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Automation and Orchestration – a Conclusion

This post is part of the "Automation-Orchestration" architecture series. Posts of this series together comprise a whitepaper on Automation and Orchestration for Innovative IT-aaS Architectures.

 

Automation and Orchestration are core capabilities in any IT landscape.

Traditionally, there’d be classical on-premise IT, comprised of multiple enterprise applications, (partly) based on old-style architecture patterns like file exchange, asynchronous time-boxed export/import scenarios and historic file formats.

At the same time, the era of the Cloud hype has come to an end in a way that Cloud is ubiquitous; it is as present as the Internet as such has been for years, and the descendants of Cloud – mobile, social, IoT – are forming the nexus for the new era of Digital Business.

For enterprises, this means an ever-increasing pace of innovation and a constant advance of business models and business processes. As this paper has outlined, automation and orchestration solutions form the core for IT landscapes to efficiently support businesses in their striving for constant innovation.

Let’s once again repeat the key findings of this paper:

  • Traditional “old style” integration capabilities – such as: file transfer, object orientation or audit readiness – remain key criteria even for a cloud-ready automation platform.
  • In an era where cloud has become a commodity, just like the internet as such, service centered IT landscapes demand for a maximum of scalability and adaptability as well as multi-tenancy in order to be able to create a service-oriented ecosystem for the advancement of the businesses using it.
  • Security, maximum availability, and centralized management and control are fundamental necessities for transforming an IT environment into an integrated service center supporting business expansion, transformation, and growth.
  • Service orchestration might be the ultimate goal to achieve for an IT landscape, but system orchestration is a first step towards creating an abstraction layer between basic IT systems and business-oriented IT-services.

Therefore, for IT leaders, choosing the right automation and orchestration solution to support the business efficiently might be the majorly crucial decision to either become a differentiator and true innovation leader or (just) remain the head of a solid – yet: commodity – enterprise IT.

The CIO of the future is a Chief Innovation (rather than “Information”) Officer – and Automation and Orchestration both build the core basis for innovation. What to look at in getting to the right make-or-buy decision was the main requirement for this paper.

 

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#Digitalize 2015 – Standortbestimmung, ein wenig schmerzhaft

Im Feature-Bild oben finden sich nur einige Zitate aus der heute im Chaya Fuera über die Bühne gegangenen Konferenz “#Digitalize 2015“. Und ich wage hier ein Review der Veranstaltung, die für mich – dies gleich eingangs – erstaunlich dünn besucht war. Angenommen hatte ich ein übervolles Plenum mit Platzproblemen im eher kleinen Foyer – zu Beginn war der Saal halb voll. Gut – das änderte sich; dennoch blieb das Event kaum mehr als eine Standortbestimmung für die Digitale Branche in Österreich. Nichts exorbitant Richtungsweisendes, nichts epochal Neues – und dennoch: eine ausnehmend wichtige Standortbestimmung. Und damit neben den monatlichen Selbstbeweihräucherungs-Events der APA DBT Community und einigen unbeholfenen Versuchen kleinerer Netzwerke wohl das wichtigste Event zum allgemeinen Digitalisierungstrend in diesem Land.

Die Menge an Speakern, die Confare für diese Konferenz zusammengetrommelt hatte, konnte sich ebenso sehen lassen wie die Durchmischung der Themen. Zwar führte das leider auch zu Skurrilitäten – wie z.B. dem QS-Vortrag von ZT Dr.tech. Wolfgang Prentner, der SW-Qualität aus einer etwa 20 Jahre alten Sicht beleuchtete. Gleichzeitig bekamen wir auch wahrlich Erhellendes zu hören und sehen – derartig “forward thinking”, dass sich Österreich – klassischer “late follower” bei derartigen Themen – eigentlich richtig festhalten muss.

Besonders – und gleich vorweg hervorzuheben – der Vortrag von Eric-Jan Kaak (@claptonline), der mit dem Statement: “‘Industrie 4.0’ und ‘Internet der Dinge’ lösen nichts,  wenn sie in ‘Organisation 1.0’, verbunden mit ‘Arbeitsplatz 1.4’  im ‘Businessmodell 0.1 Beta’ stattfinden” vorgestellt wurde. Man konnte meinen, dieser Mann wäre einem meiner früheren Arbeitgeber entsprungen, so plastisch real hat er die Inkompatibilitäten herkömmlicher Organisationsmodelle mit dem Digitalisierungszeitalter beschrieben (ich frage mich, wie viele anwesende  Entscheider sich bei seinen Worten bei der Nase genommen haben). Ein paar seiner Kernaussagen sinngemäß widergegeben: “Das Management hat sich beim Thema Innovation seit Jahren eine großzügige Auszeit gegönnt.” – “Hierarchie – das kommt von hieros – gottgleich, göttlich – und arche – Herrschaft – also: Gottgleiche Herrschaft. Das Problem dabei: Damit landet der Kunde immer bei einem Menschen unterster Stufe, der in der Regel systemfrustriert ist.” – “Eine moderne Organisation – bereit für die Herausforderung des digitalen Zeitalters – muss sich von ‘reporting structure’ zu ‘supporting structure’ wandeln.” Ich kenne selbst genügend Unternehmen, die davon etwa so weit entfernt sind wie das 1. industrielle vom jetzigen Zeitalter. Und die werden in 5 – 10 Jahren gestorben sein – das meinte auch Eric-Jan Kaak.

Kaak firmierte als Keynote am Programm; zeitlich viel zu spät für meine Begriffe. Die anderen beiden  Keynotes waren ähnlich interessant, wenngleich nicht ganz so spannend. Michael Krammer, Ventocom Managing Partner und Telco Veteran, bemühte Vergleiche – durchaus interessante Vergleiche: Vor 10 Jahren war das meistverkaufte Auto ein VW Golf mit dem ersten serienmäßigen Tempomat; heute ebenso – mit ein paar neuen serienmäßigen Assistenten. Das Handy der Wahl war damals das Nokia 6230i – sensationelle 1.3MP Kamera, 64k Datenrate, 8MB Speicher – heute ist es ein iPhone. Viel erschütternder allerdings die von Krammer vorgebrachten Beispiele, wie 3-4 Kunden im richtigen Moment mit den richtigen social  postings ein Produkt oder eine Strategie beeinflussen können. Daher wäre – so seine Ausführungen – Fairness und Transparenz, gleichermaßen innerbetrieblich und nach außen, oberstes Gebot in einer innovativen zeitgemäßen Unternehmensstrategie.

Dr. Mervyn G. Maistry von Ernst&Young setzte in diesem Stil fort und legte endlich mal angreifbar dar, was das oft bemühte exponentielle Wachstum der fortschreitenden Digitalisierung tatsächlich bedeutet: Wären 30 Schritte linear betrachtet 30 Meter, so sind 30 exponentielle Schritte eine Entfernung von 26 Erdumrundungen. Seine Warnung an Unternehmen: “Do not do old things with new technology or old technology newly. Key to Digitalization is to do new things.”

Neben den Keynotes der wohl interessanteste Teil der Veranstaltung war eine doch recht ansehnliche Menge an Fallbeispielen – wenngleich nicht alle das Prädikat “disruptiv” verdienen würden. Beispielsweise fällt der Vortrag von Dr. Manfred Wöhrl und Walter Pürk zu “Digital Signage” – der Slot war mit “konkretem Umsetzungsbeispiel” angekündigt – für mich maximal unter “interessant”; wirklich innovativ wirkten die gebrachten Beispiele noch nicht – wiewohl Wöhrl wie immer spannend und lebendig vortrug.

Ganz anders Andreas Zilch von PAC, der mit dem Korneuburger Logistiker HAVI ein Unternehmen präsentierte, das sich durch Smart Analytics und Einführung von IT in herkömmliche “supply chain” Prozesse zu einem unverzichtbaren Dienstleister der McDonalds-Kette gemacht hat (übrigens gibt’s die Fallbeispiel-Sammlung von PAC derzeit noch zum freien Download unter dem Stichwort “Innovation Register“).

Und sonst: Jürgen Weiss, DigitizedRebels Consulting, bot eine wahrlich amüsante Schau zum Thema “Emotion im Verkauf” – hauptsächlich gestützt auf das Genre interaktiver Videos – spannend vor allem für den Retail-Bereich. Mark Winkler, braintribe, erzählte seine – zugegeben schon etwas angestaubte aber – immer noch beeindruckende Geschichte, wie das braintribe-Flaggschiff “Tribefire” Digitalisierung durch Daten-Konsolidierung und -Präsentation unterstützt. Der SAP Innovation Officer Dr. Carsten Linz berichtete von den disruptiven Prozessmodellen, die mit SAP HANA möglich werden (ich konnte seine disruptive Meinung nicht ganz teilen, wenngleich HANA mit Sicherheit eine solide zukunftsweisende Technologie ist). Und der Group CIO der OMV, Dipl.-Kfm. Marcus Frantz, erklärte, wie Digitalisierung mit einer doch eher traditionellen “large scale IT” verknüpfbar werden kann – vielleicht der für den Wandel, den in Österreich Industrie, Handel, … und damit natürlich auch die IKT-Branche durchmachen werden müssen, wichtigste Vortrag überhaupt an diesem Tag.

Dass der Ideengeber eines wirklich tollen StartUps – www.way2stage.com – hingegen lediglich Eric Riess runterbetete, war dann doch wieder ein wenig enttäuschend. Ich drück ihm trotzdem für die morgen anstehende Funding-Runde die Daumen!

Zu guter Letzt zwei Slots, die in einem vollständigen Review der #Digitalize nicht fehlen dürfen: Mag. Martin-Hannes Giesswein war so schnell wieder von der Bühne herunten, wie er nach der Pause plötzlich auf ihr stand: In den scharfen 10 Minuten seiner Präsentation hat er aber dem Plenum mehr mitgegeben als viele andere Speaker-Kollegen heute: In der Essenz die Botschaft: “Die Generation Y wird die Digitale Transformation vorantreiben; sie wird Umsetzer und Kunde zugleich sein. Wenn Führungskräfte in diesem Land ihr Unternehmen erfolgreich durch die Revolution führen wollen, dann müssen sie lernen, wie man eine Generation Y führt.”

Und dann noch Mag. Ulrike Huemer, CIO der Stadt Wien: Ich bleibe selten bei einer derartigen Konferenz wirklich bis zum Schluss. War es Kalkül der Veranstalter oder reiner Zufall? Was auch immer – Mag. Huemer verstand es nicht nur, die Zeit bis zum ersehnten Beginn der “Vienna Digital Night” (gleich im Anschluss an die #Digitalize on location programmiert) drastisch zu verkürzen – auch was sie berichtete – hauptsächlich mit welchen Projekten die Stadt Wien innovative und zukunftsweisende Veränderungen hin zu einer echten Smart City vorantreiben möchte – hat mir doch einiges an Bewunderung abgerungen. Nachzulesen in der www.digitaleagenda.wien – es lohnt sich.

Digitale Standortbestimmung, also – alles in allem war es das. Nicht mehr und nicht weniger. Dass der Standort Österreich – wie leider so oft – dem Standort “Welt” auch bei der Umsetzung wirklich sinnbringender, zielführender, innovativer Digital Business Ideen hinterherhinkt, hat den Anwensenden hoffentlich ein wenig zu denken gegeben. Denn obwohl es den Vorträgen ein wenig am roten Faden einerseits und den konkret angreifbaren, den “coolen”, den wirklich “digitalen”, Bespielen mangelte, so muss man Confare doch das Kompliment machen, dass die #Digitalize 2015 das erste Sinn bringende Event zum Thema war.

 

P.S.: Und als i-Tüpfelchen auf alles war es eine Freude, Josef Broukal endlich wieder einmal als Moderator eines derartigen Events erleben zu dürfen!

 

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Android is a scary platform

Significant Other is asking me in 12-hour intervals: “Which state are we in: Like, dislike, hate?” Kids are showing me handling best practice and useful apps. Any time and again you’d hear me cursing or smiling in joy – I’ve switched from a Windows Phone to Android!

Why? Well … 2 reasons, mainly: (1) my mobile provider doesn’t really support WP too well and (2) I wanted to know what Android is on to these days.

To begin with: I may have made a mistake by not choosing the Android-native Nexus; reason: I missed the SD card slot. Secondly, I stumbled across a review of OnePlus just a few days too late (that would’ve been interesting, too). So, eventually I ended up with a Samsung Galaxy S5 which after boot instantly updated to Lollipop (5.0) – without flaw.

Hardware

The device is a 2.5GHz/2GB hardware with 16GB of internal memory (I added my 16G SD card holding all Windows Phone data – no prob here, either). First impressions in short:

  • solidly built hardware
  • nice display
  • very (very!) good camera with a lot of parameter possibilities (and HDR, of course)
  • LTE (fast and stable enough)
  • download booster combining WiFi and 4G for increased bandwidth (even faster, notably)
  • and a ton of apps from the beginning

Major annoyance: Some really strange and not at all useful native Samsung Apps (yes, I was warned that I won’t like that – took me a bit to wipe or disable and exchange them by their Android-native relatives but in the end I was fine).

Customization

You know that typical Android look-and-feel, right?

Homescreen overview

Homescreen overview

Turns out that Samsung had of course added their own launcher (TouchWiz) deeply into the OS – it isn’t too bad a feature; however, I’d have loved more to get what the OS manufacturer had in mind. Now, there’s no way really to get rid of TouchWiz w/o rooting the device; but there’s even some more annoyances …

I don’t have a screenshot of my old WP available (there’s lot’s of examples to be found anyway); however, the main flaw of Android’s way of presenting a home screen – with whatever launcher one eventually uses – is that it still remains “unstructured” in a way. Unless one develops a very own logic of grouping, ordering into folders and one’s personal homescreen sequence, it gets nothing short from searching anytime one wakens the phone. Also, the default setting is that every new app is automatically added to the homescreen – somewhere (obviously to the first free space). Where would one seek for this setting? Application Manager? Display Settings? No. It’s inside the Play Store app … well …

With WP I really honestly liked the tiled main screen and the instantly logical way of displaying installed apps. And recently they even added some visual customization capabilities – just enough to add personality to the screen. The openness of Android clearly has its drawback: There’s just too many places to change settings, customize appearance or control behaviour … and that continues …

Social and Comms

Why a smartpone if not for social media. Kids are teaching us how to use technology and social media really smart (think, we’ve discussed that many times before). One is well-off with Android in that respect.

Social media apps on Android

Social media apps on Android

I only even installed the obvious (as you can see above). There’s far more social media supporters to be found in Play Store – I didn’t have much time to test’em, yet. The ones I did try are doing their duty in a stable manner and I hardly miss any feature (just maybe that switching twitter accounts is much more convenient by just doing a swipe from the top in WP – in Android one has to go to the menu, select accounts and then choose the one to use).

One more on social (and communication): Every – emphasizing: every – social and comms app is by far faster in Android than their respective relative in WP (applies especially to WhatsApp and Messenger). And I’m still wondering why, indeed …

Mail & Calendar

To be blunt open: So far, this is an utter nightmare on Android!

While with WP7 the calendar was – to be honest – pretty ridiculous, the WP8 calendar (solidly redesigned) really offered some useful and perfectly helpful features. The Samsung Android phone – to begin with – comes with their own S-Planner application. Totally counterintuitive look-and-feel. Far too much information on one screen. … I instantly switched to another cal app I found pre-installed (probably the native Android calendar), just to discover that it is not much of a bummer, either. And — I was unable to discover any possibility to show upcoming meetings on the lock screen (also in this respect WP Notification Center is well ahead).

It gets worse with eMail (yes, I am still using that – sometimes ;)): I cannot remember whether there was a Samsung-owned eMail app (if there was, I probably got rid of it immediately). One of the very first eMail experiences one gets with a Google device is Google’s own GMail app. I was prepared for that. I never really liked Google’s way of categorization instead of a real folder structure. Anyway … the thing I really needed was a way to present my Exchange mailboxes – either in one place or as separate mail accounts within the system. I went with the built-in eMail app,

  • added all accounts,
  • discovered that I cannot change the order
  • discovered that I cannot change the mail account colour either
  • and finally realized that the app – depending on its daily mood – crashes within one particular mailbox (but not always the same one) or the “combined view” (which as such is pretty useful, but not when crashing).

So, this was no way to go. After finding out by fellow victims who already took time to complain online, that there isn’t really a way to solve that other than changing the mail client, I am now in the process of evaluating myriads of different clients (the advantage of Android’s developer openness pays off) and may share experiences in another post – let’s see. So far, I go with a thing called MailWise for Exchange/Office365 accounts and GMX Mail for POP accounts.

Android eMail apps as shown in the home screen folder

Android eMail apps as shown in the home screen folder

One more word re customization: With eMail and calendar – as a matter of fact – every single app ads its own notification scheme. Every one. And in eMail – for some weird reason – one even has to configure notification for every single account. I could possibly alter the notification tone for every mail account I am managing within the respective mail app. And this applies to A-N-Y mail app tested so far. One would end up with myriads of different rings, pops, knocks and melodies — wonder which brain is able to remember all those different assignments …

Apps

One major drawback of WP is their utterly limited app ecosystem. It gets better overtime – step by step, but still there is a lot of things one cannot do with WP that any other platform offers. I would love to urge Microsoft to invest heavily into overcoming that disadvantage of their OS; my take is, that they’d actually have to offer coding the WP app for free to any important vendor or services in order to increase acceptance of their phones.

The only problem with the Android app ecosystem really is that there’s so many to choose from – for every single area. So far, there’s only one useful app from my former WP times which I dearly miss on Android: CarRadar – an app that combines multiple “Cloud Car” (car sharing) offerings within one UI (including reservation). Other than that, there’s simply no shortage of features anymore. Meanwhile, I got 5 screens full of icons – which doesn’t necessarily mean that I search less and find more more quickly; it only means: it’s there. And sometimes I feel like: Less is more (though, not as few as on WP).

Data and how to control it

So, after having customized the basics to my needs (pretty awkward to spend some 2+ usage weeks and still not feeling fully under control of features), my utmost concern – as always – is: What happens to my data? Now, one knows, of course, that Microsoft spends much more thought on transparency than Google ever will. There is, however, a great big disclaimer whenever one commences using another Google service; it’s essentially an outtake of the full privacy policy:

  • we collect usage data, location data, logging data, …
  • we use it for presenting you with appropriate ads
  • we even combine data to improve your experience
  • bla bla bla

Nothing new under the sun. If one opts into using a Google device, one has to be prepared for that.

However, what one may not be prepared to is the utter nightmare that comes when wanting to get into control of all that again. With so many different apps, so many different places for settings, so many different parameters, a totally non-unified user experience (as a price for developer openness), … it gets really hard to find out all possible settings in all those many apps for controlling how those deal with data.

Here’s just some examples of what I discovered – intentionally or by accident – during the first 2 weeks of using the new phone:

  • Every new folder created and potentially filled with pictures gets grabbed by the Android photo backup feature asking whether to backup data within that folder to your Google account – there is no way of getting to the parameterization of backup other than when it pops up (as far as I could find out by now)
  • When an eMail is deleted from one of the accounts, MailWise still shows the deleted eMail as part of a conversation; the eMail object is nowhere to be found as such – it just shows in MailWise, hence must be somewhere (btw: I didn’t find a way of deleting one piece of a multi-mail conversation thread in MailWise – anyone able to help here? – please comment)
  • Everyone – by now – should know about Google’s aim to track your ways; if not -> read this!

However, by far the most weird moment was when suddenly out of nothing the (pretty newly developed) Google Photo Assistant popped up on my phone, telling me that it had discovered some images which seemingly combine well into a new banner photo (and it showed it to me):

Technology-Panorama from Ars Electronica Center Linz

Technology-Panorama from Ars Electronica Center Linz, auto-developed from 4 separate pics by Google Photo Assistant (no post work)

I never told Photo to act respectively; I even – thought to have – disabled all autonomy of Google Photo (knowing its still algorithmic weakness); nevertheless, it did its (Google-defined) duty and started suggesting things … simply utterly “scary” in a way …

Conclusion

“Which state are we in: Like, dislike, hate?” – Not “hate”, i’d say; “like” not either, though. I consider myself an advocate of transparency. I solidly believe that the way into the digital age is paved by a seriously vast data highway. We should know what flows there. We should be aware of our part in it. Microsoft is – to my believe – doing well with their OS in supporting the user to maintain control of what the device is doing; Android is missing out here. Totally. As a pay-off to flexibility and feature richness.

In a research document from earlier this year, IDC shows phone OS market share as follows:

IDC: Smartphone OS Market Share 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012 Chart

Source: IDC Smartphone OS Market Share – Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker

 

If this is really true, WP is severely undervalued in my opinion. WP – to me – is by far the most logical, most transparent and most user friendly phone OS (I should maybe mention that for a customer project I am also testing an iPhone 5S at the moment; I just didn’t want to mingle experiences into this post).

Android is more flexible and simply offers a whole world of options – drawback being that you need far more time to dig into them all.

According to the report above, we are seeing a total of 260 million Android devices in use worldwide. I would dearly love to see all those users spend enough time to understand their device and especially understand its usage of data provided by them – and how to control it.

 

{feature image source: wctechblog.com}

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The “Next Big Thing” series: Digital Transformation

Beware! No. 7 of the “Next Big Thing” blog post series is probably going to be at the heart of all the big business disruptions to come:

 

“Digital Business”

as a term has more or less become a substitute for the formerly heavily stressed “Industry 4.0”. Digital Business can best be described by a couple of examples illustrating how every business – without exception – will be disrupted by the huge innovative potential rolling along:

Example No. 1 – Retail and Education

School notifies the parents of a boy that he needs a certain educative material by tomorrow; they do that by means of a private message to the parents coming from the school’s facebook profile. The boy’s mother investigates through her mobile phone where the particular material can be purchased, connects to the store chain by means of a mobile app and requests availability information. The store responds with availability and price (through their app) also informs that the particular item has to be sent from a remote outlet and requests confirmation for the purchase and delivery. The mother responds with payment data and the school’s address for target delivery whereas the store chain triggers delivery of the item to the nearest train station, notifies the train operating company that a parcel needs to be delivered by tomorrow to the respective address whereas the train company in turn arranges for delivery to take place to the school’s nearest train station and from there by a drone directly to the school.

Example No. 2 – Weather and Insurance

A terrible thunderstorm destroys a house’s window. The respective sensors thoroughly detect the reason for the breakage of glass not to be from human intervention but from bad weather conditions and notifies the smart home automation gateway of what has happened. The gateway holds police, hospital and insurance contact information as well as necessary private customer IDs. Location address is derived via GPS positioning. The gateway self-triggers a notification and remediation workflow with the insurance company, which in turn assesses the incident to be a valid insurance case, triggers a repair order with an associated window glassworks company. The glassworks company fits the order into their schedule as it is treated an emergency under the given circumstances, rushes to the given location, repairs the windows, the workers report back to the insurance via mobile app and the insurance closes the case. All this happens without any human intervention other than final approval by the house’s owner that everything is OK again.

Example No. 3 – Holiday and Healthcare

The wearable body control device of an elderly lady records asynchronous heartbeat also slowly decelerating. The pattern is maintained within the device as being a situation of life endangering heart condition, hence the device commences transfer of detailed health monitoring data via the lady’s mobile phone to her children on the one hand and to her doctor in charge on the other hand. Both parties have (by means of device configuration) agreed to confirm the reception of data within 5 minutes after start of transmission. As none of this happens (because the kids are on holiday and the doctor is busy doing surgery) the device triggers notification of the nearest ambulance, transmits the patterns of normal health condition plus current condition and includes name, location, health insurance and nearest relatives data as well as the electronic apartment access key. The ambulance’s customer request system notifies the doctor in charge as well as the lady’s children that they’re taking over the case, an ambulance rushes to location, personal opens via mobile phone using the received electronic key, finds the lady breathing short and saves her life by commencing respective treatment immediately.

Fictious?

Well – maybe, today. But technology for all this is available and business models around it have begun to mature.

What these examples show – besides that they all encompass the integration of Things with several or all aspects of the Nexus of Forces discussed earlier in this article series – is an aspect essential to understanding “Digital Business” and that immense digitalization of our daily life: “Digital Business” is nothing else than the seamless (mean it;. literally: s-e-a-m-l-e-s-s) connection of humans, businesses and things (as in the IoT definition). “Digital Business” is a merger of physical and digital worlds!

In turn, this means plain simply, that there will be no business whatsoever that goes without software. Businesses already penetrated by software will experience increasing software, automation and integration challenges and businesses that haven’t yet introduced software into their models will face an increased challenge doing so, as well as to integrate with the digital world around them. Essentially for nothing else than just for staying in business.

 

{the 8th issue of this blog post series covers a way to approach all those challenges through creating a true services ecosystem for the enterprise; and as it’s the last it also wraps up and concludes}

{feature image found on http://marketingland.com/}

 

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The “Next Big Thing” series: #Mobile Everywhere

{this is No. 4 of the “Next Big Thing” blog post series, which discusses the revolution to come through ongoing innovation in IT and the challenges involved with’em}

 

I would be interested in getting to know, how many readers of this series still know a person not owning a smartphone? (I do, by the way ;))

Even though I have written several times about the danger of it and how important it is to consider behaviour for a healthy adoption of “Mobile Everywhere” (e.g. in “Switch Offor “3 importances for a self-aware social networker) I am still a strong believer in the advantages that elaborate mobile technology brings into day-2-day life.

Not only do mobile phone technology and mobile app ecosystems add significant value to the other two forces (data and social) but additionally they’ve meanwhile “learned” to make vast use of them. You could actually describe a stacked model of this bond of disruptive technologies which are discussed in this series in a way that

  • data is the back-end business layer of the future
  • social platforms are the middleware to bring together information offers and information needs
  • and mobile technology is the front end to support information and data consumption in both ways

The image below turns the “Nexus”-model from the beginning of this series into a stack appearance:

 

Nexus of Forces (stacked)

Nexus of Forces (stacked)

 

Which – essentially – closes the loop with why we do see a bond of not only the technologies in mobility, social media and data and analytics but even more the visions, strategies and concepts of these three. Needless to say, therefore, that businesses who have a strong strategy and vision around the Nexus of Forces and – at the same time – are backed by a strong Service Orchestration roadmap will be the winners of the “race of embrace” of this bond.

Now, thinking of the Pioneers, which I’ve started this blog series with, I recall that one could see all forms of leveraging the aforementioned concepts in the ideas of the startups presenting there. And – unsurprisingly to me – not a single moment during those 2 festival days back in October this year, “Cloud” was even mentioned, let alone discussed. It is no topic anymore. Period.

However, there’s more: The Nexus of Forces as such is only the beginning of a path leading into the next industrial revolution and we’re already well under way. Hence, this blog series will continue discussing concepts and challenges which build upon the Nexus of Forces and takes it to the next level with change to come for each and every enterprise – software-based, hardware-based or not even technology-based at all.

 

{No. 5 of this blog post series takes the first step into “Industry 4.0” and related disruptive topics}

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The Next Big Thing (the even looonger End of the Cloud)

With the Pioneers still in the back of my mind, with all the startups’ ideas presented there, with predictions of like 40 billion connected “things” by 2020 (Source: Gartner) and all those many buzzwords around in these areas I am even more convinced that “The Cloud” as a discussable topic – as a matter that needs any kind of consideration whatsoever – is really at its end.

In case you read the writeup of one of my keynotes, you may recall the red line through it which stated a mere end to the early concepts of Cloud Computing as those concepts have so much matured and so deeply entered businesses and the internet as such, that we can securely claim Cloud to be ubiquitous: It is just there. Just as the Internet has been for years now.

So, what’s next? BigData? Social Revolution? Mobile Everywhere? All of that and any combination?

Here comes a series of posts discussing these topics and beyond. It will offer some clarifying definitions and delineations.

The first parts will cover what’s to expect by the bond of data and analytics, mobility and social media. In the second half it will discuss the huge transformation challenges involved with the digitalization of business. The conclusive part is about how IT has to change in order to support businesses rightly in these challenging and ever-changing times.

 

So let’s begin with

The Nexus of Forces

Nexus of Forces

The Nexus of Forces from another perspective

 

I like this paradigm that was originally postulated by Gartner some time ago (I read it first in the “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2014”). It describes the bonding of Cloud Computing with BigData, Social and Mobile.

Personally – unsurprisingly – I would disagree with Gartner to see “Cloud” as one of the 4 forces; rather my claim would be that Cloud Computing is the underlying basis to everything else. Why? Because any of those ecosystems which are to support the other 3 forces (mobile, social, data) builds inherently along the 5 essential characteristics of Cloud which still define whether a particular service is within or out of the definition:

  • On demand self-service: make things available when they’re needed
  • Broad network access: ensure delivery of the service through ubiquitous networking on high bandwidth
  • Resource pooling: Manage resources consumed by the service efficiently for sharing between service tenants
  • Rapid elasticity: Enable the service to scale up and down based on the demand of consumers
  • Measured: Offer utmost transparency about what service consumers have been using over time match it clearly and transparently with what they’re charged.

Hence, when now continuing to discuss the Nexus of Forces, I will keep it with the three of them and will not query The Cloud’s role in it (sic! “It’s the End of the Cloud as we know it” ;))

 

{No. 2 of this series discusses definition and challenges related to data and analytics}

 

Update: feature image added (found at http://forcelinkpr.net/?p=9612)

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Mobile – the new vendor lock-in?

While CSPs have meanwhile understood that offering a service without offering a suitable means to extract subscribers’ data from it again is rather … well … a way to drive off customers (to put it friendly), the big mobile OSs seem not to have adopted this yet. OK – to be fair, I have no self-experiences; only testimonials from Android and iOS, that it is hard to get all data out of their ecosystem in case you want to change away from them (however, regular facebook posts like “I have a new phone, please eMail me your number” sort-a prove it).

I do have – however – 2 self-experienced behaviours of WindowsPhones which annoy me for months (while other than that I still believe the WP to be a good phone with a lot of cool features):

  1. [the minor one] If you do want to use Categories – a useful Outlook/Exchange/Live feature to structure eMail, contacts, calender items, etc. – Microsoft LIVE.com destroys your category setting when moving contacts into your live account. No way of keeping them stable – as soon as any kind of synchronization sets in, there is no way anymore to keep them at your contact items (after struggling with it ever and ever again while moving contact items into a new default folder for the benefit of syncing, I now came up with a solution of my own: I simply add the category-string into one of the contact items unused fields and thereby can sort and group by “Category” again). Admittedly this is still a matter of personal preference: Why use categories anyway …? – BUT
  2. Text messages: There is still no way to extract the messages from the phone in readable format. With WP8 Microsoft introduced backup for text messages – a useful thing in order not to lose them. Text messages are constantly backuped to your OneDrive – into a place, which you cannot browse or read, in a format, which you cannot read either. And when resetting your WP8 or buying a new WP8 you get all of them back into your phone. Brilliant! Isn’t it? Emphasize lies with “WP8”! It is the one and only phone OS that leverages the feature (not even WP7 can use it).

With text messages increasingly becoming an essential part of day-to-day communication (also business-wise) it becomes more and more crucial not to lose them. And this constraint combined with using a WP actually locks you fully into the Microsoft ecosystem.

Microsoft: FIX THIS! Quick! Your phone market share is not that big anyway (and I’m the next one to consider to move off – accepting to lose my texts one last time).

 

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Innovationskraft ist nicht das Problem!

Und so ist dies hier also mein erster österreichischer (vulgo: deutschsprachiger) Blogbeitrag. Garnicht so einfach, stelle ich gerade fest, wenn man es gewohnt ist, “English” zu schreiben … Und warum das Ganze? Weil diese Methode – “Arse First”, Greg Ferro’s Heransgehen an das Bloggen einfach immer noch funktioniert.

Bleibt die simple Frage:

Was war es diesmal

…, das mich dazu veranlasst hat, etwas zu schreiben?

Vergangene Woche besuchte ich das Pioneers Festival in der Wiener Hofburg: Eine Manifestation der Innovationskraft in der IT, ein Fingerzeig in die Richtung, in der sich die IT – nicht nur in diesem Lande, der Region oder Europa schlechthin – sondern einfach überhaupt hinbewegt. Eine grandiose Veranstaltung, die sogar einen nicht unbedingt genuinen Gründer wie mich (so, von der prinzipiellen Art her) motiviert. Ganz einfach durch den “Spirit”, der zwei Tage lang durch die altehrwürdigen Hallen der Hofburg wehte …

Und dann, am Abend des zweiten Tages, ergab es sich, dass ich wieder einmal Zeit fand, eine der regelmäßigen – durchaus guten – Veranstaltungen der APA EBC (eBusiness Community) zu besuchen. Ein Impulsvortrg mit Podiumsdiskussion zum Thema “Das neue Maschinenzeitalter: Wie die Automatisierung die Arbeitswelt verändert“. Peter Brandl (evolaris) sprach den Vortrag, der sich im wesentlichen mit Industrie 4.0 und IoT beschäftigte (der Mann hatte Gartner gründlich studiert und die wichtigsten Entwicklungen durchaus gut und launig zusammengesfasst). Vertreter von IBM, Kapsch und der TU Wien diskutierten danach mit ihm die brennenden Fragen rund um das Thema des Veranstaltungstitels, von welchen die heißeste offenbar jene nach dem möglichen Verlust von Arbeitsplätzen durch die nahen IT-technischen Zukunftsentwicklungen zu sein schien (Zusammenfassung gefällig?)

Während Andreas Kugi (TU) noch einige Male einbrachte, dass die innovativen und umwälzenden Entwicklungen der nächsten Jahre vor allem einer reformierten Art der Ausbildung bedürfen, hatten die übrigen Gesprächspartner offensichtliche Mühe, sich von Gemeinplätzen wegzubewegen. Warum? Weil ein Thema in der gesamten Diskussion – auch bei den Wortmeldungen aus dem Publikum (deren aus Zeitgründen überhaupt nur 3 zugelassen werden konnten) – völlig unter den Tisch fiel: Der Einfluss der Legislative an der Weiterentwicklung der IT in unserem und den übrigen Europäischen Ländern!

Letztendlich ist die Sachlage in unseren Breitengraden relativ simpel: Es gibt

3 einfache Punkte

für das Scheitern des Digitalzeitalters (neudeutsch: “Digital Business”) in unseren Landen:

  1. Während andernorts längst außer Diskussion steht, dass die Verbindung und nahtlose technologisierte Kommunikation von Menschen, Unternehmungen und Dingen Einzug in unseren täglichen (nein: nicht nur den Arbeits-)Alltag halten wird, war jene oben zitierte Diskussion über weite Strecken noch von der Frage geprägt, in welchem Ausmaß uns diese disruptiven Veränderungen treffen werden. Voll und ganz werden sie es – das ist relativ einfach vorherzusagen.
  2. Am – ebenfalls oben bereits erwähnten – Pioneers Festival meinte der Amerikanische Venture Capitalist Erik Bovee (http://speedinvest.com/ – Wien, Silicon Valley) wörtlich: “Venture Capitalists hassen Österreichisches Recht und Deutsche Besprechungsprotokolle”. Was als launige Bemerkung in einer einstündigen Präsentation zu StartUp-Tips gedacht war, zeigt eines schon sehr deutlich: StartUps und junge Unternehmer, die ihre Ideen vor allem mit den neuen Möglichkeiten der IT-Veränderungen unseres Zeitalters umzusetzen wissen, siedeln sich eher in Ländern an, die ihnen unterstützend unter die Arme greifen, als in solchen, die durch ihre Gesetzgebung oder regulative Kraft die Entwicklung und den Höhenflug einer brillanten Idee zu stoppen wissen.
  3. Eine weitere viel zu schwergewichtig in der genannten APA Podiumsdiskussion erwähnte Fragestellung war jene der Privatsphäre. O-Ton: “Natürlich ist es erforderlich, sich im Zuge des Platz-Greifens all dieser Industrie 4.0 und IoT-Technologien über den Umgang mit sensiblen Daten klar zu werden und dafür geeignete Maßnahmen zu ergreifen.” (eine Ebene, die übrigens bereits vor 6 Jahren in der damals hierzulande beginnenden Cloud-Diskussion immer wieder erklommen wurde – wohl um sich um die konkreten Cloud Computing Fakten herumzuschummeln – siehe auch diesen Blogbeitrag zum Thema). Die Frage nach den Chancen wird also offensichtlich wenn dann erst nach sorgsamer Betrachtung, Beantwortung und Regulierung möglicher Risiken in Augenschein genommen.

Ich glaube, wir sollten uns darüber im Klaren sein, dass die Weiterentwicklung von allem, was auf Basis von Cloud Computing in unsere alltägliche Lebenswelt Einzug gehalten hat – mobile Verfügbarkeit, der Einsatz sozialer Netzwerke für alles mögliche, Datananalyse in Echtzeit, inklusive entsprechender Schlussfolgerungen, die Verknüpfung von Informationen von uns, unserem Verhalten, den Dingen, mit welchen wir interagieren, … – nicht aufzuhalten ist. Wir sollten uns auch darüber im Klaren sein, dass diese Weiterentwicklung eine Unmenge an Chancen mit sich bringt, unser Leben – bei entsprechend weisem, bewussten Umgang damit – in jeder Hinsicht zu bereichern. Und wir sollten uns darüber im Klaren sein, dass da draußen irgendwo eine schier unglaubliche Anzahl an intelligenten, kreativen Menschen herumläuft (über 3.000 alleine am Pioneers Festival), die mit täglich neuen Ideen diese Weiterentwicklung aufgreifen, in Lösungen integrieren und vorantreiben.

Und wenn wir uns hinter Regularien und Gesetzen verstecken, die zu unserem angeblichen Schutz verankert werden – nun: Dann werden diese Menschen eben wo anders hingehen, um ihre Ideen zu verwirklichen. In der Tat: Das “Internet der Dinge”, intelligente Maschinen und Industrie 4.0 wird Arbeitsplätze lediglich verändern, nicht vernichten – in diesem Punkt stimme ich den Diskussionsteilnehmern der APA EBC Veranstaltung unbedingt zu. Vernichtet werden Arbeitsplätze in unserem Lande dadurch, dass den Möglichkeiten durch die Weiterentwicklung von Technologien und innovativen Ansätzen nicht genügend Platz, Raum und Recht gegeben wird.

In Österreich war Innovationskraft noch nie das eigentliche Problem! Das Problem war meist, dass sie nur in anderen Ländern wirklich Nutzen-schaffend ausgelebt werden konnte. Es wäre an der Zeit, das zu ändern. Dringend!

 

Update: Link zur Keynote von Peter Brandl

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3 importances for a self-aware social networker

The social and mobile world is undergoing another change in perception. Back in 2006++ when most of today’s social networks commenced their big leap into our everyday life, they drove the always-on culture, the work-everywhere culture, the instant-communication culture. People where happily adopting all the tremendously great possibilities they were given by the smartphone vendors who in turn where driven to ever-new feature climaxes by the evolving hype. And today – these days, virtually – a shift (maybe: a turn) is notable. The crucial point here: This turn is risking to go utterly and completely into the wrong direction!

And here’s why!

Why dictate instead of educate?

These days an article crossed my desk saying, that the German government has introduced a policy that employees must not be called or contacted anymore outside working hours. “The guidelines state that ministry staff should not be penalised for switching off their mobiles or failing to pick up messages out of hours”, says the article in The Telegraph. Digging further, one can find the Daimler “Mail on Holiday” program which allows employees to invoke an automatic process delegating and deleting eMails form their inboxes when on vacation or a Volkswagen initiative (admittedly already from 2011) where the company switched off eMail synchronization during out-of-work hours.

When reading this, the very simple thing I am really asking myself is: Where is the awareness education for people confronted with such kind of policies? How do employers or governmental organizations ensure that their core value – their employees – actually understand how mobile technology and social interaction influences their behaviour and – even more important – how they can find an approach of wellbeing to all the thrilling possibilities of technology for themselves?

Why allow speeding in messaging?

The second thing that hit me really hard was the article of a 17yo girl in an Austrian newspaper, contemplating the behaviour of herself and her friends in WhatsApp. What she essentially says is that FOMO (“fear of missing out”) is actually FOMF (“fear of missing friends”). Young people everywhere seem to have floated into a symbiosis with their phone for the sole purpose of instantly – literally within a second – answering any incoming message. Otherwise they would risk losing friends and social contacts because when their friends and schoolmates having seen them online sometime during the day wouldn’t receive an answer within “due course”, they’d assume not to be liked anymore and quit friendship.

The shocking detail here is two-folded: On the one hand, instant messaging conversations in 90% of all cases completely lack content anyway (they run along a thread something like “hey :)” – “hey :)” – “how r u” – “ok. and u” – ok, too” – what r u doin” – “nothing”) and on the other hand, not being answered can so frighteningly quickly evolve from frustration into anger and into ignorance within instances.

And I am asking myself: Is friendship worth anything these days? And who teaches our children how to keep it up? Who educates them for responsibility humans deserve and for responsibility and self-awareness and caution with the technological possibilities they are so happy to be given.

Why allow loneliness when everyone is always around?

The third thing that stroke me was another awesome TED talk (TED talks tend to be awesome whatever topic they touch) by Sherry Turkle, a psychologist and cultural analyst, talking about being connected and still remaining alone (here’s the link to it). What she is stating – undermined with respective research – is that we have grown more alone then in former times when getting in touch with each other was so much harder due to the lack of communication facilities. The truth of what she says is undeniable: When we wanted to arrange to meet our friends in the 8oies or even 90ies, we had to pick a landline, hope the other one was where his landline was and plan around other duties (like school, sports, music education, homework, shopping, etc.) as a long as to find a free timeslot for meeting for a coffee or coke. And by that, we were closer to each other than we are now. We always and ever knew our friends plans. We literally felt them without having to talk to them. Today, we don’t talk. We chat, message, eMail or tag’em in a post – and know nothing about how they feel. They remain as alone as we are in fact – with all those 100s of social network “friends” around.

And I am simply asking myself why nobody really notices?

The answer

The items above kept me thinking … thinking of a solution … Here’s what I think, we can do – as a parental guide, a school teacher, an employer or just a human friend. The solution to the huge challenge our society is facing with the equally huge technological possibilities does not lie with rules, regulations, policies and prohibitions. It will not help at all to tell our kids, our employees or our friends what they can do, shall do or must not do.

The true answer is within ourselves and the only thing helping it to surface is helping to create self-awareness about how we treat technology around us. So here’s 3 simple things to try:

  1. Do not ban eMail, switch off sync or forbid mobile phones. Instead, offer freedom to employees. Start with educating management to not expect availability from their people at weird times, teach them to accept individuality in how employees use the technology around them. And coach the employees in acquiring and living up to what they need for wellbeing at work. If one wants to switch off when leaving the building: Fine. If one wants to check eMails during vacation: Fine, too. I trust more than anything, that productivity increases when one can use social interaction and mobility the way they want it.
  2. Do make children understand the amount of pressure they put themselves and others into when expecting behaviour without explicitly explaining it. In terms of communications, I think, it is no bad thing to chat and message a response instantly upon message arrival. It’s getting tremendously dangerous when a response is expected without even taking into account what hurdles might hinder the other to respond. They might have forgotten their phone, be on holiday without parental phone admittance, be in a verbose conversation with someone. And their lack of responsiveness may have nothing at all to do with a lack of appreciation. Understanding the difference may make them truly self-aware and sensitive users of that great mobile and social revolution, we’re facing.
  3. And finally: Get a feeling on how much in touch you really are. How much you really know about someone who is posting on facebook or twitter, is joking with 20-something groups on whatsapp … and at the same time is feeling tremendously alone because of a complete lack of real life relationships. And maybe that one is you …

I think, the technology surrounding us – and the path, twists and turns this technology keeps taking – bares so many great advantages for our day to day lifes, if we only learn how to integrate them without letting it role over us destructively. So let us not let it do so!

 

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Are you outdated?

The Gartner Hype Cycle 2014 special report is out

So – here it is: Gartner’s assessment of emerging technologies for 2014. And it’s the first time in years, that I haven’t really anything substantial to requery with it. However, two things are worth mentioning:

Cloud Computing’s disillusionment

It’s “The End of the Cloud as we know it“, I said, recently. Gartner – in quite a similar way – sees The Cloud entering the trough of disillusionment with many signs of fatigue, partly accompanied by rampant “cloud washing” but also driven by many – if not all – vendors offering a Cloud Strategy although “many aren’t cloud-centric and some of their cloud strategies are in name only“. The early promises of massive cost savings are finally worn out for the benefit of more realistic advantages with a move into the cloud. And Gartner appreciates that Cloud continues to be one of the most hyped topics in IT history with organizations that develop a true cloud strategy focussing on the real benefits such as agility, speed, time to market and innovation.

Journey into the Digital Age

However, what’s far more important and interesting than the Hype Cycle itself is their publication of the “Journey into the Digital Age” which comes – according to Gartner – with 6 business era models. These models – alongside their respective driving technologies – characterize the focus and outcome of organizations operating within each of those eras. Dividing lines between them are

  • the “Web” before which the only relevant era was “Analog” characterized by CRM and ERP as the most important emerging technologies and
  • the “Nexus of Forces” (mobile, social, cloud and information) which seperates “Web” (as an era), “E-Business” and “Digital Marketing” from “Digital Business” and “Autonomous”

While the era of “Digital Marketing” is mostly what we see with innovative organizations these days, it is the last 2 eras that seperate the latter from the real innovators and the founders of the next age of IT (claimed by many to be called “Industry 4.0”):

  • Digital Business – mainly driven by how the “Internet of Things” changes the way to do business and to interact with customers – will be the era where our physical and virtual world will blur and businesses will adopt and mature technologies like 3D printing/scanning, sensor- or machine-to-machine-technologies or even cryptocurrencies (e.g. BitCoin). We should be watching out for the main innovators in the healthcare domain to show us the way into and through this era within the next few years.
  • Autonomous – to me – is the most compelling of those 6 business era models. According to Gartner it represents the final postnexus stage (which i.m.h.o. will change as evolution is ubiquitous and change is constant) and is characterized by organizations’ ability to “leverage technologies that provide humanlike or humanreplacing capabilities“. Enterprises having the capabilities to operate within this business era model will push innovative solutions of all kind, that allow normal day-2-day activity like driving cars, writing texts, understanding languages, assisting each other, … an automated – an autonomous – task.

When writing “Innovation doesn’t happen in IT” last year around the same time, I was overwhelmed by the fact, that we’re commencing to leave an age where IT was to be a discipline in itself. It is in these days, that we sense an even stronger move into IT being ubiquitous, the nexus of forces being felt in our every-day lifes and IT becoming servant of what’s really important.

I’m hoping for it being a humble servant!

 

(download the full Gartner Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies Report here)

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