Forbes Tech 10/14/2013
By Peter High, Forbes Contributor
Gartner just concluded its Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2013 in Orlando, gathering tens of thousands of IT executives. Among the most anticipated aspects of the gathering are the ruminations from the Gartner pontificators regarding IT trends. Among several trends shared were the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014. Here is a summary of those trends:
Gartner suggests that now through 2018, a variety of devices, user contexts, and interaction paradigms will make “everything everywhere” strategies unachievable. The unintended consequence of bring your own device (BYOD) programs has been to render much more complex (by two or three times, Gartner estimates) the size of the mobile workforce, straining both the information technology and the finance organizations. It is recommended that companies better define expectations for employee-owned hardware to balance flexibility with confidentiality and privacy requirements.
Mobile Apps and Applications
The Internet of Everything
The Internet is expanding into enterprise assets and consumer items such as cars and televisions. The problem is that most enterprises and technology vendors have yet to explore the possibilities of an expanded Internet and are not operationally or organizationally ready. Gartner identifies four basic usage models that are emerging:
These can be applied to people, things, information, and places, and therefore the so called “Internet of Things” will be succeeded by the “Internet of Everything.”
Hybrid Cloud and IT as Service Broker
Gartner suggests that bringing together personal clouds and external private cloud services is essential. Enterprises should design private cloud services with a hybrid future in mind and make sure future integration/interoperability is possible. Early hybrid cloud services will likely be more static, engineered compositions, and Gartner suggests that more deployment compositions will emerge as cloud service brokerages evolve.
As the power and capability of many mobile devices increases, the increased demand on networks, the cost of networks, and the need to manage bandwidth use “creates incentives, in some cases, to minimize the cloud application computing and storage footprint, and to exploit the intelligence and storage of the client device.” Gartner also notes that as mobile users continue to demand more complex uses of their mobile technologies, it will drive a need for higher levels of server-side computing and storage capacity.
The Era of Personal Cloud
The push for more personal cloud technologies will lead to a shift toward services and away from devices. The type of device one has will be less important, as the personal cloud takes over some of the role that the device has traditionally had with multiple devices accessing the personal cloud.
Software Defined Anything
Software-defined anything (SDx) is defined by “improved standards for infrastructure programmability and data center interoperability driven by automation inherent to cloud computing, DevOps and fast infrastructure provisioning.” Dominant vendors in a given sector of an infrastructure-type may elect not to follow standards that increase competition and lower margins, but end-customer will benefit from simplicity, cost reduction opportunities, and the possibility for consolidation.
Large cloud services providers such as Amazon, Google GOOG +0.51%, Salesforce.com, and the like are re-inventing the way in which IT services can be delivered. Gartner points out that the capabilities of these companies exceed the “scale in terms of sheer size to also include scale as it pertains to speed and agility.” The suggestion is that IT organizations should align with and emulate the processes, architectures, and practices of these leading cloud providers. The combination of the aforementioned three among others is how Gartner defines “Web-scale IT.”
Gartner suggests that the “the smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.” These will include the proliferation of
- contextually aware, intelligent personal assistants
- smart advisors (e.g., IBM IBM +1.56% Watson)
- advanced global industrial systems
- autonomous vehicles
The company also projects that smart machines will strengthen the forces of consumerization after enterprise buying commences in earnest.
The growth of 3-D printers is projected to be 75 percent in the coming year, and 200 percent in 2015. Gartner suggests that “the consumer market hype has made organizations aware of the fact 3-D printing is a real, viable and cost-effective means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing.”
Forbes Tech 11/25/2013
By Peter High, Forbes Contributor
This month, Forrester released its list of top technology trends for the three year time horizon. The author of the report, Forrester analyst Brian Hopkins makes the point that now that consumers and employees have continuous connectivity and an endless supply of apps, the CIO must drive the nimbleness that will be demanded by employees and customers, while he or she must also do so securely. These trends are so woven into the business drivers, that IT leaders must become much more strategic, providing the rationale for the changes that are afoot. With this background in mind, Forrester identifies the following ten technology trends for the 2014 through 2016.
1. Digital convergence erodes boundaries
Physical and digital worlds are converging. As a result consumers expect uniform service whether they are in the physical world or if they are in the digital world. The convergence of the business and personal use of technology is also fueling this trend.
2. Digital experience delivery makes (or breaks) firms
Forrester makes the point that “A great digital experience is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a make-or-break point for your business as we more fully enter the digital age.” The report points to a growing number of firms that have chosen a mobile-first approach, but then falling flat because “systems of record cannot keep up with engagement needs.” To a greater extent, customers’ impressions of a business are established through digital engagement forcing businesses to recognize that “software is the brand.” Some CIOs are losing their influence over the decisions in these areas as digital experience agencies are engaged by chief marketing officers and chief technology officers to a greater extent than by chief information officers.
3. APIs become digital glue
Forrester draws a comparison between service-oriented architecture (SOA) and applications platform interfaces (APIs). Like the former, the latter provides “open access to useful functionality through network-based services using technologies that are readily accessible from a broad range of programming environments.” The report sites as examples Amazon.com AMZN +1.2%’s product advertising API and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s API which represent business model innovation under this paradigm, while also highlighting the need for ever more sophisticated security given the exposure of data to a much broader set of individuals.
4. The business takes ownership of process and intelligence
Forrester highlights that IT is losing its control over business intelligence platforms, tools, and applications often due to IT’s inability to operate at the increased pace of the business. The report also notes that business process management, again a traditional domain of IT by-and-large, is increasingly becoming the domain of other functions as “a new class of users demands more user-friendly, self-service features to automate ad hoc processes without expensive and scarce IT resources.” As mobility increasingly becomes a strategic imperative of the entire business greater levels of process and data innovation should arise, again leading to various functional leaders to wrestle control away from IT.
5. Firms shed yesterday’s data limitations
Forrester maintains that “firms that embrace big data concepts, open data, and adopt new adaptive intelligence approaches are creating next generation smart systems that overcome limitations and create disruptive business innovations.” Cheaper, more agile, collaborative, and adaptive methods for analytics and data sharing are key. Forrester also notes that it is important to design “predictive apps able to sense their environment and respond in real-time, anticipate user action, and meet users in their moment of need.”
6. Sensors and devices draw ecosystems together
The Internet-of-Things will move from hype to reality with the ubiquity of connectivity and proliferation of devices, and wearable computing will go from niche to broader use. This will turn the traditional “spray-and-pray promotional campaigns” into marketing to ecosystems that emerge as a result of these changes.
7. “Trust” and “identity” get a rethink
The report posits that trust has been irreparably harmed as “it’s impossible to identify ‘trusted’ interfaces, many data breeches comes from trusted insiders, and the concept of ‘trust’ doesn’t even apply to data packets.” Consumerization of IT means that a greater number of IT devices and apps are being used in the workplace, especially by the digital natives. IT’s need to catch up with this will continue to be the norm. Forrester also points out that “the minimum cost of a data breech is $10 million, and in many cases it can be much larger”, and so it cannot be ignored.
8. Infrastructure takes on engagement
Forrester foresees a number of changes that will change infrastructure from barrier to progress to “enabler of business demand for engagement.” The report notes that leading companies are changing silo unified communications and collaboration, mobile device management, and desktop computing to more efficiently deliver and foster employee engagement and innovation. Also, “converged infrastructure and software-defined networks are leading to the emergence of the software-defined data center (SDDC) as the new organizational model for intelligent infrastructure management — as a result, technology infrastructure will be able to deliver blazing fast performance on a variety of workloads, all at an affordable cost and level of complexity.”
9. Firms learn from the cloud and mobile
Many firms have cloud strategies and mobile strategies, but the report makes the point that the benefits of the cloud will be limited by the speed with which traditional applications are re-written to take advantage of cloud. Without this redesign, benefits will be limited. Additionally, mobile strategies that have been a part of IT strategies across industries for a couple of years are now insufficient given the need to think of mobile as only one part of a broader omni-channel approach which requires a new kind of “application architecture that must be capable of supporting systems of engagement.”
10. IT becomes an agile service broker (or fades away)
Forrester notes that “Today’s leading IT organizations are moving from aligned IT to empowered business technology practices.” Examples include
- Becoming technology service broker
- Modifying the software development lifecycle , architecture, and solutions development to deliver mobile, cloud, and big data solutions more readily
- Changing portfolio management to focus on products rather than projects as projects are more narrow in focus which leads to narrower value
- Replacing the success metrics to gauge project management “from time, cost, and resources” to “value, capacity, and time-to-market metrics.
By Bob Evans, Oracle
In today’s always-on world, businesspeople who’ve never even stepped inside a data center are learning that data-center breakdowns trigger nightmare scenarios involving staggering amounts of lost revenue, customer disenchantment, plummeting employee productivity, and battered brand image.
As a result, many companies are placing greater scrutiny than ever before on the cloud providers they choose to handle mission-critical parts of their business. And as cloud computing surges from the fringes of the business world into the mainstream, those decisions are becoming top-priority issues for not just the CIO but the CEO, the CFO, and even boards of directors.
As the holiday season kicks into full swing, say your E-commerce cloud provider suffers an outage that lasts for a few hours. How much will that cost your business in lost revenue? How many customers will click over to your arch-rival and, within a matter of seconds, strike up a relationship that you spent months or years fostering?
And how quickly will your general counsel be on the phone with your cloud provider to begin discussing contractual repercussions and make-goods? Because cloud data-center outages aren’t merely theoretical—they happen fairly often, and you can be 100% certain that the related business costs are significant.
One recent research study reports that the cost of unplanned data-center downtime will likely be more than $5,000 per minute—or more than $300,000 per hour—and for some it’s clearly even worse than that. And in a followup study released this year, 17% of respondents said they would lose more than $500,000 per hour, with another 6% estimating that the cost of such outages would top $1,000,000 per hour.
Those eye-popping numbers are due in part to the deeply integrated and synchronized nature of today’s high-volume, high-velocity businesses, in which business applications are also tightly integrated. Order-management apps tie into inventory, scheduling, purchasing, financials, distribution, supply chain, and so forth—none of these apps operates in an old-fashioned silo anymore.
On top of that, the Big Data and analytics systems that are becoming the lifeblood of many companies can’t deliver the necessary insights when vital applications have been frozen due to a data-center outage.
The problem with these nightmare scenarios is not cloud computing—rather, it’s the level of quality and reliability and scale that the provider behind your cloud-computing solution can provide. As is the case in any market sector, there’s a range of quality and capabilities in the cloud world—some superb and rock solid, others not so much.
And as the stakes for business success in today’s global consumer-driven economy rise dramatically, more companies will realize that they can’t afford not to be aligned with the superb and rock-solid players.
So What’s The Answer?
Leading SaaS cloud providers today are expected to have multiple layers of fault-tolerance and redundancy for all key points of failure: redundant data centers, fast recovery mechanisms, experienced personnel in place at all times, and battle-hardened security practices built-in at every layer.
In today’s world of always-on businesses and highly integrated applications and processes—not to mention increasingly stringent demands for privacy, compliance, and regulatory rigor—here are some suggestions for what a truly next-generation cloud provider should offer as its data-center best practices:
1) Deep Financial Commitment. Proven and ongoing investment in top-of-the-line data center infrastructure: network, systems, storage and applications. Does your SaaS provider own and manage each and every layer of the technology stack that power your cloud applications, or do they outsource all of those high-value assets to yet another third party? That’s one measure of its commitment to being a world-class provider, rather than relying on someone else to manage that risk.
2) Expert Personnel and Policies. How comfortable are you with the data-center personnel and governance policies of your SaaS provider? Do they have world-class experience, or do you have the feeling they’ll be learning on the job with you and your company as the lab rats?
3) Global Assets for Global Businesses. Does the provider offer multiple data center locations across the globe with redundant data centers that meet or exceed local standards for data residency, disaster recovery, and regulatory compliance?
4) Domain and technical expertise. Does the provider employ data center personnel who are experienced and experts in not only core data-center technology but also the platform and the entire technology stack upon which the future of your business will be placed: from applications to servers and storage to security and networks?
5) Isolate Customer Data. Does the provider effectively separate your data from the data of other customers sharing the same infrastructure, or do they place all of the data—your data, unrelated companies’ data, but also possibly your competitors’ data—in the same monolithic database?
6) Multiple Layers of Security. Does the provider insist upon data-center tools and security practices that protect data at every level of the stack? Are there dedicated cloud security experts using these tools and applying best practices, or does your provider subscribe to the jack-of-all-trades approach?
7) Full Support for Internal and External Audits. Does the provider conduct frequent internal audits by cloud security experts, as well as periodic auditing by an external entity?
All in all, there are varying levels of these cloud management practices occurring today across the industry. It is not just prudent but indeed essential to the future viability of your business for you and your team of experts to look closely under the hood of your SaaS cloud provider when managing mission-critical data.
With cloud computing all the rage in today’s business world, it can be tempting to believe that marketing hype put out by some providers that want businesses to believe that all clouds are built the same. But nothing could be further from the truth.
As businesses expect more from the cloud, and as they place increasingly critical elements of their business in the cloud, the difference between success and failure will be defined by the quality and professionalism and technical expertise of the cloud provider.
At the end of the day, execs need to be focused on growing the business, not worrying about the cloud powering that business. It’s critical to remember that while you are still buying a business application, it’s being delivered as a service. The quality level of that service and how it lines up with the rest of your business priorities are just as important to consider.
brij Welcomes JD Edwards Customers to the New Age of End User Experience at Fall 2013 Southeast Conference
Educating and connecting end users through the delivery of valuable, beneficial and relevant educational and networking opportunities for executives, functional application and technical users of Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and Oracle JD Edwards World software.
GREENSBORO, NC (October 25, 2013) – With the upcoming Fall 2013 Southeast Conference hosted by Oracle Gold Partner brij, end users have many exciting educational and networking opportunities to look forward to. With a profound focus on the end user experience, the annual conference agenda will highlight many key topics including reporting and user productivity enhancements, private cloud options, upgrade planning, security and more.
Conference activities will kick off on Monday, November 11, 2013 with a series of interactive workshops hosted at brij’s dedicated training facility in Greensboro, NC. Workshop topics will include Tools 9.1.3, EnterpriseOne Pages and Advanced Pricing.
The conference will begin at 9am the following day, November 12, 2013, at the Grandover Resort, also located in Greensboro, NC. This year’s conference theme, “Welcome to the New Age” will be expressed throughout the conference keynote and breakout presentations highlighting the recent application and platform innovations that are enhancing the end user experience, increasing user productivity and allowing for greater visibility throughout the organization, in turn helping organizations effectively manage operational costs.
As an added bonus, brij will be rewarding attendees from the company with the most participants with individual prizes. During the conference attendees will have the opportunity to participate in “Game Breaks” and enter to win many prizes including Kindle Fire HD, Keurig Brewing System, NeatDesk Digital Filing System and more.
Past attendees have benefitted from JD Edwards functional and technical presentations, third party product demonstrations, application-focused discussions with product experts, including Oracle executives, upgrade planning workshops, and opportunities for un-fettered hands-on access to all new JD Edwards versions and modules through the live software Playday™.
For more information or to register, visit www.jdedwardsse.org or call 336-854-2948.
About the JD Edwards Southeast Conference:
Once a part of the JD Edwards/PeopleSoft Southeast User Group (SE RUG), the JD Edwards Southeast Conference was created to focus specifically on JD Edwards Solutions. The JD Edwards Southeast Conference has been JD Edwards “only” focused for many years and holds an annual regional conference, several local events throughout the Southeast, and regular educational webinars.
Our leadership team is made up of JD Edwards customers and the group is supported by a Oracle Gold Partner who is well-known for success and long history of providing JD Edwards-specific solutions: brij Image & Information, Inc., and several other vendor sponsors. Although these companies provide administrative and financial support of the group, conference content is driven by user requests and guidance from the Leadership Team.
About brij Image & Information:
brij offers the best in JD Edwards Software, implementation services, application consulting, upgrades, training and sales. Based upon our genuine commitment to customer satisfaction, and over 25 years of experience, brij has earned the reputation as one of the most experienced JD Edwards implementers in the United States.
As well as being an Oracle Gold Partner with a JD Edwards Specialized Consulting Team, brij is also an active member and supporter of the JD Edwards community. As hosts to three local JD Edwards specific user conferences in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Western Pennsylvania/Ohio Valley regions, brij has played a vital role in building, supporting and fostering strong networks of JD Edwards end users in each of these regions.
About Oracle PartnerNetwork
Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Specialized is the latest version of Oracle’s partner program that provides partners with tools to better develop, sell and implement Oracle solutions. OPN Specialized offers resources to train and support specialized knowledge of Oracle products and solutions and has evolved to recognize Oracle’s growing product portfolio, partner base and business opportunity. Key to the latest enhancements to OPN is the ability for partners to differentiate through Specializations. Specializations are achieved through competency development, business results, expertise and proven success. To find out more visit http://www.oracle.com/partners.
By Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies on Nov 05, 2013
By Richard Garraputa, VP of Sales & Marketing, brij
Richard joined brij in 1996 after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with degrees in Information Systems and Accounting. He directs brij’s overall strategies of both the business development and marketing departments.
Companies looking for new ERP systems spend so much time comparing features and functions of software products but too often short change the value of their own processes. Company managers I meet often claim that they are implementing a new ERP system so they can perform better and faster. When asked how, the answer is often “by implementing best practices”. But the term ‘best practices’ is frequently used to mean ‘doing things the way everyone else does them’ rather than a starting point or benchmark to build upon by adding your own value.
Of course, implementing standardized processes across an enterprise is an important step in improving operational efficiencies. But not all companies are alike. Do you ever tell your customers “We are just like our competition and have no competitive differentiation”? Probably not. So why should the implementation of your business processes be just like your competitor’s? Even within the same industry, companies differentiate themselves by leveraging their unique expertise and approach to business. These unique aspects—the competitive differentiators that companies use to thrive in a crowded marketplace—can and should be supported by the implementation of business systems like ERP.
Modern ERP systems like Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne have a broad and deep functional footprint designed to integrate a company’s core operations. But how can a company take advantage of this footprint without blowing up their implementation budget? Some ERP vendors claim to solve this challenge by stating that their systems come pre-configured with ‘best practices’. Too often what they are really saying is that you will have to abandon your key operational differentiators to fit a vendor’s template for your business—or extend your implementation and postpone the realization of any benefits.
Thankfully for midsize companies, there is an alternative to the undesirable options of extended implementation projects or abandoning their competitive differentiators. Oracle Accelerate Solutions speed the time it takes to implement JD Edwards EnterpriseOne solution based on your unique business characteristics, getting your new ERP system up and running faster without forcing your business to fit a cookie-cutter solution. We’ve been a JD Edwards implementation partner since 1986 and we now leverage Oracle Business Accelerators—cloud based rapid implementation tools built and maintained by Oracle. Oracle Business Accelerators deliver the benefits of embedded industry best practices without forcing every customer in to one set of processes like many template or “clone and go” approaches do. You retain the ability to reconfigure your applications—without customization—as your business changes.
Wielded by Oracle partners with industry-specific domain expertise, Oracle Accelerate Solution implementations powered by Oracle Business Accelerators help automate the application configuration to fit your business better, faster. For example, on a recent project at a manufacturing company, the project manager told me that Oracle Business Accelerators helped get them to Conference Room Pilot 20% faster than with a traditional approach. Time savings equal cost savings.
And if ‘better and faster’ is your goal for your business performance, shouldn’t it be the goal for your ERP implementation as well?
Established in 1986, brij has been dedicated solely to helping its customers implement Oracle’s JD Edwards solutions and to maximize the value of those customers’ IT investments. They are a Gold level member in Oracle PartnerNetwork and an Oracle Accelerate Solution provider.
Source: Profit Magazine
Executives are tired of rolling the dice with traditional supply chains.
According to a survey conducted by Manufacturing Executive Research Services, 74 percent of manufacturing executives said their companies are moving away from transaction-based supply chains and toward a model in which the flow of supplies and products enhances customer and enterprise value. More than 28 percent of the 326 survey respondents said their companies are already well down the path toward value chain transformation—and another 45 percent are beginning the process. Learn more about drivers and benefits of value chain transformation, the obstacles, and the technology that is helping leadership win the value chain game.
Read the full report at bit.ly/1agDRVW
Source: Profit Magazine
Avoiding tunnel vision in the cloud requires an understanding of HCM business processes and their larger impact on your underlying infrastructure.
by Christopher Sowa, September 2013
Human capital management (HCM) cloud offerings can radically lower costs and increase functionality. Based on Oracle’s customer experiences, as much as 30 to 60 percent of human resources (HR) IT costs can be shed by leveraging cloud solutions. These solutions provide business users with improved user interfaces and provide HCM business functionality 95 percent sooner than previously possible. In addition, delivering HR analytics and HCM process automation to iPads and other mobile devices can start to revolutionize HCM and other core HR processes.
But in addition to these benefits, there are real business dangers as companies move into the cloud. Business users often push into the cloud focused only on their own siloed business need or because they are anxious to cash in on the latest cloud buzz. Creating a hodgepodge of disconnected HCM applications in the cloud and the data center can end up being worse than your current IT environment. And if you are not careful, it can also provide hackers with new doorways into your company’s mission-critical business processes.
Avoiding tunnel vision in the cloud requires an understanding of HCM business processes and their larger impact on your underlying infrastructure. Here are four best practices you can utilize to increase your return on investment and lower your risk:
- Determine which HCM capabilities are required and how they interact to maximize business. For example, if strategic imperatives of the business are to reduce employee attrition and new employee onboarding cycle times, a solution focused mostly on talent management or recruiting will quickly become inadequate. One company I recently worked with was struggling because it had separate cloud recruiting systems for professional employees and for college students, a separate talent management system, and a separate core HCM transaction system. The result was that managers lacked a clear view of their new hire efforts. They needed to know not just if a position was filled quickly, but also how well that employee was performing and how long top employees were staying with the company. The key here is to understand the interplay of these related processes and select an HCM solution that allows you to deliver a complete solution without starting a new IT project at every turn.
- Plan for integration with non-HCM solutions before selecting a service provider. As you consider a cloud solution, it is important to consider any required integrations. At one organization I worked with, getting integration right meant getting the value not only from the HCM solution, but also from other solutions that the leveraged employee data and employee hierarchies. Without shared employee hierarchies and role information, manually updated tables that did not properly capture information on employees’ roles would have limited their procure-to-pay workflow approval processes. By integrating the solutions, procurement managers could ensure that the people making purchases were managers, and that they had the authority to make the types of purchases they were making. The same HCM employee data and hierarchies are also often required in core systems and customer experience systems. Considering the need for these important integrations will reduce ongoing technical costs and enable greater automated workflow from the solutions implemented.
- Ensure that your HCM solutions can scale internationally. For global companies, scalability means going beyond hosting capabilities to include factors such as international localizations and service level agreements (SLAs) that provide for availability, redundancy, and performance at all global locations. HR executives need the ability to look at employee skills and costs globally so that they can make the right decisions about where to locate operations to maximize business results. One organization I was working with was struggling with expansion in Asia since its HCM solution lacked the required software localizations and bi-directional support for languages. This meant mangers needed to maintain separate systems and struggled to bring together key processes and data. For this reason, an HCM solution should consider not only today’s requirements, but also future international scalability.
- Ensure secure ownership of HCM data. Co-mingling of data in the cloud can pose a security risk and raise data ownership questions. For these reasons, it is important that the long-term control of data be maintained. Data privacy laws, which often differ by country, also need to be considered. For example, some European companies are required by law to have employee data domiciled in their home countries. Due to recent revelations about government surveillance, these types of demands are likely to increase as certain organizations and governments try to increase their control of data.As HR executives continue to shift their focus from core HR transactions to strategic human capital management, the cloud offers them a great way to rapidly add new HCM capabilities. In choosing a solution that meets their needs, it is important that these executives look at desired HCM outcomes to understand how HCM processes are interrelated. It is also critical that HR executives partner with senior IT management to ensure that their solutions are secure and scalable.
Blog Post from Forbes OracleVoice
By Mark Sunday, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Oracle
Mark Sunday, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Oracle.
CIOs everywhere are aware of the transformative technologies currently ascending the adoption curve. Consider that each of these—big data, cloud computing, customer experience (CX) initiatives, the Internet of Things, and social media in the enterprise—would individually have considerable impact. Yet they’re all happening simultaneously.
Add to this the continuing flood of tablets and smartphones—143 million people in the United States now own smartphones, according to comScore, more than double the 63 million measured in December 2010. Mobility, whether in consumers’ hands or connected to workplace end points via “bring your own device” (BYOD), is changing the way users interact with technology. It’s also altering their expectations. As a song from the 1960s might have put it: They want the world, and they want it now.
The upshot is there has never been a more challenging time for IT. For those organizations properly positioned, this means there’s never been a better opportunity to leverage this disruption to accelerate their value of their businesses.
Importantly, there’s consensus that this isn’t a round of technology for technology’s sake. Most C-level executives see real revenue behind these IT innovations. Indeed, according to a McKinsey survey, 66% percent believe these new drivers of digital business can boost operating profits by 2015, and more than one-third of those surveyed predict that increase will be at least 10 percent.
So how do enterprises get from here to there? I call this our collective “disruption dilemma.” It’s never trivial to make significant changes. But what I’m suggesting is less about swapping out systems and apps, and more about revising the foundational ideas upon which IT operates. Ultimately, that’s how we transform IT into a powerful business accelerator.
Specifically, IT must move from an anticipatory stance to one that’s highly responsive. That’s what I mean when I say that IT must move at the speed of opportunity. Critically, this ability to rapidly field new functionality comes with the caveat that it’s not about IT at all. It’s about supporting your company’s business, so that it can apply technology as a competitive differentiator and take advantage of market changes at lightning speed.
Examples include innovating in CX to improve engagement with customers; applying cutting-edge analysis to business performance, and feeding this information into future planning; harnessing Big Data for competitive advantage; and leveraging cloud computing and mobile to change the way we work.
However, past performance is no guarantee of future results. Another way of framing this is, if you think there are lots of changes afoot today, you ain’t seen nothing yet. So accelerating IT to move at the speed of opportunity means that enterprises can’t just capitalize on today’s big data momentum. They must also be ready to respond to tomorrow’s unforeseen next big thing. This, in turn, surfaces the other major change in enterprise thinking that’s required. This is the mandate to future-proof your IT.
A good way to contrast and to summarize both imperatives is as follows. Responding at the speed of opportunity can be stated most simply as: no more 18-month projects. The nuanced version is that it requires moving from a posture where your enterprise’s main imperatives are integration and operation to one where innovating and orchestrating—in service of accelerating your organization’s business—are the prime drivers.
Future proofing is easier to describe. It’s about positioning your enterprise for responsiveness, so that you’re never caught leaning back on your heels. Future proofing means aligning strategy, organization, process, and technology.
Revving the Engine
Interestingly, accelerating IT to move at the speed of opportunity and future-proofing both begin with the same four steps: Simplify, standardize, centralize, and automate. These are things all enterprises are already well aware of, and most are already knee-deep in doing. It’s not rocket science. However, success hinges upon execution. (Or, if you prefer, the devil is in the details.)
Successful future proofing is realized by segueing one’s IT architecture from the legacy, siloed past to the flexibility available today.
Unlike what some would have end users believe, cloud does not entail a step-function discontinuity with current multimillion-dollar IT investments. They’re a natural step, which can be additive to and cooperative with your enterprise’s existing palette of capabilities.
I like to say that savvy enterprises are on a journey to cloud computing. Most will evolve their current IT infrastructure to become more cloudlike: to become better internal service providers to their lines of business, to provide greater agility and responsiveness to business needs, to deliver a higher quality of service in terms of latency and availability, and lower costs and higher utilization. This evolution will take time. In many cases, the technical building blocks for cloud computing are available in advance of enterprise readiness, so we think that enterprises will evolve at different rates.
Most data centers still have dedicated silos, where each application runs on its own middleware, database, servers, and storage. Each silo is sized for peak load, so there’s inherently a lot of excess capacity built in. Each silo is also different, leading to complexity and high costs to manage.
The first step that many enterprises are taking is to move from siloed environments to ones that are consolidated and virtualized. The trend toward virtual environments with shared services, dynamic provisioning, and standardized configurations or appliances is very strong right now. Probably 80 percent to 90 percent of the companies I talk with are currently amid some form of consolidation. However, they may only be consolidating 20 percent to 30 percent of their data center, so there’s more to be done on this front.
Once consolidation has taken hold, enterprises can evolve to a self-service private cloud with automated scaling (called policy-based resource management on the chart) and chargeback. Not every application benefits from self-service and elastic scalability. Enterprises are figuring out which ones do, and they’re moving those first. Some organizations are not ready to implement full self-service, since that requires new policies and processes to be defined, and they may prefer allocation to pay-per-use chargeback models. There may be other challenges, including gaining cross-organizational support, creating the business case and funding model, and various cultural issues.
Simultaneously, public clouds are evolving today. This landscape comprises numerous service providers and traditional ISVs, all of which are variously morphing to deliver SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS offerings. There are hundreds of players, and adoption is proceeding at a rapid pace. But these providers are most often very specialized and isolated, and it’s difficult for customers to change providers.
Ultimately, as you can see in the final column of the IT architecture roadmap chart, our evolution will take us to hybrid clouds. Here, a single application can span both private and public clouds and be managed in a federated manner. For this to happen, there need to be standards for interoperability and portability, and there needs to be technology to support such interoperability. We believe this hybrid model is the likely path for most of our customers.
Behind the Curtain
When we talk about cloud, hardware usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But of course the computing cycles are executed somewhere, even if the box isn’t sitting in the next room. This is where engineered systems come in. They’re a key part of Oracle’s overall strategy as well as its cloud computing strategy. We consider Oracle’s engineered systems to be the ideal building blocks for private and public PaaS.
Oracle Exadata, Oracle Exalogic, and the T4 SPARC SuperCluster are just a few examples of Oracle’s engineered systems. They comprise hardware and software specifically designed to work together to deliver extreme performance, security, and manageability. Oracle Exadata is a database machine, and Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud is a machine optimized for Java execution in the middle tier. Both are based on Intel x86 processors. Oracle SuperCluster is a new engineered system based on the SPARC T4 processor and Solaris, and can optionally run the Exadata storage software and Exalogic software.
All of these engineered systems provide an order of magnitude improvement in performance and efficiency, making them ideal target platforms for mixed workload database and middle tier consolidation. They offer rapid deployment since they are pre-integrated and pre-configured by Oracle. They also offer lower total cost of ownership (TCO), because they can reduce the overall hardware and complexity of your environment.
Call to Action
I don’t want to be a “meteorologist CIO”—someone who talks about tomorrow’s IT, but doesn’t do anything about it. Earlier, I talked about future-proofing your IT organization so that it’s ready to embrace the current challenges we’ve discussed, as well as any upcoming curve balls.
So let me close with six quick, prescriptive points about how you can move your IT team away from a legacy integration and operation focus and reposition them with a forward-pointed innovation and orchestration mentality
- Lead the Social Revolution: Drive the Social-Enabled Enterprise.
- Be wary of mobile as master to be served; always put the user first.
- Unleash Your Company’s Intelligence: Create an Enterprise-Wide Opportunity Chain.
- Embrace the Engagement Economy: Merge the Back Office and Front Office into the Customer Office.
- Upgrade “Cloud Strategy” to “Business Transformation Enabled by the Cloud.”
- Transform Big Data into Big Insights, Big Vision, and Big Opportunities.
The Southeast Conference, hosted by Oracle Gold Partner brij, is asking all regional JD Edwards customers to show their team spirit. By expanding your company’s presence at the event, you and your team can take advantage of:
- Updates from Oracle OpenWorld 2013
- Presentations on the latest releases and modules
- Interactive workshops
- Hands-on Playday
- Networking with local JD Edwards users
This year, brij will be rewarding attendees from the company with the most participants with individual prizes. Attendees can also participate in conference “Game Breaks” for a chance to win Keurig machines, Kindle Fire HD, NeatDesk and more.
Work Hard, Play Hard!
Space is limited. REGISTER TODAY!