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The Open Group Conference

July 21, 2012 Leave a comment

This week’s quarterly Open Group conference in Washington DC,  featured several thought provoking sessions around key issues / developments of interest and concern to the IT world, including: Security, Cloud, Supply Chain, Enterprise Transformation (including Innovation), and of course Enterprise Architecture (including TOGAF and Archimate).

The Capitol in Washington DC

The Capitol in Washington DC

Below are some key highlights, captured from the sessions I attended (or presented), as follows:

Day 1 – Plenary session focused on Cyber Security, followed by three tracks on Supply Chain, TOGAF and SOA. Key messages included:

  • Key note by Joel Brenner described the Internet as a “porous and insecure network” which has become critical for so many key functions (e.g. financial, communications and operations) yet remains vulnerable to abuse by friends, enemies and competitors. Best quote of the conference, was: “The weakest link is not the silicon based unit on the desk, but the carbon based unit in the chair” (also tweeted and mentioned in @jfbaeur’s blog here)
  • NIST’s Dr. Don Ross spoke about a perfect storm of consumerisation (BYOD), ubiquitous connectivity and sophisticated malware, leading to an “advanced persistent threat” enabled by available expertise / resources, multiple attack vectors and footholds in infrastructure
  • MIT’s Professor Yossi Sheffi expounded on the concept of building security and resilience for competitive advantage. This, he suggested, can be done by embracing “flexibility DNA”, (as exhibited in a few successful organisations), into the culture of your organisation. Key flexibility traits include:
    • Your resilience and security framework must drive, or at least feed into, “business-as-usual”
    • Continuous communication is necessary among all members of the organisation
    • Distribute the power to make decisions (especially to those closer to the operations)
    • Create a passion for your work and the mission
    • Deference to expertise, especially in times of crisis
    • Maintain conditioning for disruptions – ability for stability is good, but flexibility to handle change is even better
  • Capgemini’s Mats Gejneval discussed agility and enterprise architecture using Agile methods and TOGAF. He highlighted the relationship flow between: agile process -> agile architecture -> agile project delivery -> agile enterprise, and how the latter outcome requires each of the preceding qualities (e.g. agile methods, and faster results, on its own will not deliver agile solutions or enterprise). My favourite quote, during the Q/A, was: “…remember that architects hunt in packs!”

Day 2 – Plenary session focused on Enterprise Transformation followed by four streams on Security Architecture, TOGAF Case Studies, Archimate Tutorials, and EA & Enterprise Transformation (including our session on Innovation & EA). Key Highlights include:

  • A case study on the role of open standards for enterprise transformation, featured Jason Uppal (Chief Architect at QRS), describing the transformation of Toronto’s University Health Network into a dynamic and responsive organisation, by placing medical expertise and requirements above the flexible, open standards based, IT delivery.
  • A view on how to modernise service to citizens via a unified (or “single window government”) approach was provided by Robert Weisman (CEO of Build a Vision Inc). He described the process to simplify key events (from 1400 down to 12 major life events) around which the services could be defined and built.
  • Samira Askarova (CEO of WE Solutions Group) talked about managing enterprise transformation through transitional architectures. She likened business transformation to a chameleon with: its huge, multi-directional eyes (i.e. for long term views), the camouflage ability (i.e. changing colours to adapt), and the deliberate gait (i.e. making changes one step at a time)
  • The tutorial session on Innovation and EA, by Corey Glickman (Capgemini’s lead for Innovation-as-a-Managed Service) and yours truly, discussed the urgent need for EA to play a vital role in bridging the gap between rapid business model innovation and rapid project delivery (via Agile). It also provided several examples, as well as a practical demonstration of the Capgemini innovation service platform, which was well received by the audience. Key take aways include:
    • Innovation describes an accomplishment, after the fact
    • EA can bridge the gap between strategy (in the business model) and rapid project delivery (via Agile)
    • Enterprise Architecture must actively embrace innovation
    • Engage with your partners, suppliers, customers and employees – innovation is not all about technology
    • Creating a culture of innovation is key to success
    • Remember, if you are not making mistakes, you are not innovating

Day 3 – Featured three streams on Security Automation, Cloud Computing for Business, and Architecture methods and Techniques. Highlights from the Cloud stream (which I attended) include:

  • Capgemini’s Mark Skilton (Co-chair of the Open Group’s Cloud Working Group) talked about the right metrics for measuring cloud computing’s ability to deliver business architecture and strategy. He discussed the complexity of Cloud and implications for Intellectual Property, as well as the emergence of ecosystem thinking (e.g. ecosystem architecture’ and ‘ecosystem metrics’) for cloud computing and applications
  • A debate about the impact of cloud computing on modern IT organisational structure raised the point that a dysfunctional relationship exists between business and IT with respect to cloud services. The conclusion (and recommendation) is that healthy companies tend to avoid buying cloud services in business silos, instead they will pursue a single cloud strategy, in collaboration with IT, which is responsible for maintenance, security and integration into the enterprise landscape
  • Prakash Rao, of the FEAC Institute, discussed Enterprise Architecture patterns for Cloud Computing. He reiterated the point made earlier about how enterprise architecture can be used to align enterprise patterns (i.e. business models) to development processes. Also that enterprise patterns enable comparison and benchmarking of cloud services in order to determine competitive advantage

 

The bullet items and observations recorded above does not do justice to breadth and depth of the entire conference which included networking with attendees from over 30 countries, across all key industries / sectors, plus multiple, simultaneous streams, sessions and activities, many of which I could not possibly attend. Overall, this was an excellent event that did not disappoint. Further materials can be found on the Open Group website, including:

I would recommend the Open Group conference to any professional in IT and beyond.

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Talking Innovation

July 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Innovation is a great word for a great concept, and most people seem to have something to say about it, but the fact remains that innovation (or being innovative) is not something said or claimed, but rather it is best used (preferably by others) to describe an accomplishment. With that in mind, how difficult or easy is it really to innovate, or to be innovative?

Tough questions which it seems can only be answered by those who have themselves done it. Apparently, there exists different categories of innovation, including: incremental, tangential or accidental, and the much-loved (by start-ups and investors) disruptive innovation. Over the past few weeks, I had several opportunities to discuss or participate in activities, events and groups concerned with innovation, to different degrees, and below are brief highlights from some of them:

Logos

Innovation related events / activities / groups

 

  • Brand New BCS Entrepreneurs Specialist Group – In an industry famous for turning other industries on their collective heads, the BCS Chartered Institute for IT has finally created a specialist group dedicated to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship among its members, businesses and society at large. I attended the pre-formation meeting, at the rather appropriately named Innovation Warehouse, and can safely say that the aims / aspirations of this group to engage with entrepreneurial communities in order to grow the digital ecosystem is right on target, and should be one to watch.
  • Mentoring innovation at the Information Technologists’ Company – An event on mentoring, organised by the 100th livery company of the City of London, was the forum for meeting several like-minded entrepreneurs, investors and technology leaders. Suffice it to say that this company takes seriously, its aim to give something back to society via robust programmes of charity and education (including mentoring) of those less fortunate / established amongst us.
  • Innovation Foundation – I recently had a chat with Professor Hargreaves, of UK IP Review fame, at the London HQ of NESTA, (the independent charity for innovation and entrepreneurship with stated mission to “help people and organisations bring great ideas to life”). The aims and objectives of this organisation are ever more relevant and urgently needed for a sustainable economic recovery, especially as more people are venturing to set up their own innovative technology businesses in the UK.
  • Parliament, Industry and the Lord Sugar – The Industry and Parliament Trust works to encourage more real world interaction and constructive dialogue between UK business and parliament. Their recent AGM featured renowned entrepreneur, the Lord Sugar (from BBC’s The Apprentice) who held a Q&A session which covered among other things, the often unrealistic expectation of young entrepreneurs (who mostly wish to become the next Mark Zuckerberg), and his belief that entrepreneurship is a quality best observed, commented and bestowed upon a person by others, pretty much as observed earlier about innovation.
  • Social Media Jam – A brief internal social media event featuring digital agency co-founder, AKQA’s Ajaz Ahmed, talking about the Seven Laws of Velocity, in his new book entitled “Velocity: The Seven New Laws for a World Gone Digital”. A wealth of anecdotes on innovation included an observation about how really great innovative companies (e.g. Sony or Apple) will not often to themselves as innovators, rather this is how others perceive and refer to their products and services – once again, after the fact!

All wonderful stuff indeed, and which has left me with a fierce hunger (or “La Niaque”) to do and become more involved in groups and activities that foster innovation. For example, next week, I’ll be speaking about the role of enterprise architecture in innovation at the Open Group Conference in Washington DC. In any case, the two key messages I picked up from the above listed flurry of activities / events / groups are:

  1. A common theme that real innovators and entrepreneurs will often be perceived and described as such, by others, after the fact. Actions truly speak louder than words in this respect.
  2. Technology consulting firms and system integrators, such as Capgemini, may have a key role to play in the innovation / entrepreneurship ecosystem, especially as a trusted advisor and potential partner to large organisations clients in their quest to connect with those innovative, high-growth companies (not necessarily early stage start-ups) that can help them differentiate / change / elevate their game in the fast changing business and technology environment.

I would welcome any suggestions / comments / critique on the best ways to help make the latter happen. As for the former, I guess we’ll just have to wait until after the fact!