Category Archives: architecture

The Open Group London 2014 – Day One Highlights

By Loren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing Communications, The Open Group

On a crisp October Monday in London yesterday, The Open Group hosted the first day of its event at Central Methodist Hall, Westminster. Almost 200 attendees from 32 countries explored how to “Empower Your Business; Enabling Boundaryless Information Flow™”.

Just across the way from another landmark in the form of Westminster Abbey, the day began with a welcome from Allen Brown, President and CEO of The Open Group, before Magnus Lindkvist, the Swedish trendspotter and futurologist, began his keynote on “Competition and Creation in Globulent Times”.

In a very thought-provoking talk, Magnus pondered on how quickly the world now moves, declaring that we now live in a 47 hour world, where trends can spread quicker than ever before. Magnus argued that this was a result of an R&D process – rip off and duplicate, rather than organic innovation occurring in multiple places.

Magnus went on to consider the history of civilization which he described as “nothing, nothing, a little bit, then everything” as well as providing a comparison of vertical and horizontal growth. Magnus posited that while we are currently seeing a lot of horizontal growth globally (the replication of the same activity), there is very little vertical growth, or what he described as “magic”. Magnus argued that in business we are seeing companies less able to create as they are focusing so heavily on simply competing.

To counter this growth, Magnus told attendees that they should do the following in their day-to-day work:

  • Look for secrets – Whether it be for a certain skill or a piece of expertise that is as yet undiscovered but which could reap significant benefit
  • Experiment – Ensure that there is a place for experimentation within your organization, while practicing it yourself as well
  • Recycle failures – It’s not always the idea that is wrong, but the implementation, which you can try over and over again
  • Be patient and persistent – Give new ideas time and the good ones will eventually succeed

Following this session was the long anticipated launch of The Open Group IT4IT™ Forum, with Christopher Davis from the University of South Florida detailing the genesis of the group before handing over to Georg Bock from HP Software who talked about the Reference Architecture at the heart of the IT4IT Forum.

Hans Van Kesteren, VP & CIO of Global Functions at Shell, then went into detail about how his company has helped to drive the growth of the IT4IT Forum. Starting with an in-depth background to the company’s IT function, Hans described how as a provider of IT on a mass scale, the changing technology landscape has had a significant impact on Shell and the way it manages IT. He described how the introduction of the IT4IT Forum will help his organization and others like it to adapt to the convergence of technologies, allowing for a more dynamic yet structured IT department.

Subsequently Daniel Benton, Global Managing Director of IT Strategy at Accenture, and Georg Bock, Senior Director IT Management Software Portfolio Strategy at HP, provided their vision for the IT4IT Forum before a session where the speakers took questions from the floor. Those individuals heavily involved in the establishment of the IT4IT Forum received particular thanks from attendees for their efforts, as you can see in the accompanying picture.

In its entirety, the various presentations from the IT4IT Forum members provided a compelling vision for the future of the group. Watch this space for further developments now it has been launched.

IT4IT

The Open Group IT4IT™ Forum Founding Members

In the afternoon, the sessions were split into tracks illustrating the breadth of the material that The Open Group covers. On Monday this provided an opportunity for a range of speakers to present to attendees on topics from the architecture of banking to shaping business transformation. Key presenters included Thomas Obitz, Senior Manager, FSO Advisory Performance Improvement, EY, UK and Dr. Daniel Simon, Managing Partner, Scape Consulting, Germany.

The plenary and many of the track presentations are available at livestream.com.

The day concluded with an evening drinks reception within Central Hall Westminster, where attendees had the opportunity to catch up with acquaintances old and new. More to come on day two!

Join the conversation – @theopengroup #ogLON

Loren K. BaynesLoren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing Communications, joined The Open Group in 2013 and spearheads corporate marketing initiatives, primarily the website, blog and media relations. Loren has over 20 years experience in brand marketing and public relations and, prior to The Open Group, was with The Walt Disney Company for over 10 years. Loren holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A&M University. She is based in the US.

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The Open Group London 2014 Preview: A Conversation with RTI’s Stan Schneider about the Internet of Things and Healthcare

By The Open Group

RTI is a Silicon Valley-based messaging and communications company focused on helping to bring the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) to fruition. Recently named “The Most Influential Industrial Internet of Things Company” by Appinions and published in Forbes, RTI’s EMEA Manager Bettina Swynnerton will be discussing the impact that the IoT and connected medical devices will have on hospital environments and the Healthcare industry at The Open Group London October 20-23. We spoke to RTI CEO Stan Schneider in advance of the event about the Industrial IoT and the areas where he sees Healthcare being impacted the most by connected devices.

Earlier this year, industry research firm Gartner declared the Internet of Things (IoT) to be the most hyped technology around, having reached the pinnacle of the firm’s famed “Hype Cycle.”

Despite the hype around consumer IoT applications—from FitBits to Nest thermostats to fashionably placed “wearables” that may begin to appear in everything from jewelry to handbags to kids’ backpacks—Stan Schneider, CEO of IoT communications platform company RTI, says that 90 percent of what we’re hearing about the IoT is not where the real value will lie. Most of media coverage and hype is about the “Consumer” IoT like Google glasses or sensors in refrigerators that tell you when the milk’s gone bad. However, most of the real value of the IoT will take place in what GE has coined as the “Industrial Internet”—applications working behind the scenes to keep industrial systems operating more efficiently, says Schneider.

“In reality, 90 percent of the real value of the IoT will be in industrial applications such as energy systems, manufacturing advances, transportation or medical systems,” Schneider says.

However, the reality today is that the IoT is quite new. As Schneider points out, most companies are still trying to figure out what their IoT strategy should be. There isn’t that much active building of real systems at this point.

Most companies, at the moment, are just trying to figure out what the Internet of Things is. I can do a webinar on ‘What is the Internet of Things?’ or ‘What is the Industrial Internet of Things?’ and get hundreds and hundreds of people showing up, most of whom don’t have any idea. That’s where most companies are. But there are several leading companies that very much have strategies, and there are a few that are even executing their strategies, ” he said. According to Schneider, these companies include GE, which he says has a 700+ person team currently dedicated to building their Industrial IoT platform, as well as companies such as Siemens and Audi, which already have some applications working.

For its part, RTI is actively involved in trying to help define how the Industrial Internet will work and how companies can take disparate devices and make them work with one another. “We’re a nuts-and-bolts, make-it-work type of company,” Schneider notes. As such, openness and standards are critical not only to RTI’s work but to the success of the Industrial IoT in general, says Schneider. RTI is currently involved in as many as 15 different industry standards initiatives.

IoT Drivers in Healthcare

Although RTI is involved in IoT initiatives in many industries, from manufacturing to the military, Healthcare is one of the company’s main areas of focus. For instance, RTI is working with GE Healthcare on the software for its CAT scanner machines. GE chose RTI’s DDS (data distribution service) product because it will let GE standardize on a single communications platform across product lines.

Schneider says there are three big drivers that are changing the medical landscape when it comes to connectivity: the evolution of standalone systems to distributed systems, the connection of devices to improve patient outcome and the replacement of dedicated wiring with networks.

The first driver is that medical devices that have been standalone devices for years are now being built on new distributed architectures. This gives practitioners and patients easier access to the technology they need.

For example, RTI customer BK Medical, a medical device manufacturer based in Denmark, is in the process of changing their ultrasound product architecture. They are moving from a single-user physical system to a wirelessly connected distributed design. Images will now be generated in and distributed by the Cloud, thus saving significant hardware costs while making the systems more accessible.

According to Schneider, ultrasound machine architecture hasn’t really changed in the last 30 or 40 years. Today’s ultrasound machines are still wheeled in on a cart. That cart contains a wired transducer, image processing hardware or software and a monitor. If someone wants to keep an image—for example images of fetuses in utero—they get carry out physical media. Years ago it was a Polaroid picture, today the images are saved to CDs and handed to the patient.

In contrast, BK’s new systems will be completely distributed, Schneider says. Doctors will be able to carry a transducer that looks more like a cellphone with them throughout the hospital. A wireless connection will upload the imaging data into the cloud for image calculation. With a distributed scenario, only one image processing system may be needed for a hospital or clinic. It can even be kept in the cloud off-site. Both patients and caregivers can access images on any display, wherever they are. This kind of architecture makes the systems much cheaper and far more efficient, Schneider says. The days of the wheeled-in cart are numbered.

The second IoT driver in Healthcare is connecting medical devices together to improve patient outcomes. Most hospital devices today are completely independent and standalone. So, if a patient is hooked up to multiple monitors, the only thing that really “connects” those devices today is a piece of paper at the end of a hospital bed that shows how each should be functioning. Nurses are supposed to check these devices on an hourly basis to make sure they’re working correctly and the patient is ok.

Schneider says this approach is error-ridden. First, the nurse may be too busy to do a good job checking the devices. Worse, any number of things can set off alarms whether there’s something wrong with the patient or not. As anyone who has ever visited a friend or relative in the hospital attest to, alarms are going off constantly, making it difficult to determine when someone is really in distress. In fact, one of the biggest problems in hospital settings today, Schneider says, is a phenomenon known as “alarm fatigue.” Single devices simply can’t reliably tell if there’s some minor glitch in data or if the patient is in real trouble. Thus, 80% of all device alarms in hospitals are turned off. Meaningless alarms fatigue personnel, so they either ignore or turn off the alarms…and people can die.

To deal with this problem, new technologies are being created that will connect devices together on a network. Multiple devices can then work in tandem to really figure out when something is wrong. If the machines are networked, alarms can be set to go off only when multiple distress indicators are indicated rather than just one. For example, if oxygen levels drop on both an oxygen monitor on someone’s finger and on a respiration monitor, the alarm is much more likely a real patient problem than if only one source shows a problem. Schneider says the algorithms to fix these problems are reasonably well understood; the barrier is the lack of networking to tie all of these machines together.

The third area of change in the industrial medical Internet is the transition to networked systems from dedicated wired designs. Surgical operating rooms offer a good example. Today’s operating room is a maze of wires connecting screens, computers, and video. Videos, for instance, come from dynamic x-ray imaging systems, from ultrasound navigation probes and from tiny cameras embedded in surgical instruments. Today, these systems are connected via HDMI or other specialized cables. These cables are hard to reconfigure. Worse, they’re difficult to sterilize, Schneider says. Thus, the surgical theater is hard to configure, clean and maintain.

In the future, the mesh of special wires can be replaced by a single, high-speed networking bus. Networks make the systems easier to configure and integrate, easier to use and accessible remotely. A single, easy-to-sterilize optical network cable can replace hundreds of wires. As wireless gets faster, even that cable can be removed.

“By changing these systems from a mesh of TV-cables to a networked data bus, you really change the way the whole system is integrated,” he said. “It’s much more flexible, maintainable and sharable outside the room. Surgical systems will be fundamentally changed by the Industrial IoT.”

IoT Challenges for Healthcare

Schneider says there are numerous challenges facing the integration of the IoT into existing Healthcare systems—from technical challenges to standards and, of course, security and privacy. But one of the biggest challenges facing the industry, he believes, is plain old fear. In particular, Schneider says, there is a lot of fear within the industry of choosing the wrong path and, in effect, “walking off a cliff” if they choose the wrong direction. Getting beyond that fear and taking risks, he says, will be necessary to move the industry forward, he says.

In a practical sense, the other thing currently holding back integration is the sheer number of connected devices currently being used in medicine, he says. Manufacturers each have their own systems and obviously have a vested interest in keeping their equipment in hospitals, so many have been reluctant to develop or become standards-compliant and push interoperability forward, Schneider says.

This is, of course, not just a Healthcare issue. “We see it in every single industry we’re in. It’s a real problem,” he said.

Legacy systems are also a problematic area. “You can’t just go into a Kaiser Permanente and rip out $2 billion worth of equipment,” he says. Integrating new systems with existing technology is a process of incremental change that takes time and vested leadership, says Schneider.

Cloud Integration a Driver

Although many of these technologies are not yet very mature, Schneider believes that the fundamental industry driver is Cloud integration. In Schneider’s view, the Industrial Internet is ultimately a systems problem. As with the ultrasound machine example from BK Medical, it’s not that an existing ultrasound machine doesn’t work just fine today, Schneider says, it’s that it could work better.

“Look what you can do if you connect it to the Cloud—you can distribute it, you can make it cheaper, you can make it better, you can make it faster, you can make it more available, you can connect it to the patient at home. It’s a huge system problem. The real overwhelming striking value of the Industrial Internet really happens when you’re not just talking about the hospital but you’re talking about the Cloud and hooking up with practitioners, patients, hospitals, home care and health records. You have to be able to integrate the whole thing together to get that ultimate value. While there are many point cases that are compelling all by themselves, realizing the vision requires getting the whole system running. A truly connected system is a ways out, but it’s exciting.”

Open Standards

Schneider also says that openness is absolutely critical for these systems to ultimately work. Just as agreeing on a standard for the HTTP running on the Internet Protocol (IP) drove the Web, a new device-appropriate protocol will be necessary for the Internet of Things to work. Consensus will be necessary, he says, so that systems can talk to each other and connectivity will work. The Industrial Internet will push that out to the Cloud and beyond, he says.

“One of my favorite quotes is from IBM, he says – IBM said, ‘it’s not a new Internet, it’s a new Web.’” By that, they mean that the industry needs new, machine-centric protocols to run over the same Internet hardware and base IP protocol, Schneider said.

Schneider believes that this new web will eventually evolve to become the new architecture for most companies. However, for now, particularly in hospitals, it’s the “things” that need to be integrated into systems and overall architectures.

One example where this level of connectivity will make a huge difference, he says, is in predictive maintenance. Once a system can “sense” or predict that a machine may fail or if a part needs to be replaced, there will be a huge economic impact and cost savings. For instance, he said Siemens uses acoustic sensors to monitor the state of its wind generators. By placing sensors next to the bearings in the machine, they can literally “listen” for squeaky wheels and thus figure out whether a turbine may soon need repair. These analytics let them know when the bearing must be replaced before the turbine shuts down. Of course, the infrastructure will need to connect all of these “things” to the each other and the cloud first. So, there will need to be a lot of system level changes in architectures.

Standards, of course, will be key to getting these architectures to work together. Schneider believes standards development for the IoT will need to be tackled from both horizontal and vertical standpoint. Both generic communication standards and industry specific standards like how to integrate an operating room must evolve.

“We are a firm believer in open standards as a way to build consensus and make things actually work. It’s absolutely critical,” he said.

stan_schneiderStan Schneider is CEO at Real-Time Innovations (RTI), the Industrial Internet of Things communications platform company. RTI is the largest embedded middleware vendor and has an extensive footprint in all areas of the Industrial Internet, including Energy, Medical, Automotive, Transportation, Defense, and Industrial Control.  Stan has published over 50 papers in both academic and industry press. He speaks at events and conferences widely on topics ranging from networked medical devices for patient safety, the future of connected cars, the role of the DDS standard in the IoT, the evolution of power systems, and understanding the various IoT protocols.  Before RTI, Stan managed a large Stanford robotics laboratory, led an embedded communications software team and built data acquisition systems for automotive impact testing.  Stan completed his PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Stanford University, and holds a BS and MS from the University of Michigan. He is a graduate of Stanford’s Advanced Management College.

 

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IT Trends Empowering Your Business is Focus of The Open Group London 2014

By The Open Group

The Open Group, the vendor-neutral IT consortium, is hosting an event in London October 20th-23rd at the Central Hall, Westminster. The theme of this year’s event is on how new IT trends are empowering improvements in business and facilitating enterprise transformation.

Objectives of this year’s event:

  • Show the need for Boundaryless Information Flow™, which would result in more interoperable, real-time business processes throughout all business ecosystems
  • Examine the use of developing technology such as Big Data and advanced data analytics in the financial services sector: to minimize risk, provide more customer-centric products and identify new market opportunities
  • Provide a high-level view of the Healthcare ecosystem that identifies entities and stakeholders which must collaborate to enable the vision of Boundaryless Information Flow
  • Detail how the growth of “The Internet of Things” with online currencies and mobile-enabled transactions has changed the face of financial services, and poses new threats and opportunities
  • Outline some of the technological imperatives for Healthcare providers, with the use of The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™ tools to enable products and services to work together and deploy emerging technologies freely and in combination
  • Describe how to develop better interoperability and communication across organizational boundaries and pursue global standards for Enterprise Architecture for all industries

Key speakers at the event include:

  • Allen Brown, President & CEO, The Open Group
  • Magnus Lindkvist, Futurologist
  • Hans van Kesteren, VP & CIO Global Functions, Shell International, The Netherlands
  • Daniel Benton, Global Managing Director, IT Strategy, Accenture

Registration for The Open Group London 2014 is open and available to members and non-members. Please register here.

Join the conversation via Twitter – @theopengroup #ogLON

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The Open Group London 2014: Open Platform 3.0™ Panel Preview with Capgemini’s Ron Tolido

By The Open Group

The third wave of platform technologies is poised to revolutionize how companies do business not only for the next few years but for years to come. At The Open Group London event in October, Open Group CTO Dave Lounsbury will be hosting a panel discussion on how The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™ will affect Enterprise Architectures. Panel speakers include IBM Vice President and CTO of U.S. Federal IMT Andras Szakal and Capgemini Senior Vice President and CTO for Application Services Ron Tolido.

We spoke with Tolido in advance of the event about the progress companies are making in implementing third platform technologies, the challenges facing the industry as Open Platform 3.0 evolves and the call to action he envisions for The Open Group as these technologies take hold in the marketplace.

Below is a transcript of that conversation.

From my perspective, we have to realize: What is the call to action that we should have for ourselves? If we look at the mission of Boundaryless Information Flow™ and the need for open standards to accommodate that, what exactly can The Open Group and any general open standards do to facilitate this next wave in IT? I think it’s nothing less than a revolution. The first platform was the mainframe, the second platform was the PC and now the third platform is anything beyond the PC, so all sorts of different devices, sensors and ways to access information, to deploy solutions and to connect. What does it mean in terms of Boundaryless Information Flow and what is the role of open standards to make that platform succeed and help companies to thrive in such a new world?

That’s the type of call to action I’m envisioning. And I believe there are very few Forums or Work Groups within The Open Group that are not affected by this notion of the third platform. Firstly, I believe an important part of the Open Platform 3.0 Forum’s mission will be to analyze, to understand, the impacts of the third platform, of all those different areas that we’re evolving currently in The Open Group, and, if you like, orchestrate them a bit or be a catalyst in all the working groups and forums.

In a blog you wrote this summer for Capgemini’s CTO Blog you cited third platform technologies as being responsible for a renewed interest in IT as an enabler of business growth. What is it about the Third Platform is driving that interest?

It’s the same type of revolution as we’ve seen with the PC, which was the second platform. A lot of people in business units—through the PC and client/server technologies and Windows and all of these different things—realized that they could create solutions of a whole new order. The second platform meant many more applications, many more uses, much more business value to be achieved and less direct dependence on the central IT department. I think we’re seeing a very similar evolution right now, but the essence of the move is not that it moves us even further away from central IT but it puts the power of technology right in the business. It’s much easier to create solutions. Nowadays, there are many more channels that are so close in business that it takes business people to understand them. This explains also why business people like the third platform so much—it’s the Cloud, it’s mobile, social, it’s big data, all of these are waves that bring technology closer to the business, and are easy to use with very apparent business value that haven’t seen before, certainly not in the PC era. So we’re seeing a next wave, almost a revolution in terms of how easy it is to create solutions and how widely spread these solutions can be. Because again, as with the PC, it’s many more applications yet again and many more potential uses that can be connected through these applications, so that’s the very nature of the revolution and that also explains why business people like the third platform so much. So what people say to me these days on the business side is ‘We love IT, it’s just these bloody IT people that are the problem.’

Due to the complexities of building the next wave of platform computing, do you think that we may hit a point of fatigue as companies begin to tackle everything that is involved in creating that platform and making it work together?

The way I see it, that’s still the work of the IT community and the Enterprise Architect and the platform designer. It’s the very nature of the platform is that it’s attractive to use it, not to build it. The very nature of the platform is to connect to it and launch from it, but building the platform is an entirely different story. I think it requires platform designers and Enterprise Architects, if you like, and people to do the plumbing and do the architecting and the design underneath. But the real nature of the platform is to use it and to build upon it rather than to create it. So the happy view is that the “business people” don’t have to construct this.

I do believe, by the way, that many of the people in The Open Group will be on the side of the builders. They’re supposed to like complexity and like reducing it, so if we do it right the users of the platform will not notice this effort. It’s the same with the Cloud—the problem with the Cloud nowadays is that many people are tempted to run their own clouds, their own technologies, and before they know it, they only have additional complexity on their agenda, rather than reduced, because of the Cloud. It’s the same with the third platform—it’s a foundation which is almost a no-brainer to do business upon, for the next generation of business models. But if we do it wrong, we only have additional complexity on our hands, and we give IT a bad name yet again. We don’t want to do that.

What are Capgemini customers struggling with the most in terms of adopting these new technologies and putting together an Open Platform 3.0?

What you currently see—and it’s not always good to look at history—but if you look at the emergence of the second platform, the PC, of course there were years in which central IT said ‘nobody needs a PC, we can do it all on the mainframe,’ and they just didn’t believe it and business people just started to do it themselves. And for years, we created a mess as a result of it, and we’re still picking up some of the pieces of that situation. The question for IT people, in particular, is to understand how to find this new rhythm, how to adopt the dynamics of this third platform while dealing with all the complexity of the legacy platform that’s already there. I think if we are able to accelerate creating such a platform—and I think The Open Group will be very critical there—what exactly should be in the third platform, what type of services should you be developing, how would these services interact, could we create some set of open standards that the industry could align to so that we don’t have to do too much work in integrating all that stuff. If we, as The Open Group, can create that industry momentum, that, at least, would narrow the gap between business and IT that we currently see. Right now IT’s very clearly not able to deliver on the promise because they have their hands full with surviving the existing IT landscape, so unless they do something about simplifying it on the one hand and bridging that old world with the new one, they might still be very unpopular in the forthcoming years. That’s not what you want as an IT person—you want to enable business and new business. But I don’t think we’ve been very effective with that for the past ten years as an industry in general, so that’s a big thing that we have to deal with, bridging the old world with the new world. But anything we can do to accelerate and simplify that job from The Open Group would be great, and I think that’s the very essence of where our actions would be.

What are some of the things that The Open Group, in particular, can do to help affect these changes?

To me it’s still in the evangelization phase. Sooner or later people have to buy it and say ‘We get it, we want it, give me access to the third platform.’ Then the question will be how to accelerate building such an actual platform. So the big question is: What does such a platform look like? What types of services would you find on such a platform? For example, mobility services, data services, integration services, management services, development services, all of that. What would that look like in a typical Platform 3.0? Maybe even define a catalog of services that you would find in the platform. Then, of course, if you could use such a catalog or shopping list, if you like, to reach out to the technology suppliers of this world and convince them to pick that up and gear around these definitions—that would facilitate such a platform. Also maybe the architectural roadmap—so what would an architecture look like and what would be the typical five ways of getting there? We have to start with your local situation, so probably also several design cases would be helpful, so there’s an architectural dimension here.

Also, in terms of competencies, what type of competencies will we need in the near future to be able to supply these types of services to the business? That’s, again, very new—in this case, IT Specialist Certification and Architect Certification. These groups also need to think about what are the new competencies inherent in the third platform and how does it affect things like certification criteria and competency profiles?

In other areas, if you look at TOGAF®, and Open Group standard, is it really still suitable in fast paced world of the third platform or do we need a third platform version of TOGAF? With Security, for example, there are so many users, so many connections, and the activities of the former Jericho Forum seem like child’s play compared to what you will see around the third platform, so there’s no Forum or Work Group that’s not affected by this Open Platform 3.0 emerging.

With Open Platform 3.0 touching pretty much every aspect of technology and The Open Group, how do you tackle that? Do you have just an umbrella group for everything or look at it through the lens of TOGAF or security or the IT Specialist? How do you attack something so large?

It’s exactly what you just said. It’s fundamentally my belief that we need to do both of these two things. First, we need a catalyst forum, which I would argue is the Open Platform 3.0 Forum, which would be the catalyst platform, the orchestration platform if you like, that would do the overall definitions, the call to action. They’ve already been doing the business scenarios—they set the scene. Then it would be up to this Forum to reach out to all the other Forums and Work Groups to discuss impact and make sure it stays aligned, so here we have an orchestration function of the Open Platform 3.0 Forum. Then, very obviously, all the other Work Groups and Forums need to pick it up and do their own stuff because you cannot aspire to do all of this with one and the same forum because it’s so wide, it’s so diverse. You need to do both.

The Open Platform 3.0 Forum has been working for a year and a half now. What are some of the things the Forum has accomplished thus far?

They’ve been particularly working on some of the key definitions and some of the business scenarios. I would say in order to create an awareness of Open Platform 3.0 in terms of the business value and the definitions, they’ve done a very good job. Next, there needs to be a call to action to get everybody mobilized and setting tangible steps toward the Platform 3.0. I think that’s currently where we are, so that’s good timing, I believe, in terms of what the forum has achieved so far.

Returning to the mission of The Open Group, given all of the awareness we have created, what does it all mean in terms of Boundaryless Information Flow and how does it affect the Forums and Work Groups in The Open Group? That’s what we need to do now.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you see facing adoption of Open Platform 3.0 and standards for that platform?

They are relatively immature technologies. For example, with the Cloud you see a lot of players, a lot of technology providers being quite reluctant to standardize. Some of them are very open about it and are like ‘Right now we are in a niche, and we’re having a lot of fun ourselves, so why open it up right now?’ The movement would be more pressure from the business side saying ‘We want to use your technology but only if you align with some of these emerging standards.’ That would do it or certainly help. This, of course, is what makes The Open Group as powerful as not only technology providers, but also businesses, the enterprises involved and end users of technology. If they work together and created something to mobilize technology providers, that would certainly be a breakthrough, but these are immature technologies and, as I said, with some of these technology providers, it seems more important to them to be a niche player for now and create their own market rather than standardizing on something that their competitors could be on as well.

So this is a sign of a relatively immature industry because every industry that starts to mature around certain topics begins to work around open standards. The more mature we grow in mastering the understanding of the Open Platform 3.0, the more you will see the need for standards arise. It’s all a matter of timing so it’s not so strange that in the past year and a half it’s been very difficult to even discuss standards in this area. But I think we’re entering that era really soon, so it seems to be good timing to discuss it. That’s one important limiting area; I think the providers are not necessarily waiting for it or committed to it.

Secondly, of course, this is a whole next generation of technologies. With all new generations of technologies there are always generation gaps and people in denial or who just don’t feel up to picking it up again or maybe they lack the energy to pick up a new wave of technology and they’re like ‘Why can’t I stay in what I’ve mastered?’ All very understandable. I would call that a very typical IT generation gap that occurs when we see the next generation of IT emerge—sooner or later you get a generation gap, as well. Which has nothing to do with physical age, by the way.

With all these technologies converging so quickly, that gap is going to have to close quickly this time around isn’t it?

Well, there are still mainframes around, so you could argue that there will be two or even three speeds of IT sooner or later. A very stable, robust and predictable legacy environment could even be the first platform that’s more mainframe-oriented, like you see today. A second wave would be that PC workstation, client/server, Internet-based IT landscape, and it has a certain base and certain dynamics. Then you have this third phase, which is the new platform, that is more dynamic and volatile and much more diverse. You could argue that there might be within an organization multiple speeds of IT, multiple speeds of architectures, multi-speed solutioning, and why not choose your own speed?

It probably takes a decade or more to really move forward for many enterprises.

It’s not going as quickly as the Gartners of this world typically thinks it is—in practice we all know it takes longer. So I don’t see any reason why certain people wouldn’t certainly choose deliberately to stay in second gear and don’t go to third gear simply because they think it’s challenging to be there, which is perfectly sound to me and it would bring a lot of work in many years to companies.

That’s an interesting concept because start-ups can easily begin on a new platform but if you’re a company that has been around for a long time and you have existing legacy systems from the mainframe or PC era, those are things that you have to maintain. How do you tackle that as well?

That’s a given in big enterprises. Not everybody can be a disruptive start up. Maybe we all think that we should be like that but it’s not the case in real life. In real life, we have to deal with enterprise systems and enterprise processes and all of them might be very vulnerable to this new wave of challenges. Certainly enterprises can be disruptive themselves if they do it right, but there are always different dynamics, and, as I said, we still have mainframes, as well, even though we declared their ending quite some time ago. The same will happen, of course, to PC-based IT landscapes. It will take a very long time and will take very skilled hands and minds to keep it going and to simplify.

Having said that, you could argue that some new players in the market obviously have the advantage of not having to deal with that and could possibly benefit from a first-mover advantage where existing enterprises have to juggle several balls at the same time. Maybe that’s more difficult, but of course enterprises are enterprises for a good reason—they are big and holistic and mighty, and they might be able to do things that start-ups simply can’t do. But it’s a very unpredictable world, as we all realize, and the third platform brings a lot of disruptiveness.

What’s your perspective on how the Internet of Things will affect all of this?

It’s part of the third platform of course, and it’s something Andras Szakal will be addressing as well. There’s much more coming, both at the input sites, everything is becoming a sensor essentially to where even your wallpaper or paint is a sensor, but on the other hand, in terms of devices that we use to communicate or get information—smart things that whisper in your ears or whatever we’ll have in the coming years—is clearly part of this Platform 3.0 wave that we’ll have as we move away from the PC and the workstation, and there’s a whole bunch of new technologies around to replace it. The Internet of Things is clearly part of it, and we’ll need open standards as well because there are so many different things and devices, and if you don’t create the right standards and platform services to deal with it, it will be a mess. It’s an integral part of the Platform 3.0 wave that we’re seeing.

What is the Open Platform 3.0 Forum going to be working on over the next few months?

Understanding what this Open Platform 3.0 actually means—I think the work we’ve seen so far in the Forum really sets the way in terms of what is it and definitions are growing. Andras will be adding his notion of the Internet of Things and looking at definitions of what is it exactly. Many people already intuitively have an image of it.

The second will be how we deliver value to the business—so the business scenarios are a crucial thing to consider to see how applicable they are, how relevant they are to enterprises. The next thing to do will pertain to work that still needs to be done in The Open Group, as well. What would a new Open Platform 3.0 architecture look like? What are the platform services? What are the ones we can start working on right now? What are the most important business scenarios and what are the platform services that they will require? So architectural impacts, skills impacts, security impacts—as I said, there are very few areas in IT that are not touched by it. Even the new IT4IT Forum that will be launched in October, which is all about methodologies and lifecycle, will need to consider Agile, DevOps-related methodologies because that’s the rhythm and the pace that we’ve got to expect in this third platform. So the rhythm of the working group—definitions, business scenarios and then you start to thinking about what does the platform consist of, what type of services do I need to create to support it and hopefully by then we’ll have some open standards to help accelerate that thinking to help enterprises set a course for themselves. That’s our mission as The Open Group to help facilitate that.

Tolido-RonRon Tolido is Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Application Services Continental Europe, Capgemini. He is also a Director on the board of The Open Group and blogger for Capgemini’s multiple award-winning CTO blog, as well as the lead author of Capgemini’s TechnoVision and the global Application Landscape Reports. As a noted Digital Transformation ambassador, Tolido speaks and writes about IT strategy, innovation, applications and architecture. Based in the Netherlands, Mr. Tolido currently takes interest in apps rationalization, Cloud, enterprise mobility, the power of open, Slow Tech, process technologies, the Internet of Things, Design Thinking and – above all – radical simplification.

 

 

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Q&A with Marshall Van Alstyne, Professor, Boston University School of Management and Research Scientist MIT Center for Digital Business

By The Open Group

The word “platform” has become a nearly ubiquitous term in the tech and business worlds these days. From “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) to IDC’s Third Platform to The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™ Forum, the concept of platforms and building technology frames and applications on top of them has become the next “big thing.”

Although the technology industry tends to conceive of “platforms” as the vehicle that is driving trends such as mobile, social networking, the Cloud and Big Data, Marshall Van Alstyne, Professor at Boston University’s School of Management and a Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Digital Business, believes that the radical shifts that platforms bring are not just technological.

We spoke with Van Alstyne prior to The Open Group Boston 2014, where he presented a keynote, about platforms, how they have shifted traditional business models and how they are impacting industries everywhere.

The title of your session at the Boston conference was “Platform Shift – How New Open Business Models are Changing the Shape of Industry.” How would you define both “platform” and “open business model”?

I think of “platform” as a combination of two things. One, a set of standards or components that folks can take up and use for production of goods and services. The second thing is the rules of play, or the governance model – who has the ability to participate, how do you resolve conflict, and how do you divide up the royalty streams, or who gets what? You can think of it as the two components of the platform—the open standard together with the governance model. The technologists usually get the technology portion of it, and the economists usually get the governance and legal portions of it, but you really need both of them to understand what a ‘platform’ is.

What is the platform allowing then and how is that different from a regular business model?

The platform allows third parties to conduct business using system resources so they can actually meet and exchange goods across the platform. Wonderful examples of that include AirBnB where you can rent rooms or you can post rooms, or eBay, where you can sell goods or exchange goods, or iTunes where you can go find music, videos, apps and games provided by others, or Amazon where third parties are even allowed to set up shop on top of Amazon. They have moved to a business model where they can take control of the books in addition to allowing third parties to sell their own books and music and products and services through the Amazon platform. So by opening it up to allow third parties to participate, you facilitate exchange and grow a market by helping that exchange.

How does this relate to the concept of the technology industry is defining the “third platform”?

I think of it slightly differently. The tech industry uses mobile and social and cloud and data to characterize it. In some sense this view offers those as the attributes that characterize platforms or the knowledge base that enable platforms. But we would add to that the economic forces that actually shape platforms. What we want to do is give you some of the strategic tools, the incentives, the rules that will actually help you control their trajectory by helping you improve who participates and then measure and improve the value they contribute to the platform. So a full ecosystem view is not just the technology and the data, it also measures the value and how you divide that value. The rules of play really become important.

I think the “third platform” offers marvelous concepts and attributes but you also need to add the economics to it: Why do you participate, who gets what portions of the value, and who ultimately owns control.

Who does control the platform then?

A platform has multiple parts. Determining who controls what part is the art and design of the governance model. You have to set up control in the right way to motivate people to participate. But before we get to that, let’s go back and complete the idea of what’s an ‘open platform.’

To define an open platform, consider both the right of access and the right to manipulate platform resources, then consider granting those rights to four different parties. One is the user—can they access one another, can they access data, can they access system resources? Another group is developers—can they manipulate system resources, can they add new features to it, can they sell through the platform? The third group is the platform providers. You often think of them as those folks that facilitate access across the platform. To give you an example, iTunes is a single monolithic store, so the provider is simply Apple, but Android, in contrast, allows multiple providers, so there’s a Samsung Android store, an LTC Android store, a Google Android store, there’s even an Amazon version that uses a different version of Android. So that platform has multiple providers each with rights to access users. The fourth group is the party that controls the underlying property rights, who owns the IP. The ability modify the underlying standard and also the rights of access for other parties is the bottom-most layer.

So to answer the question of what is ‘open,’ you have to consider the rights of access of all four groups—the users, developers, the providers and IP rights holders, or sponsors, underneath.

Popping back up a level, we’re trying to motivate different parties to participate in the ecosystem. So what do you give the users? Usually it’s some kind of value. What do you give developers? Usually it’s some set of SDKs and APIs, but also some level of royalties. It’s fascinating. If you look back historically, Amazon initially tried a publishing royalty where they took 70% and gave a minority 30% back to developers. They found that didn’t fly very well and they had to fall back to the app store or software-style royalty, where they’re taking a lower percentage. I think Apple, for example, takes 30 percent, and Amazon is now close to that. You see ranges of royalties going anywhere from a few percent—an example is credit cards—all the way up to iStock photo where they take roughly 70 percent. That’s an extremely high rate, and one that I don’t recommend. We were just contracting for designs at 99Designs and they take a 20 percent cut. That’s probably more realistic, but lower might perhaps even be better—you can create stronger network effect if that’s the case.

Again, the real question of control is how you motivate third parties to participate and add value? If you are allowing them to use resources to create value and keep a lot of that value, then they’re more motivated to participate, to invest, to bring their resources to your platform. If you take most of the value they create, they won’t participate. They won’t add value. One of the biggest challenges for open platforms—what you might call the ‘Field of Dreams’ approach—is that most folks open their platform and assume ‘if you build it, they will come,’ but you really need to reward them to do so. Why would they want to come build with you? There are numerous instances of platforms that opened but no developer chooses to add value—the ecosystem is too small. You have to solve the chicken and egg problem where if you don’t have users, developers don’t want to build for you, but if you don’t have developer apps, then why do users participate? So you’ve got a huge feedback problem. And those are where the economics become critical, you must solve the chicken and egg problem to build and roll out platforms.

It’s not just a technology question; it’s also an economics and rewards question.

Then who is controlling the platform?

The answer depends on the type of platform. Giving different groups a different set of rights creates different types of platform. Consider the four different parties: users, developers, providers, and sponsors. At one extreme, the Apple Mac platform of the 1980s reserved most rights for development, for producing hardware (the provider layer), and for modifying the IP (the sponsor layer) all to Apple. Apple controlled the platform and it remained closed. In contrast, Microsoft relaxed platform control in specific ways. It licensed to multiple providers, enabling Dell, HP, Compaq and others to sell the platform. It gave developers rights of access to SDKs and APIs, enabling them to extend the platform. These control choices gave Microsoft more than six times the number of developers and more than twenty times the market share of Apple at the high point of Microsoft’s dominance of desktop operating systems. Microsoft gave up some control in order to create a more inclusive platform and a much bigger market.

Control is not a single concept. There are many different control rights you can grant to different parties. For example, you often want to give users an ability to control their own data. You often want to give developers intellectual property rights for the apps that they create and often over the data that their users create. You may want to give them some protections against platform misappropriation. Developers resent it if you take their ideas. So if the platform sees a really clever app that’s been built on top of its platform, what’s the guarantee that the platform simply doesn’t take it or build a competing app? You need to protect your developers in that case. Same thing’s true of the platform provider—what guarantees do they provide users for the quality of content provided on their ecosystem? For example, the Android ecosystem is much more open than the iPhone ecosystem, which means you have more folks offering stores. Simultaneously, that means that there are more viruses and more malware in Android, so what rights and guarantees do you require of the platform providers to protect the users in order that they want to participate? And then at the bottom, what rights do other participants have to control the direction of the platform growth? In the Visa model, for example, there are multiple member banks that help to influence the general direction of that credit card standard. Usually the most successful platforms have a single IP rights holder, but there are several examples of that have multiple IP rights holders.

So, in the end control defines the platform as much as the platform defines control.

What is the “secret” of the Internet-driven marketplace? Is that indeed the platform?

The secret is that, in effect, the goal of the platform is to increase transaction volume and value. If you can do that—and we can give you techniques for doing it—then you can create massive scale. Increasing the transaction value and transactions volume across your platform means that the owner of the platform doesn’t have to be the sole source of content and new ideas provided on the platform. If the platform owner is the only source of value then the owner is also the bottleneck. The goal is to consummate matches between producers and consumers of value. You want to help users find the content, find the resources, find the other people that they want to meet across your platform. In Apple’s case, you’re helping them find the music, the video, the games, and the apps that they want. In AirBnB’s case, you’re helping them find the rooms that they want, or Uber, you’re helping them find a driver. On Amazon, the book recommendations help you find the content that you want. In all the truly successful platforms, the owner of the platform is not providing all of that value. They’re enabling third parties to add that value, and that’s one reasy why The Open Group’s ideas are so important—you need open systems for this to happen.

What’s wrong with current linear business models? Why is a network-driven approach superior?

The fundamental reason why the linear business model no longer works is that it does not manage network effects. Network effects allow you to build platforms where users attract other users and you get feedback that grows your system. As more users join your platform, more developers join your platform, which attracts more users, which attracts more developers. You can see it on any of the major platforms. This is also true of Google. As advertisers use Google Search, the algorithms get better, people find the content that they want, so more advertisers use it. As more drivers join Uber, more people are happier passengers, which attracts more drivers. The more merchants accept Visa, the more consumers are willing to carry it, which attracts more merchants, which attracts more consumers. You get positive feedback.

The consequence of that is that you tend to get market concentration—you get winner take all markets. That’s where platforms dominate. So you have a few large firms within a given category, whether this is rides or books or hotels or auctions. Further, once you get network effects changing your business model, the linear insights into pricing, into inventory management, into innovation, into strategy breakdown.

When you have these multi-sided markets, pricing breaks down because you often price differently to one side than another because one side attracts the other. Inventory management practices breakdown because you’re selling inventory that you don’t even own. Your R&D strategies breakdown because now you’re motivating innovation and research outside the boundaries of the firm, as opposed to inside the internal R&D group. And your strategies breakdown because you’re not just looking for cost leadership or product differentiation, now you’re looking to shape the network effects as you create barriers to entry.

One of the things that I really want to argue strenuously is that in markets where platforms will emerge, platforms beat product every time. So the platform business model will inevitably beat the linear, product-based business model. Because you’re harnessing new forces in order to develop a different kind of business model.

Think of it the following way–imagine that value is growing as users consume your product. Think of any of the major platforms, as more folks use Google, search gets better, the more recommendations improve on Amazon, and the easier it is to find a ride on Uber, so more folks want to be on there. It is easier to scale network effects outside your business than inside your business. There’s simply more people outside than inside. The moment that happens, the locus control, the locus of innovation, moves from inside the firm to outside the firm. So the rules change. Pricing changes, your innovation strategies change, your inventory policies change, your R&D changes. You’re now managing resources outside the firm, rather than inside, in order to capture scale. This is different than the traditional industrial supply economies of scale.

Old systems are giving away to new systems. It’s not that the whole system breaks down, it’s simply that you’re looking to manage network effects and manage new business models. Another way to see this is that previously you were managing capital. In the industrial era, you were managing steel, you were managing large amounts of finance in banking, you were managing auto parts—huge supply economies of scale. In telecommunications, you were managing infrastructure. Now, you’re managing communities and these are managed outside the firm. The value that’s been created at Facebook or WhatsApp or Instagram or any of the new acquisitions, it’s not the capital that’s critical, it’s the communities that are critical, and these are built outside the firm.

There is a lot of talk in the industry about the Nexus of Forces as Gartner calls it, or Third Platform (IDC). The Open Group calls it Open Platform 3.0. Your concept goes well beyond technology—how does Open Platform 3.0 enable new business models?

Those are the enablers—they’re shall we say necessary, but they’re not sufficient. You really must harness the economic forces in addition to those enablers—mobile, social, Cloud, data. You must manage communities outside the firm, that’s the mobile and the social element of it. But this also involves designing governance and setting incentives. How are you capturing users outside the organization, how are they contributing, how are they being motivated to participate, why are they spreading your products to their peers? The Cloud allows it to scale—so Instagram and What’s App and others scale. Data allows you to “consummate the match.” You use that data to help people find what they need, to add value, so all of those things are the enablers. Then you have to harness the economics of the enablers to encourage people to do the right thing. You can see the correct intuition if you simply ask what happens if all you offer is a Cloud service and nothing more. Why will anyone use it? What’s the value to that system? If you open APIs to it, again, if you don’t have a user base, why are developers going to contribute? Developers want to reach users. Users want valuable functionality.

You must manage the motives and the value-add on the platform. New business models come from orchestrating not just the technology but also the third party sources of value. One of the biggest challenges is to grow these businesses from scratch—you’ve got the cold start chicken and egg problem. You don’t have network effects if you don’t have a user base, if you don’t have users, you don’t have network effects.

Do companies need to transform themselves into a “business platform” to succeed in this new marketplace? Are there industries immune to this shift?

There is a continuum of companies that are going to be affected. It starts at one end with companies that are highly information intense—anything that’s an information intensive business will be dramatically affected, anything that’s community or fashion-based business will be dramatically affected. Those include companies involved in media and news, songs, music, video; all of those are going to be the canaries in the coalmine that see this first. Moving farther along will be those industries that require some sort of certification—those include law and medicine and education—those, too, will also be platformized, so the services industries will become platforms. Farther down that are the ones that are heavily, heavily capital intensive where control of physical capital is paramount, those include trains and oil rigs and telecommunications infrastructure—eventually those will be affected by platform business models to the extent that data helps them gain efficiencies or add value, but they will in some sense be the last to be affected by platform business models. Look for the businesses where the cost side is shrinking in proportion to the delivery of value and where the network effects are rising as a proportional increase in value. Those forces will help you predict which industries will be transformed.

How can Enterprise Architecture be a part of this and how do open standards play a role?

The second part of that question is actually much easier. How do open standards play a role? The open standards make it much easier for third parties to attach and incorporate technology and features such that they can in turn add value. Open standards are essential to that happening. You do need to ask the question as to who controls those standards—is it completely open or is it a proprietary standard, a published standard but it’s not manipulable by a third party.

There will be at least two or three different things that Enterprise Architects need to do. One of these is to design modular components that are swappable, so as better systems become available, the better systems can be swapped in. The second element will be to watch for components of value that should be absorbed into the platform itself. As an example, in operating systems, web browsing has effectively been absorbed into the platform, streaming has been absorbed into the platform so that they become aware of how that actually works. A third thing they need to do is talk to the legal team to see where it is that the third parties property rights can be protected so that they invest. One of the biggest mistakes that firms make is to simply assume that because they own the platform, because they have the rights of control, that they can do what they please. If they do that, they risk alienating their ecosystems. So they should talk to their potential developers to incorporate developer concerns. One of my favorite examples is the Intel Architecture Lab which has done a beautiful job of articulating the voices of developers in their own architectural plans. A fourth thing that can be done is an idea borrowed from SAP, that builds Enterprise Architecture—they articulate an 18-24 month roadmap where they say these are the features that are coming, so you can anticipate and build on those. Also it gives you an idea of what features will be safe to build on so you won’t lose the value you’ve created.

What can companies do to begin opening their business models and more easily architect that?

What they should do is to consider four groups articulated earlier— those are the users, the providers, the developers and the sponsors—each serve a different role. Firms need to understand what their own role will be in order that they can open and architect the other roles within their ecosystem. They’ll also need to choose what levels of exclusivity they need to give their ecosystem partners in a different slice of the business. They should also figure out which of those components they prefer to offer themselves as unique competencies and where they need to seek third party assistance, either in new ideas or new resources or even new marketplaces. Those factors will help guide businesses toward different kinds of partnerships, and they’ll have to be open to those kinds of partners. In particular, they should think about where are they most likely to be missing ideas or missing opportunities. Those technical and business areas should open in order that third parties can take advantage of those opportunities and add value.

 

vanalstynemarshallProfessor Van Alstyne is one of the leading experts in network business models. He conducts research on information economics, covering such topics as communications markets, the economics of networks, intellectual property, social effects of technology, and productivity effects of information. As co-developer of the concept of “two sided networks” he has been a major contributor to the theory of network effects, a set of ideas now taught in more than 50 business schools worldwide.

Awards include two patents, National Science Foundation IOC, SGER, SBIR, iCorp and Career Awards, and six best paper awards. Articles or commentary have appeared in Science, Nature, Management Science, Harvard Business Review, Strategic Management Journal, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

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Discussing Enterprise Decision-Making with Penelope Everall Gordon

By The Open Group

Most enterprises today are in the process of jumping onto the Big Data bandwagon. The promise of Big Data, as we’re told, is that if every company collects as much data as they can—about everything from their customers to sales transactions to their social media feeds—executives will have “the data they need” to make important decisions that can make or break the company. Not collecting and using your data, as the conventional wisdom has it, can have deadly consequences for any business.

As is often the case with industry trends, the hype around Big Data contains both a fair amount of truth and a fair amount of fuzz. The problem is that within most organizations, that conventional wisdom about the power of data for decision-making is usually just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how and why organizational decisions are made.

According to Penelope Gordon, a consultant for 1Plug Corporation who was recently a Cloud Strategist at Verizon and was formerly a Service Product Strategist at IBM, that’s why big “D” (Data) needs to be put back into the context of enterprise decision-making. Gordon, who spoke at The Open Group Boston 2014, in the session titled “Putting the D Back in Decision” with Jean-Francois Barsoum of IBM, argues that a focus on collecting a lot of data has the potential to get in the way of making quality decisions. This is, in part, due to the overabundance of data that’s being collected under the assumption that you never know where there’s gold to be mined in your data, so if you don’t have all of it at hand, you may just miss something.

Gordon says that assuming the data will make decisions obvious also ignores the fact that ultimately decisions are made by people—and people usually make decisions based on their own biases. According to Gordon, there are three types of natural decision making styles—heart, head and gut styles—corresponding to different personality types, she said; the greater the amount of data the more likely that it will not balance the natural decision-making style.

Head types, Gordon says, naturally make decisions based on quantitative evidence. But what often happens is that head types often put off making a decision until more data can be collected, wanting more and more data so that they can make the best decision based on the facts. She cites former President Bill Clinton as a classic example of this type. During his presidency, he was famous for putting off decision-making in favor of gathering more and more data before making the decision, she says. Relying solely on quantitative data also can mean you may miss out on other important factors in making optimal decisions based on either heart (qualitative) or instinct. Conversely, a gut-type presented with too much data will likely just end up ignoring data and acting on instinct, much like former President George W. Bush, Gordon says.

Gordon believes part of the reason that data and decisions are more disconnected than one might think is because IT and Marketing departments have become overly enamored with what technology can offer. These data providers need to step back and first examine the decision objectives as well as the governance behind those decisions. Without understanding the organization’s decision-making processes and the dynamics of the decision-makers, it can be difficult to make optimal and effective strategic recommendations, she says, because you don’t have the full picture of what the stakeholders will or will not accept in terms of a recommendation, data or no data.

Ideally, Gordon says, you want to get to a point where you can get to the best decision outcome possible by first figuring out the personal and organizational dynamics driving decisions within the organization, shifting the focus from the data to the decision for which the data is an input.

“…what you’re trying to do is get the optimal outcome, so your focus needs to be on the outcome, so when you’re collecting the data and assessing the data, you also need to be thinking about ‘how am I going to present this data in a way that it is going to be impactful in improving the decision outcomes?’ And that’s where the governance comes into play,” she said.

Governance is of particular importance now, Gordon says, because decisions are increasingly being made by individual departments, such as when departments buy their own cloud-enabled services, such as sales force automation. In that case, an organization needs to have a roadmap in place with compensation to incent decision-makers to adhere to that roadmap and decision criteria for buying decisions, she said.

Gordon recommends that companies put in place 3-5 top criteria for each decision that needs to be made so that you can ensure that the decision objectives are met. This distillation of the metrics gives decision-makers a more comprehensible picture of their data so that their decisions don’t become either too subjective or disconnected from the data. Lower levels of metrics can be used underneath each of those top-level criteria to facilitate a more nuanced valuation. For example, if an organization needing to find good partner candidates scored and ranked (preferably in tiers) potential partners using decision criteria based on the characteristics of the most attractive partner, rather than just assuming that companies with the best reputation or biggest brands will be the best, then they will expeditiously identify the optimal partner candidates.

One of the reasons that companies have gotten so concerned with collecting and storing data rather than just making better decisions, Gordon believes, is that business decisions have become inherently more risky. The required size of investment is increasing in tandem with an increase in the time to return; time to return is a key determinant of risk. Data helps people feel like they are making competent decisions but in reality does little to reduce risk.

“If you’ve got lots of data, then the thinking is, ‘well, I did the best that I could because I got all of this data.’ People are worried that they might miss something,“ she said. “But that’s where I’m trying to come around and say, ‘yeah, but going and collecting more data, if you’ve got somebody like President Clinton, you’re just feeding into their tendency to put off making decisions. If you’ve got somebody like President Bush and you’re feeding into their tendency to ignore it, then there may be some really good information, good recommendations they’re ignoring.”

Gordon also says that having all the data possible to work with isn’t usually necessary—generally a representative sample will do. For example, she says the U.S Census Bureau takes the approach where it tries to count every citizen; consequently certain populations are chronically undercounted and inaccuracies pass undetected. The Canadian census, on the other hand, uses representative samples and thus tends to be much more accurate—and much less expensive to conduct. Organizations should also think about how they can find representative or “proxy” data in cases where collecting data that directly addresses a top-level decision criteria isn’t really practical.

To begin shifting the focus from collecting data inputs to improving decision outcomes, Gordon recommends clearly stating the decision objectives for each major decision and then identifying and defining the 3-5 criteria that are most important for achieving the decision objectives. She also recommends ensuring that there is sufficient governance and a process in place for making decisions including mechanisms for measuring the performance of the decision-making process and the outcomes resulting from the execution of that process. In addition, companies need to consider whether their decisions are made in a centralized or decentralized manner and then adapt decision governance accordingly.

One way that Enterprise Architects can help to encourage better decision-making within the organizations in which they work is to help in developing that governance rather than just providing data or data architectures, Gordon says. They should help stakeholders identify and define the important decision criteria, determine when full population rather than representative sampling is justified, recognize better methods for data analysis, and form decision recommendations based on that analysis. By gauging the appropriate blend of quantitative and qualitative data for a particular decision maker, an Architect can moderate gut types’ reliance on instinct and stimulate head and heart types’ intuition – thereby producing an optimally balanced decision. Architects should help lead and facilitate execution of the decision process, as well as help determine how data is presented within organizations in order to support the recommendations with the highest potential for meeting the decision objectives.

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penelopegordonPenelope Gordon recently led the expansion of the channel and service packaging strategies for Verizon’s cloud network products. Previously she was an IBM Strategist and Product Manager bringing emerging technologies such as predictive analytics to market. She helped to develop one of the world’s first public clouds.

 

 

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The Open Group Boston 2014 Preview: Talking People Architecture with David Foote

By The Open Group

Among all the issues that CIOs, CTOs and IT departments are facing today, staffing is likely near the top of the list of what’s keeping them up at night. Sure, there’s dealing with constant (and disruptive) technological changes and keeping up with the latest tech and business trends, such as having a Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) or a mobile strategy, but without the right people with the right skills at the right time it’s impossible to execute on these initiatives.

Technology jobs are notoriously difficult to fill–far more difficult than positions in other industries where roles and skillsets may be much more static. And because technology is rapidly evolving, the roles for tech workers are also always in flux. Last year you may have needed an Agile developer, but today you may need a mobile developer with secure coding ability and in six months you might need an IoT developer with strong operations or logistics domain experience—with each position requiring different combinations of tech, functional area, solution and “soft” skillsets.

According to David Foote, IT Industry Analyst and co-founder of IT workforce research and advisory firm Foote Partners, the mash-up of HR systems and ad hoc people management practices most companies have been using for years to manage IT workers have become frighteningly ineffective. He says that to cope in today’s environment, companies need to architect their people infrastructure similar to how they have been architecting their technical infrastructure.

“People Architecture” is the term Foote has coined to describe the application of traditional architectural principles and practices that may already be in place elsewhere within an organization and applying them to managing the IT workforce. This includes applying such things as strategy and capability roadmaps, phase gate blueprints, benchmarks, performance metrics, governance practices and stakeholder management to human capital management (HCM).

HCM components for People Architecture typically include job definition and design, compensation, incentives and recognition, skills demand and acquisition, job and career paths, professional development and work/life balance.

Part of the dilemma for employers right now, Foote says, is that there is very little job title standardization in the marketplace and too many job titles floating around IT departments today. “There are too many dimensions and variability in jobs now that companies have gotten lost from an HR perspective. They’re unable to cope with the complexity of defining, determining pay and laying out career paths for all these jobs, for example. For many, serious retention and hiring problems are showing up for the first time. Work-around solutions used for years to cope with systemic weaknesses in their people management systems have stopped working,” says Foote. “Recruiters start picking off their best people and candidates are suddenly rejecting offers and a panic sets in. Tensions are palpable in their IT workforce. These IT realities are pervasive.”

Twenty-five years ago, Foote says, defining roles in IT departments was easier. But then the Internet exploded and technology became far more customer-facing, shifting basic IT responsibilities from highly technical people deep within companies to roles requiring more visibility and transparency within and outside the enterprise. Large chunks of IT budgets moved into the business lines while traditional IT became more of a business itself.

According to Foote, IT roles became siloed not just by technology but by functional areas such as finance and accounting, operations and logistics, sales, marketing and HR systems, and by industry knowledge and customer familiarity. Then the IT professional services industry rapidly expanded to compete with their customers for talent in the marketplace. Even the architect role changed: an Enterprise Architect today can specialize in applications, security or data architecture among others, or focus on a specific industry such as energy, retail or healthcare.

Foote likens the fragmentation of IT jobs and skillsets that’s happening now to the emergence of IT architecture 25 years ago. Just as technical architecture practices emerged to help make sense of the disparate systems rapidly growing within companies and how best to determine the right future tech investments, a people architecture approach today helps organizations better manage an IT workforce spread through the enterprise with roles ranging from architects and analysts to a wide variety of engineers, developers and project and program managers.

“Technical architecture practices were successful because—when you did them well—companies achieved an understanding of what they have systems-wise and then connected it to where they were going and how they were going to get there, all within a process inclusive of all the various stakeholders who shared the risk in the outcome. It helped clearly define enterprise technology capabilities and gave companies more options and flexibility going forward,” according to Foote.

“Right now employers desperately need to incorporate in human capital management systems and practice the same straightforward, inclusive architecture approaches companies are already using in other areas of their businesses. This can go a long way toward not just lessening staffing shortages but also executing more predictably and being more agile in face of constant uncertainties and the accelerating pace of change. Ultimately this translates into a more effective workforce whether they are full-timers or the contingent workforce of part-timers, consultants and contractors.

“It always comes down to your people. That’s not a platitude but a fact,” insists Foote. “If you’re not competitive in today’s labor marketplace and you’re not an employer where people want to work, you’re dead.”

One industry that he says has gotten it right is the consulting industry. “After all, their assets walk out the door every night. Consulting groups within firms such as IBM and Accenture have been good at architecting their staffing because it’s their job to get out in front of what’s coming technologically. Because these firms must anticipate customer needs before they get the call to implement services, they have to be ahead of the curve in already identifying and hiring the bench strength needed to fulfill demand. They do many things right to hire, develop and keep the staff they need in place.”

Unfortunately, many companies take too much of a just-in-time approach to their workforce so they are always managing staffing from a position of scarcity rather than looking ahead, Foote says. But, this is changing, in part due to companies being tired of never having the people they need and being able to execute predictably.

The key is to put a structure in place that addresses a strategy around what a company needs and when. This applies not just to the hiring process, but also to compensation, training and advancement.

“Architecting anything allows you to be able to, in a more organized way, be more agile in dealing with anything that comes at you. That’s the beauty of architecture. You plan for the fact that you’re going to continue to scale and continue to change systems, the world’s going to continue to change, but you have an orderly way to manage the governance, planning and execution of that, the strategy of that and the implementation of decisions knowing that the architecture provides a more agile and flexible modular approach,” he said.

Foote says organizations such as The Open Group can lend themselves to facilitating People Architecture in a couple different ways. First, through extending the principles of architecture to human capital management, and second through vendor-independent, expertise and experience driven certifications, such as TOGAF® or OpenCA and OpenCITS, that help companies define core competencies for people and that provide opportunities for training and career advancement.

“I’m pretty bullish on many vendor-independent certifications in general, particularly where a defined book of knowledge exists that’s achieved wide acceptance in the industry. And that’s what you’ve got with The Open Group. Nobody’s challenging the architectural framework supremacy of TOGAF that that I’m aware of. In fact, large vendors with their own certifications participated actively in developing the framework and applying it very successfully to their business models,” he said.

Although the process of implementing People Architecture can be difficult and may take several years to master (much like Enterprise Architecture), Foote says it is making a huge difference for companies that implement it.

To learn more about People Architecture and models for implementing it, plan to attend Foote’s session at The Open Group Boston 2014 on Tuesday July 22. Foote’s session will address how architectural principles are being applied to human capital so that organizations can better manage their workforces from hiring and training through compensation, incentives and advancement. He will also discuss how career paths for EAs can be architected. Following the conference, the session proceedings will be available to Open Group members and conference attendees at www.opengroup.org.

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footeDavid Foote is an IT industry research pioneer, innovator, and one of the most quoted industry analysts on global IT workforce trends and multiple facets of the human side of technology value creation. His two decades of groundbreaking deep research and analysis of IT-business cross-skilling and technology/business management integration and leading the industry in innovative IT skills demand and compensation benchmarking has earned him a place on a short list of thought leaders in IT human capital management.

A former Gartner and META Group analyst, David leads the research and analytical practice groups at Foote Partners that reach 2,300 customers on six continents.

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