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

Don’t let IT be the teen in the room

Dance.jpgAlmost everyone over the holidays probably had some time where they were sitting around with family and friends. You probably noticed that some of the people were sitting around looking at their smartphone… rather than interacting with people. Teens are the most likely but many a 2 year old or 60 year old entertains themselves rather that support their side of a conversation and recognize what is going on around them.


If there is one thing individuals in IT need to focus on in 2015, it is not playing with technology but look at what the business is doing and talk with them about where things are (or could be headed). Don’t be a wall flower, take advantage of your diverse perspective and shape the conversation. Your perspective will be appreciated but you’ll need to talk with the business in their terms. Reach out and find someone and see what’s on their mind.

Automation and business restraints…

any ideas illustration.pngThe concept of ‘golden handcuffs’ has been around for a long time. This is a job that has such good benefits or salary that it can be very difficult to leave, no matter how much it frustrates you.


As we move into a work environment that has ever greater use of automation in knowledge management roles, there is the likelihood of a ‘steel handcuff’ scenario, where a business benefits greatly from automation but eventually loses the ability to effectively maintain their rules and models. They maximize the financial benefits and reduce the workforce to the point where they no longer have the critical mass of industry knowledge to adjust to future business demands. They essentially get locked into the current model.


This issue can be overcome by understanding the skills and value of the industry expertise they have as well as the dynamics and value of the automation components. If they feel they can’t afford to have that expertise available full time, they need to devise a consulting supported approach to keep the expertise available, since it will be needed sometime. Tweaks and experiments should be part of the automation strategic model, since it should never be considered done.


Some organizations have experienced this scenario with their existing COBOL environments, for example. Their systems work today, but most of the people who understood it have either retired or been let go. To make a change may require a total redesign/rewrite, to develop a new crop of people who understand the business needs.


My view is that the foundations and rules should be viewed as a starting point for continuous adjustment and understanding and not a final product that can be declared complete.  On-going interaction with the business will be needed.

Why is the IoT viewed with such potential and confusion?

Internet of things.pngThere is a fundamental shift underway from dumb devices where organizations guess about how their being used, when and by whom. Now a physical product (from almost any industry) has the potential to be a first-class participant in its own value chain. It can talk back to its creators in engineering and manufacturing as well as those who service it, cutting downtime and improving its use. It has the potential to talk with (where everyone seems to be focused) those that actually use it, making their life better and more productive. There is also the potential to collaborate with sales and marketing to share what users are thinking based on where, when and how it’s used. Devices/products are becoming members of an environmental view of the context that surrounds them. Although it involves information technology, it is about a shift in business value.


This challenges the foundations of many of our existing products and services. Devices can have an active role in CRM and marketing. We can shift the analytics view from the past to the future. We can use the information to gamify processes and shift behaviors. As this understanding increases, what is measured and the decisions made will shift.


As I mentioned last month, the impact on our definition of services will shift as we understand and embrace the potential. This change will shift much of what exists (people, products and services) in our environment/industry.

As-A-Service in 2015

BYOS 2.pngAs I was thinking about the changes that will be taking place in 2015 when as-a-services shifts from a buzzword to a core element of nearly every business. I reflected back on Horses for Sources and The Ten Tenets Driving the As-a-Service Economy post they put out last month.


One of the biggest changes I see that organizations are going to internalize in 2015 is that As-a-Service is not really technology driven, it is technology enabled. The business needs drive this going forward, not technology since we’re all expecting greater flexibility, transparency and improvements in time-to-action. Technology is a side-effect of meeting that demand and generating value.


Of course the employees of the company are going to do thier share to drive things forward as well.

Macro and micro opportunities – it is more than just perspective

magnify.pngLately I’ve been in a few conversations that focused on Smart Cities. I view this as a specialization of a set of problems that deal with systems of system -- a macro view of an opportunity set. I was in a discussion today with some folks talking about IoT but they had a very micro view of the opportunities and value possibilities. It seemed to be a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. They were almost totally focused on looking at the data in and the management of the devices.


With the shift in computing capabilities taking place and the new approaches to highly parallel and distributed computing the approach to programming will need to shift away from the more common approaches to environments that specialize in highly distributed data and processing techniques to generate value.


The macro issues of data blending and derivation to identify patterns and behaviors will shift our definition of value and even what’s possible. This is going to enable new levels of automation and that means new skills for those involved. It is all part of a fundamental shift in computing over the coming years, so it is not so much about ‘smart cities’ as it is about a shift from ‘things’ to a focus on the actions enabled and the value generation possibilities within and around an ecosystem.


There was a twitter chat that I was able to sit in on for a few minutes today and they were talking about the ‘digital’ potential and direction for 2015. To me, the separation implied by the word ‘digital’ was jarring.


We need to focus on the potential at the micro and the macro level and the holistic view of what it is going to take culturally, behaviorally and technically. It is an ‘and’ not an ‘or’ world and not everyone or every enterprise or city will progress at the same rate – and that’s OK and hopefully we can understand why.


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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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