcing: let’s make it work!

| 09-12-2010

Innovatie is een aspect van outsourcing dat nog steeds een black box is voor zowel klanten als leveranciers. Erger nog, het is een black box die niet werkt. Slechts een paar mensen weten wat er in de black box zit, en nog minder weten hoe je deze voor je kunt laten werken.

Platform Outsourcing Nederland (PON), het kennis- en netwerkplatform op het gebied van outsourcing, hield afgelopen week een seminar over innovatie. Harm Spoor, Jacco Schonewille en ik presenteerden drie aspecten van het probleem. Harm, die zijn onderzoek bij PON voor de Hogeschool Utrecht net heeft afgerond, presenteerde zijn onderzoek over business IT alignment en het effect dat alignment heeft op innovatie. Jacco, die recent is afgetreden als CIO bij een Europese transportorganisatie, haalde aan hoe innovatie een rol speelde bij een recent, groot outsourcingstraject dat hij deed. Ik vertelde over hoe de partijen in een outsourcing een overeenkomst kunnen opstellen om hun beider verwachtingen vast te leggen en handvatten te geven daar ook werkelijk gestand aan te doen.

Wat gedurende het seminar bleek, was hoe nodig de outsourcingmarkt aandacht zou moeten besteden aan innovatie, een tot nu toe helaas onderontwikkeld domein binnen outsourcingstrajecten. Als proof of the pudding, heb ik enkele voorbeelden laten zien van grote outsourcingsdeals waarin standaard innovatiebepalingen stonden, die keer op keer niet hebben gewerkt. Niemand lijkt te weten wat de bepalingen echt betekenen, wat wordt verwacht door de partijen en hoe ook maar iemand kan vertellen of de verplichtingen werden vervuld of niet.

Het probleem lijkt te zijn dat weinigen weten wat innovatie is. Een Amerikaanse Supreme Court rechter schreef ooit eens in een zaak over pornografie dat hij geen definitie kon geven van het woord, maar: “hij wist wanneer hij het zag”. Dat is zo ongeveer waar wij vandaag de dag staan rondom innovatie. Iedereen heeft het erover, het staat praktisch in ieder outsourcingcontract, maar niemand weet precies wat ermee bedoeld wordt.

Laat dit een oproep zijn: PON (en de rest van de wereld): het is tijd om de black box te openen, te kijken wat er precies in zit, en dan: let’s make it work!

The black box of innovation in outsourcing: let’s make it work!

| 09-12-2010

Innovation is an aspect of outsourcing that stubbornly remains a ‘black box’ for customers and suppliers alike. Worse, it’s a black box that doesn’t work. Few seem to know what’s inside, and even fewer seem to know how to make it work.

Platform Outsourcing Nederland (PON), the Dutch knowledge and networking platform in the area of outsourcing, held an “Innovation” seminar this week. Three of us (Harm Spoor, Jacco Schonewille and myself) presented three aspects of the problem. Harm discussed a study he’s just completed organized by PON and Hoogeschool Utrecht on aligning IT with business and the effect that alignment has on innovation. Jacco, who’s just stepped down as CIO at a European transport company, addressed how innovation occurred through an outsourcing that his company had recently done. And I talked about how parties to an outsourcing could draft a contract to ensure that their mutual expectations about innovation could be realized.

What became clear in the course of the seminar was how desperately the outsourcing industry needs to pay attention to this – as yet – woefully undeveloped area. As proof of the pudding, I’ve seen contracts in major outsourcing deals containing “standard innovation provisions” that have been proven time and again not to work. No one seems to know what the terms actually mean, what is being expected of the parties and how on earth anyone can tell when and whether the obligations in that regard have been fulfilled.

The problem seems to be in the fact that few people know what innovation is. A US Supreme Court justice once wrote in a case concerning pornography that he couldn’t define the term, but he knew it when he saw it. That’s more or less where we are today with innovation. Everybody talks about it; it’s in practically every outsourcing contract, but no one knows exactly what it means.

Let this be a call to arms: PON (and the rest of the outsourcing world), it’s time to open this black box, see what’s inside, and finally begin to make it work.

Can Goliath lock David into its Cloud?

| 20-09-2010

A recent study from KPMG listed the threat of vendor lock-in as one of the reasons CIOs hesitate sending their companies’ data into the cloud. Walter van Holst and Mike Chung followed that report up with their in-depth look at the difficulties with which CIOs are faced by that phenomenon.

As I wrote in a recent article in Computable.nl,, we are gradually building up some experience in Cloud Computing which is permitting companies to evaluate the risks based upon the experience of others rather than on pure hype. We now begin to see areas in which even smaller “Davids” might be able to find room to negotiate when they face the “Goliaths” of the Cloud Computing world.

Cloud computing: David en Goliath

| 06-09-2010

Sommige cloud computing-leveranciers behandelen, als waren zij een moderne Goliath, hun wederpartij als dwergen. Betekent dit dat een kleine ‘David’ elk contractsvoorstel dat zo een Goliath hem voorlegt, moet accepteren? In dit artikel wordt een recent cloudcontract bekeken waarbij twee ‘reuzen’ een overeenkomst hebben gesloten die onderhandelingsmogelijkheden toont die David misschien nog niet had gezien (of had mogen zien). Deze mogelijkheden zouden David nieuwe inzichten kunnen geven voor als hij zich in de cloud waagt, of hij nu een contract sluit met Goliath of met zijn vriendelijke cloudleverancier verderop in de straat.

“Containing” net neutrality

| 18-08-2010

In May, I blogged about the trans-Atlantic battle heating up over “net neutrality” over the Internet. In the US, the game just got hotter: despite a statement last week apparently to the contrary, Google is rumored to be closing a deal with the big US network operator Verizon that many think will have its data delivered to consumers ahead of its competition. If this deal goes through (and passes regulatory scrutiny there), then it would no doubt also have a future impact on how we access the Internet in Europe.

While on the one hand, Google strongly professes support for net neutrality, and in fact last week, even issued a joint statement with Verizon to that (somewhat watered-down) effect, on the other hand, the rumor is that Google plans an end run around this position. If the rumor is correct, Google would deposit containers of its servers in a Verizon parking lot (or other handy place) to enable them to get closer to Google’s users. This would allegedly permit fewer Internet ‘hops’ between user and Google, reduce the latency and thus speed up Google’s service as compared to Verizon’s other content provider-customers. In this way, Google would hope to ‘contain’ its apparent turnaround in positions.

Putting aside the debate about whether Google has sold out, then — if the rumor is true — (a) the network operators will be handed the same kind of commercial power that they would claim were net neutrality abandoned and (b) the scramble for space by content providers in Verizon’s (and other network operators’) “parking lots” could become a nightmare. In short, it would just move the debate from the regulatory to the real estate arena.

At this point, one thing appears certain: Google has apparently thrown in the towel on preserving net neutrality on wireless networks. Given the fact that in recent years wireless networks have become ever more attractive and widespread compared to fixed-line service, net neutrality supporters see this as a major defeat.

Making matters worse, the FCC (the US regulator in this area) seems to have thrown in the towel altogether. That seems to have alarmed at least four US Members of the House of Representatives who have now fired off a strong letter to the FCC this week urging them to get back into the game and to prevent what’s left of net neutrality from crumbling further. The letter brushes aside the Google/Verizon-attempt to define the debate and directly rebuts Google’s suggestion that wireless should in any way be treated differently from fixed-line services.

Lesson? Where Google and Verizon go, European providers and network operators are sure to follow. I wouldn’t unhook that fixed-line connection to your network operator just yet. 

In May, I blogged about the trans-Atlantic battle heating up over “net neutrality” over the Internet. In the US, the game just got hotter: despite a statement last week apparently to the contrary, Google is rumored to be closing a deal with the big US network operator Verizon that many think will have its data delivered to consumers ahead of its competition. If this deal goes through (and passes regulatory scrutiny there), then it would no doubt also have a future impact on how we access the Internet in Europe.

While on the one hand, Google strongly professes support for net neutrality, and in fact last week, even issued a joint statement with Verizon to that (somewhat watered-down) effect, on the other hand, the rumor is that Google plans an end run around this position. If the rumor is correct, Google would deposit containers of its servers in a Verizon parking lot (or other handy place) to enable them to get closer to Google’s users. This would allegedly permit fewer Internet ‘hops’ between user and Google, reduce the latency and thus speed up Google’s service as compared to Verizon’s other content provider-customers. In this way, Google would hope to ‘contain’ its apparent turnaround in positions.

Putting aside the debate about whether Google has sold out, then — if the rumor is true — (a) the network operators will be handed the same kind of commercial power that they would claim were net neutrality abandoned and (b) the scramble for space by content providers in Verizon’s (and other network operators’) “parking lots” could become a nightmare. In short, it would just move the debate from the regulatory to the real estate arena.

At this point, one thing appears certain: Google has apparently thrown in the towel on preserving net neutrality on wireless networks. Given the fact that in recent years wireless networks have become ever more attractive and widespread compared to fixed-line service, net neutrality supporters see this as a major defeat.

Making matters worse, the FCC (the US regulator in this area) seems to have thrown in the towel altogether. That seems to have alarmed at least four US Members of the House of Representatives who have now fired off a strong letter to the FCC this week urging them to get back into the game and to prevent what’s left of net neutrality from crumbling further. The letter brushes aside the Google/Verizon-attempt to define the debate and directly rebuts Google’s suggestion that wireless should in any way be treated differently from fixed-line services.

Lesson? Where Google and Verizon go, European providers and network operators are sure to follow. I wouldn’t unhook that fixed-line connection to your network operator just yet.

Net Neutrality heats up on both sides of the Atlantic

| 19-05-2010

Separate fights are brewing on both sides of the Atlantic on a topic that produces a lot of heat with little understanding: net neutrality. It’s an issue that can affect any business accessing or exploiting the Internet.

What’s it about? Simply put, it holds that companies providing access to the Internet (cable companies and internet service providers or “ISPs”) should treat all sources of data equally. At the core of the issue is whether ISPs should be prevented from blocking or giving certain traffic priority based on the content or application being carried or on the sender’s willingness to pay, and whether they should be permitted to withhold technical information about their services from application developers and end users.

Tiptoeing towards US privacy legislation: is the US a safe harbor for Dutch data?

| 18-05-2010

There is no uniform system of laws regarding the protection of personal data that covers the United States. That is what can make it a challenge for Dutch companies to do business there: except for certain narrow exceptions, Dutch companies are not allowed to have their personal data processed in the US.

ICT~Office Voorwaarden: niet geschikt voor outsourcing

| 01-04-2009

In meerdere blogstukjes is reeds aandacht besteed aan de nieuwe ICT~Office voorwaarden. In dit stuk zal ik stilstaan bij de bruikbaarheid voor outsourcing. In het kort: in de ICT~Office voorwaarden is geen specifieke module voor outsourcing opgenomen. De bepalingen die er wél in staan zijn niet geschikt voor outsourcingstrajecten.

Wie heeft ooit gezien dat de voorganger van de ICT~Office voorwaarden (de Fenit Voorwaarden) van toepassing zijn verklaard bij een outsourcingstraject? Wél kan het voorkomen dat een onderaannemer de ICT~Office voorwaarden gebruikt in zijn levering aan de insourcende partij. De enige oplossing voor de outsourcende partij is geen juridische relatie aan te gaan met deze onderaannemer.

Waarom zijn de ICT~Office voorwaarden naar mijn mening niet geschikt voor outsourcing?

  • Bij outsourcing kan het voorkomen dat werknemers die de geoutsourcde functionaliteit bij de outsourcendepartij verzorgden, overgaan naar de insourcende partij. Vanaf het moment van de overgang van de functionaliteit treden zij in dienst van de leverancier. In de ICT~Office voorwaarden is hier niets over geregeld.
  • De overdracht van functionaliteiteit van een outsourcende organisatie naar een insourcende organisatie worden bijna altijd bestaande overeenkomsten en relaties geraakt. De ICT~Office voorwaarden zwijgen over bestaande overeenkomsten en outsourcing terwijl dit wel van belang is.
  • In de ICT~Office voorwaarden staat dat de leverancier niet gehouden is de geoutsourcede functionaliteit te handhaven. Daarnaast zal de functionaliteit niet zonder meer worden aangepast aan de nieuwe wet- en regelgeving, terwijl dit wel van belang kan zijn voor de bedrijfsvoering van de outsourcende partij.
  • Bij outsourcing is het intellectuele eigendom van groot belang aangezien een vermeende inbreuk in bepaalde gevallen het stopzetten van de bedrijfsprocessen tot gevolg heeft. In de ICT~Office voorwaarden is de enige verplichting van de leverancier een inspanningsverplichting om de niet inbreukmakende programmatuur draaiende te houden, waardoor het moeten stopzetten van de bedrijfsprocessen nog steeds tot de risico’s van afnemer behoort.
  • De afnemer is in de ICT~Office voorwaarden verantwoordelijk voor dataconversies. Daarnaast is de leverancier nimmer verantwoordelijk voor herstel van verminkte of verloren gegane gegevens, zelfs in het geval dat het contract de verantwoordelijkheid voor migratie bij de leverancier legt. Dataconversie en migratie zijn juist de kerntaken van de insourcende partij. De afnemer betaalt voor die diensten. Het risico behoort dan ook te liggen bij de leverancier die de taak uitvoert en geld daarvoor krijgt.

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