The Demand For Speed Is Accelerating — And IT Isn't Keeping Up

Sharyn Leaver

Speed and agility are at the heart of business today — and, unfortunately, those are two areas in which IT is falling short. Two trends — neither of which is going away anytime soon — are impacting this increased need. Consumerization is rapidly changing the expectations of today’s information workers. In too many instances that we care to acknowledge, your employees are using faster, more agile solutions at home than they are at the office. On top of that, businesses are under an increased demand to change.

Enterprise architects are in a unique position to be change agents for their businesses — if they aggressively change the way they work with the business. Join us at our Enterprise Architecture forums — May 3 to 4 in Las Vegas and June 19 to 20 in Paris — for practical guidance on how to connect EA with your business’ bottom line.

Peter Hinssen, The New Normal, And Enterprise Architecture

Alex Cullen

You already know it. Technology is completely pervasive in our lives, and in how businesses operate. It’s pervasive in how business execs think — they know that every change they make has a technology aspect to it. As my colleague Randy Heffner says, “It’s no longer enough to say that technology supports business. Today, your business is embodied in its technology.”

You already know it. The pace of change in our highly interconnected and interdependent world is increasing — and along with this are the opportunities and risks which change brings. From emerging markets to new social platforms such as Pinterest, business leaders are finding they can’t assume stable business models and environments anymore. Gone are the days of three-year strategic plans — the mantra now is: “How quickly can we sense and respond to new opportunities and threats? How quickly can we shift our business for these changes?”

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Infusing EA Into Your Business

Sharyn Leaver

In today’s business environment, the pressure to change, and change quickly and often, is growing, thanks to the proliferation of empowered customers, emerging global markets, regulation (and deregulation), and growing social responsibilities. For the past several years, I’ve worked with CIOs from all types of industries as they’ve worked to transform the culture, the tactics, and the technology of their organization to become more agile. The successful ones, like Michael Mathias at Aetna or Glenn Schneider at Discover Financial Services, now sit in organizations where the business leaders look to IT as a key enabler of business agility.

And interestingly, when you speak with these successful CIOs, they often point to their enterprise architecture (and business architecture) as the secret weapon for how they achieve that agility -- the ability to tap new technologies and processes to help their businesses shift and innovate quickly. That’s great news, and shows the potential for high-performance EA practices.

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Amazon's New Simple Workflow Service

Derek Miers

Yesterday, Amazon launched an adjunct to its successful Amazon Web Service (AWS) elastic cloud offering. While we don’t normally comment on every product release, this one is significant — primarily because of who is doing it. The Simple Workflow service (SWF) clearly has nothing to do with Adobe’s Flash offering (although techno-nerds may initially think so, given the acronym).

So what was this all about? The business model is certainly interesting: an elastic, configurable workflow capability that’s distributed across any number of access points. Essentially, this will allow an organization to orchestrate processes in the cloud, linking participants up and down the value chain.

“Amazon Simple Workflow Service (Amazon SWF) is a workflow service for building scalable, resilient applications. Whether automating business processes for finance or insurance applications, building sophisticated data analytics applications, or managing cloud infrastructure services, Amazon SWF reliably coordinates all of the processing steps within an application.”

Pricing is initially free and then transitions into a blended, low-cost consumption model, with charges oriented around execution steps, bandwidth usage, how long the task is active, and signals/markers, etc. With usage charges at around $0.0001 per execution step, this gives you an idea of how small the operating overhead might be.

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Are Your Employees Doing This?

Brian  Hopkins

I just saw something that makes a point I covered in a technology trends briefing for a client yesterday. After getting my Sun-dried Ethiopia Harrar (a $3.45 “clover-brewed,” ridiculously priced guilty pleasure – nice marketing job, Starbucks!), I noticed a young woman sitting behind me with her 5x7 notebook out, busily scribbling while bent over a large smartphone. Hmmm, I thought, let’s see what she’s doing. So I made pest of myself by asking a few questions. Here is some of the Q&A (her replies are abbreviated; she was actually quite helpful and not as curt):

  • Q: Are you a student or is what you are doing for work? A: No, I’m actually working.
  • Q: So do you have a PC? A: I do, but it’s a bulky 17” laptop that I got when I was a student, and I can do what I need on this.
  • Q: Is that company-issued phone, or is it yours? A: It’s mine.
  • Q: Does your company help by paying for any of the service? A: No, I pay it all myself.
  • Q: Are you doing an official assignment? A: No, nobody told me to do this. I am ...
  • Q: Do you even have your PC with you? A: No, I didn’t bring it.
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Will Humans Make A Comeback In Customer Processes?

Craig Le Clair

We all feel the  loss of human connection due to relentless automation, the emerging behavior of Digital Natives (who prefer online interaction to direct human interaction), and the inability of current systems to support “personalization at scale.” So I’ve been wondering whether we will start to see real pushback against the straight-through and self-service procesees we endure daily — what I am calling “faceless” processes. In short, we are starting to see inklings that the pendulum is swinging away from faceless processes and a back toward more personalized human-driven interactions.

There are a few things that seem to  point in this direction, such as community banks taking customers from the big guys, or the well-documented hatred of foreign call centers and voicemail hell. An “I’ve had enough” shift is also advanced by more vocal consumer attitudes — witness, for example, the recent consumer pushback on debit card fees. The question is, will we start to see companies start to differentiate based on injecting humans back into the process? Does social have a role to play here? And is there a way to measure whether this is actually happening?

2012 Predictions – Technology Will Shape Who We Are As People And Businesses

Brian  Hopkins

In the first phase of the information age, technology helped us achieve new levels of productivity. In the next phase, technology will shape who we are. Why? Because technology is everywhere – and savvy businesses are paying attention. I did a check on a recent trip and noticed that, on average, 80% of the people around me were nose down in their technology. That’s amazing if you stop and think about it….(pause for thinking)…When you spend that much time using something, it ceases to be a helper and starts to shape who you are.

I think 2012 will be a watershed year for the global business environment as technology moves from being “out there” to “part of us.” In 2020, we will look back on 2012 not as the year the world ended but as the year it changed for good. Check out the TED video We Are All Cyborgs Now. Here are four predictions about business in 2012 that all start with the fusion of business and technology and the impact that it will have on shaping business. I hope will add some new thought food to your mental garden:

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Stuck In Cement: When Packaged Apps Create Barriers To Innovation

Craig Le Clair

My “Stuck in Cement” research is up on Forrester.com today. I have to say, I really wrestled with the title. It’s just incorrect to say “stuck in cement,” because technically cement is only the active ingredient and needs to be mixed with sand and water to make concrete. So it should be “stuck in concrete,” although somehow this doesn’t quite sound right. But really, who but a chemist would lose sleep over this or even catch the distinction? The real issue is whether packaged apps really are a barrier to innovation at this point — or does our research just reflect the high level of frustration that our clients feel trying to manage technology in a world changing so quickly?

The basic idea is that industry-specific or packaged apps — and these are currently mostly on-premises applications — aligned with organizational silos have worked well for well-defined, highly structured processes where volume, scale, and straight-through processing dominate system design. But these apps are difficult to change, appear increasingly less relevant, and form a barrier to innovation for companies in fast-moving industries like energy, healthcare, and financial services now facing advancing consumer technologies that threaten business as usual.

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A BPM Prediction For 2012: Connecting The Dots

Derek Miers
Reading the recent Harvard Business Review article from Tom Davenport et al., it occurred to me that next best offer (NBO) is actually a subset of what my colleague Jim Kobielus calls “next best action” (NBA). And when you couple that predictive thinking with advances in process mining (see Wil van der Aalst’s post and the Process Mining Manifesto), it clearly becomes possible to optimize operations dynamically on the fly. First of all, the organization could mine the existing system (the transaction logs of traditional systems or a newly implemented BPM/CRM system) to identify what happens today. This then enables you to identify the outcomes that are most interesting (or those you want to achieve) and then optimize the NBA accordingly.
 
We take for granted a process definition where the next action is predetermined by the arc of the process definition. But if we can do NBO in 200 milliseconds, we can also do NBA in a similar time frame. Directed arcs in process models and the business rules that go with them start to become a little redundant. This sort of combination (mining and NBA) enables wide-open goal-oriented optimization for all sorts of processes, not just those related to marketing and cross-sell/upsell ideas.
 
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A Copernican Shift (And A Tip Of My Hat To Randy Heffner)

Brian  Hopkins

As my first calendar year as an analyst draws to a close, I wanted to thank everybody who has read and commented on my blog and say that I look forward to even more next year. In closing out the year, I turn for a moment away from emerging technology to share an email I wrote to one of our clients in response to some questions he had about the changing nature of EA. In describing the future, I'm going to blatantly pirate a term that Randy Heffner has been using for a while because as I sought to answer this client's questions, I realized how absolutely spot on it is. here is the relevant text of that email:

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Happy to answer your questions as outlined below in the inquiry request. We have published a report along similar lines, BT 2020: IT's Future In The Empowered Era, that I recommend for additional ideas. Regarding timing, 2015 will be a stepping stone towards 2020, so I’ll focus answers on 2020, and you can extrapolate to 2015 in terms of the migration that needs to occur.

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