Tag Archives: Enterprise Transformation

The Business of Managing IT: The Open Group IT4IT™ Forum

By The Open Group

At The Open Group London 2014 event in October, the launch of The Open Group IT4IT™ Forum was announced. The goal of the new Forum is to create a Reference Architecture and standard that will allow IT departments to take a more holistic approach to managing the business of IT with continuous insight and control, enabling Boundaryless Information Flow™ across the IT Value Chain.

We recently spoke to Forum member Charlie Betz, Founder, Digital Management Academy, LLC, about the new Forum, its origins and why it’s time for IT to be managed as if it were a business in itself.

As IT has become more central to organizations, its role has changed drastically from the days when companies had one large mainframe or just a few PCs. For many organizations today, particularly large enterprises, IT is becoming a business within the business.

The problem with most IT departments, though, is that IT has never really been run as if it was a business.

In order for IT to better cope with rapid technological change and become more efficient at transitioning to the service-based model that most businesses today require, IT departments need guidance as to how the business of IT can be run. What’s at stake are things such as how to better manage IT at scale, how to understand IT as a value chain in its own right and how organizations can get better visibility into the vast amount of economic activity that’s currently characterized in organizations through technology.

The Open Group’s latest Forum aims to do just that.

The Case for IT Management

In the age of digital transformation, IT has become an integral part of how business is done. So says Charlie Betz, one of the founding members of the IT4IT Forum. From the software in your car to the supply chain that brings you your bananas, IT has become an irreplaceable component of how things work.

Quoting industry luminary Marc Andreessen, Betz says “software is eating the world.” Similarly, Betz says, IT management is actually beginning to eat management, too. Although this might seem laughable, we have become increasingly dependent on computing systems in our everyday lives. With that dependence comes significant concerns about the complexity of those systems and the potential they carry for chaotic behaviors. Therefore, he says, as technology becomes pervasive, how IT is managed will increasingly dictate how businesses are managed.

“If IT is increasing in its proportion of all product management, and all markets are increasingly dependent on managing IT, then understanding pure IT management becomes critically important not just for IT but for all business management,” Betz says.

According to Betz, the conversation about running the business of IT has been going on in the industry for a number of years under the guise of ideas such as “enterprise resource planning for IT” and the like. Ultimately, though, Betz says managing IT comes down to determining what IT’s value chain is and how to deliver on it.

By The Open GroupBetz compares modern IT departments to atoms, cells and bits where atoms represent hardware, including servers, data centers and networks; cells represent people; and bits are represented by software. In this analogy, these three things comprise the fundamental resources that an IT department manages. When reduced to economic terms, Betz says, what is currently lacking in most IT departments is a sense of how much things are worth, what the total costs are for acquisition and maintenance for capabilities and the supply and demand dynamics for IT services.

For example, in traditional IT management, workloads are defined by projects, tickets and also a middle ground characterized by work that is smaller than a project and larger than a ticket, Betz says. Often IT departments lack an understanding of how the three relate to each other and how they affect resources—particularly in the form of people—which becomes problematic because there is no holistic view of what the department is doing. Without that aggregate view, management is not only difficult but nearly impossible.

Betz says that to get a grasp on the whole, IT needs to take a cue from the lean management movement and first understand where the work originates and what it’s nature is so activities and processes don’t continue to proliferate without being managed.

Betz believes part of the reason IT has not better managed itself to date is because the level of complexity within IT has grown so quickly. He likens it to the frog in the boiling water metaphor—if the heat is turned up incrementally, the frog doesn’t know what’s hit him until it’s too late.

“Back when you had one computer it just wasn’t a concern,” he said. “You had very few systems that you were automating. It’s not that way nowadays. You have thousands of them. The application portfolio in major enterprises—depending on how you count applications, which is not an easy question in and of itself—the range is between 5000-10,000 applications. One hundred thousand servers is not unheard of. These are massive numbers, and the complexity is unimaginable. The potential for emergent chaotic behavior is unprecedented in human technological development.”

Betz believes the reason there is a perception that IT is poorly managed is also because it’s at the cutting-edge of every management question in business today. And because no one has ever dealt with systems and issues this complex before, it’s difficult to get a handle on them. Which is why the time for creating a framework for how IT can be managed has come.

IT4IT

The IT4IT Forum grew out of a joint initiative that was originally undertaken by Royal Dutch Shell and HP. Begun as a high-level user group within HP, companies such as Accenture, Achmea, Munich RE and PwC have also been integral in pulling together the initial work that has been provided to The Open Group to create the Forum. As the group began to develop a framework, it was clear that what they were developing needed to become an open standard, Betz says, so the group turned to The Open Group.

“It was pretty clear that The Open Group was the best fit for this,” he says. “There was clearly recognition and understanding on the part of The Open Group senior staff that this was a huge opportunity. They were very positive about it from the get-go.”

Currently in development, the IT4IT standard will provide guidance and specifications for how IT departments can provide consistent end-to-end service across the IT Value Chain and lifecycle. The IT Value Chain is meant to provide a model for managing the IT services life cycle and for how those service can be brokered with enterprises. By providing the IT similar level functionality as other critical business functions (such as finance or HR), IT is enabled to achieve better levels of predictability and efficiency.

By The Open Group

Betz says developing a Reference Architecture for IT4IT will be helpful for IT departments because it will provide a tested model for departments to begin the process of better management. And having that model be created by a vendor-neutral consortium helps provide credibility for users because no one company is profiting from it.

“It’s the community telling itself a story of what it wants to be,” he said.

The Reference Architecture will not only include prescriptive methods for how to design, procure and implement the functionality necessary to better manage IT departments but will also include real-world use cases related to current industry trends such as Cloud-sourcing, Agile, Dev-Ops and service brokering. As an open standard, it will also be designed to work with existing industry standards that IT departments may already be using including ITIL®, CoBIT®, SAFe® and TOGAF®, an Open Group standard.

With almost 200 pages of material already developed toward a standard, Betz says the Forum released its initial Snapshot for the standard available in late November. From there the Forum will need to decide which sections should be included as normative parts for the standard. The hope is to have the first version of the IT4IT Reference Architecture standard available next summer, Betz says.

For more on The Open Group IT4IT Forum or to become a member, please visit http://www.opengroup.org/IT4IT.

 

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Filed under architecture, IT, IT4IT, Standards, Uncategorized, Value Chain

The Open Group London 2014: Eight Questions on Retail Architecture

By The Open Group

If there’s any vertical sector that has been experiencing constant and massive transformation in the ages of the Internet and social media, it’s the retail sector. From the ability to buy goods whenever and however you’d like (in store, online and now, through mobile devices) to customers taking to social media to express their opinions about brands and service, retailers have a lot to deal with.

Glue Reply is a UK-based consulting firm that has worked with some of Europe’s largest retailers to help them plan their Enterprise Architectures and deal with the onslaught of constant technological change. Glue Reply Partner Daren Ward and Senior Consultant Richard Veryard sat down recently to answer our questions about how the challenges of building architectures for the retail sector, the difficulties of seasonal business and the need to keep things simple and agile. Ward spoke at The Open Group London 2014 on October 20.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the retail industry right now?

There are a number of well-documented challenges facing the retail sector. Retailers are facing new competitors, especially from discount chains, as well as online-only retailers such as Amazon. Retailers are also experiencing an increasing fragmentation of spend—for example, grocery customers buying smaller quantities more frequently.

At the same time, the customer expectations are higher, especially across multiple channels. There is an increased intolerance of poor customer service, and people’s expectations of prompt response is increasing rapidly, especially via social media.

There is also an increasing concern regarding cost. Many retailers have huge amounts invested in physical space and human resources. They can’t just keep increasing these costs, they must understand how to become more efficient and create new ways to make use of these resources.

What role is technology playing in those changes, and which technologies are forcing the most change?

New technologies are allowing us to provide shoppers with a personalized customer experience more akin to an old school type service like when the store manager knew my name, my collar size, etc. Combining technologies such as mobile and iBeacons is allowing us to not only reach out to our customers, but to also provide a context and increase relevance.

Some retailers are becoming extremely adept in using social media. The challenge here is to link the social media with the business process, so that the customer service agent can quickly check the relevant stock position and reserve the stock before posting a response on Facebook.

Big data is becoming one of the key technology drivers. Large retailers are able to mobilize large amounts of data, both from their own operations as well as external sources. Some retailers have become highly data-driven enterprises, with the ability to make rapid adjustments to marketing campaigns and physical supply chains. As we gather more data from more devices all plugged into the Internet of Things (IoT), technology can help us make sense of this data and spot trends we didn’t realize existed.

What role can Enterprise Architecture play in helping retailers, and what can retailers gain from taking an architectural approach to their business?

One of the key themes of the digital transformation is the ability to personalize the service, to really better understand our customers and to hold a conversation with them that is meaningful. We believe there are four key foundation blocks to achieving this seamless digital transformation: the ability to change, to integrate, to drive value from data and to understand the customer journey. Core to the ability to change is a business-driven roadmap. It provides all involved with a common language, a common set of goals and a target vision. This roadmap is not a series of hurdles that must be delivered, but rather a direction of travel towards the target allowing us to assess the impact of course corrections as we go and ensure we are still capable of arriving at our destination. This is how we create an agile environment, where tactical changes are still simple course corrections continuing on the right direction of travel.

Glue Reply provides a range of architecture services to our retail clients, from capability led planning to practical development of integration solutions. For example, we produced a five-year roadmap for Sainsbury’s, which allows IT investment to combine longer-term foundation projects with short-term initiatives that can respond rapidly to customer demand.

Are there issues specific to the retail sector that are particularly challenging to deal with in creating an architecture and why?

Retail is a very seasonal business—sometimes this leaves a very small window for business improvements. This also exaggerates the differences in the business and IT lifecycles. The business strategy can change at a pace often driven by external factors, whilst elements of IT have a lifespan of many years. This is why we need a roadmap—to assess the impact of these changes and re-plan and prioritize our activities.

Are there some retailers that you think are doing a good job of handling these technology challenges? Which ones are getting it right?

Our client John Lewis has just been named ‘Omnichannel Retailer of the Year’ at the World Retail Awards 2014. They have a vision, and they can assess the impact of change. We have seen similar success at Sainsbury’s, where initiatives such as brand match are brought to market with real pace and quality.

How can industry standards help to support the retail industry?

Where appropriate, we have used industry standards such as the ARTS (Association for Retail Standards) data model to assist our clients in creating a version that is good enough. But mostly, we use our own business reference models, which we have built up over many years of experience working with a range of different retail businesses.

What can other industries learn from how retailers are incorporating architecture into their operations?

The principle of omnichannel has a lot of relevance for other consumer-facing organizations, but also retail’s focus on loyalty. It’s not about creating a sale stampede, it’s about the brand. Apple is clearly an excellent example—when people queue for hours to be the first to buy the new product, at a price that will only reduce over time. Some retailers are making great use of customer data and profiling. And above, all successful retailers understand three key architectural principles that will drive success in any other sector—keep it simple, drive value and execute well.

What can retailers do to continue to best meet customer expectations into the future?

It’s no longer about the channel, it’s about the conversation. We have worked with the biggest brands in Europe, helping them deliver multichannel solutions that consider the conversation. The retailer that enables this conversation will better understand their customers’ needs and build long-term relationships.

By The Open GroupDaren Ward is a Partner at Reply in the UK. As well as being a practicing Enterprise Architecture, Daren is responsible for the development of the Strategy and Architecture business as well as playing a key role in driving growth of Reply in the UK. He is committed to helping organizations drive genuine business value from IT investments, working with both commercial focused business units and IT professionals.  Daren has helped establish Architecture practices at many organizations. Be it enterprise, solutions, integration or information architecture, he has helped these practices delivery real business value through capability led architecture and business-driven roadmaps.

 

RichardVeryard 2 June 2014Richard Veryard is a Business Architect and author, specializing in capability-led planning, systems thinking and organizational intelligence. Last year, Richard joined Glue Reply as a senior consultant in the retail sector.

 

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Filed under big data, Business Architecture, digital technologies, Enterprise Architecture, Internet of Things, Uncategorized

The Open Group London 2014 – Day Three Highlights

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

After an evening spent in the wonderful surroundings of the Victoria and Albert Museum, delegates returned to another London landmark building, Westminster Central Hall, for the final day of The Open Group London 2014.

Following on from Tuesday’s schedule, The Open Group event continued with tracks covering topics including Risk Management, TOGAF®, an Open Group standard, Security as well as The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™. To begin the Open Platform 3.0 track, Mark Skilton, Professor of Practice, Information Systems Management, Warwick Business School discussed the real world implications of Open Platform 3.0. To do this he looked at both the theory and practice behind technologies such as Big Data, social media and even gamification and their adoption by companies such as Coca Cola and Hilton.

Mark detailed how such companies are amending their business strategy to take into account these new technologies to drive business benefit. Mark went on to say that Open Platform 3.0 is serving to help “contextualize the moment”, essentially making it easier for individuals or businesses to interact with goods or services. This he concluded is being driven by people’s growing value of time – we want a more seamless experience in our day-to-day lives whether to buy a coffee or to check in to a hotel – and technology is making this possible. The talk provided a fascinating glimpse into the future of convergent technologies and the important role that contextualization is set to play in this.

Following this, Stuart Boardman from KPN Consulting led a session which looked in detail at the capability requirements of Open Platform 3.0. In what was a lively debate, contributors discussed the importance of smart data, semantic consistency, platform hierarchies and sustainability.

The final session of the morning in the Open Platform 3.0 track looked at the topic of open public sector data with Deirdre Lee, Principal at Derilinx and Chris Harding, Director for Interoperability at The Open Group. Discussing a topic that has risen up government agendas recently, Deirdre began by providing a thorough overview of the background to open data in the public sector and the supporting forces behind it. Deirdre provided detail on how various authorities across Europe had provided impetus to the Open Data movement, and what economic impact these initiatives had resulted in. Subsequently, Chris looked at how The Open Group can play a role in the emergence of open data as a subject area.

Following lunch, the tracks were split into two, with Jim Hietala, VP, Security & Healthcare, The Open Group, leading a workshop on the “Voice of the Security Customer”. This specifically looked at the impact of Security Automation on overall Enterprise Security, provoking much discussion among attendees. In the other session, the Open Platform 3.0 Forum focused on the topic of data integration with Ronald Schuldt, Senior Partner, UDEF and Dimitrios Kyritsis, Deputy Director, EPFL, leading a productive debate on the topic.

With The Open Group London 2014 coming to a close, we would like to thank all the speakers for providing such thoughtful content and the 300 attendees for making the event another great success. Also, many thanks go to our sponsors BiZZdesign, Corso, BOC Group, Good e-Learning, AEA and Scape, and media sponsors Van Haren and Computer Weekly,

See you at The Open Group San Diego 2015 February 2 – 5!

Join the conversation – #ogchat

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 – Day Two Highlights

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

Despite gusts of 70mph hitting the capital on Day Two of this year’s London event, attendees were not disheartened as October 21 kicked off with an introduction from The Open Group President and CEO Allen Brown. He provided a recap of The Open Group’s achievements over the last quarter including successful events in Bratislava, Slovakia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Allen also cited some impressive membership figures, with The Open Group now boasting 468 member organizations across 39 countries with the latest member coming from Nigeria.

Dave Lounsbury, VP and CTO at The Open Group then introduced the panel debate of the day on The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™ and Enterprise Architecture, with participants Ron Tolido, SVP and CTO, Applications Continental Europe, Capgemini; Andras Szakal, VP and CTO, IBM U.S. Federal IMT; and TJ Virdi, Senior Enterprise IT Architect, The Boeing Company.

After a discussion around the definition of Open Platform 3.0, the participants debated the potential impact of the Platform on Enterprise Architecture. Tolido noted that there has been an explosion of solutions, typically with a much shorter life cycle. While we’re not going to be able to solve every single problem with Open Platform 3.0, we can work towards that end goal by documenting its requirements and collecting suitable case studies.

Discussions then moved towards the theme of machine-to-machine (M2M) learning, a key part of the Open Platform 3.0 revolution. TJ Virdi cited figures from Gartner that by the year 2017, machines will soon be learning more than processing, an especially interesting notion when it comes to the manufacturing industry according to Szakal. There are three different areas whereby manufacturing is affected by M2M: New business opportunities, business optimization and operational optimization. With the products themselves now effectively becoming platforms and tools for communication, they become intelligent things and attract others in turn.

PanelRon Tolido, Andras Szakal, TJ Virdi, Dave Lounsbury

Henry Franken, CEO at BizzDesign, went on to lead the morning session on the Pitfalls of Strategic Alignment, announcing the results of an expansive survey into the development and implementation of a strategy. Key findings from the survey include:

  • SWOT Analysis and Business Cases are the most often used strategy techniques to support the strategy process – many others, including the Confrontation Matrix as an example, are now rarely used
  • Organizations continue to struggle with the strategy process, and most do not see strategy development and strategy implementation intertwined as a single strategy process
  • 64% indicated that stakeholders had conflicting priorities regarding reaching strategic goals which can make it very difficult for a strategy to gain momentum
  • The majority of respondents believed the main constraint to strategic alignment to be the unknown impact of the strategy on the employees, followed by the majority of the organization not understanding the strategy

The wide-ranging afternoon tracks kicked off with sessions on Risk, Enterprise in the Cloud and Archimate®, an Open Group standard. Key speakers included Ryan Jones at Blackthorn Technologies, Marc Walker at British Telecom, James Osborn, KPMG, Anitha Parameswaran, Unilever and Ryan Betts, VoltDB.

To take another look at the day’s plenary or track sessions, please visit The Open Group on livestream.com.

The day ended in style with an evening reception of Victorian architecture at the Victoria & Albert Museum, along with a private viewing of the newly opened John Constable exhibition.

IMG_3976Victoria & Albert Museum

A special mention must go to Terry Blevins who, after years of hard work and commitment to The Open Group, was made a Fellow at this year’s event. Many congratulations to Terry – and here’s to another successful day tomorrow.

Join the conversation! #ogchat #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 – 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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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 Panel: Internet of Things – Opportunities and Obstacles

Below is the transcript of The Open Group podcast exploring the challenges and ramifications of the Internet of Things, as machines and sensors collect vast amounts of data.

Listen to the podcast.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to a special BriefingsDirect thought leadership interview series coming to you in conjunction with recent The Open Group Boston 2014 on July 21 in Boston.

Dana Gardner I’m Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and I’ll be your host and moderator throughout these discussions on Open Platform 3.0 and Boundaryless Information Flow.

We’re going to now specifically delve into the Internet of Things with a panel of experts. The conference has examined how Open Platform 3.0™ leverages the combined impacts of cloud, big data, mobile, and social. But to each of these now we can add a new cresting wave of complexity and scale as we consider the rapid explosion of new devices, sensors, and myriad endpoints that will be connected using internet protocols, standards and architectural frameworks.

This means more data, more cloud connectivity and management, and an additional tier of “things” that are going to be part of the mobile edge — and extending that mobile edge ever deeper into even our own bodies.

When we think about inputs to these social networks — that’s going to increase as well. Not only will people be tweeting, your device could be very well tweet, too — using social networks to communicate. Perhaps your toaster will soon be sending you a tweet about your English muffins being ready each morning.

The Internet of Things is more than the “things” – it means a higher order of software platforms. For example, if we are going to operate data centers with new dexterity thanks to software-definited networking (SDN) and storage (SDS) — indeed the entire data center being software-defined (SDDC) — then why not a software-defined automobile, or factory floor, or hospital operating room — or even a software-defined city block or neighborhood?

And so how does this all actually work? Does it easily spin out of control? Or does it remain under proper management and governance? Do we have unknown unknowns about what to expect with this new level of complexity, scale, and volume of input devices?

Will architectures arise that support the numbers involved, interoperability, and provide governance for the Internet of Things — rather than just letting each type of device do its own thing?

To help answer some of these questions, The Open Group assembled a distinguished panel to explore the practical implications and limits of the Internet of Things. So please join me in welcoming Said Tabet, Chief Technology Officer for Governance, Risk and Compliance Strategy at EMC, and a primary representative to the Industrial Internet Consortium; Penelope Gordon, Emerging Technology Strategist at 1Plug Corporation; Jean-Francois Barsoum, Senior Managing Consultant for Smarter Cities, Water and Transportation at IBM, and Dave Lounsbury, Chief Technical Officer at The Open Group.

Jean-Francois, we have heard about this notion of “cities as platforms,” and I think the public sector might offer us some opportunity to look at what is going to happen with the Internet of Things, and then extrapolate from that to understand what might happen in the private sector.

Hypothetically, the public sector has a lot to gain. It doesn’t have to go through the same confines of a commercial market development, profit motive, and that sort of thing. Tell us a little bit about what the opportunity is in the public sector for smart cities.

Barsoum_Jean-FrancoisJean-Francois Barsoum: It’s immense. The first thing I want to do is link to something that Marshall Van Alstyne (Professor at Boston University and Researcher at MIT) had talked about, because I was thinking about his way of approaching platforms and thinking about how cities represent an example of that.

You don’t have customers; you have citizens. Cities are starting to see themselves as platforms, as ways to communicate with their customers, their citizens, to get information from them and to communicate back to them. But the complexity with cities is that as a good a platform as they could be, they’re relatively rigid. They’re legislated into existence and what they’re responsible for is written into law. It’s not really a market.

Chris Harding (Forum Director of The Open Group Open Platform 3.0) earlier mentioned, for example, water and traffic management. Cities could benefit greatly by managing traffic a lot better.

Part of the issue is that you might have a state or provincial government that looks after highways. You might have the central part of the city that looks after arterial networks. You might have a borough that would look after residential streets, and these different platforms end up not talking to each other.

They gather their own data. They put in their own widgets to collect information that concerns them, but do not necessarily share with their neighbor. One of the conditions that Marshall said would favor the emergence of a platform had to do with how much overlap there would be in your constituents and your customers. In this case, there’s perfect overlap. It’s the same citizen, but they have to carry an Android and an iPhone, despite the fact it is not the best way of dealing with the situation.

The complexities are proportional to the amount of benefit you could get if you could solve them.

Gardner: So more interoperability issues?

Barsoum: Yes.

More hurdles

Gardner: More hurdles, and when you say commensurate, you’re saying that the opportunity is huge, but the hurdles are huge and we’re not quite sure how this is going to unfold.

Barsoum: That’s right.

Gardner: Let’s go to an area where the opportunity outstrips the challenge, manufacturing. Said, what is the opportunity for the software-defined factory floor for recognizing huge efficiencies and applying algorithmic benefits to how management occurs across domains of supply-chain, distribution, and logistics. It seems to me that this is a no-brainer. It’s such an opportunity that the solution must be found.

Tabet_SaidSaid Tabet: When it comes to manufacturing, the opportunities are probably much bigger. It’s where we can see a lot of progress that has already been done and still work is going on. There are two ways to look at it.

One is the internal side of it, where you have improvements of business processes. For example, similar to what Jean-Francois said, in a lot of the larger companies that have factories all around the world, you’ll see such improvements on a factory base level. You still have those silos at that level.

Now with this new technology, with this connectedness, those improvements are going to be made across factories, and there’s a learning aspect to it in terms of trying to manage that data. In fact, they do a better job. We still have to deal with interoperability, of course, and additional issues that could be jurisdictional, etc.

However, there is that learning that allows them to improve their processes across factories. Maintenance is one of them, as well as creating new products, and connecting better with their customers. We can see a lot of examples in the marketplace. I won’t mention names, but there are lots of them out there with the large manufacturers.

Gardner: We’ve had just-in-time manufacturing and lean processes for quite some time, trying to compress the supply chain and distribution networks, but these haven’t necessarily been done through public networks, the internet, or standardized approaches.

But if we’re to benefit, we’re going to need to be able to be platform companies, not just product companies. How do you go from being a proprietary set of manufacturing protocols and approaches to this wider, standardized interoperability architecture?

Tabet: That’s a very good question, because now we’re talking about that connection to the customer. With the airline and the jet engine manufacturer, for example, when the plane lands and there has been some monitoring of the activity during the whole flight, at that moment, they’ll get that data made available. There could be improvements and maybe solutions available as soon as the plane lands.

Interoperability

That requires interoperability. It requires Platform 3.0 for example. If you don’t have open platforms, then you’ll deal with the same hurdles in terms of proprietary technologies and integration in a silo-based manner.

Gardner: Penelope, you’ve been writing about the obstacles to decision-making that might become apparent as big data becomes more prolific and people try to capture all the data about all the processes and analyze it. That’s a little bit of a departure from the way we’ve made decisions in organizations, public and private, in the past.

Of course, one of the bigger tenets of Internet of Things is all this great data that will be available to us from so many different points. Is there a conundrum of some sort? Is there an unknown obstacle for how we, as organizations and individuals, can deal with that data? Is this going to be chaos, or is this going to be all the promises many organizations have led us to believe around big data in the Internet of Things?

Gordon_PenelopePenelope Gordon: It’s something that has just been accelerated. This is not a new problem in terms of the decision-making styles not matching the inputs that are being provided into the decision-making process.

Former US President Bill Clinton was known for delaying making decisions. He’s a head-type decision-maker and so he would always want more data and more data. That just gets into a never-ending loop, because as people collect data for him, there is always more data that you can collect, particularly on the quantitative side. Whereas, if it is distilled down and presented very succinctly and then balanced with the qualitative, that allows intuition to come to fore, and you can make optimal decisions in that fashion.

Conversely, if you have someone who is a heart-type or gut-type decision-maker and you present them with a lot of data, their first response is to ignore the data. It’s just too much for them to take in. Then you end up completely going with whatever you feel is correct or whatever you have that instinct that it’s the correct decision. If you’re talking about strategic decisions, where you’re making a decision that’s going to influence your direction five years down the road, that could be a very wrong decision to make, a very expensive decision, and as you said, it could be chaos.

It just brings to mind to me Dr. Suess’s The Cat in the Hat with Thing One and Thing Two. So, as we talk about the Internet of Things, we need to keep in mind that we need to have some sort of structure that we are tying this back to and understanding what are we trying to do with these things.

Gardner: Openness is important, and governance is essential. Then, we can start moving toward higher-order business platform benefits. But, so far, our panel has been a little bit cynical. We’ve heard that the opportunity and the challenges are commensurate in the public sector and that in manufacturing we’re moving into a whole new area of interoperability, when we think about reaching out to customers and having a boundary that is managed between internal processes and external communications.

And we’ve heard that an overload of data could become a very serious problem and that we might not get benefits from big data through the Internet of Things, but perhaps even stumble and have less quality of decisions.

So Dave Lounsbury of The Open Group, will the same level of standardization work? Do we need a new type of standards approach, a different type of framework, or is this a natural path and course what we have done in the past?

Different level

Lounsbury_DaveDave Lounsbury: We need to look at the problem at a different level than we institutionally think about an interoperability problem. Internet of Things is riding two very powerful waves, one of which is Moore’s Law, that these sensors, actuators, and network get smaller and smaller. Now we can put Ethernet in a light switch right, a tag, or something like that.

Also, Metcalfe’s Law that says that the value of all this connectivity goes up with the square of the number of connected points, and that applies to both the connection of the things but more importantly the connection of the data.

The trouble is, as we have said, that there’s so much data here. The question is how do you manage it and how do you keep control over it so that you actually get business value from it. That’s going to require us to have this new concept of a platform to not only to aggregate, but to just connect the data, aggregate it, correlate it as you said, and present it in ways that people can make decisions however they want.

Also, because of the raw volume, we have to start thinking about machine agency. We have to think about the system actually making the routine decisions or giving advice to the humans who are actually doing it. Those are important parts of the solution beyond just a simple “How do we connect all the stuff together?”

Gardner: We might need a higher order of intelligence, now that we have reached this border of what we can do with our conventional approaches to data, information, and process.

Thinking about where this works best first in order to then understand where it might end up later, I was intrigued again this morning by Professor Van Alstyne. He mentioned that in healthcare, we should expect major battles, that there is a turf element to this, that the organization, entity or even commercial corporation that controls and manages certain types of information and access to that information might have some very serious platform benefits.

The openness element now is something to look at, and I’ll come back to the public sector. Is there a degree of openness that we could legislate or regulate to require enough control to prevent the next generation of lock-in, which might not be to a platform to access to data information and endpoints? Where is it in the public sector that we might look to a leadership position to establish needed openness and not just interoperability.

Barsoum: I’m not even sure where to start answering that question. To take healthcare as an example, I certainly didn’t write the bible on healthcare IT systems and if someone did write that, I think they really need to publish it quickly.

We have a single-payer system in Canada, and you would think that would be relatively easy to manage. There is one entity that manages paying the doctors, and everybody gets covered the same way. Therefore, the data should be easily shared among all the players and it should be easy for you to go from your doctor, to your oncologist, to whomever, and maybe to your pharmacy, so that everybody has access to this same information.

We don’t have that and we’re nowhere near having that. If I look to other areas in the public sector, areas where we’re beginning to solve the problem are ones where we face a crisis, and so we need to address that crisis rapidly.

Possibility of improvement

In the transportation infrastructure, we’re getting to that point where the infrastructure we have just doesn’t meet the needs. There’s a constraint in terms of money, and we can’t put much more money into the structure. Then, there are new technologies that are coming in. Chris had talked about driverless cars earlier. They’re essentially throwing a wrench into the works or may be offering the possibility of improvement.

On any given piece of infrastructure, you could fit twice as many driverless cars as cars with human drivers in them. Given that set of circumstances, the governments are going to find they have no choice but to share data in order to be able to manage those. Are there cases where we could go ahead of a crisis in order to manage it? I certainly hope so.

Gardner: How about allowing some of the natural forces of marketplaces, behavior, groups, maybe even chaos theory, where if sufficient openness is maintained there will be some kind of a pattern that will emerge? We need to let this go through its paces, but if we have artificial barriers, that might be thwarted or power could go to places that we would regret later.

Barsoum: I agree. People often focus on structure. So the governance doesn’t work. We should find some way to change the governance of transportation. London has done a very good job of that. They’ve created something called Transport for London that manages everything related to transportation. It doesn’t matter if it’s taxis, bicycles, pedestrians, boats, cargo trains, or whatever, they manage it.

You could do that, but it requires a lot of political effort. The other way to go about doing it is saying, “I’m not going to mess with the structures. I’m just going to require you to open and share all your data.” So, you’re creating a new environment where the governance, the structures, don’t really matter so much anymore. Everybody shares the same data.

Gardner: Said, to the private sector example of manufacturing, you still want to have a global fabric of manufacturing capabilities. This is requiring many partners to work in concert, but with a vast new amount of data and new potential for efficiency.

How do you expect that openness will emerge in the manufacturing sector? How will interoperability play when you don’t have to wait for legislation, but you do need to have cooperation and openness nonetheless?

Tabet: It comes back to the question you asked Dave about standards. I’ll just give you some examples. For example, in the automotive industry, there have been some activities in Europe around specific standards for communication.

The Europeans came to the US and started to have discussions, and the Japanese have interest, as well as the Chinese. That shows, because there is a common interest in creating these new models from a business standpoint, that these challenges they have to be dealt with together.

Managing complexity

When we talk about the amounts of data, what we call now big data, and what we are going to see in about five years or so, you can’t even imagine. How do we manage that complexity, which is multidimensional? We talked about this sort of platform and then further, that capability and the data that will be there. From that point of view, openness is the only way to go.

There’s no way that we can stay away from it and still be able to work in silos in that new environment. There are lots of things that we take for granted today. I invite some of you to go back and read articles from 10 years ago that try to predict the future in technology in the 21st century. Look at your smart phones. Adoption is there, because the business models are there, and we can see that progress moving forward.

Collaboration is a must, because it is a multidimensional level. It’s not just manufacturing like jet engines, car manufacturers, or agriculture, where you have very specific areas. They really they have to work with their customers and the customers of their customers.

Adoption is there, because the business models are there, and we can see that progress moving forward.

Gardner: Dave, I have a question for both you and Penelope. I’ve seen some instances where there has been a cooperative endeavor for accessing data, but then making it available as a service, whether it’s an API, a data set, access to a data library, or even analytics applications set. The Ocean Observatories Initiative is one example, where it has created a sensor network across the oceans and have created data that then they make available.

Do you think we expect to see an intermediary organization level that gets between the sensors and the consumers or even controllers of the processes? Is there’s a model inherent in that that we might look to — something like that cooperative data structure that in some ways creates structure and governance, but also allows for freedom? It’s sort of an entity that we don’t have yet in many organizations or many ecosystems and that needs to evolve.

Lounsbury: We’re already seeing that in the marketplace. If you look at the commercial and social Internet of Things area, we’re starting to see intermediaries or brokers cropping up that will connect the silo of my android ecosystem to the ecosystem of package tracking or something like that. There are dozens and dozens of these cropping up.

In fact, you now see APIs even into a silo of what you might consider a proprietary system and what people are doing is to to build a layer on top of those APIs that intermediate the data.

This is happening on a point-to-point basis now, but you can easily see the path forward. That’s going to expand to large amounts of data that people will share through a third party. I can see this being a whole new emerging market much as what Google did for search. You could see that happening for the Internet of Things.

Gardner: Penelope, do you have any thoughts about how that would work? Is there a mutually assured benefit that would allow people to want to participate and cooperate with that third entity? Should they have governance and rules about good practices, best practices for that intermediary organization? Any thoughts about how data can be managed in this sort of hierarchical model?

Nothing new

Gordon: First, I’ll contradict it a little bit. To me, a lot of this is nothing new, particularly coming from a marketing strategy perspective, with business intelligence (BI). Having various types of intermediaries, who are not only collecting the data, but then doing what we call data hygiene, synthesis, and even correlation of the data has been around for a long time.

It was an interesting, when I looked at recent listing of the big-data companies, that some notable companies were excluded from that list — companies like Nielsen. Nielsen’s been collecting data for a long time. Harte-Hanks is another one that collects a tremendous amount of information and sells that to companies.

That leads into the another part of it that I think there’s going to be. We’re seeing an increasing amount of opportunity that involves taking public sources of data and then providing synthesis on it. What remains to be seen is how much of the output of that is going to be provided for “free”, as opposed to “fee”. We’re going to see a lot more companies figuring out creative ways of extracting more value out of data and then charging directly for that, rather than using that as an indirect way of generating traffic.

Gardner: We’ve seen examples of how this has been in place. Does it scale and does the governance or lack of governance that might be in the market now sustain us through the transition into Platform 3.0 and the Internet of Things.

Gordon: That aspect is the lead-on part of “you get what you pay for”. If you’re using a free source of data, you don’t have any guarantee that it is from authoritative sources of data. Often, what we’re getting now is something somebody put it in a blog post, and then that will get referenced elsewhere, but there was nothing to go back to. It’s the shaky supply chain for data.

You need to think about the data supply and that is where the governance comes in. Having standards is going to increasingly become important, unless we really address a lot of the data illiteracy that we have. A lot of people do not understand how to analyze data.

One aspect of that is a lot of people expect that we have to do full population surveys, as opposed representative sampling to get much more accurate and much more cost-effective collection of data. That’s just one example, and we do need a lot more in governance and standards.

Gardner: What would you like to see changed most in order for the benefits and rewards of the Internet of Things to develop and overcome the drawbacks, the risks, the downside? What, in your opinion, would you like to see happen to make this a positive, rapid outcome? Let’s start with you Jean-Francois.

Barsoum: There are things that I have seen cities start to do now. There are couple of examples: Philadelphia is one and Barcelona does this too. Rather than do the typical request for proposal (RFP), where they say, “This is the kind of solution we’re looking for, and here are our parameters. Can l you tell us how much it is going to cost to build,” they come to you with the problem and they say, “Here is the problem I want to fix. Here are my priorities, and you’re at liberty to decide how best to fix the problem, but tell us how much that would cost.”

If you do that and you combine it with access to the public data that is available — if public sector opens up its data — you end up with a very powerful combination that liberates a lot of creativity. You can create a lot of new business models. We need to see much more of that. That’s where I would start.

More education

Tabet: I agree with Jean-Francois on that. What I’d like to add is that I think we need to push the relation a little further. We need more education, to your point earlier, around the data and the capabilities.

We need these platforms that we can leverage a little bit further with the analytics, with machine learning, and with all of these capabilities that are out there. We have to also remember, when we talk about the Internet of Things, it is things talking to each other.

So it is not human-machine communication. Machine-to-machine automation will be further than that, and we need more innovation and more work in this area, particularly more activity from the governments. We’ve seen that, but it is a little bit frail from that point of view right now.

Gardner: Dave Lounsbury, thoughts about what need to happen in order to keep this on the tracks?

Lounsbury: We’ve touched on lot of them already. Thank you for mentioning the machine-to-machine part, because there are plenty of projections that show that it’s going to be the dominant form of Internet communication, probably within the next four years.

So we need to start thinking of that and moving beyond our traditional models of humans talking through interfaces to set of services. We need to identify the building blocks of capability that you need to manage, not only the information flow and the skilled person that is going to produce it, but also how you manage the machine-to-machine interactions.

Gordon: I’d like to see not so much focus on data management, but focus on what is the data managing and helping us to do. Focusing on the machine-to-machine and the devices is great, but it should be not on the devices or on the machines… it should be on what can they accomplish by communicating; what can you accomplish with the devices and then have a reverse engineer from that.

Gardner: Let’s go to some questions from the audience. The first one asks about a high order of intelligence which we mentioned earlier. It could be artificial intelligence, perhaps, but they ask whether that’s really the issue. Is the nature of the data substantially different, or we are just creating more of the same, so that it is a storage, plumbing, and processing problem? What, if anything, are we lacking in our current analytics capabilities that are holding us back from exploiting the Internet of Things?

Gordon: I’ve definitely seen that. That has a lot to do with not setting your decision objectives and your decision criteria ahead of time so that you end up collecting a whole bunch of data, and the important data gets lost in the mix. There is a term “data smog.”

Most important

The solution is to figure out, before you go collecting data, what data is most important to you. If you can’t collect certain kinds of data that are important to you directly, then think about how to indirectly collect that data and how to get proxies. But don’t try to go and collect all the data for that. Narrow in on what is going to be most important and most representative of what you’re trying to accomplish.

Gardner: Does anyone want to add to this idea of understanding what current analytics capabilities are lacking, if we have to adopt and absorb the Internet of Things?

Barsoum: There is one element around projection into the future. We’ve been very good at analyzing historical information to understand what’s been happening in the past. We need to become better at projecting into the future, and obviously we’ve been doing that for some time already.

But so many variables are changing. Just to take the driverless car as an example. We’ve been collecting data from loop detectors, radar detectors, and even Bluetooth antennas to understand how traffic moves in the city. But we need to think harder about what that means and how we understand the city of tomorrow is going to work. That requires more thinking about the data, a little bit like what Penelope mentioned, how we interpret that, and how we push that out into the future.

Lounsbury: I have to agree with both. It’s not about statistics. We can use historical data. It helps with lot of things, but one of the major issues we still deal with today is the question of semantics, the meaning of the data. This goes back to your point, Penelope, around the relevance and the context of that information – how you get what you need when you need it, so you can make the right decisions.

Gardner: Our last question from the audience goes back to Jean-Francois’s comments about the Canadian healthcare system. I imagine it applies to almost any healthcare system around the world. But it asks why interoperability is so difficult to achieve, when we have the power of the purse, that is the market. We also supposedly have the power of the legislation and regulation. You would think between one or the other or both that interoperability, because the stakes are so high, would happen. What’s holding it up?

Barsoum: There are a couple of reasons. One, in the particular case of healthcare, is privacy, but that is one that you could see going elsewhere. As soon as you talk about interoperability in the health sector, people start wondering where is their data going to go and how accessible is it going to be and to whom.

You need to put a certain number of controls over top of that. What is happening in parallel is that you have people who own some data, who believe they have some power from owning that data, and that they will lose that power if they share it. That can come from doctors, hospitals, anywhere.

So there’s a certain amount of change management you have to get beyond. Everybody has to focus on the welfare of the patient. They have to understand that there has to be a priority, but you also have to understand the welfare of the different stakeholders in the system and make sure that you do not forget about them, because if you forget about them they will find some way to slow you down.

Use of an ecosystem

Lounsbury: To me, that’s a perfect example of what Marshall Van Alstyne talked about this morning. It’s the change from focus on product to a focus on an ecosystem. Healthcare traditionally has been very focused on a doctor providing product to patient, or a caregiver providing a product to a patient. Now, we’re actually starting to see that the only way we’re able to do this is through use of an ecosystem.

That’s a hard transition. It’s a business-model transition. I will put in a plug here for The Open Group Healthcare vertical, which is looking at that from architecture perspective. I see that our Forum Director Jason Lee is over here. So if you want to explore that more, please see him.

Gardner: I’m afraid we will have to leave it there. We’ve been discussing the practical implications of the Internet of Things and how it is now set to add a new dimension to Open Platform 3.0 and Boundaryless Information Flow.

We’ve heard how new thinking about interoperability will be needed to extract the value and orchestrate out the chaos with such vast new scales of inputs and a whole new categories of information.

So with that, a big thank you to our guests: Said Tabet, Chief Technology Officer for Governance, Risk and Compliance Strategy at EMC; Penelope Gordon, Emerging Technology Strategist at 1Plug Corp.; Jean-Francois Barsoum, Senior Managing Consultant for Smarter Cities, Water and Transportation at IBM, and Dave Lounsbury, Chief Technology Officer at The Open Group.

This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator throughout these discussions on Open Platform 3.0 and Boundaryless Information Flow at The Open Group Conference, recently held in Boston. Thanks again for listening, and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript.

Transcript of The Open Group podcast exploring the challenges and ramifications of the Internet of Things, as machines and sensors collect vast amounts of data. Copyright The Open Group and Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2014. All rights reserved.

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