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Disney the DOS way

Yes, I'm back at it... rested and relaxed after a week off. It is always nice to go away, but always nice to come home.

As I mentioned, I spent part of the trip at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Yes, I can hear you asking -- who visits central Florida at the end of June? Well, from the crowds visiting the Magic Kingdom, apparently quite a few people do.

I have been a Disney fan since I was a kid -- I even worked at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. during college. And it was great fun spending time with my in-laws and visiting Disney World with a six- and four-year-old. They had a blast.

And I even gleaned two interesting tech items... For several years, Disney has had photographers out there taking photos of the happy families in front of the castle first thing in the morning... before you are worn out, I'm guessing. They used to give you a receipt and guests would have to go back to a shop near the end of the day to retrieve the photos. But that has all changed. Today, they give you a bar coded card that allows you to get the photo from a Web site and order your photos that can be sent directly home... and the photos are posted just hours later.

Second... I was also talking to some of the employees at the Disney World hotel where we were staying and I overheard them saying that they were going through "Siebel training." My ears pearked. So I asked them about it. Apparently some of the Disney World hotels are shifting to a new system that will allow them to share data more efficiently among their different organizations. All of that sounds like a familar refrain. The really interesting part is that, these employees told me, there are certain "old timers," as she called them, who are stuck to their DOS system. This person said she was excited about the new system because it would provide them with new functionality that they didn't have before.

Feds often get a bad rap... and critics point to "the private sector" without specifying what they mean. Jim Flyzik, the former Treasury Department chief information officer who is now a consultant, has noted that when people talk about "the private sector," generally they are talking about the top 1 percent of firms. It isn't always a fair comparison.

In some ways, feds undergo much more scrutiny then private sector organizations do. In part, that is because of the importance of some of these systems. If Disney's systems don't share data effecitively, they could lose a customer. But if FBI systems do not effectively allow agents to share data, there can be grave results. I'm exagerating to make a point, of couse, but some of the systems are very complex. Look at the Homeland Security Departmeht's US-VISIT, for example... or the National Archives and Records Administration's Electronic Records Archive. These are systems that have no private sector equivalent... and certainly nothing that deals with the scale and implications that these systems do.

It also is apparent that public sector organizations are not the only ones dealing with the 'culture' issue. All of us are learning to deal with change management... and culture issues crop up even at the happiest place on Earth.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Jul 05, 2005 at 12:14 PM


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