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Don't push technology; follow the market's pull

Many people are engaged and excited when it comes to technology. They should be, as we are at the crossroads of client-server and the networked economy. But as often, technology is a factor that some push to the market, with the firm belief it will be accepted as-is, adopted fast, and bring value instantly. Wrong.

Many people are engaged and excited when it comes to technology. They should be, as we are at the crossroads of client-server and the networked economy. But as often, technology is a factor that some push to the market, with the firm belief it will be accepted as-is, adopted fast, and bring value instantly.

Wrong -- you need to make the market feel the value (the business value) of what you can do with the right technology at hand.

For example, one big piece you need to understand is that digital transformation is happening in most industries -- but it is driven by line-of-business leaders that often do not care about technology but about their customers. They want to fully exploit the opportunities technology brings without getting bogged down in details. Today, you can build digital innovations that meet changing customer needs with a few clever people, where you needed entire tech departments and company infrastructure before.

So this digital innovation only happens if IT understands the customer, and this creates the pull to deliver on best all the qualities mentioned here:

Business agility -Real time business defined via time to innovate, time to market, time to react, time to adjust a business model

Consumerization of IT - innovation in IT driven by consumer, devices/electronics, social media and collaboration

De-layering and empowerment - data-driven and analytical work, empowerment of front-line workers, collaboration in business context across departments

Segment of one - precise targeting of customers, personal recommendations, inside and across business boundaries


Of course, lines of business -- which are increasingly at the forefront of deciding on tech investments -- need to understand that adopting digital technologies quickly will be the right push. These advanced technologies include:

Increased hardware performance -main memory, multi-core, parallel processing, real-time

In-memory databases -all data in-memory, column Store, OLAP + OLTP, no aggregates, and especially predictive analytics combined with real-time

Big data - explosion of volume + variety + velocity of data driven by the internet, data intelligence

Internet of things - availability of cheap sensors everywhere, machine2machine communication, predictive scenarios

Internet of services - include content to support or make process steps obsolete

Increased software capabilities - predictive analytics, data mining, operations research, natural language processing

In this combination, a formula to success is needed to avoid being disrupted. But how did this evolve and what is the situation now?

Some years ago, the discussion started on the level playing field of higher speed, something that in-memory computing provides. The case for changing the database was there, but not appealing to all. On top of this, we saw improved decision-making due to greater transparency, better decision support, and automation. But still, we were looking at the same processes -- just making them faster while making data more actionable.

Lately, companies detected the need to evolve their approach further with leaner processes. This improved single processes and sometimes replaced them, but very seldom improved processes from end to end. A few reached the next level and enabled companies to offer smarter products via optimization or added services.

Despite this evolution, many businesses have been disrupted. Why? Because they were still catering to the same business model.

They failed to understand that you need not only change, but fundamentally challenge the process and the business model in order to survive. Sometimes, it only works if you disrupt yourself, which we elaborated extensively in our series about digital transformation here (link). You'll find good examples, where companies overcame the innovator's dilemma and even disrupted themselves. You need the right mix of people, leadership, and solution platform and applications to do so flexibly and fast.

So always start with the business value of what you can achieve or change, then find the technology that enables this change. But technology is an enabler, not the means. Take cloud as an example: Too many over-hype cloud and don't separate the clear benefits of solutions done right from the mindset of cloud=good. The market needs hybrid scenarios, anyhow.

No doubt, the cloud approach is a perfect vehicle to help drive innovation in the digital economy. With mobility, big data, and business networks at its core, the cloud model already has the main components that are helping businesses figure out how they need to reinvent themselves as service-first organizations. While innovation can of course exist outside of the cloud, recent history has shown that the spark of innovation is usually lit via the cloud first, with the agility and speed to market that are indicative of a cloud environment main factors in this dynamic. And ultimately combined with the fact that hybrid / mixed environments are and will stay a reality.

But let us look at some key `cloud qualities´, or `simplification qualities´ how I like to call them.

Speed of innovation cycles (best quarterly, easy to adopt and to configure)

Simplified access to information (best via role-based user experience spanning departments, features of historically separate modules)

Speed of adoption, time to market (configuration during set-up and during lifetime of the solution)

Simplified integration (support of hybrid scenarios, integration capabilities and master data maintenance)

Simplified extension (availability and usage of an extension platform, ideally as Platform as a Service (PaaS) approach for easy on-boarding and usage)

There will be more qualities for sure, but those are my favorites. And did I say it before? ...clearly, you can engineer cloud solutions and deliver them on premise, but clearly not the other way around. The key objective always needs to be to create an environment that helps organizations optimize how they capture innovative opportunities, cloud first - but not cloud only.

Companies need and want to consume innovation at their pace, not at vendors desired speed. The partner eco-system, which has the need to transform themselves, will be a key contributor to this change, which will happen beyond the technology and application layer - adding tasks and opportunities for business process transformation.

Would be interested in your view. Follow me on LinkedIn and twitter @SDenecken