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Business & ICT Trends, Applied to Your Organisation

Next generation Cloud Computing companies…

Posted on August 7th, 2012 by TimClaes

Next Gen Cloud Computing companies

It only has been a year since I’ve written an article about cloud demystified. It seems like yesterday, but, boy, how much has changed since then!

1. From hosting companies to the big cloud providers.

In the past for many years multiple ‘hosting companies’ tried to launch IAAS, PAAS and/or SAAS concepts, but they never really succeeded. Security was typically the number 1 issue. But today, now that the big players (Google, Amazon, Microsoft, salesforce.com) have been promoting cloud computing for quite a while now, the adoption level to cloud has increased drastically amongst organizations and security no longer seems to be a showstopper. It still remains important and companies still ask questions about local law compliance; but there is an important shift in mentality: “other enterprise companies are doing it, so why shouldn’t we be doing it”. Mobility seems to become the main business driver instead. (So a positive attitude instead of a negative attitude)

2. From technology to business.

The big cloud providers reached a mature state. Offerings in infrastructure, platforms and business applications become common practice. Everyone is doing it. (Which is actually becoming a new challenge, which supplier is the best fit for your company?)

Over the last 2 years people start to understand that the impact of cloud computing isn’t technology. The real impact is about rethinking what is possible when you run your business in the cloud. It is about agility & innovation. A statement I like to use is a misinterpreted statement from Darwin: “It is not the strongest that survive, but the once most adaptive to change”.

3. A new kind of solution provider gains market share.

In the beginning you had ‘isolated’ cloud solution providers that positioned a cloud solution next to a set of on-premise solutions. E.g. salesforce.com implementation partners that were positioned against other CRM players. Or google apps partners that were positioned against other productivity platforms. The answer of many product vendors was to come up with on-line versions of their on-premise solutions. Traditional solution providers look at these players as just another solution provider.

But today you have ‘integrated’ cloud solution providers that start from a complete different angle than the traditional system integrators. They offer a broad range of cloud solutions and truely build a “cloud-powered business” for their customers. The concepts of cloudsourcing and serverless enterprise are introduced. This is much more disruptive for the traditional ICT market (professional services). They build solutions around the complete cloud adoption lifecycle. In the PLAN phase they create a cloud strategy together with the customer, in the BUILD phase they typically migrate application after application towards the cloud and integrate different cloud solutions with each other. They even offer help to the customer in the SUPPORT phase in managing their cloud. User adoption and customer centricity are central pillars in the complete approach.

These solution providers typically are less then 10 years old, have a complete different way of doing business with customers compared to traditional system integrators, and are gaining market share year after year. On top of that they typically partner only with true cloud providers such as Salesforce.com, Google and Amazon, less with the traditional product vendors (such as Oracle, IBM, Microsoft…)

I’m curious how the traditional ICT implementation partners will react to these ‘integrated’ cloud solution providers as the cloud adoption will gain traction year over year. To be continued…

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Change management is much overrated

Posted on August 1st, 2012 by TimClaes

Change Management is much overrated… but oh so important!

 

1. Overrated…

When you start digging into ‘change management’ literature, you will find multiple theories and many complex models on how to deal with change. It almost looks like experts want you to be afraid to start kicking off change management programs yourself. So that you hire them to deliver expensive consultancy services. Why make it so complex?

2. But so important…

We all know – by nature – that people are resistent to change and that a change management process takes time during which people go through different states of mind. On the other hand I’m also a strong believer of the statement: “Change is the only constant”. So we better find a way to deal with change in an effective and efficient way. It is not the strongest that succeed, but the one most responsive to change.

3. In practice… 2 easy guidelines!

First of all… communicate. Always communicate in a transparent, concise and respectful way about the progress you’re making. Secondly communicate on a regular basis in a timely fashion. People understand that change could have an impact on their daily tasks, but not knowing what will be coming is the worst fear for all. So on a regular basis people need to get updated. Getting out the right message is often limited in time in order to get the right involvement of people.

In practice I typically use the following 2 pictures to help me with change management challenges. The first picture makes a distinction between willing to change and the ability to change. Primarily you need to focus in your communication on WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) before you start explaining how you will be able to learn the new way of working.

The second picture I like to use is a kind of detailed communication plan where I try to consolidate all the different communication touch points over time to different groups of people in 1 easy overview – typically in line with the implementation methodology you use within your organization.

 

 

This helps me to remember when I should be communicating what kind of information to which target groups of people. You should try it yourself. You will see it is quite easy to adjust to your own needs. So no more expensive external consultancy needed!

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Short summary on the CIO Leadership Summit

Posted on December 2nd, 2011 by TimClaes

CIO Leadership Summit

Yesterday evening was the first edition of the CIO Leadership Summit at the Chateau du Lac in Genval. Quite a lot of people showed up for the event, the room was very crowded. Many CIO’s of course, but also the press and some CEO’s of multiple Belgian companies were present. The expectations were set.

Overall was the evening ok, only the catering could have been better. The idea of having debate panels about certain CIO Leadership topics was very appealing. (small tip for next edition: try to differentiate the formula from debate to debate, now it was quite heavy – after 3 debates everyone had heard enough) Nevertheless – from an integrator point of view – it was interesting to understand how CIO’s think about certain topics themselves.

The following topics were discussed during the debate panels. I added a few highlights per topic.

1. The future of Infrastructure Management – During the debate opinions were shared about cloud computing and about the true costs of pay per use models. Security was also one of the main concerns during this debate.

2. The connected enterprise – This was a very interesting debate with a lot of interaction between the different CIO’s in the panel. It moved from social networks, to unified communications and digital natives, towards business process integration with customers and suppliers. It was clear that this was a topic on many agenda’s of many CIO’s.

3. The New Mandate of the CIO – This debate opened very interesting. You need to have the basics in place first. Key elements like “trust” and “transparency” were often mentioned by many CIO’s and only then you can start moving to the next phase.

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Cloud Computing Demystified

Posted on June 21st, 2011 by TimClaes

Cloud Computing? What is it all about?

 

With the launch of the iCloud by Apple, the phenomenon ‘cloud computing‘ revives. But what exactly is this all about? Many different flavours exist in cloud computing in B2B.

In essence it is about a new way of dealing with your datacenter. The ‘cloud model’ tries to manage multiple inefficiencies in your current datacenter environment. For example – through the use of cloud computing – you will be able to manage better the overcapacity and under-capacity of allocated ICT resources (networking, data, storage, processing power). If the demand changes over time, you try to adjust your capacity of ICT resources accordingly – on demand & scalable. Scalable in such a way that it becomes even possible to implement new kinds of architecture set-ups. Architecture designs that were not feasible in the old days, but now – with the limitation taken away of the scalability – these designs could suddenly become very attractive and interesting for your business.

On top of that – depending on the cloud computing flavour – you only pay for what you use. So cloud computing is clearly much more than virtualisation, a term cloud computing sometimes is confused with. Virtualisation is one of the main techniques used to make cloud computing possible in practice.

Now when does it become interesting for your organization to consider a ‘cloud model’? Cost optimization is of course an important driver, but how do you measure this cost and which are the business scenario’s that have a major impact on your costs?

4 Interesting Business scenario’s for cloud computing

 

  1. On and Off” – Do you have many batch processes running on your servers? And as such a lot of idle servers most of the time, that are only running on full capacity during very specific moments? (eg. monthly close of the figures)
  2. Growing fast” – Are you in a fast growing market? Do you have a start-up company and expect to grow exponentially over the upcoming months/years? Are you launching new services in the market and don’t know yet how the public will respond? These are ideal candidates for the cloud.
  3. Unpredictable bursting” – Do you sometimes have unplanned ‘peaks’ in the demand for capacity of ICT resources? (eg. the volcano of iceland that becomes active, this influences all air companies and the frequent schedule updates on the websites)
  4. Predictable bursting” – Do you offer services where you know upfront that you will have certain peaks you need to deal with? (E.g. certain on-line marketing campaign, certain big events, …) Then the cloud becomes an interesting scenario.

 

When you consider to take the step to move to the cloud, it does not need to be all or nothing right from the start. Many ‘in-between’ solutions exist depending on your exact needs. To start with you can simply start by optimizing your own datacenter and if necessary you can move to an external datacenter with extra scalability advantages, but where you can still ask for dedicated servers as well, next to the shared servers with other customers. and off course you also have the public cloud, provided to you by companies like google, microsoft… where by definition all the servers are made available in a shared mode.

On these environments you can then choose for yourself how far you want to go with ‘as a service’. Instead of maintaining the infrastructure yourself , you can decide to ‘outsource’ this, then we talk about Iaas (Infrastructure as a Service). But you could also go 1 step further and decide to also outsource the databases, the security & integration services, then we talk about Paas (Platform as a Service). Sometimes it could even be interesting to outsource complete applications and then we talk about Saas (Software as a Service).

iCloud of Apple

 

Now with the launch of iCloud of Apple, Cloud computing gets a new dimension. It is no longer used in a B2B context – as described above, but it now also becomes rapidly available in a B2C context.

In this context Cloud computing is all about ease of use, making it possible to share data across multiple devices rapidly and no longer having the need for a physical hard drive.

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Business ICT Alignment… a topic with many angles. So thé key in this blogpost is the statement: “How to get more out of what you already have?” Especially from an ICT point of view.

As your organization most probably has invested quite a lot of money and time on this topic; you are not interested in how the ideal world would look like, but you’re more interested in how you can re-use your current investments to a maximum? You are interested in an APPLIED business & ICT alignment… applicable to your organisation.

As CIO/ICT director you are typically confronted with 2 types of high level questions:

  1. How can you optimize your current way of working and be as cost effective as possible? –> AS IS
  2. Where do you want to move to over the coming years to create an optimal business driven IT architecture? And what are your concrete action plans to make it happen? –> TO BE

 

Using a more abstract terminology to say the same thing would be using the term ‘Enterprise Architecture’. When people talk about setting up the enterprise architecture of an organization they basically try to answer the above 2 questions. It is not my intention however to start here a theoretical discussion about this buzz word. (I’ve been there and believe me I sometimes think enterprise architects keep this term so complex on purpose.)

No, I just want to assist you in breaking the above 2 questions down in more manageable chuncks, so that you can really apply business ICT alignment to your organization, starting with what you have in place and moving from there. In order to do so I simply make use of 1 easy drawing, which I call the ‘Unified Integration’ helicopter view.

Unified Integration

You need to look at the business ICT alignment from 8 different angles, and each time identify the AS IS situation and describe the ideal TO BE situation:

  • from a business process point of view: BPMS
  • from a governance point of view: SOA
  • from a proces integration point of view: EAI, User Interface Integration
  • from a data integration point of view: Data Quality, Master Data Management, Enterprise Data Integration
  • from a security point of view: Identity and Access Management

 

By doing so you can really identify the blind spots in your current architecture and you can carefully plan the TO BE architecture without jeopardizing the good investments already made so far. At the same time you can also identify multiple quick wins by simply starting to optimize your existing components in your current architecture. You will see that you’re getting more out of what you already have in place!

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