Build Innovation Zones Into Your Architecture

Forrester’s recent book, Empowered, describes the type of technology-based innovation by frontline employees that can cause nightmares for enterprise architects. New tools for business innovation are readily available to anyone, ranging from cloud computing and mobile apps to social networks, scripting languages, and mashups. Faced with long IT backlogs and high IT costs, frontline employees are building their own solutions to push business forward.

What worries architects is that (1) solutions built with these new tools — with little or no vetting — are being hooked to enterprise systems and data, opening potentially big risks to reliability and security, and (2) the siloed, quick-hit nature of these solutions will drive up ongoing costs of maintenance and support. Traditionally, architects use enterprise standards as their primary tool to ensure the quality, efficiency, and security of their organization’s technology base. However, when applied in the typical “lockdown” fashion, standards can stifle innovation — often because vetting a new technology takes longer than the perceived window of business opportunity.

To deal with these conflicting pressures, architects must forge a new equation between responsiveness and technology control. The business value of responsiveness, combined with the typically limited size of enterprise architecture teams, means that most organizations cannot wait for architects to vet every possible new technology. Thus, you must find ways to use architecture to navigate the tension between the business value of responsiveness and the business value of a high-quality technology base. The key is to build innovation zones into your architecture; Forrester defines these as:

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How To Develop A Social Innovation Network

Customers already use social technologies to wrest power away from large corporations. Now employees are adapting social technologies in pursuit of innovations to support these empowered customers; Forrester calls these employees HEROes (highly empowered and resourceful operatives). By designing social technologies as part of their Innovation Networks, CIOs and their IT teams help establish new Social Innovation Networks — innovation ecosystems employing social technologies to enhance HEROes' innovations. These Social Innovation Networks help drive faster, more effective innovation across the enterprise. And CIOs must rise to the challenge of nurturing and developing these networks while structuring their IT teams to fully support them.

In an earlier post, I described how we’re entering a new era of social innovation. Building on these concepts in subsequent research has led to the latest report “CIOs: Support HEROes – Create Social Innovation Networks Using The PACT Framework” (and yes, I’m guilty of introducing yet another acronym).

PACT: Process, advocates, culture, and technology

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Employee Advocates Emerge From Empowered Workforce

Ever heard a senior leader in your organization proclaim “Everyone’s in sales!”? I have. In fact, it’s a phrase I’ve heard a lot in the last three years from executives at conferences, industry events, client meetings and more. To me, it’s right up there with “All hands on deck!” and “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” (only in a less evocative, corporate-speak kind of way).

Yet during the most recent recession, the phrase has taken on a more urgent tone and seems to mean: “Demand stinks. Drop what you’re doing. Advocate for the company.” Particularly among already hyper-efficient companies, stimulating demand with a whole-company response may just be one recipe for retaining existing jobs and creating new ones.
 
But are employees responding? Forrester’s most recent Workforce Forrsights survey suggests few actually heed this executive call to action.
 
As an extension of our Empowered research series looking at employee empowerment, we decided to measure employee advocacy by borrowing the methodology of Net Promoter. We surveyed over 5,000 information workers across five countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, and Germany. We included 18 different professions and multiple industries. In the report, "Do Your Employees Advocate For Your Company" we use two questions to measure employee advocacy:
  1. How likely are you to recommend your company’s products or services to a friend or family member?
  2. How likely are you to recommend a job at your company to a friend or family member?
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Cloud Predictions For 2011: Gains From Early Experiences Come Alive

The second half of 2010 has laid a foundation in the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) market that looks to make 2011 a landmark year. Moves by a variety of players may just turn this into a vibrant, steady market rather than today’s Amazon Web Services and a distant race for second. VMware vCloud Director finally shipped after much delay — a break from VMware’s rather steady on-time execution prior — and will power both ISP public clouds and enterprise private efforts in 2011. VMops changed its name and landed a passel of service providers; we’ll see if they live up to be the “.com” in Cloud.comOpenStack came out of the gate with strong ISV support and small ISP momentum; 2011 may prove a make-or-break year for the open source upstart. And nearly every enter

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Securing An Empowered Enterprise

I am very excited to introduce a new report — hot off the press — “Securing An Empowered Enterprise." If you haven’t read “Empowered," I highly recommend that you go here for a summary of this fantastic book by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler.

CISOs across the country are telling us that their jobs are becoming increasingly more difficult (as their power to veto is becoming increasingly diminished) when faced with the business’ needs to support consumer technologies, such as social, video, mobile, and cloud. This is the groundswell movement depicted in Bernoff and Schadler’s “Empowered." Bernoff and Schadler described that businesses are empowering their employees with these new technologies to optimize operations or better serve customers. In this era of empowerment, corporate data are going into the cloud. Mobile devices are edging out traditional PCs; social technologies are enabling ad hoc collaborations anytime, from anywhere. As a result, the enterprise risk landscape has changed and will change further.

My report, “Securing An Empowered Enterprise," co-authored with Ted Schadler, takes a look at the consumerization phenomenon from the eyes of an IT security professional. We interviewed many security and business folks; two things stood out from all the interviews:

  • Empowerment is a challenge worth tackling. The empowered movement is an important source of innovation for the organization. At the same time, this represents an opportunity to reinvent the role of IT security from a back-office function to a crucial business function — the fulcrum for innovation.
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Welcome To The Empowered Era

We inhabit an age in which empowering technology is readily available first to individuals, not institutions. Consumers and employees will always get the new good stuff first. And it will always be so. The economics of technology investment seal that deal. The consumer market is bigger and easier to get started in.

In this empowered era, smart mobile devices, social technology, pervasive video, and cloud computing are the anchor tenants of the new technology platform. These technologies are available to every consumer and employee, even yours. The question is what to do about it? Two things:

  1. Because customers can hijack your brand (consumers in the US make 500 billion impressions on each other online every year), you have to use empower your customers with better information than they can get from their networks. You have to honor your customers as a marketing channel.
  2. Because employees have ready access to technology to improve their working lives, you have to give employees permission -- and protection -- to adopt these technologies. You have to honor employees' use of consumer technology as a source of incremental and sometimes breakthrough innovation.
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