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Future Patterns of Innovation

Since the first IT systems were invented, IT systems have helped to automate business processes and IT will continue to do this in the future but now IT will become a stronger force in the quest for new business opportunities.

The terms big data and analytics are used heavily in the industry at present, but the fact remains have we stopped to consider what this actually means?

Data is being driven to drive growth in business now and this data is only set to expand in the future with the pressure for business executives to find new innovation’s is hit and miss often because they are not equipped for out the box thinking and compounding that is the fact that the business is organised to support one way of working and are not adaptable to new innovation.

Idea in brief, the challenge for businesses is that established large companies traditionally are bad at finding new ways to make money but these large companies own or have access to vast sets of information that could be used to expand existing business or create new ones. Often what starts as an extension of a business will in fact become a separate business line once successful.

“In short we know we can obtain the answer from technology we just need to ask technology the correct questions.”

So lets look at the opportunity in the market place for this and place in to context the addressable market. Cisco has been a big supporter of the IOE (Internet of Everything) and if you look at the figures its easy to see why. Cisco Consulting predict that the IOE will have an addressable market from 2013 – 2022 of $19 Trillion….yes Trillion for both private and public sectors alike. Perhaps the most alarming part of that phrase for a business is the size of the opportunity and the fact that we are now in that window or opportunity.

So first lets look at what the IOE is: “The IOE is the networked connection or people, process, data and things”. This is already in our everyday lives, do you have a smart meter at home monitoring your energy usage and billing you? Have you adopted a smart box in your car to calculate part of your insurance premiums? The fact is that this idea has been around since the mid 2000’s, what is accelerating this connected network of everything is the advancement in connectivity technologies (4G now & 5G in the next decade), numbers of devices and more recently wearable technology. What is now an advancement is the tools we have in IT to analyse this data.

An early example of such connected technology is Rolls Royce who in the mid 2000’s used engine health management to identify engine related problems at an early stage thereby optimising maintenance and repair schedules. This data was taken from sensors in the engine and the effectiveness of this allowed Rolls Royce to adopt a new business model on how they charged their customers thus giving them a competitive advantage. To expand this idea further Rolls Royce could sell this platform as a service to other such manufacturers across different industries, automative, marine, power etc.

So lets fast forward to the present day and look at what companies are doing now to use transmitted data to optimise their business. One of my favourite examples of this is the UPS case study who used software to map out all their delivery routes and decided to not allow their delivery trucks to turn Left. Sounds bizarre doesn’t it allow me to explain, UPS in the US has 1000’s of delivery trucks and optimising their route both in time and cost savings is key to the businesses bottom line. In the US to turn left you have to first cross an on coming lane of traffic which is a safety concern but more critically it takes time as you have to wait for other traffic to pass. UPS found that programming their mapping software to only allow right hand turns (in US you can turn right on a red light) they shaved 20.4 million miles off the routes, delivered 350’000 more packages and diminished CO2 emissions by 20,000 metric tonnes. That’s an impressive bit of out the box thinking and this was done using software which tracked the delivery trucks and allowed them to analyse different models of delivery.

UPS Report Link

Along the same lines another example is Vodafone who partnered with Tom-Tom, Vodafone can detect which of its subscribers are driving, where they are and more importantly are they stuck in traffic. Vodafone realised they had this data already available to them from the range of devices they sell as most devices transmit your GPS location now, and realised this is a new line of business which we can sell on to people who want this information such as Tom-Tom who give traffic diversions to end users.

So you can see how technology is enabling lines of business and current process improvements and cost savings.

Let’s take a look more closely at the IOE and in particular the medical sector. The medical sector is taking a huge advantage of using wearable technology for all kinds of possibilities, and rightly so as the medical sector is extremely slow to change and when you think of visiting your doctor the fact that you have to phone/email/online a meeting, then explain your symptoms and then the doctor prescribe you something based on the tools he or she has in their office at that time. What if you were wearing a jumper, bracelet, watch that monitored all your health statistics and then alerted you when you need to go the doctor, but behind the scenes the device has sent all your data to your doctor allowing a more accurate diagnostic and health profiling of you?

“Lets develop the idea, why even go to the doctors? With the invention of Google Glass and Facebook Oculus and immersive reality, why couldn’t your doctor appear on your google glass and consult with you online and have your medication posted to you which you need?”

The scope for this is endless, the focus at the moment is on medical heavily but that has not stopped more everyday applications, for instance in Finland sensors are placed in garbage cans which instruct the collection company when they need emptying saving over 40% in waste savings collection.

This industry potential is huge and I can see this accelerating even further as the technology and imagination develops.

So what does a business need to do in order to capitalise on these areas? It starts with asking some fundamentally basic questions;

What data do we have?

What data do we have access to that we are not capturing?

What data could we create from products or operations?

What helpful data could we get from others?

What data do others have that we would like also? can we collaborate?

I work in IT and mostly in the areas which are business process automation and although that will continue the ideas we have discussed above are where the real movement is coming from and where the technology market is going, by asking yourself the above questions you can start to address your future of innovation.

“To relate back to the title of this article, the future patterns of innovation, its already here the question is how are you going to use it?”



The Illiterate of the 21st Century

"How are you defining your strategy?"

“How are you defining your strategy?”

“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, un learn and relearn”

I am guilty of this as much as anyone else, in my role we constantly learn new technology, derive that it is the best technology in the world and that it can change everything and then a new shiny object comes along and the focus switches. Throwing technology at an issue or opportunity fills a hole but does it drive a strategy? I would argue no, the IT world has been fed the word “Cloud” now for years and now everyone is on board with cloud and accepts this as a technology and a viable way that the world of IT is heading, most are now looking to IT professionals and asking “How do we get there?”

This is a common question and a vendors immediate response will be “Well this technology can definitely solve this”. My experience so far has taught me a few things, IT roles are changing they will become more strategy driven and service orientated yet most companies I now come across are still defining their strategy and really value input in to this. A strategy is a complex timeline of events to reach a goal which has a direct outcome to the business whether this be something as generic as saving money or generating new business.

The important term here is “business” the people who sign off the cheques and allow business units to pursue technologies. The strategy does not start and end with an IT department for Cloud. It should be transparent across a business yet here is the inherent problem, because “Cloud” is such a common term now people read all about the good and bad stories of cloud which can be positive and negative thus affecting a strategy.

So thinking about “Cloud” we all know the technology is there but how does a business understand the change it will bring?

The approach is simple, a step back from technology needs to be taken. In my experience the one element holding up large organisations moving to a cloud model which ever this may be, is applications. How does a large organisation understand 20 years of their applications, dependancies, landscapes, & feasibility for the cloud? In present years this would have been solved by a large complex consulting engagement which would tag applications, long story short it was a manual process which took 6-12 months. EMC last year purchased a company called “Adaptivity” which automates all of this but goes one step further with data classification, applicable data laws and a modern ranking of the applications suitability to be moved in to a cloud model such as Rack space or ATOS.

It is only when an organisation understands these large application landscapes that they can address the second issue of adopting a cloud utility model to effectively charge back BU’s. This is another common comment, the IT departments want to charge back but the BU’s are not in tune with this. Echoing back to the start of this post I mentioned transparency and it needs to have buy in across the business. Charge back and show back are elements which are desirable and it is only when organisations understand the true needs of the applications that they can streamline for the cloud. If a company takes an approach to “Gold” everything, so fast disks, huge memory in servers, backup, replication etc expect to pay for that in the cloud, this service costs and only once you have classified your applications can the financial areas of the business can explore the costs of keeping this in house or moving to a public cloud.

So stepping away from the technology and looking beyond software and hardware will drastically power conversations surrounding Cloud based technologies.

So back to the start of my comment on learning and re-learning, people want to embrace cloud but need guidance on this. Workshops and gap analysis studies with Cloud Strategy have been hugely popular and effective in this space, the more I run these type of events the more I learn that the cloud conversation struggles are not local but felt across the industry.

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What is the Social Customer?

I found the below a really insightful presentation on the social customer. The social customer is not social media but rather understanding customers as social beings.

This presentation may help you to understand how younger generations network and interact.

Insightful stuff and a great presentation, the word social media is becoming immensely over used and the true nature of being connected online all the time means that offline interaction is sparse and this is the most important element.