The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Displaying articles for: February 2014

A bit more on strategy and change

 

questionsandanswers.jpgI got a note that my previous post on strategy and change was a bit too terse. I made assumptions that people understood my references. Since that post was an excerpt from one slide of a longer presentation, I may not have given enough context to understand the bullets. I’ll take another crack at providing context (through links). Hopefully between the two posts, I can answer the questions and get the points across.

 

  • Many of the factors that enable change are predictable – in the presentation I talk about how there are laws like Moore’s law (and a number of others) that can be used to predict what the future will be like. People can think about their corporate goals, investment plans and other drivers as well as the timeframe for investment… and extrapolate out the types of technology that should be available and what it might mean. This may shift how the change can be implemented.

  • Scarcity affects value – Too often organizations behave like what is valued for its scarcity will still be true in the future, or that what constrains us from generating value a certain way will still be constraining going forward. Most of the IT systems currently in production were based on a scarcity model – the assumptions their design was based on may no longer be true. Data is not going to be scarce in the future, but the business context described by the data may still be. The attention of the employees most certainly will be scarce. If we need to consume more (of what’s abundant) to generate even more value from what's scarce – that is not a bad thing.

  • The rate of change and transformation is increasing – There are many different forces pushing businesses to change and adapt. These will be enabled by IT and essentially add fuel to the fire. We need to stop thinking of change as a periodic disruption of the status quo and instead see it as a river of change. It may go slower or faster, but it doesn’t stop. We need to be flexible and adapt and generate energy from it, not try to hold it back. We need to automate action as well as improve interaction.

  • The increasing digitization not a replacement for today’s processes and systems – Systems of record (e.g., ERP) are still going to be important. They record the transactions that keep a business running. We can surround them with better interfaces and automation, but don’t think that everything can be replaced with whole new concepts. They may be on new platforms… but we still need to keep records.

  • Social influence is beyond the control of any individual ecosystem – This was focused on newer methods to take advantage of social -- techniques like gamification or crowdsourcing that tap into the power of others need to be part of our toolkit.

I try to keep these posts short, but fortunately there is always an opportunity for another one.

 

Enterprise Architecture and the New Style of IT

Since yesterday’s post focused on how to look strategically at change for the organization, it seems like a good time for this video.

 
 

 

It describes the value of Enterprise Architecture when moving to the new style of business enabled by IT abundance. The video runs just a bit long, but it did align well with yesterday’s post.

 

I do find it interesting though how some analysts separate out tactical from strategic enterprise architecture. They can view the tactical side as a 'waste of time' for the business, since tactical is focused on the current and future IT perspective. Organizations need to move to the strategic view of enabling the business through the use of IT, but if you start that without a good understanding of where you currently sit, it will be difficult to prioritize the effort required to make the move. On the other hand with the amount of internal and external pressures and the advances in capabilities, it is compelling to move to a strategic view as soon as possible.

 

Architects need to work with organizations to develop a true understanding of their needs and directions, and create an EA engagement aligned to those limitations. It does no good to create more shelf ware. The architecture needs to be aligned with what can be consumed. The business is ultimately accountable … as they are for every single project they engage in, inside or outside of IT.  That is not a problem, that is a reality that all must internalize and build upon.

Strategy and change

strategic questions.pngSince the first of the year I’ve been giving a presentation on embracing technical trends for organizations – what strategists need to think about. At the end of the material, I include the take away points:

  • Many of the factors that enable change are predictable - plan to take advantage of predictable change

  • Scarcity affects value – Every organization can determine how what is abundant can maximize the value of what is scarce
  • The rate of change and transformation is increasing. We need to prepare our organizations to assimilate and take advantage of change - there is no end state, we play through anticipated changes
  • The increasing digitization of society, commerce, personal and professional lives is not a replacement for today’s processes and systems, but adds capabilities – the future is additive

  • Social influence is beyond the control of any individual ecosystem but will impact all organizations - make it work for you

What other areas do strategists need to comprehend or embrace?

The EA as ambassador to a new style of business

choice.pngI was talking with a couple of people yesterday about the role of the Enterprise Architect and the new style of IT. I went through the typical analogy of EAs being translators between the technical team and the business, but then I thought, “Wait, it is really more of an ambassador.” That’s because the kind of disruptive changes that need to take place in organizations as they begin to think about the implications. The skill set will require convincing and cajoling more than translating – clearly diplomatic skills.

 

It will require individuals who can understand the business goals and the possibilities from the abundance of IT. There will likely be constraints in our thinking that need to be overcome and whole new levels of possibility. We all probably need to sharpen our sword.

What’s the difference between SDN and NFV?

networking.jpgI was in a discussion the other day with someone focused on the networking services space and they kept using the acronym NFV, without really defining it. I dug in a bit and this is what I found.

 

Network Functions Virtualization aims to address the issue of having a large and increasing variety of proprietary hardware appliances. Its approach is to leverage standard IT virtualization technology to consolidate many types of network equipment onto industry standard high volume servers, switches and storage. These more standard device can be located in datacenters, network nodes or at end user premises. NFS is applicable to any data planepacket processing and control plane function in fixed and mobile network infrastructures. 

 

 

I’ve mentioned Software Defined Networking (SDN) in this blog before.  NFV and SDN are mutually beneficial but are not dependent on each other. That was one of the confusions I had during the initial conversation. NFV is focused on consolidating and reducing hardware costs. Although these devices could be virtualized and managed using techniques like SDN they don’t have to be.

 

The concepts of NFV are not really new. Even so, a more formalized approach with PoCs … will hopefully contribute to accelerating changes taking place in the communications industry allowing for reduced operational complexity, greater automation and self-provisioning – much like is happening in the cloud space (either through public or private techniques) for the rest of IT.

 

I just saw that Dave Larsen (of HP) put out a post about what HP is doing in both SDN and NFV, just as I was finishing up this post. Expect to see more about this when HP releases an HP Industry Edge e-zine devoted entirely to NFV, in the near future.  

Better questions???

 

question and analytics.GIFI keep seeing articles stating the need for CIOs to think strategically if they want to be thought of as strategic by the business. To me this means there is a need to focus on better questions to meet the business needs, not just better answers.

 

A focus on answers (almost by definition) means that someone came up with the question and you’re just reacting. With the kinds of strategic techniques available fueled by the abundance of information available, we should be able to look at the opportunities in new ways, coming up with new perspectives and possibilities.

 

What new questions do you have? Who do you think can answer them??

 

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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