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

Can an agile approach make a client interact more?

cooperate.pngI was recently talking with a team of people who are supporting a client that seems to be reluctant to dedicate the time necessary to ensure that the requirements are defined properly and that the test cases actually test how the system will be used. When interactions did occur it didn’t see like the focus was on the value the system can deliver, instead it was on minutia related to the design...


This work has been going on for a while, and although work is being done and progress made there is a gnawing concern that the solution may never be accepted.


Rather than allowing this to continue, the team is now proposing a more agile approach. This is going to require significantly more involvement from the client and move testing and requirements validation from something that is done at the end of release development to something that is done every day.


I think anyone who has worked in the development space will likely feel that this arrangement is better for reducing rework… but is it really going to change the behavior of those involved? If the agile shift just raises a flag about a lack of customer involvement earlier in the interaction, that will be helpful – but the behavior of the development team (and its leadership) will need to change. If they didn’t address the interaction before, having the same concern raised more often may not make a difference… What do you think?

Who defines business opportunities of mobile?

mobile worker2.pngThis morning I was in a discussion with some people from academia and industry that was primarily focused on communications trends. We quickly dove into the issues of security, networking education, mobility and sensing. Everyone agreed about the impact these areas are having at a high level, but when you dug down just a little bit, the business implications thinking stopped.


These technologies are going to shift how we think about some of the foundational aspects of business and employment today. Concepts are going to shift by asking: “What is a mobile worker?” In this age of BYOD and Mobile Device Management (MDM), nearly everyone is a mobile worker. Mobile is no longer special, it is a foundational tool for the masses, not a convenience for the elite. If anything, when the field services workers at the face of the customer are enabled by the technology, they can fundamentally shift how the client sees an organization. For many business the client is the field service worker.


Mobile interfaces can be more effective (since they are present at the time information is needed) and can actually be more secure (with all the sensing capabilities of modern devices they have much greater contextual understanding of who you really are than old PC or green screen interfaces ever could).


Organizations that want to generate new business value need to start identifying the business processes that are under-addressed with in the current IT portfolio (can a more mobile interface help?). They need to assess how the roles in those processes could be support – what is scarce in the decision making process – and provide the content (or even context) needed to make that process more effective. Techniques can be applied to shift adoption.


One thing that also needs to be considered is how will the change be tracked. With all the information mobile devices are capable of gathering, it sets the stage for a much deeper understanding of what is really happening, allowing more agile organizations to make course corrections on their deployments along the way.


Employees and customers are typically excited to use these techniques, if they can perceive its value. If they can embrace the experience. It is up to us to recognize the opportunity and make it happen. 

2013 Survey of topics important to IT

results.pngRecently a survey was taken by the Society for Information Management for the IT trends for 2013.


The top 5 IT management concerns in 2013 (page 60) were:

1                     Alignment of IT and/with and/with the business

2                     Business Agility 

3                     Business Productivity 

4                     Business Cost Reduction / Controls 

5                     IT Cost Reduction / Controls


But the top 5 issues that were of concern to the person taking the survey (page 63) were:

1                     Alignment of IT and/with and/with the business

2                     Security

3                     Talent/skill shortage

4                     Business continuity / Disaster Recovery

5                     Prioritization process for IT projects


I don’t know about you but this difference of perspective between the individual thinking about the priorities of the group and their own priorities is pretty significant. It looks like the management concerns are value and cost, yet the individuals are concerned more about safety.


This is an interesting survey that with almost 500 senior IT professionals participating across a diverse cross-section of the economy.


I am surprised that IT productivity isn’t pulled out to the same extent that business productivity is for the management concerns. Since that would address some of the talent shortage, cost reduction and controls/quality concerns.

Metrics and Enterprise Architecture

measurement.pngI was talking with some individuals recently about the changing role of architects. Although there are stills some organizations that are focused exclusively on cost cutting – doing more-with-less. There are also those that view the main role of the architect is strategic, improving agility and IT effectiveness. This has raised the importance of business architecture, looking at business process effectiveness, not just the underlying technical environment. This also means looking at how the IT available is being applied and may even mean doing more-with-more. Even in this age of cloud techniques, there is more need for Enterprise Architecture than ever.


Enterprise architects will need to deal with a new set of goals and measures, since the perception of their value and impact will be changing. Unfortunately, since many of these activities are longer term in nature that also means that they will be harder to measure and dynamic course correction will have greater latency.


The impact of efforts like application portfolio management can be easily measured but take a long time to become visible. Improved time to market is a bit more nebulous and can take even longer to become apparent. What’s clear is that the metrics need to be defined specifically for the situation. It is not a one size fits all efforts approach. I could be mistaken, so if you think there are standard EA metrics, please let me know. 

Is middle-management on the cusp of decline?

automation2.pngI saw this article Technology will make businesses more 'human'. It describes a perspective on how organizations can use technology to buy-in to corporate objectives (gamification has a role to play here). The article also discusses the side-effect forcing organizations to become even more flat and enabled (likely through automation driving out levels of knowledge workers -- currently part of middle-management). This frees up employees to focus on leadership and corporate goals where their creativity is needed rather than well understood operational tasks.


For those that are affected by this shift in how employees generate value, it reminded me of a post I wrote on letting go of preconceptions, at the time EDS was purchased by HP. All will need to develop new skills and understand new ways of working (probably using new techniques).


So agility will need to be a core competency, rather than the rote skills that are generally used in training. Roles like the CIO will need to shift.

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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.