Consumer Technology to Drive CIO Agenda in 2012

CSC has recently published their top technology trends for enterprise IT in 2012.  CSC predicts that consumer technology innovations will continue to drive the agenda of enterprise IT. While the economic uncertainties in the world continue, the momentum behind business growth and technology innovation remains strong.

“As the service economy matures, enterprise is changing its view of IT from a choice between lower costs and more value to a new norm of better and cheaper.”  In this new world, CSC suggests that IT needs to reduce its focus on the back-office and keep up with the technology explosion at the front of the company.

Cloud Bandwagon Rolls on

The cloud offerings are continuing to mature. The five key elements of cloud (scalability, on-demand, pay-per-use, shared infrastructure, and web access) are now becoming norms of IT service. Both IT and business desire the increased agility and reduced costs promised by the cloud services. According to Gartner, cloud represents the industrialisation of IT capabilities and a new disruptive business model. Just as improvements to supply chain revolutionised manufacturing to become interconnected and global leading to just-in-time manufacturing; cloud services have the potential to do the same to IT.

While the promise of cloud computing remains great, there are a number of issues that are still worrying large enterprises.  Issues around transparency and governance, data sovereignty and trust are gradually being addressed by voluntary industry codes of conduct. Enterprises are currently leaning towards ‘private’ clouds that are provided by reputable suppliers.

Legacy Transformation

The digital age has stretched legacy systems to their limits. These legacy systems are holding businesses back from fully utilising innovations, such as clouds, mobility, and consumer technology. More and more businesses are starting to consider legacy replacement / transformation strategies. The benefits of modern legacy systems are beginning to exceed the costs and risks of replacing legacy assets.

Greater Data Visibility

Due to the demands of the digital economy, more and more business data is becoming available online. In the era of the internet, business processes need to be agile. Customers, partners, and suppliers at the other end of these processes also demand that companies’ data have greater visibility. Enterprises can no longer lock their data in internal silos. Instead, enterprises need to consider whether confidential data and information can and should be made available online.

Consumerisation of IT

As more people are using smart-phones, tablets, context aware devices, and applications, interacting with a PC/Laptop are increasingly considered old fashioned and limiting. Almost 90% of new phones sold in Australia are smart-phones. Mobile devices are becoming pervasive; there are already more smart-phones than PCs in Australia. Companies will increasingly need to reach people using these mobile devices. Build-in location awareness, augmented reality, and sensors are redefining how we interact with technology.

Enterprises can differentiate themselves, by leveraging these new consumer technologies, and designing enterprise applications and lightweight ‘App’ libraries that improve productivity and customer experience. Leveraging these new technologies will also enable developers of applications to acquire new skills.

Big Data

Many businesses are gradually beginning to understand the value of gaining useful insights from vast amounts of unstructured data. With 1.2 billion consumers participating in social media via blogs, Facebook, Twitter, there is a lot of information about customers and businesses on the internet. There is also a lot of data from other sources on the internet, such as YouTube, videos, and podcasts. This large amount of unstructured data presents a challenge and an opportunity. Large amount of data from a variety of sources, company data, social media, video and audio is a challenge to manage and analyse. But those businesses which can extract meaningful intelligence from this data about customer needs, behaviours and trends have the potential to reap large rewards.

An impressive range of new technologies that enable rapid analysis of big data are available in the market. While there is still a gap between the promise and delivery of these new technologies, architects and planners should be considering the opportunities and implications of ‘big data’.

Work Anywhere

With increasing mobility, users are able to work from anywhere. Many new offices are designed with no designated desks, allowing users to work from any desk, conference room, or shared space. Travelling staff wish to access company systems using not only laptops and desktops, but also smart-phones, tables, and other devices from a variety of locations, such as hotels, the airport, and on the road. Universal access raises concerns about perimeter security. Data theft from mobile devises is also a concern. Enterprises will need strategies to make security robust, while the enterprise perimeter continues to expand.

Green IT

Rising energy costs and the new carbon tax will force enterprises to think seriously about the costs of computing. As Australia produces most of its electricity from coal, electricity costs are expected to rise rapidly. Within the IT industry, the use of electricity is expected to grow four-fold by 2020. As a result, energy sustainability will need to have a place on the IT agenda.

Tools will be needed for better visibility and reporting of energy use by business units across IT. Efficient energy water use and ethical waste removal will become important. CIOs should begin developing strategies for reducing energy use and improving sustainability.

Knowledge Retention

With thousands of baby boomers retiring every year, business knowledge is walking out the door every day. Some critical knowledge, gained by years of experience, may be irreplaceable.  In many cases, there may not be a sufficient amount of new staff to learn from the retiring generation.

Businesses need to make targeted investments in rapid knowledge capture, storage, and transfer. CSC thinks that new human computer interfaces like Kinect and Augmented Reality may allow some retirees to continue to work on the job remotely.  Leveraging principles from the gaming industry can improve education and knowledge retention. Such new techniques may be necessary in light of the ‘mass exodus’ of experience.

Globalisation of Talent

Enterprises will search for resources globally in order to find talent at a competitive price.  Companies will get work done from places that have good resource pools and which are cost-effective. There will be an increased emphasis on the off-shoring of knowledge work and business processes in 2012.  Crowd sourcing and social media may also begin to play a role for skills, content creation, reviews, and feedback.

Enterprises should consider investing in tools that facilitate collaboration and virtual workplace technologies and improve teamwork in distributed teams across countries and time zones.

Final Word

While many of these trends have been apparent for some time, pace of many changes has accelerated. For example, growth in mobile devices has become a mainstream trend and is hard to ignore. IT and business leaders need to be aware of these trends. They need to understand how these would affect their business and then plan their strategic responses to these trends.

An agenda for Digital Economy

Digital Economy is expected to contribute a massive $4.2 trillion dollars (or 5.5%) to the GDP of the G20 economies by 2016. Already we are experiencing the impact of the digital economy on many companies and the way customers expectations are changing. For example mobile banking has become an expected service and not a nice to have. Customer expectations and behaviours are changing.  Retailers like Myer, David Jones and Harvey Norman are suffering from not having suitable on-line offerings.

The world is changing fast. What can the CIOs and the CEOs do to prepare for this disruptive change. Here is an agenda to get your organisation ready for the digital economy. 

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10 Barriers to Transformation

Over 60% of Transformations Fail

Large technology projects are often described as transformation projects. These projects significantly change the way organisations conduct their business and how work gets done. Unfortunately, the reality is that the success rate of transformations is less than 40%. Why do so many transformations fail? There are many common barriers to success. Many organisations have learnt to overcome these barriers and improve their success rates. In this article we discuss the top ten barriers to transformation and strategies organisations have used to overcome them.

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Finding and demonstrating IT value

Some commonly heard complaints about IT are ‘we are spending too much on IT’, or ‘IT is a black-hole’. While IT aspires to become a strategic business partner, business folks complain about the lack of trust between IT and business or the lack of a common language between the two. Business does not know if IT is doing a good job and many IT leaders cannot communicate how they are creating value for the business.

A book by Hunter and Westerman, “Real Business of IT” provides a four step process for finding and communicating IT value. I thought I would share their key ideas. Continue reading “Finding and demonstrating IT value”

Elevator pitch for your proposals

Why do you need an “Elevator Pitch”?

When you are a project owner, manager or a sponsor you get asked what the project is about. This is important because bosses, employees, customers, and partners all need to “buy in” and get excited about your idea. They will form an initial impression in three minutes or less. This first impression is the lens through which everything else is viewed. If you are not able to clearly communicate what the project is about and why you are doing it, then the chances of getting the necessary funding or support for the project will rapidly diminish. Busy executives get bombarded with ideas and proposal many times every day. Even when you have a great idea, if they don’t understand it quickly the opportunity is lost.

A well-articulated message or an ‘elevator pitch’, while not a guarantee of success, is an important part of selling an idea. The problem is that many people don’t have a prepared pitch or story that they can tell and so the opportunity to sell an idea walks out of the door.

What is an ‘Elevator Pitch’?

An elevator pitch is a crisp message that communicates key features of the project in a succinct way so that others can easily understand it. Imagine if you get asked about the project in the lift going up to your office. Can you communicate what the project is about before the elevator gets from the ground to the tenth floor?

A good elevator pitch covers what problem you are trying to solve, who it will benefit (i.e. the customers), how you are going to solve it (the solution approach), what efforts/ investments are required (e.g. time, resources and money) and what the next steps are (i.e. what support you need). An elevator pitch is intended to give just enough information to get others interested in your proposition without overwhelming them with a flood of information.

An elevator pitch is a tool to help you communicate your proposition or your idea to others who have a stake in its success. To start, you need to have done your homework and have a clear idea about the ‘project’. It is worth spending some time with your team to prepare answers to following basic questions.

An elevator pitch is a tool to help you communicate your proposition or your idea to others who have a stake in its success. To start, you need to have done your homework and have a clear idea about the ‘project’. It is worth spending some time with your team to prepare answers to following basic questions.

Step 1 – Describe the Problem or the Opportunity

  1. What motivated you to launch this idea? What is the key problem or need? A real life story or scenario about the problem helps the audience understand the problem or need in personal terms and agree that it is an interesting problem that needs fixing.
  2. Who else is doing something similar? What problems or success have they encountered?
  3. How long would it take?

Step 2 – Define Your Solution to the Problem

  1. What is your approach to solving the problem? Where do you start? When do the first results appear?
  2. Is what you are delivering different from what others are delivering? In what way? What are the alternatives?
  3. Who would be the users or customers? Would it be easy or difficult for them to use/adopt this?
  4. How would the solution benefit the customers, save time, save costs, increase quality or generate more revenue? Are the benefits easy to see?
  5. When would these benefits be delivered? How much it would cost?

Step 3 – Describe the Implementation Plan and Risks

  1. What are the key activities in the implementation?
  2. What are the key decisions that need to be made?
  3. Who will do the work (e.g. internal staff or suppliers)? Do we have the skills or expertise to do the project?
  4. Who will oversee the implementation? Who is involved in making the key decisions?
  5. What are the major deliverables or milestones? When will they occur?
  6. What are the key risks and how you are addressing them?

Step 4 – What Funding is Available and what is Needed?

  1. Do you have enough funding to do the project?
  2. Where is the funding coming from?
  3. Do you have full funding or there are progressive rounds of funding? What are the milestones (or success measures) for additional funding?

Step 5 – Describe the Support Needed to Ensure Success

  1. Who is supporting this initiative? Why are they supporting it?
  2. What type of support are they providing?
  3. How do you plan to communicate/sell the project internally? What opposition do you see?

Step 6 – Consolidate, Practice and Deliver

There are a number of questions to consider in preparing the pitch. Based on your situation only a few would be included for your pitch. But having considered these questions you would have fully analysed the opportunity and will be ready to face questions that may arise.

Delivering the pitchThe pitch is a tool to educate and communicate so be clear, don’t use jargon! Create a tag line that captures the essence of the idea, e.g. “loans approved in five minutes” or “eliminating errors by data entry using smart phones”. Focus on the opportunity problem you’ve encountered and why your solution is the best for providing value and benefit to the customer. Make the argument compelling.

A typical closing statement may be – “We are solving an important problem, with a solution that works. We understand the risks and challenges ahead. We have a team that can execute. We need X dollars to reach Y milestone. We need your support to help us achieve this success. “

Keep the pitch concise and conversational. A pitch that has about 230 words would take a minute to deliver. Don’t come across as if you are lecturing or giving a long monologue. Ask a question to engage the listener. Your pitch needs to be credible. Avoid the temptation to overpromise or underestimate the cost or efforts. Use hard numbers wherever possible to demonstrate that you have done your homework. Be specific about the benefits and the support or resources needed for success. Tailor your pitch to the needs and interests of your audience while keeping the basic message consistent.  Finally, practice delivering your pitch on your team and colleagues. Time it to keep it short but relevant. Show passion and confidence. Ask them to join the crusade.

If, as a result of your pitch, they want to know more and invite you for a meeting you have succeeded in your task!

Acknowledgement: This article is based on a lecture by Prof. Lynda M. Applegate at Harvard Business School.