As Platform 3.0 ripens, expect agile access and distribution of actionable intelligence across enterprises, says The Open Group panel

By Dana Gardner, Interarbor Solutions

Listen to the recorded podcast here

This latest BriefingsDirect discussion, leading into the The Open Group Conference on July 15 in Philadelphia, brings together a panel of experts to explore the business implications of the current shift to so-called Platform 3.0.

Known as the new model through which big data, cloud, and mobile and social — in combination — allow for advanced intelligence and automation in business, Platform 3.0 has so far lacked standards or even clear definitions.

The Open Group and its community are poised to change that, and we’re here now to learn more how to leverage Platform 3.0 as more than a IT shift — and as a business game-changer. It will be a big topic at next week’s conference.

The panel: Dave Lounsbury, Chief Technical Officer at The Open Group; Chris Harding, Director of Interoperability at The Open Group, and Mark Skilton, Global Director in the Strategy Office at Capgemini. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

This special BriefingsDirect thought leadership interview comes in conjunction with The Open Group Conference, which is focused on enterprise transformation in the finance, government, and healthcare sectors. Registration to the conference remains open. Follow the conference on Twitter at #ogPHL. [Disclosure: The Open Group is a sponsor of this and other BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: A lot of people are still wrapping their minds around this notion of Platform 3.0, something that is a whole greater than the sum of the parts. Why is this more than an IT conversation or a shift in how things are delivered? Why are the business implications momentous?

Lounsbury: Well, Dana, there are lot of IT changes or technical changes going on that are bringing together a lot of factors. They’re turning into this sort of super-saturated solution of ideas and possibilities and this emerging idea that this represents a new platform. I think it’s a pretty fundamental change.

Lounsbury

If you look at history, not just the history of IT, but all of human history, you see that step changes in societies and organizations are frequently driven by communication or connectedness. Think about the evolution of speech or the invention of the alphabet or movable-type printing. These technical innovations that we’re seeing are bringing together these vast sources of data about the world around us and doing it in real time.

Further, we’re starting to see a lot of rapid evolution in how you turn data into information and presenting the information in a way such that people can make decisions on it. Given all that we’re starting to realize, we’re on the cusp of another step of connectedness and awareness.

Fundamental changes

This really is going to drive some fundamental changes in the way we organize ourselves. Part of what The Open Group is doing, trying to bring Platform 3.0 together, is to try to get ahead of this and make sure that we understand not just what technical standards are needed, but how businesses will need to adapt and evolve what business processes they need to put in place in order to take maximum advantage of this to see change in the way that we look at the information.

Harding: Enterprises have to keep up with the way that things are moving in order to keep their positions in their industries. Enterprises can’t afford to be working with yesterday’s technology. It’s a case of being able to understand the information that they’re presented, and make the best decisions.

Harding

We’ve always talked about computers being about input, process, and output. Years ago, the input might have been through a teletype, the processing on a computer in the back office, and the output on print-out paper.

Now, we’re talking about the input being through a range of sensors and social media, the processing is done on the cloud, and the output goes to your mobile device, so you have it wherever you are when you need it. Enterprises that stick in the past are probably going to suffer.

Gardner: Mark Skilton, the ability to manage data at greater speed and scale, the whole three Vs — velocity, volume, and value — on its own could perhaps be a game changing shift in the market. The drive of mobile devices into lives of both consumers and workers is also a very big deal.

Of course, cloud has been an ongoing evolution of emphasis towards agility and efficiency in how workloads are supported. But is there something about the combination of how these are coming together at this particular time that, in your opinion, substantiates The Open Group’s emphasis on this as a literal platform shift?

Skilton: It is exactly that in terms of the workloads. The world we’re now into is the multi-workload environment, where you have mobile workloads, storage and compute workloads, and social networking workloads. There are many different types of data and traffic today in different cloud platforms and devices.

Skilton

It has to do with not just one solution, not one subscription model — because we’re now into this subscription-model era … the subscription economy, as one group tends to describe it. Now, we’re looking for not only just providing the security, the infrastructure, to deliver this kind of capability to a mobile device, as Chris was saying. The question is, how can you do this horizontally across other platforms? How can you integrate these things? This is something that is critical to the new order.

So Platform 3.0 addressing this point by bringing this together. Just look at the numbers. Look at the scale that we’re dealing with — 1.7 billion mobile devices sold in 2012, and 6.8 billion subscriptions estimated according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) equivalent to 96 percent of the world population.

Massive growth

We had massive growth in scale of mobile data traffic and internet data expansion. Mobile data is increasing 18 percent fold from 2011 to 2016 reaching 130 exabytes annually.  We passed 1 zettabyte of global online data storage back in 2010 and IP data traffic predicted to pass 1.3 zettabytes by 2016, with internet video accounting for 61 percent of total internet data according to Cisco studies.

These studies also predict data center traffic combining network and internet based storage will reach 6.6 zettabytes annually, and nearly two thirds of this will be cloud based by 2016.  This is only going to grow as social networking is reaching nearly one in four people around the world with 1.7 billion using at least one form of social networking in 2013, rising to one in three people with 2.55 billion global audience by 2017 as another extraordinary figure from an eMarketing.com study.

It is not surprising that many industry analysts are seeing growth in technologies of mobility, social computing, big data and cloud convergence at 30 to 40 percent and the shift to B2C commerce passing $1 trillion in 2012 is just the start of a wider digital transformation.

These numbers speak volumes in terms of the integration, interoperability, and connection of the new types of business and social realities that we have today.

Gardner: Why should IT be thinking about this as a fundamental shift, rather than a modest change?

Lounsbury: A lot depends on how you define your IT organization. It’s useful to separate the plumbing from the water. If we think of the water as the information that’s flowing, it’s how we make sure that the water is pure and getting to the places where you need to have the taps, where you need to have the water, etc.

But the plumbing also has to be up to the job. It needs to have the capacity. It needs to have new tools to filter out the impurities from the water. There’s no point giving someone data if it’s not been properly managed or if there’s incorrect information.

What’s going to happen in IT is not only do we have to focus on the mechanics of the plumbing, where we see things like the big database that we’ve seen in the open-source  role and things like that nature, but there’s the analytics and the data stewardship aspects of it.

We need to bring in mechanisms, so the data is valid and kept up to date. We need to indicate its freshness to the decision makers. Furthermore, IT is going to be called upon, whether as part of the enterprise IP or where end users will drive the selection of what they’re going to do with analytic tools and recommendation tools to take the data and turn it into information. One of the things you can’t do with business decision makers is overwhelm them with big rafts of data and expect them to figure it out.

You really need to present the information in a way that they can use to quickly make business decisions. That is an addition to the role of IT that may not have been there traditionally — how you think about the data and the role of what, in the beginning, was called data scientist and things of that nature.

Shift in constituency

Skilton: I’d just like to add to Dave’s excellent points about, the shape of data has changed, but also about why should IT get involved. We’re seeing that there’s a shift in the constituency of who is using this data.

We have the Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief Procurement Officer and other key line of business managers taking more direct control over the uses of information technology that enable their channels and interactions through mobile, social and data analytics. We’ve got processes that were previously managed just by IT and are now being consumed by significant stakeholders and investors in the organization.

We have to recognize in IT that we are the masters of our own destiny. The information needs to be sorted into new types of mobile devices, new types of data intelligence, and ways of delivering this kind of service.

I read recently in MIT Sloan Management Review an article that asked what is the role of the CIO. There is still the critical role of managing the security, compliance, and performance of these systems. But there’s also a socialization of IT, and this is where  the  positioning architectures which are cross platform is key to  delivering real value to the business users in the IT community.

Gardner: How do we prevent this from going off the rails?

Harding: This a very important point. And to add to the difficulties, it’s not only that a whole set of different people are getting involved with different kinds of information, but there’s also a step change in the speed with which all this is delivered. It’s no longer the case, that you can say, “Oh well, we need some kind of information system to manage this information. We’ll procure it and get a program written” that a year later that would be in place in delivering reports to it.

Now, people are looking to make sense of this information on the fly if possible. It’s really a case of having the platforms be the standard technology platform and also the systems for using it, the business processes, understood and in place.

Then, you can do all these things quickly and build on learning from what people have gone in the past, and not go out into all sorts of new experimental things that might not lead anywhere. It’s a case of building up the standard platform in the industry best practice. This is where The Open Group can really help things along by being a recipient and a reflector of best practice and standard.

Skilton: Capgemini has been doing work in this area. I break it down into four levels of scalability. It’s the platform scalability of understanding what you can do with your current legacy systems in introducing cloud computing or big data, and the infrastructure that gives you this, what we call multiplexing of resources. We’re very much seeing this idea of introducing scalable platform resource management, and you see that a lot with the heritage of virtualization.

Going into networking and the network scalability, a lot of the customers have who inherited their old telecommunications networks are looking to introduce new MPLS type scalable networks. The reason for this is that it’s all about connectivity in the field. I meet a number of clients who are saying, “We’ve got this cloud service,” or “This service is in a certain area of my country. If I move to another parts of the country or I’m traveling, I can’t get connectivity.” That’s the big issue of scaling.

Another one is application programming interfaces (APIs). What we’re seeing now is an explosion of integration and application services using API connectivity, and these are creating huge opportunities of what Chris Anderson of Wired used to call the “long tail effect.” It is now a reality in terms of building that kind of social connectivity and data exchange that Dave was talking about.

Finally, there are the marketplaces. Companies needs to think about what online marketplaces they need for digital branding, social branding, social networks, and awareness of your customers, suppliers, and employees. Customers can see that these four levels are where they need to start thinking about for IT strategy, and Platform 3.0 is right on this target of trying to work out what are the strategies of each of these new levels of scalability.

Gardner: We’re coming up on The Open Group Conference in Philadelphia very shortly. What should we expect from that? What is The Open Group doing vis-à-vis Platform 3.0, and how can organizations benefit from seeing a more methodological or standardized approach to some way of rationalizing all of this complexity? [Registration to the conference remains open. Follow the conference on Twitter at #ogPHL.]

Lounsbury: We’re still in the formational stages of  “third platform” or Platform 3.0 for The Open Group as an industry. To some extent, we’re starting pretty much at the ground floor with that in the Platform 3.0 forum. We’re leveraging a lot of the components that have been done previously by the work of the members of The Open Group in cloud, services-oriented architecture (SOA), and some of the work on the Internet of things.

First step

Our first step is to bring those things together to make sure that we’ve got a foundation to depart from. The next thing is that, through our Platform 3.0 Forum and the Steering Committee, we can ask people to talk about what their scenarios are for adoption of Platform 3.0?

That can range from things like the technological aspects of it and what standards are needed, but also to take a clue from our previous cloud working group. What are the best business practices in order to understand and then adopt some of these Platform 3.0 concepts to get your business using them?

What we’re really working toward in Philadelphia is to set up an exchange of ideas among the people who can, from the buy side, bring in their use cases from the supply side, bring in their ideas about what the technology possibilities are, and bring those together and start to shape a set of tracks where we can create business and technical artifacts that will help businesses adopt the Platform 3.0 concept.

Harding: We certainly also need to understand the business environment within which Platform 3.0 will be used. We’ve heard already about new players, new roles of various kinds that are appearing, and the fact that the technology is there and the business is adapting to this to use technology in new ways.

For example, we’ve heard about the data scientist. The data scientist is a new kind of role, a new kind of person, that is playing a particular part in all this within enterprises. We’re also hearing about marketplaces for services, new ways in which services are being made available and combined.

We really need to understand the actors in this new kind of business scenario. What are the pain points that people are having? What are the problems that need to be resolved in order to understand what kind of shape the new platform will have? That is one of the key things that the Platform 3.0 Forum members will be getting their teeth into.

Gardner: Looking to the future, when we think about the ability of the data to be so powerful when processed properly, when recommendations can be delivered to the right place at the right time, but we also recognize that there are limits to a manual or even human level approach to that, scientist by scientist, analysis by analysis.

When we think about the implications of automation, it seems like there were already some early examples of where bringing cloud, data, social, mobile, interactions, granularity of interactions together, that we’ve begun to see that how a recommendation engine could be brought to bear. I’m thinking about the Siri capability at Apple and even some of the examples of the Watson Technology at IBM.

So to our panel, are there unknown unknowns about where this will lead in terms of having extraordinary intelligence, a super computer or data center of super computers, brought to bear almost any problem instantly and then the result delivered directly to a center, a smart phone, any number of end points?

It seems that the potential here is mind boggling. Mark Skilton, any thoughts?

Skilton: What we’re talking about is the next generation of the Internet.  The advent of IPv6 and the explosion in multimedia services, will start to drive the next generation of the Internet.

I think that in the future, we’ll be talking about a multiplicity of information that is not just about services at your location or your personal lifestyle or your working preferences. We’ll see a convergence of information and services across multiple devices and new types of “co-presence services” that interact with your needs and social networks to provide predictive augmented information value.

When you start to get much more information about the context of where you are, the insight into what’s happening, and the predictive nature of these, it becomes something that becomes much more embedding into everyday life and in real time in context of what you are doing.

I expect to see much more intelligent applications coming forward on mobile devices in the next 5 to 10 years driven by this interconnected explosion of real time processing data, traffic, devices and social networking we describe in the scope of platform 3.0. This will add augmented intelligence and is something that’s really exciting and a complete game changer. I would call it the next killer app.

First-mover benefits

Gardner: There’s this notion of intelligence brought to bear rapidly in context, at a manageable cost. This seems to me a big change for businesses. We could, of course, go into the social implications as well, but just for businesses, that alone to me would be an incentive to get thinking and acting on this. So any thoughts about where businesses that do this well would be able to have significant advantage and first mover benefits?

Harding: Businesses always are taking stock. They understand their environments. They understand how the world that they live in is changing and they understand what part they play in it. It will be down to individual businesses to look at this new technical possibility and say, “So now this is where we could make a change to our business.” It’s the vision moment where you see a combination of technical possibility and business advantage that will work for your organization.

It’s going to be different for every business, and I’m very happy to say this, it’s something that computers aren’t going to be able to do for a very long time yet. It’s going to really be down to business people to do this as they have been doing for centuries and millennia, to understand how they can take advantage of these things.

So it’s a very exciting time, and we’ll see businesses understanding and developing their individual business visions as the starting point for a cycle of business transformation, which is what we’ll be very much talking about in Philadelphia. So yes, there will be businesses that gain advantage, but I wouldn’t point to any particular business, or any particular sector and say, “It’s going to be them” or “It’s going to be them.”

Gardner: Dave Lounsbury, a last word to you. In terms of some of the future implications and vision, where could this could lead in the not too distant future?

Lounsbury: I’d disagree a bit with my colleagues on this, and this could probably be a podcast on its own, Dana. You mentioned Siri, and I believe IBM just announced the commercial version of its Watson recommendation and analysis engine for use in some customer-facing applications.

I definitely see these as the thin end of the wedge on filling that gap between the growth of data and the analysis of data. I can imagine in not in the next couple of years, but in the next couple of technology cycles, that we’ll see the concept of recommendations and analysis as a service, to bring it full circle to cloud. And keep in mind that all of case law is data and all of the medical textbooks ever written are data. Pick your industry, and there is huge amount of knowledge base that humans must currently keep on top of.

This approach and these advances in the recommendation engines driven by the availability of big data are going to produce profound changes in the way knowledge workers produce their job. That’s something that businesses, including their IT functions, absolutely need to stay in front of to remain competitive in the next decade or so.

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