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

The shifting world of business continuity

disaster2.pngI was in an exchange this week with an individual talking about business continuity. The view that business continuity needs to focus on:

An organizations business continuity approach need to be reassessed in a world of high levels of automation, contracting for services and reduced latency. The very definition of foundational terms like ‘work location’, ‘services’ and ‘support’ are changing. Diversity of perspective is likely to be a critical component of any kind of timely, situation response.


“The management of business continuity falls largely within the sphere of risk management, with some cross-over into related fields such as governance, information security and compliance. Risk is a core consideration since business continuity is primarily concerned with those business functions, operations, supplies, systems, relationships etc. that are critically important to achieve the organization's operational objectives. Business Impact Analysis is the generally accepted risk management term for the process of determining the relative importance or criticality of those elements, and in turn drives the priorities, planning, preparations and other business continuity management activities.”


In today’s environment, business impact analysis is becoming ever more technical and the interconnection between environmental factors more complex. We have seen situations recently with program trading that an entire financial institution has been placed at risk when their automated trading responds in an unforeseen fashion or their governance breaks down. We’ll be seeing similar techniques applied throughout organizational processes.


The response to almost any situation can be enabled by techniques like VOIP and other approaches that allow additional levels of abstraction. Simulations can be used to understand the implications of various scenarios as part of business continuity planning.


As I mentioned back in March:

Having an effective, robust approach to business continuity is part of management, security and many other roles within an organization.  It is important to remember that there is a cost for being unable to respond to an incident.

Service Innovation Workshop with NSF

SaaS.pngJust finished up a very interesting couple of days at a workshop to develop a research agenda for service innovation. The objective was to define a roadmap for future service innovation research and education for the NSF as well as academic and industry partners.


This was a very diverse group of about 60 people that broke into working groups to look at service innovation from a number of angles. One thing that almost all the groups appeared to rally around was the thought that the service modeling techniques currently in use (and simulations) are not up to the task of bringing diverse groups to a consensus and (more importantly) action.


We tried to avoid the typical trap of spending the entire meeting defining ‘service innovation’ and instead focus on areas where NSF funded research would do the most good (e.g., automation, incorporating knowledge into service system design, skill definition and education for next-generation service innovation) -- generating value.


There was one area where I had a bit of concern: the goal of human-centered service systems. I don’t have too much of a problem where the humans determine the value and consume the result (focusing attention on the unique), but if humans are on the critical path of executing the service, there had better be a good reason since I still view that human attention is going to be scarce.


We did get into an interesting discussion of if it is attention or understanding intention that is scarce?!?


There was also an interesting idea coming from the DIY space that if you can be a consumer in the future you can be a producer in the future. We’re not there yet, but it does show the level of disruption that might need to be embraced.


One great outcome for me was the opportunity to meet a number of like-minded people who have problems where I and others at HP can help address.

Largest commercial research supercomputer opened in Houston

data and oil.jpgBP opened a computing center last month that is home to the largest supercomputer for commercial research in the world. The three-story, 110,000-square foot facility on BP’s west Houston campus houses over 5,400 HP ProLiant SL230s servers (totaling over 100k cores). The computing center implements advanced cooling methods that use 30 percent less energy than BP’s previous computing center.



Computer modeling and simulation have played a significant role in the current oil boom, helping geophysicists find and analyze underground reserves faster, giving them clear pictures of underground areas than they have ever had before. This reduces the risk associated with oil exploration.


Similar techniques will expand into other industries that have massive amounts of data where proven patterns mean the difference between profitability and a dry hole.

Labels: energy| Simulation

Applying 3D Simulation to Enterprise Security

simulation.pngUsing a 3D simulator to visualize a computing environment is a long way from traditional IT security, but the drama of video gaming actually enables analysts to watch over their networks more effectively. An article New Scientist titled: The real Ton: IT security as a shoot ‘em up   describes some research under development at the Lincoln Laboratory, part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the simulation, network administrators can patrol their environments as if they were playing a first-person shooter - much like in the cult film Tron.


This was presented at the IEEE High Performance Extreme Computing Conference in September 2012. Both the paper and the presentation are available for download.


Although not really gamification in the purist definition, it definitely is an example of serious gaming moving into the IT field.

Labels: 3D| IEEE| security| Simulation

Scarce questions and analytics

question and analytics.GIFBusiness analytics is about using the data available to manage performance and make decisions. It is about asking questions to get answers. As we have more powerful tools, analytics should allow us to ask questions we’ve never thought of asking before. We can hypothesize about issues and results.


Even the type of questions we ask may change. Which is more important knowing the buying behavior of our customers or knowing more about the behavior of those who are not current customers? Is it better to know about why people make decisions to buy our product or about understanding why people were entering a decision making situation?


These kinds of questions are not exactly new, but there is now more data and powerful tools to attack them then have ever existed before. With social techniques we also have new perspectives to add to the analysis.


Most of the analytics work in the past was focused on hindsight, performing analysis on historical data. Much of the real-time analytics push discussed currently is about providing insight into decisions that need to be made now. The real opportunity is in the area of foresight, with modeling and simulation techniques to predict and shape the future we want to have. These are all analytic areas that are rapidly changing.


I’ve mentioned in the past that in a world of abundant data having more data is not all that exciting -- on the other hand having the attention of personnel with the right questions will always be scarce and powerful.


Now is the time for organizations to make a choice to develop greater depth and breadth of analytic capabilities, figuring out what works and blazing a trail toward a more agile future.

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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.
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation.