Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What is the future of corporate IT?

In his recent Blog, "Mashups: The next major software development model" http://blogs.zdnet.com/Hinchcliffe/?p=106 Dion Hincliffe talks about mashups, SOA and Enterprise 2.0. I like it! Dion is onto something quite similar to what I've noticed here in Australia.

Consider this scenario about a ficticious company that has embraced Enterprise 2.0:


The scenario depicts the first day for Bob, a new sales person at Kinsey Distribution. Kinsey is a wholesaler and distributor of electronic and computer products. Kinsey has fully transformed to Enterprise 2.0.

Day 1

Bob reports to his first day at work and his new manager, Ed, introduces him to their HR representative, Tina. Tina sits Bob down at a cubicle in the HR department and pulls up an electronic form through their Intranet. She starts filling out Bob’s details, confirming the details as she enters them into the electronic form. She completes the first form and submits it.

A couple of seconds later a new page is presented with Bob’s login details and a temporary password. She then asks Bob to take the drivers seat and just to follow the prompts. Bob, is asked to change his password and to activate the 2 factor authentication token that Tina provided him. Tina is then able to leave Bob to continue working through the Kinsey Induction Process. “Remember your login and user password. The induction process is all on line and will probably take until 12 noon. Feel free to take breaks when you want. I’ll show you the toilets and tea rooms and my cubicle if you have any questions. You can also just call me on my extension. This computer has a soft phone; you can click on the click-to-call icon to call me.”

After the quick tour Bob returns to the workstation and logs back into the intranet using his user name and temporary password. Kinsey allocates all employees computers based on their job role. As a sales person Bob chooses a laptop and PDA from a wide selection which are both salary sacrificed. The computer is Bob’s to use as he wishes. If he had owned a computer that he wanted to use in his role as a sales person Kinsey would have only required that the computer have a minimum technical specification and appearance level. He can view current vendor prices and availability for laptops and PDAs. Each time he selects an item the price is entered into a calculator that displays the costs, monthly salary sacrifice, and tax impact.

Kinsey pays a fixed price per month per employee for mobile phone and wireless usage, again based on a person’s role. The employee is responsible for amounts over and above the fixed amount and receives a payroll adjustment. At the end of each financial year a tax report is also provided for each employee to assist with their professional deductions.

Bob makes his selection, receives an order number, tax invoice, and delivery date of 2 days. Bob chooses to pick the computer up and receive a bit of an introduction from the retailer.

Based on his role as a sales person, Bob is provided access to a suite of applications and services. As he goes through his induction, the intranet presents him with the applications he needs to use and confirms his identity by the first time he logs into each application There are also online video tutorials for each application. Bob must review and acknowledge that he has completed the tutorial prior to gaining access to the application. The tutorials are always available – just in case he needs a refresher course.

Kinsey has chosen to no longer control end user computers and uses the vendors that they purchase from for warranty and repair work. Kinsey has decided to let users control their own computers the same way they do at home. Kinsey provides a network port at work and all applications are accessed through the intranet. Certain applications require the token for two-factor authentication. Certain roles also access applications through a WAP Browser on PDAs. There are also administrative and office/desk bound roles that access the intranet with thin client terminals. Each user is responsible for their information management with performance metrics associated with accurate entry and proper use of information.

All business applications are web enabled and most applications are actually mash-ups. The Kinsey IT department has pulled their firewall back to protect the core applications and data centre. IT services are provided via web services with the onus placed on the user to use services when they need them. Kinsey publishes all services making them easy to find and simple to use. Also the induction process ensures that new employees are aware of the essential services. For example, back ups require the user to create a folder on their C: drive and store all business documents in that folder. By clicking on a back up service Kinsey IT will automatically back up that folder whenever the computer is connected to the LAN or when the user manually chooses the option.

Kinsey’s IT department has 3 main roles:

Security: information, core applications, data centre,
Development: Service enabling
Operations: Core applications, monitoring and reporting SLAs (communications, infrastructure, applications and services), managing capacity, Service Desk, vendor support

There is only one infrastructure supporting internal and external users.

Day 7

Bob is now familiar with the basics of his role and computing environment. He has received a list of current customers, prospects and suspects in his territory and understands Kinsey’s requirements and expectations for contact and sales.

Bob is ready for his follow up training with Ed. Ed meets with Bob and walks him through a mash-up that he uses as his home page. It is composed from several widgets which display real time information about the sales people that report to Ed, customers, company stock on hand and on order, order status and the status of 2 projects currently underway where Ed has been identified as a business stakeholder.

Ed takes Bob through the “Kinsey” widget factory where services are made available for Bob to create his own mash-ups. Ed explains that it is important for Bob to understand how to create a mash-up because he’ll need to help his customers go through the same process. There are mash-up templates for general use but customers tend to want to see the information that is important to them, when they want to see it. Helping customers with mash-ups is one way to better understand what information is important to customers (and better understand the customer) and also to show them information that they may not know is available. Customer use of the Kinsey extranet also reduces Bob’s customer support requirements because they can see the same information he can (that’s relevant to them) without him. He can focus his time on helping them build their business around Kinsey’s products and services. Bob’s customers can also let their customers access the information available from Kinsey through their own web sites as mash-ups. End user customers can track their own orders, receive SMS, e-mail and fax messages that are all branded with the retail customer’s brand but the information is being provided by Kinsey.

Ed explains to Bob, “We have been able to increase our market share significantly by extending to our customers and their customers, the framework that provides transparency of information, straight through processing, and reuse of services that Kinsey has developed. Every time one of Kinsey’s competitors drops the ball because of poor information flow Kinsey seems to find a new customer. The more one of our customers sells, the more they appreciate the services that we can provide them. Once we develop a service anyone inside or outside the company can use it. This philosophy allows us to get immediate feedback, ratings, and host vibrant discussions, about products, services, consumer experiences, etc. By letting our constituents .., people… express themselves and by listening, we are in touch with what is happening in the market right now. This allows us to respond to market forces in an agile manner.” This has been made possible whilst reducing IT spend because Kinsey now focuses on IT activities that add value to the business. They get maximum value from the Internet and web by acting as a Service Provider on the Web.

Bob loves the way Kinsey thinks. He uses his computer to do research and for his post graduate work and personal entertainment. He has his music collection and iPod connected to the computer as well as access to Kinsey applications. He is also being treated like the accountable, responsible, professional he is and not some computer Luddite that will somehow destroy or corrupt the corporate network.

Kinsey’s corporate network is a rich endpoint on the Internet. Kinsey creates services that improve its ability to communicate with its customers and add value to their transactions and relationships with their customers.

Bob creates his own mash-up, viewing customer appointments, open orders, customer order history and territory penetration. He creates another mash-up to build his territory sales strategy and gives Ed access simply by using Ed’s e-mail address. Ed schedules a weekly meeting with Bob for his first three months and lets him know that after that, they’ll meet one-on-one monthly and at the team meetings. Ed also tells Bob that he’ll join him for a day of customer visits unannounced sometime soon.

Bob is now ready to go out on his own. He has, at his fingertips, access to all the corporate information and knowledge he needs to be effective in his role.

Some questions to consider:

1. Do you think this is a plausible future scenario?

o If yes, when will this scenario be possible?

o If no, why won’t isn’t it plausible?

2. What are the obstacles of adoption?

3. What aspect of the scenario appeals to you and why?

4. What aspect does not and why?

5. What would happen in your industry if a competitor introduced these types of capabilities today?

6. What impact would applying this scenario have to your organisation?

7. What impact would applying this scenario have on your IT department?

What are your thoughts?

My responded to the Hincliffe Blog is included below.

Another nail in the coffin of corporate IT

This article highlights another reason why corporate IT is on its way out. The ongoing excessive and wasteful corporate spend on IT will decrease when business executives begin to understand the power the of Web 2.0 and the limitations of traditional corporate computing models. As corporate IT organisations try to figure out how mashups work, information is being disseminated and consumed at extraordinary speed on the Internet. Yet, many (if not most) large corporations cannot share information even internally (let alone software components) because of poor architecture, poor planning, bureaucracy, etc - but mostly lack vision. When small organisations, with little to no budget, can publish high quality information quickly and dynamically on the Internet; and large organisations trying to do the same thing, take months and spend millions of dollars - something is fundamentally wrong.

Many professionals are more productive on their home computers connected to the Internet than on their company machines "locked down" by outdated SOE standards. Large organisations need to improve the value of their IT spend by pulling back the firewalls to protect only core applications and unleashing their users to the same open environment that we deal with outside of work. Corporations should develop strategies that harness and expose corporate content and capabilities as widgets for use in mashups through their web sites for consumers, partners, suppliers, etc. Surely, this would allow them to add value to their relationships. Rather than waiting for vendors to deliver some COTS mash-up tool that is "Enterprise Ready" why not just begin to use what's already available to gain some real experience. Also, focus on exposing existing information locked in legacy systems. In order to remain relevant, reduce costs, increase productivity, etc. pull back the firewalls, remove the "lock down" of PCs, expose content and services and set your knowledge workers free.

1 comment:

Pankaj Arora said...

Another buzzword like SOA or NextGen XXX. Everything evolves with time, we just put attractive name to create awareness. Its all evolution.