Every once in a while I get the opportunity to completely immerse myself in one of my client's problems. This time, it was at an IT strategy offsite where a senior director of IT asked me one simple question: "How can we use information technology to help our company open up new streams of revenue?" I found the question refreshing, mainly because nine out of ten CIOs I talk to these days ask the opposite: "how can IT reduce costs?"
Fortunately for me, this client had invited lots of smart people from business and IT and outside experts into the room for two days to explore the revenue question. Challenges familiar to most life sciences companies got folks in the room in the first place: patent expiration foretold eroding profit margins for their blockbuster drugs, and expansion into emerging markets was an avenue for growth, yet one fraught with complexity and uncertain returns.
So this group's charter was to think digital.
Taking inspiration from morning TED talks, four working teams presented ideas for revenue opportunities created by emerging technologies in tech markets like mobile, big data, security, and consumer experiences. The teams cited creative ideas — like algorithms that use public data sources to reduce production forecast variance and improve distribution allocations; modern IT security models, pioneered in financial services, that would enable them to cut the time it takes to on-ramp a new manufacturing partner from months to weeks; company-owned data that could be sold or licensed and made available through public APIs to third parties; and many more.
The teams shared inspiring ideas that were big enough and bold enough to at least warrant further investigation.
Much has been said about the benefits of “SaaS for IT service management (ITSM)” …
For many organizations, the key benefit of SaaS is its simple, subscription-based pricing model that provides a lower and consistent level of expenditure which is Opex rather than a Capex investment – highly suited to those organizations wishing to invest limited Capex into business innovation projects rather than into IT. I deliberately haven’t stated that SaaS is cheaper as “it depends” ... Many tools have a “breakeven point” in the three to four year timeframe where SaaS becomes more expensive to customers than on-premises.
This simplicity of pricing can also be viewed from a value-for-money perspective, in that a per-seat subscription will usually cover access to capabilities across multiple ITIL (or ITSM) processes rather than the traditional need for organizations to buy multiple licenses across multiple ITSM products (or modules), giving an organization the freedom to increase its ITSM maturity without extra cost (unless additional people need access to the solution).
Last week, following on President Obama’s memorandum on managing government records, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issued a records management (RM) directive. The directive affects all US government executive departments and agencies and applies to all federal records.
This significant effort to reform RM policies and practices includes a focus on digital government with a requirement to eliminate paper and use electronic recordkeeping where feasible, manage both permanent and temporary email records electronically, and take steps to demonstrate compliance with federal RM statutes and regulations such as designating a senior official to oversee RM programs and proving appropriate training.
The directive also identifies specific actions that will be taken by NARA and other agencies to support federal government records management programs. Critically, these include revised guidance for transferring permanent electronic records; email guidance; research into automated management of email, social media, and other types of digital record content; and embedding RM needs into cloud architectures. Further, it calls for investigating secure cloud-based service options to store and manage unclassified electronic records, and a series of steps to promote partnerships and better serve agencies.
It should come as no surprise that websites thrive on traffic. So naturally, it follows that driving traffic to your site is a strong motivation for any company looking to grow their web presence. However ironically, driving traffic to your site can also be a double-edged sword if your infrastructure is not properly prepared to handle the load. This means that, strangely, popularity can actually become a potential cause of an outage.
Yesterday, popular Internet forum and message board Reddit discovered this firsthand.In an interesting campaign move, President Barack Obama graced the site with his presence by doing an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) thread, a message thread in which commenters submit questions and the original poster responds. Word about this rare opportunity to send the President of the United States a direct message spread across social media like a wildfire, leading to a massive spike in traffic that ultimately brought down Reddit a mere few minutes into the life of the thread. Current figures show that their number of unique connections and pageviews both more than tripled compared to their typical traffic. Eventually the site came back online and the AMA progressed as usual.
In a recent blog post that I wrote right before the Agile 2012 conference in Dallas, I expressed my hope that the conference sessions would be full of specifics, not generalities. No, thank you, I don't need another presentation explaining what test-driven development is. I'd like to hear someone talk about how they did test-driven development in a large project, or how they made it a standard practice across projects, or whether anyone has had success with it when working with outsourcing partners.
The presentations at this year's conference were a mixed bag, consisting of the following:
Very high-level discussions, often from consultants, about Agile and Lean concepts. These presentations consisted of a lot of name dropping ("Mumblemumble Daniel Pink mumblemumble Geoffrey Moore mumblemumble Taiichi Ohno") and colorful polygons ("You want to be in the two-by-two Grid Of Delight, not the Overlapping Ovals Of Doom"). Unfortunately, the keynote bore a bit too much resemblance to this category.
Emphatic statements of Agile precepts. Sometimes, the arguments were convincing, such as a good workshop-ish session I attended on Agile planning. Others were less persuasive, such as the contention that Scrum should be the governing methodology in every project. (That's exactly the sort of over-the-top pronouncement that gave birth to the phrase "Agile zealot.")
What’s interesting is that the most comments centered not on whether George was right in highlighting the importance of the EA role, but on whether EA should be seen as an IT role at all. And what is fascinating to me is that some folks believe EA should report to the CEO. The thinking goes that the CIO is too techie, and the EA role is much broader than IT because it involves business process and even org design. This seems to ignore the fact that George actually wrote, “Techies invariably screw up the business; business guys screw up the tech. For years (actually, decades) we've looked for someone to span both -- and that's what Enterprise Architects do.”
I’m thrilled to see “people” talked about as a major focus of business. Company executives recognize that people are critical to sustainable organizational growth. Talent is now a C-level priority. People development is a responsibility of all managers and leaders, not just the HR department. Great to hear! Vendors see talent management as a hot space and are strategically lining up to meet business needs — enter IBM!
The Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) is best known in the cloud standards world for its Open Virtualization Format (OVF) specification that’s been highly adopted by cloud vendors today and is considered the first and only true standard in the IaaS space. But as of late, the focus has been solving the interoperability challenges in the cloud space. In July 2010, after releasing a series of white papers, the DMTF Open Cloud Standards Incubator group transitioned into the Cloud Management Working Group (CMWG) and has been working on interoperability standards ever since. For the past year, the main focus has been the Cloud Infrastructure Management Interface (CIMI) specification for a self-service portal that would enable easy interoperability between solutions. And today the DMTF CMWG released CIMI v1.0.
In mid-July, my colleagues and I attended Orange’s annual analyst event in Paris. There were no major announcements, but we made several observations:
ORANGE is one of the few carriers with true delivery capabilities. Its global footprint is a real advantage vis-a-vis carrier competitors, in particular in Africa and Asia. At the recent event, Vale, the Brazilian metals and mining corporation, presented a customer case study in which Vale emphasized the importance of ORANGE’s global network infrastructure for its decision to go with ORANGE as UCC and network provider. ORANGE’s global reach positions it well to address the opportunity in emerging markets, both for Western MNCs going into these markets and also to address intra-regional business in Africa and Asia. Another customer case study with the Chinese online retailer 360buy, focusing on a contact center solution, demonstrated ORANGE’s ability to win against local competitors in Asia.