The third platform – the confluence of the four technology pillars of cloud, mobile, social and big data – continue to become more significant and impact the role of CIOs and ICT organisations.
At the CIO Summit last week in Auckland, a panel on ‘smarter leadership’ pointed out the rapid pace of change in ‘third platform’, as IDC calls this intersection of four trends.
“We are at an inflection point,” says Stephen Elliott, manager, IBM Software Group. “The confluence of these technologies is driving businesses to think differently.”
Elliot says the “new era of computing”, with the rise of cognitive systems, of technology that can understand nuance, sentiment and emotion, and the potential applications for this type of computing, is driving this change.
Customers, meanwhile, continue to transform and want to enter and create new markets, and provide new services.
Enterprises need to adapt or keep up, says Elliott.
CIO Summit highlights additional challenges and opportunities for CIOs as cloud, big data, social and mobile continue to impact business models.
Impact on the ICT team
CIOs are at the crux of driving this transformation in the organisation, says co-panellist Andrew Tubb, IBM Global Business Services, partner. “Now is the time for CIOs to really grab hold of the innovation range and drive that to the organisation.”
The CIO role, says Tubb, has “shifted in a good way”, involving a move from a focus on operations outcome to driving innovation strategy.
Tubb sees a change in the skill set for CIOs, with the rise of business savvy people to the role. The latter understand business strategy and work with a savvy technical staff underneath.
The third panellist, Andrew Fox, IBM Global Technology Services, executive, says the new environment likewise demands new skills sets for the ICT team.
“We need less white coated rocket scientists, we need information architects,” he says.
The panel notes the increasing role played by line of business executives in IT decisions. IDC, for instance, estimates by 2016, line of business executives will be directly involved in 80 percent of new IT investments.
Tubb says this is true in the increasing working relationship between the CIOs and CMOs. “IT and marketing are coming together to drive outcomes from analytics.”
A chunk of the discussion is spent on mobility. Tubb says there are “two pieces” to the mobility strategy, the customer and your own staff, a reference to the rise of bring your own device in the workplace.
The key, says Tubb, is to “have a flexible, adaptable approach”. Find out what is the customer experience you wish to deliver.
Tubb asks, “What is the moment of truth you want with your customers that will define you?” Then, he says, work back from your moment of truth.
To stay ahead, says Elliott, it is important to “think mobile first”.
“Don’t miss the bus, think mobile in a holistic fashion,” says Elliot. The mobile phone, he says, is now the store front.
There is the need to reinvent business design and processes, he says. Look at adapting a flexible and secure integration model.
“Be insight and data driven,” says Elliott, urging that organisations should have the ability to analyse who the customers are, their experiences, their record of engagement.
The legacy of Steve Jobs
The panel tackled best practices to drive innovation.
Ullrich Loeffler, IDC New Zealand country manager, says the message is this: “Challenge the norm”.
From the audience, Jonathan Iles, CIO of Carter Holt Harvey, says Steve Jobs, was the archetypal rebel, who encouraged rebellious thinking and was “unbelievably brilliant as an innovator”.
“Always have a brunch of bright rebels,” he says, who can come up with the most amazing product. “Gather off the wall ideas.”
Fox espouses fostering “innovative thinking” across the organisation.
“Just be brave, try stuff there is on the cloud,” he says. If this fails, scrap it and start again. “Do something new and different.”
Tubb says the best examples are shown by organisations that are “fairly bold” and “will play in the sandpit, [and] give it a go”.
If it doesn’t work, they will move on, he says. “That philosophy is right for this time.”
Hotspots and endpoints
Wireless networking will be ever more in demand, both from BYOD and even company networks, says Salah Nassar, marketing director at Ruckus Wireless.
Its endemic use in the education sector is bringing people into your organisation who are used to having wireless available, said Nassar, at another breakfast forum at the CIO Summit.
He points out increasing numbers of laptops are built without a hard-wired Ethernet connection. Right now, he says, users have one to four devices that are wireless-LAN (WLAN) capable; this will easily rise to an average of five.
There are problems when the population of such devices gets too dense; there are reliability problems, he says.
His advice? You need enterprise-grade wireless; don't rely on networking components that were produced for the consumer market.
“You need to look to security, obviously,” he says. Identify the user; send an encryption key and do the whole session in encrypted mode. Different access permissions could apply to the same user with different devices. Someone who might be allowed access to confidential information through his laptop might not be allowed to take it onto his iPhone.
Lastly, he says, “Beware of false messages.” Some suppliers tell you to turn down the power of your access points and put more in; don't do that; power equals bandwidth. Rather, beam a more powerful signal to a specific user as and when they have a requirement.
802.11ac is here in a preliminary version but, it's not the full standard. The full standard has not been finalised yet. Today's "ac" is worth having for its extra capacity in numbers of users and bandwidth; but when you shift to the full standard it will need a hardware upgrade, he states.
Divina Paredes (@divinap) is editor of CIO New Zealand.
Stephen Bell (@stevebwriter) is a writer for CIO New Zealand.
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