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

Services and outcomes – what does the business really need?

 

choices.jpgAlmost every IT and service organization is looking at where to focus their operational energies in order to remain relevant in the new style of business that is expected today.  Each of us are constrained by our own preconceptions of service management and how it has traditionally and should be measured.

 

Recently, HP produced a paper titled: Link Services to Outcomes that tackles this issue. I am not sure that it went far enough, to drive home the value and shift in behavior and perspective that’s required.

 

I see situations all the time where an organization tries to straddle the line between traditional IT SLAs and more agile IT approaches without ever shifting the measures of success to what business really need – business-based service level.

 

These new kind of partnering efforts need to look for KPIs that the business cares about – the position paper does provide a few of those examples. These need to be key measures of the performance of the business. Another thing the paper brings forward are a few questions you need to ask yourself about your business and what approach it will accept. Is your organization:

  • Mature enough to deploy and fully use an outcomes-oriented service environment?
  • Willing to invest the time and resources needed to align IT and the business model?
  • Able to create and continually use the necessary metrics, thresholds, and reporting systems?

And that is not even covering the issues in the legal and purchasing spaces.

 

One thing that is interesting is how this business measures approach is almost the exact opposite of the public cloud-based service approach where there are few guarantees and the services providers actually don’t want to know anything about your business – at least how it is implemented today. Legal and purchasing may not be involved.

 

I sometimes wonder if those who are committed to one camp or another can see the world from the other perspective or is it totally outside their context.

 

 

Transformation, roles and digital technology

leadership.pngA coworker forwarded me an article titled: We Need Better Managers, Not More Technocrats from Harvard Business Review. It seemed a poignant perspective to add to my post yesterday on automation.

 

The article makes the statement: “digital technology is not the true story. Digital transformation is.” To me this means that organizations are going to need more proactive business and technical leaders who are willing to question the very foundation of “we’ve always done it this way” and make transformation happen.

 

The article goes on to state that those companies that get the greatest benefit are those that:

  • Make smart investments in digital technology to innovate theircustomer engagements, and the business processes and business models that support them
  • Build strong leadership capabilities to envision and drive transformationwithin their companies and their cultures

I personally think this is going to take more than just what have been traditionally called managers, since it involves a broader range of stakeholders and interactions than organizations of the past, to take advantage of the range of their employee’s capabilities. Automation should actually enable that focus.

 

Whether the people who lead the effort are ‘managers’, ‘technocrats’ or something else altogether is irrelevant. What is definitely true is change is coming and those that prepare will have an advantage.

Where did the IoT come from?

I was talking with some folks about the Internet of Things the other day and they showed me some analysis that made it look like it was relatively recent.

 

where did the IoT come from.jpg

 

My view is that its foundations go back a long way. I worked on (SCADA) Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems back in the 80s, which were gathering data off the factory floor, analyzing it and performing predictive analytics, even way back then.


In the 70s, passive RFID came into being and one of the first places it was used was tracking cows for the department of agriculture to ensure they were given the right dosage of medicine and hormones – since cows could talk for themselves.

 

In the late 70s and early 80s barcodes become widely used to identify objects, allowing greater tracking of manufacturing lines as well as consumers in stores.

 

In the 90s, higher speed and greater range allowed for toll tags to be placed on cars, allowing for greater ease of identification but still very little use of sensors to collect additional information.

 

At the turn of the century, the military and Walmart required the use of RFID to track products and that caused significant increase in their adoption. About the same time, low powered sensing capabilities were developed since RFID only provided identification and the scanner provided location, people began to look at other information that could be collected like temperature, humidity as well as ways to gather information remotely like smart metering in the utilities space (although even that started much earlier).

 

Most technology adoption follows an S curve for investment and value generation. We’re just now entering the steep part of the S curve where the real business models and excitement is generated. It is not really all that new it is just that the capabilities have caught up with demand and that is making us think about everything differently (and proactively).

Are the flexibility expectations of your mobile application portfolio high enough?

speed.pngTo be a modern application today, it seems they must have social, mobile and analytic capabilities. As companies strive for greater flexibility for both for their employees as well as their business model, on-the-road access to corporate information is an expectation. The BYOD movement takes it a step further and places the application delivery on employee selected hardware -- another level of flexibility.

 

These expectation changes are taking place within the existing application portfolio, as well as expanding into the thin-air of marketing strategies and non-traditional IT solutions. Most businesses have a search underway for additional techniques that can drive strategic business process changes, shifting the behavior of employees, partners and consumers. Gamification being one of those…

 

The consumers of today increasingly access social networks on mobile devices that are rarely in the control of the business. Sentiment analysis of public forums and the aggregation of that information with demand creation systems like for promotions, product feedback… can provide significant insight into the view of the consumers of products and services. As the shift in how mobile devices are used, a greater contextual understanding of the consumer and their interaction can be gained further refining an organizations understanding of their consumer base.

 

Some people ask why all this detailed analysis is needed? Is there something different about business today than in the past? I state that it is the “need for speed”, since the lifespan of products (let alone companies) is steadily declining. Any way to squeak out a bit more life or revenue is becoming important.

 

If an organization can develop a support network on the Internet (or within a large company) engage customers and build communities – all the better. This means that products that are flexible, configurable and able to integrate into other business systems have a definite advantage. Do you look at your systems from an integration point of view?

 

There is another change underway at the foundations of how mobile devices are used. Flurry reports that mobile time consumption on social networks increased by 60% between Q1 2011 and Q1 2012. This is significant because gaming and entertainment have always been a key focus for mobile apps and now people are using their devices for more serious concerns.

 

For those organizations exploring this space, there are great possibilities, but it will be important to ensure that each application provides a real, cost-effective benefit. Know what you expect and then measure against it. If you see something different, at least you learned something. If you confirmed your expectations, you’ve move to validation from supposition.

Envisioning the needs of the future enterprise (part 1)

predictive.pngLast week, I was part of a panel discussing innovation and technical adoption with a number of CEOs in the Dallas Texas area. During the discussion we talked about the opportunities that exist around us and the new type of business models that will be driving organizations forward.

 

I was asked what kind of research is needed to for organizations today to match the new service opportunities of tomorrow, After the meeting  some other folks in the HP Services and Solutions lab went through a few iterations to come up with a short paragraph that captures the essence of our thinking:

 

“Staying aligned with rapidly evolving business needs will require future enterprises to be agile and dynamic. The ability to identify and link related data, establish the right information flow, connect people and information, and provide insights on information is crucial in enabling decision making from an ever increasing stream of information. Research is needed to reduce the time to action for the enterprise, and streamline the organizational changes necessary to proactively react to the competitive landscape of the firm. In the enterprise of the future, not only employees but also customers influence success, it is important to establish the relationships and foster the collaborative culture among employees, customers, suppliers and the enterprise, and engage this ecosystem in generating value. Enabling this vision will require automated capture of digital information, technologies for connecting people-to-people and people-to-information, platforms for data analysis, response automation, context recognition, dynamic configuration capabilities, innovative collaborative technologies and knowledge enabled decision-making. As business becomes more digital (and social), these advances will be the foundation and measure for the value of IT in the enterprise.”

 

Tomorrow I’ll have another post about the vision implied by this research.  

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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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