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Predicting the (near) Future

December 22, 2015 Leave a comment
The future is always tricky to predict and, in keeping with Star Wars season, the dark side is always there to cloud everything. But as we all know in IT the ‘Cloud’ can be pretty cool, except of course when it leaks. Last month saw the final edition of Gartner’s Symposium/ITxpo 2015 in Barcelona, and I was fortunate to attend (courtesy of my Business Unit) and bear witness to some amazing predictions about the road ahead for our beloved / beleageured IT industry.
 
Judging from the target audience, and the number of people in attendance, it is safe to say that the future is at best unpredictable, and at worst unknowable, but Gartner’s Analysts gave it a good go; making bold statements about the state of things to be, within the next 5 years or so. The following are some key messages, observations and predictions which I took away from the event.
 
1. CIOs are keen to see exactly what lies ahead.
Obviously. However, it does confirm to my mind that the future is highly mutable, especially given the amount of change to be navigated on the journey towards digital transformation. I say ‘towards’ because, from all indications, there is likely no real end-point or destination to the journey of digital transformation. The changes (and challenges / opportunities) just keep coming thick and fast, and at an increasing pace. For example, by 2017, Gartner predicts that 50% of IT spending will be outside of IT, it currently stands at 42% today, therefore CIOs must shift their approach from command and control style management to leading via influence and collaboration.
 
2. Algorithmic business is the future of digital business
A market for algorithms (i.e. snippets of code with value) will emerge where organizations and individuals will be able to: licence, exchange, sell and/or give away algorithms – Hmmm, now where have we seen or heard something like that before? Anyway, as a result, many organisations will need an ‘owner’ for Algorithms (e.g. Chief Data Officer) who’s job it’ll be to create an inventory of their algorithms, classify it (i.e. private or “core biz” and public “non-core biz” value), and oversee / govern its use.
 
3. The next level of Smart Machines
In the impending “Post App” era, which is likely to be ushered in by algorithms, people will rely on new virtual digital assistants, (i.e. imagine Siri or Cortana on steroids) to conduct transactions on their behalf. According to Gartner, “By 2020, smart agent services will follow at least 10% of people to wherever they are, providing them with services they want and need via whatever technology is available.” Also, the relationship between machines and people will initially be cooperative, then co-dependant, and ultimately competitive, as machines start to vie for the same limited resources as people.
 
4. Platforms are the way forward (and it is bimodal all the way)
A great platform will help organisations add and remove capability ‘like velcro’. It will need to incorporate Mode 2 capability in order to: fail fast on projects / cloud / on-demand / data and insight. Organisations will start to build innovation competency, e.g. via innovation labs, in order to push the Mode 2 envelope. Platform thinking will be applied at all layers (including: delivery, talent, leadership and business model) and not just on the technology / infrastructure layer.
 
5. Adaptive, People Centric Security
The role of Chief Security Officer role will change and good security roles will become more expansive and mission critical. In future, everyone gets hacked, even you, and if not then you’re probably not important. Security roles will need to act more like intelligence officers instead of policemen. Security investment models will shift from predominantly prevention based to prevention and detection capabilities, as more new and unpredictable threats become manifest. Also organisations will look to deploy People Centric Security measures (PCS) in order to cover all bases.
 
6. The holy grail of business moments and programmable business models
The economics of connections (from increased density of connections and creation of value between: business / people / things) will become evident especially when organsiations focus on delivering business moments to delight their customers. Firms will start to capitalise on their platforms to enable C2C interactions (i.e. customer-2-customer interactions) and allow people and things to create their own value. It will be the dawn of programmable business models 
 
7. The Digital Mesh and the role of wearables and IoT
One of the big winners in the near future will be the ‘digital mesh’, amplified by the explosion of wearables and IoT devices (and their interactions) in the digital mesh environment. Gartner predicts a huge market for wearables (e.g. 500M units sold in 2020 alone – for just a few particular items). Furthermore, barriers to entry will be lower and prices will fall as a result of increased competition, along with: more Apps, better APIs and improved power.
 
The above are just a few of the trends and observations I got from the event, but I hasten to add that it will be impossible to reflect over 4 days of pure content in these highlight notes, and that other equally notable trends and topics such as: IoT Architecture, Talent Acquisition and CIO/CTO Agendas, only receive honourable mentions. However, I noticed that topics such as Blockchain were not fully explored as might be expected at an event of this nature. Perhaps next year will see it covered in more depth – just my prediction.
In summary, the above are not necessarily earth shattering predictions, but taken together they point the way forward to a very different experience of technology; one that is perhaps more in line with hitherto far-fetched predictions of the Singularity, as humans become more immersed and enmeshed with machines. Forget the Post-App era, this could be the beginning of a distinctly recognisable post human era. However, as with all predictions only time will tell, and in this case, lets see where we are this time next year. I hope you have a happy holiday / festive season wherever you are.
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Big Data, Privacy and Intellectual Property

September 29, 2013 2 comments

Big Data, cloud, social and mobility make up Gartner’s Nexus of Forces, aka super disruptors of the digital age. In a previous related post, I discussed how such forces impact the concept of intellectual property, and in this post I’ll focus on two major issues that impact and influence big data.

Big Data, Privacy, IP

Big Data, Privacy, IP

Although a lot has been written about big data and the challenge / opportunity it presents to enterprises and individuals, the sparks really start to fly whenever commercial exploitation of digital information and content (incl. big data), enters the realms of personal privacy and IP rights (IPR).

Big Data

According to a recent Forrester report , your typical firm has on average 125TB of data but only actually utilise 12% of it. This shocking statistic brings home a key attribute and challenge of big data, namely the sheer volume, velocity and variety of data that resides and travels across multiple channels / platforms within and between organisations. As a result, many organisations have turned to ever more advanced analytics and business intelligence solution (including big data and social media) to extract value from the sea of information.

Personal Privacy

Given such powerful tools, and the vast amount of replicated information across various sources, it is relatively easy to get a picture of any individual’s situation, strengths and limitations. For many organisations, such data could become “toxic” if and when they suffer any loss of control. However, personal privacy is subjective at best, and there are differing world views on whether it should be considered a constitutional or fundamental human right.

Furthermore, the explosion in speed / type / channel of interaction may have brought about a certain degree, (perhaps even an expectation or acceptance), of reduced privacy. However, although some users may be happy to share personal data in exchange for financial gain, according to a recent SSRN paper, data protection and privacy entrepreneurship may have their place, but “people should not have to pay to protect their privacy or receive coupons as compensation”, especially as this might further disadvantage the poor.

Intellectual Property

In addition to the above issues, organisations also have to deal with the drama of IP rights and how they apply to the masses of unstructured data and content. In other words, every last piece of the aforementioned 125TB of big data held within your average organisation will have some associated IPR which must be taken into consideration when collecting, storing, processing or sharing that information. According to some legal experts, companies need to think through certain fundamental legal aspects of IPR, e.g. “who owns the input data companies are using in their analysis, and who owns the output?”

If you consider all the information / content, (including employee ‘personal’ content), sloshing around in every organisation, then you might begin to perceive the scale of the problem. There may be a lucrative opportunity for information mining and analysis algorithms aimed at the computer audit and forensic investigations market.

The way forward

Below are 3 things that organisations should bear in mind when dealing with the issues and problems posed by big data, privacy and IP:

  1. Information is the lifeblood of business  – implement the right policies for big data governance. The right information, at the right time, for the right user, is the holy grail for business, and it demands capabilities in Data Science and increasingly Data Art  . 
  1. Soon it may not really matter who owns your data – Personal information is becoming another currency with which the customer can obtain value. There is a growing push to focus big data governance / controls on data usage rather than data collection. 
  1. It’s not the tool, but how you use it – technology is not really that much a differentiator, rather it is the architecture and infrastructure approach that make all the difference – e.g. Forrester’s report recommended the “Hub and Spoke” model for decentralised big data capability3

In conclusion, although it may appear that the heady combination of big data, privacy and IP could be lethal for any organisation,  we mustn’t ignore real opportunities to reap the benefits of big data insight, but first the organisation must put its house in order by adopting the right policies and principles for big data governance.

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Note: The above post is adapted from my article of the same title, which was published in the September edition of ITNow magazine,  by the BCS Chartered Institute for IT.

References:

  1. Gartner – Information and the Nexus of Forces: Delivering and Analyzing Data (26, June 2012) – Analyst: Yvonne Genovese
  2. BCS TWENTY:13 ENHANCE YOUR IT STRATEGY – Intellectual property in the era of big and open data (01-03-2013) – Jude Umeh FBCS CITP
  3. Forrester – Deliver On Big Data Potential With A Hub-And-Spoke Architecture (12, June 2013) – Analyst: Brian Hopkins
  4. SSRN – Buying and Selling Privacy: Big Data’s Different Burdens and Benefits (30-June-2013) – by Joseph Jerome (Future of Privacy Forum) – Ref: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2294996
  5. Out-law.com – Big data: privacy concerns stealing the headlines but IP issues of equal importance to businesses – Ref: http://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2013/march/big-data-privacy-concerns-stealing-the-headlines-but-ip-issues-of-equal-importance-to-businesses-says-expert/
  6. BCS Edspace Blog – Big data: manage the chaos, reap the benefits – (17-May-2013) Marc Vael (International VP of ISACA) Ref: http://www.bcs.org/content/conBlogPost/2196
  7. Capping IT Off – Forget Data Science, Data Art is Next! – Simon Gratton Ref: http://www.capgemini.com/blog/capping-it-off/2013/07/forget-data-science-data-art-is-next

CEO / CIO Digital Alert!

August 29, 2013 Leave a comment

What is digital and why is it now so important? How are CEOs thinking about business, IT and digital? What is Digital Business Strategy (aka – what should CxOs be doing to ensure their organisation can benefit from the challenges and opportunities presented by Digital)? Ps. how much of this is hype versus actual reality?

Gartner At BCS

Gartner @ BCS Event

These are the sort of questions regularly asked of top research analysts, and a couple of weeks ago we heard some answers, and more, at a recent BCS London event featuring two leading analysts from Gartner. Mark Raskino, (VP and Gartner Fellow), focused on the outcomes and insights from  the Gartner’s CEO Concerns 2013 survey, and Dave Aron, (VP and Gartner/BCS Fellow) discussed the urgent need for digital business strategies. Below are some highlights from their presentations:

  • Multiple uncertainties of the last 12-18 months are starting to lift, and CEOs feel better able to plan and invest – there is renewed focus on profitability, plus there is money available to invest
  • After a decade of IT service performance and tight cost control, good digital strategy is emerging as a key enabler for forward looking organisations. “There has to be more to the future of IT than endlessly babysitting ERP” – Dale Kutnick, Gartner EVP
  • Digital is a mixture of various themes, which include: mature forces (i.e. e-commerce, e-service, online), contemporary forces (i.e. social, mobile, cloud, information), and emerging forces (e.g. Internet of Things, 3D printing, robotics, data science), all with a common “revenue winning” focus.
  • CIOs beware – new C-level information and technology roles (e.g. CDO/CIO or Chief Digital/Data/Innovation Officers) are emerging to fill the void left by traditional roles in the age of Digital
  •  ‘Digital’ is a much misused (and often restrictive) term which actually encompasses “…all electronic forms and uses of information and technology” – Dave Aron, Gartner.
  • We are entering a third era of Enterprise IT which has evolved through: IT Systems/Apps to IT Services/Processes, and now Digital Business/Models. Great IT strategy is no longer enough, organisations need a solid digital strategy to move forward
  • Digital business strategy answers the question: how will your business survive and thrive in a time of digital disruption? It is and integral part of business strategy.
  • Business processes are a terrible way to innovate in a time of disruptive digital innovation. “Business models are a more natural way to think of digital strategy”
  • Gartner’s Annual CIO survey 2013 indicates that, over the next decade or so, smaller ‘long tail’ firms will be most influential partners on the journey to digital!

The above are just a small sample of the thought provoking content covered during this most excellent, value for money event. As usual, I just had to ask the question of how Intellectual Property (IP) will likely influence and / or be influenced by the rise of digital, and the answers (which are recorded in a post event video interview) could become the topic of a future blog post. Watch this space.

Application Management for Executives

February 28, 2013 Leave a comment

This master class was delivered by Andy Kyte, (Gartner Fellow and SVP) to an audience of CxOs and senior IT people, and I was immediately struck by his almost counter-intuitive thinking, as well as the pivotal role played by Enterprise Architecture, managing applications in today’s business environments.

Andy Kyte - Talking Application Management

Andy Kyte – Talking Application Management

Below are some key highlights from the event:

  • Many organisations are unrepentant project junkies – project based application acquisition / delivery are often limited to the scope of the project, instead of the portfolio, and therein lies the origin of application slums, ghettos and shanty towns (i.e. no planning) that can be found within many organisations
  • Pace layering – Different applications move at different speeds for persistence and cost, e.g. Systems of Record (low velocity / most expensive), Systems of Differentiation (medium velocity / less expensive), Systems of Innovation (high velocity, least expensive)
  • Business vs. IT – In the war between Business Services and IT Services, the former usually wins, hence the uptake in BPO and Software-as-a-Service propositions
  • Application Sourcing Options – Applications that need to be customised are the road to pain for organisations, according to Andy,” it’s like buying a dog and barking yourself!”
  • Assets vs. Liability – An application is both an asset (albeit not handled very well by current accounting practices) and a liability, especially when you consider the stack that sits beneath each application (e.g. software / hardware / data / support / training needs etc.)
  • TCO Research – The go-live cost of an application constitutes a mere fraction of its TCO over 15 years. Don’t be fooled by the overly optimistic project estimates for TCO.
  • Functionality vs. Behaviour – Functional Requirements are less important than Non-Functional Requirements (e.g. maintainability / changeability etc). The non-functional requirements actually help deliver flexibility and agility, whereas functionality needs are certain to change over time
  • 3 Critical Application Attributes – Over a period of time, the costs and risks associated with an application increases whilst agility decreases. To address these we must:
    • Ensure good application governance –i.e. done by the stakeholders, for the stakeholders, in conjunction with the Enterprise Architects (aka city planners)
    • Introduce executive application portfolio management – CxOs need to know what their applications cost
    • Have the ability to make sound decisions to buy, sell, or hold on to existing applications
    • Forget application roadmaps, but embrace Options (typically 4 options are optimal for real stakeholder engagement)

The key recommendations are to: review the application portfolio regularly, and always bear in mind that project success does not equate to portfolio success. Overall verdict: another excellent, insightful and value added BCS event, delivered by a true expert, within the chambers of UK’s House of Parliament.