2010 is nearing its end. Only a few hours left until the count down to the New Year. As I remember the highlights of this past year, I can’t help but think “What a year it has been!”
Granted, I started this year with great hopes and expectations. After all, it could not possibly be worse than 2009! For personal reasons, I barely survived a year of doom. I am not superstitious but somehow I managed to convince myself that the New Year would bring a twist to my misfortune… and it did… exceeding my expectations by far!
As promised, I summarized the year in a few key numbers. Here it comes:
Eighty posts in this very blog… I admit that we have not been super active like other bloggers but we hope that you enjoyed the content of our publications! Our goal is to share our expertise in the field of Decision Management and our thoughts on its evolution. I think we should make a New Year resolution to publish more! What do you think?
One hundred and sixty-six comments in this very blog… This is the only anomaly in the numbering order… I just could not have “comments” come before “posts” ;-). Comments are always welcome (except for spam which we try to diligently trash of course). It is a great opportunity to engage with you and hear your reaction to our posts. Let me highlight the two comments that have made me the proudest this year. As a big fan of Gartner’s Pattern-Based Strategy, I was very honored that Yvonne Genovese, the Gartner research analyst that initiated PBS, complimented our primer! The other wonder woman who came to our blog is Kare Anderson. As both Carlos and I started to become addicts to Social Media technologies, we were obviously impressed by Kare’s pedigree in the Collaboration arena so you could imagine how flattered we were to get her endorsement as well!
Forty three members in our Community… As we started this community, we were looking for the brightest minds in Decision Management and I am really glad that many of them have joined our circle. The purpose of the community is to share practical advice on and thoughts on the adoption of Decision Management technologies. We have not found yet a place that hosts this kind of down-to-Earth conversations and that is not lobbied by vendors making their marketing claims. So we created it and were overjoyed to welcome real people with tons of real-life hands-on expertise to tap into. Amongst the most brilliant thought-leaders in the technology space, let me name the top four that you should pay attention to — and please forgive me if you did not make it to the list, I just could not list 43 people here! — My rationale for picking those individuals is that they have shaped the technology that exists today: Carlos, of course, and Changhai Ke are the chief architects of the two leading products Blaze Advisor and ILOG JRules respectively. They pretty much invented that space. Charles Forgy is the original inventor of RETE, the most popular algorithm for inferencing (read: business rules execution). Jacob Feldman is one of the most vocal advocate for Optimization and Rules technologies combined. I am honored that they have accepted to be part of our community and that they are accessible for you to brainstorm with. How invaluable is that?
Eleven months out of the “Corporate” world… It has been almost a year since we left our former employer. I am amazed how fast the year has gone by. It took guts to leave a regular paycheck in this economy but we sure do not have any regrets about it. As I alluded to, in the intro, we have had a wonderful year. More personally speaking, Carlos will elaborate further on how the catastrophes of the years have impacted his life. Professionally though, Sparkling Logic has been so far a wonderful endeavor that has given us the opportunity to think outside the box, to take the time to learn new technologies and new disciplines, to brainstorm on seemingly crazy solutions to difficult problems. This is one of the many perks of working for a small company!
Eight hikes out of the cube… That is a little disappointing I admit. One of our New Year resolutions was to get out more and share our experience with you all. We started okay but eventually got caught up with work again. The sad reality of workaholics! Don’t be fooled by the rare hiking blog posts though: we have not been so bad on our resolution to keep a fair balance of work and exercise. We spent more time dancing tango and salsa than hiking though!
Five Logos… Okay, maybe more… We registered a couple of domain names and struggled with a company name and a logo that felt right. When I look back, I wonder how we came up with such lame names or poor-looking logo… We are both very proud of the one we ended up with and the logo we finalized at a conference while listening to the latest and greatest advances in Cloud Computing. Sparkling is the right word for us. It symbolizes the effervescent brain activity as well as the festive celebration that follows! We are fond of bubbles and certainly went crazy on our website animation! It is a rewarding experience to find the right name and logo, a little akin to picking a name for your kid. Now I am going through the same process for a product name though! And, of course, thank you to all that listened to all the iterations and helped us settle on Sparkling Logic and its bubble!
Four lucky pennies… This is a tradition now for Sparkling Logic. We found a lucky penny at the airport one day and decided to hold on to it. Again, let me say it again and again “I am not superstitious”… but we looked at the lucky penny and hoped that it will bring us the extra bit of luck that will make the difference. We have framed it since then and three found more! Each lucky penny has come with its share of good fortune that was critical in the evolution of the company. To be honest, I think that the good fortune came from our strong will to make a difference in this world and our attitude but we like the story that our lucky pennies played a role.
Three patents… Do you remember the complaints at Rules Fest and mostly Business Rules Forum about the lack of innovation in Decision Management? Sparkling Logic has been working hard at addressing that very problem. It is still too early for us to tell you much about what we have been cooking this year but rest assured that the trade shows will definitely not lack innovation in 2011! In particular, we have filed for 3 patents that will revolutionize how you approach your Decision Management initiatives. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to practice that discipline without having to get past the learning curve hurdle the hard way? So far, the few trusted ones that peeked into the technology have called it “different”, “pragmatic”, a “no-brainer” and “revolutionary”. We are obviously excited about our contribution to the industry and look forward to telling you more about it. Isn’t that the ultimate proof that oxygen and exercise do wonders to your brain?
Two founders… A startup is hard work, no question about it, but it is also the opportunity to create something, a legacy, a vision. We have been blessed though. While we went through the same roller-coaster as any other entrepreneur, we have always been able to rely on each other. We know each other very well both as very good friends and as colleagues. We know our respective skills and weaknesses. We respect each other. We appreciate each other. We also complement each other. When times are tough, you can tell who your true friends are and we have this fantastic relationship that does not allow the tiniest doubt to spoil our mutual trust. We heard at startup camp and other venues some horror stories about entrepreneurs that were not that lucky in finding the right business partner. We met many entrepreneurs that were looking for their “better (business) half” and had to take a leap of faith. What a relief that Sparkling Logic started on the right foot!
One passion: Decision Management of course! Some things never change. Let me venture another definition for “ONE” as it also applies to one value, one way of life that Carlos and I both believe in. Here is the first anecdote. Stuart Bagshaw, former COO of ILOG, gave me a piece of advice that I would like to pass on to you. Well before Sparkling Logic, I sought his advice on starting a new business. One recommendation surprised me: he said that we should think about the company culture we wanted and document it very early on. That was certainly not originally on my priority list as I have seen so many companies print “core values” on their marketing collateral or office posters and those words were nothing else than words. As I value Stuart’s input we did it any way. We discussed the most important core principles that we could not live without. It boiled down to one thing: we value trust, integrity and transparency. We simply wanted to be able to show up at work and be able to count on each other no matter what. As a friend said “life is too short”. Working with people you trust, you respect and you appreciate is invaluable. We are glad that we started this way as two friends and business partners. As months went by, we enjoyed the same genuine relationship with our partners, our investors, our customers… Many thanks to Stuart for allowing us to make “office politics” a thing of the past!
Et voila… I am sad that this wonderful year comes to an end. I am looking forward to 2011 though, which is going to be another amazing year! We can’t wait to tell you all about what we have been working on… Hush… Not just yet!
Read Carlos’s thoughts here.
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