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

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.

Approaching UCC and mobility

working together.GIFI was just in conversation with an individual about what should be the common concerns about organizations implementing Unified Communications and mobility.

 

The first thing I thought of is that these are both really environmental concerns for the individual and the organization. They are not really about technologies, although technologies definitely help address the requirements when they are identified. It is really the business requirements driving this forward though to make decisions faster or better. It can be about costs, but that misses the real opportunity.

 

So our discussion moved to who should be involved when addressing these areas. My first thought was to the business people who have problems that need to be solved. Then the enterprise architects who understand the current environment at a macro level and how the current business needs are addressed. And then the technical individuals who understand the capabilities of the new technologies. These people have to be flexible enough to think about the abundance of capabilities that are provided and how they address the shifting needs of the business. Who else should be involved?

 

When you think about these technologies and what they do… for most of mankind’s existence, we were only able to communicate with those we could physically meet and interact. Writing and printing allowed us to move on and share ideas across space and time, but only in one direction. Then first with the telegraph and then with the telephone we enabled bi-directional communications in real time. For about the last decade, we’ve had mobile and UCC and are still learning what we can do with their capabilities. We’re communicating now not just with people but with machines that have capabilities as well. We’re putting ‘smarts’ in more and more products and so our ability to act remotely and repeatedly is increasing.

 

UCC and mobile have a significant role to play but only when we start thinking of them less as a technology and more as a lever for greater business value generation.

And now a thought about where to start

start.jpgI was thinking a bit more about yesterday’s post about the importance of stopping.

 

I put a post in a LinkedIn group called “Future Role of IT” that seemed to resonate with that audience so I thought I’d place a version here as well:

 

An interesting thing is that people who are 30 years old have never known a world without a graphic user interface. In 10 years, all those folks will be 40 and in control of IT. There will then be people close to 30 years old who never knew a world without a smartphone - the digital natives.

 

The people growing up today have many computing devices around them all the time. The Internet of Things that businesses are trying to take advantage of are just things to them. This is the market we need to prepare organizations for - today. We have to question not only our own assumptions, but theirs as well.

 
It makes me wonder: Is there a Future Role that doesn't include IT and is it just folks in IT who don't see it that way.

Speaking at the Winter MPICT conference

education2.pngNext Tuesday January 7th, I’ll be doing the Tuesday keynote at the Winter Educator Conference in San Francisco - agenda.

 

The MPICT conference runs January 6-7, 2014 and the event is co-produced by NSF ATE Centers: BATEC, National Convergence Technology Center, Cyberwatch, CSSIA and CyberWatch West.

 

I participated in a similar meeting in Dallas back in November. This time I’ll be speaking about a topic directly in line with this blog – the intersection of business & technology trends and the new value possibilities.

 

I'll post the presentation out on SlideShare and place a comment here once I finish it.

2014 – a year of instability

crystalball.gif2014 will be a year of Instability for most organizations. For the optimists, it will be a year that many of the technologies that entered the business environment, shift to delivering significantly new levels of value. For the pessimist, it will be another year of unwanted change.

 

One of the changes organizations will embrace is the shift from a focus on service delivery (including cloud) as a commodity to a value play. This will move Service Level Agreement metrics from measuring commodity performance (like uptime) to more business-focused and quality measures.

 

Many of the service players will begin to offer solutions higher up the value stack and directly address business processes. SaaS vendors moving to BPO for example, causing them to take on whole new areas of responsibility.

 

The same kinds of shifts will happen within IT support organizations. Workplace services that are currently focused on supporting BYOD will need to embrace Bring Your Own Service – a more environmental view of what is needed to address the business needs of the day. The security and service broker functions will become even more critical for support organizations since much of the work will be provided by others.

 

In 2013, HP talked a lot about the new style of IT. In 2014, a new style of business that is more social, mobile, flexible, data driven, secure and automated will generate greater value levels and allow those who embrace the change to excel. For example, social will be a lever for greater engagement for employees and customers. Mobile will build upon that engagement capability and add in the element of speed, shifting the time to action for organizations. Analytics will move out of the glass house and take advantage of mobile to provide the visibility and efficiency needed and where possible automation will offload well understood tasks and assist in simplifying and eliminating distractions. The race with the machine will be the race to watch in 2014 -- this will be a year of widespread transformation. Defining criteria to evaluate an innovation and its implication will help organizations minimize instability.

 

In 2012 a wide variety of ubiquitous and wearable computing hit the ground (even more in 2013) but in 2014 these will hit the road and be incorporated into more business and personal processes. They will shift from being isolated devices to becoming linked networks of functionality. As the costs and power requirements go down, they will be embedded in more products (and produce, limiting spoilage -- as an example) optimizing results. This will also enable a more software-defined everything view of computers in products. The instabilities this shift implies will be readily apparent in 2014.

 

Another shift will be to a software defined anything approach. The concepts of OpenStack for Cloud OS and OpenFlow for software defined networking will start to permeate higher into the value stack with a more open ‘smarts’ approach to pattern recognition and process optimization during 2014. This more open approach will allow for standardization yet customization enabling new level of business flexibility and applicability. The personalization and custom development for 3D printing... will continue to move into the mainstream.

 

Software in 2014 will incorporate more flexible information sources and analytics, enabling greater levels of automation and systems of action. For the end user we’ll likely see a great deal of interface work and changes as HTML5 integrates more capabilities for voice, video… and organizations begin to capitalize upon these capabilities across devices. A wider variety of spatial (gesture), touch, voice and even mind control interfaces will be incorporated into enterprise software, moving out of the consumer space. Organizations will learn from how the consumer space adopts the functionality of the Xbox One into their interactions. We will move beyond a ‘mobile first’ view for development to mobile is 'the interface' and desktop is a special case – fortunately with HTML5 that should not be that big of an issue.

 

The software portfolio that has been built through the success of all the previous projects will need to be re-assessed in 2014 against these services and the revised needs of the business. Mobile interfaces will allow the enterprise to take advantage of the computer everyone has with them. This environmental perspective will enable the employees to become more engaged with the processes, customers and other employees, empowering them and enabling them to empower others.

 

Organizations will need to assess what is abundant in this world of 2014 and what will still be scarce for them. Those that recognize this distinction will have a significant advantage in planning and removing instability. Everyone can probably recognize that security, privacy and time (attention) will be scarce, but what else can be optimize and used differently to provide advantage.

 

Engaged and motivated employees will still be scarce. I think businesses will need to do more in-house orientation and development enabling a more predictable talent creation pipeline. Although a variety of education techniques can be applied to make this happen, the passive approach that came about during the .com era will no longer be accepted by the businesses or its employees and the new skills and change management required to shift the business will be recognized and addressed in 2014.

 

Organizations that can quickly adjust to the volatility around them will remain stable and in control. Most of the instability can be predicted, although there are some situations that will always surprise us. Being flexible and aware can make those situations turn into an opportunity.

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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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