Thoughts on 2013

Another year is coming to a close, and that means it’s time for 2013 predictions. Blog posts and articles will focus on the possibilities that lie ahead in the coming year. With so much uncertainty in the global community, people predict at their own peril. So this year, I am focusing my thoughts on the journey that I believe will dominate the rest of the decade. That journey will span three very broad categories: the accelerated movement towards systems of engagement, operating model change, and Digital innovation.

So here it goes – my thoughts for 2013:

The term Systems of Engagement was first coined by Geoffrey Moore and is now gaining acceptance across the business community. Much is still to happen for us to realize its full vision, but I see 2013 as a year where tangible progress is made. I look for advancements in the following areas:

  • More companies will see the importance of the ecosystem and embrace the notion that value is created across it. Value propositions that bundle ecosystem services expand, as the Enterprise designs from the ecosystem in. These value ecosystems will include a growing number of partners, and some of those partners will come from unlikely sources. In addition, the employee and customer will play an increasing role in the co-creation of value. These dynamics drive the imperative to establish an effective way to engage across the ecosystem.
  • A system of engagement architecture will take shape, shedding light on systems of record Integration and the context awareness required to inform each moment of engagement. An intermediating layer will also emerge, and technology providers will move to provide the component parts at an accelerated pace.
  • The role of Big Data, Cloud, Social and Mobile in the context of systems of engagement will become clearer. In addition, rather than using the big four innovations within the context of existing processes, innovation convergence will dive a focus on redefining process.

The compelling reasons that drive the need for systems of engagement will also drive significant operating model change. We have operated within existing models for the better part of a century, so the time table for change is hard to predict. But the forcing functions are there, led by the accelerated pace of technology-enabled change. We are seeing the early signs of change in the creation of new executive roles and the convergence of Marketing and Technology. On the heels of these initial seeds of change, we should see additional movement in 2013. If we view the next seven years as a transformational journey to the Enterprise of 2020, here are some possible implications to operating models:

  • More companies will work with a broader set of partners (e.g. WalMart selling MetLife insurance in their stores), putting a premium on collaboration excellence. This dynamic will force a critical look at the process and structural changes required to operate across this value ecosystem.
  • The shift from industrial age thinking to being powered by knowledge, creativity and ideas will force process redefinition and organization redesign. We are not set up to operate with speed, agility, responsiveness and effectiveness: a critical requirement of the global business environment. Some of this discussion is already happening, as the CIO and CMO struggle to define software development processes that introduce speed, responsiveness, experimentation, and an iterative approach.
  • Speaking of the CMO and CIO, this relationship discussion is the precursor to the broader business and technology convergence discussion. Possible changes to the CIO Role, structural changes to Enterprise IT, and the role of the business in technology decision making are all elements of change in 2013. We may see the seeds of a movement towards business services and the tearing down of functional silos in the coming year.
  • This next one is a real challenge – and I’m not sure how far we go in 2013 – but command and control models will shift to support decision making at the edge. An environment of openness and trust, the availability of context in the moment, and the movement towards personal business rules are some of the stepping stones towards this end state. The supporting technologies will make strides in 2013 – but the cultural and soft issues are always the most difficult.
  • New governance models will emerge, as digital permeates the entire business. I envision continued confusion in 2013, as various centers of excellence are established, new Executive roles are created (e.g. Chief Digital Officer), and the lines continue to blur between existing business functions. I expect to hear more about revisions to outdated policies, as initiatives like Bring your own Device (BYOD) expand.
  • As the lines between functions continue to blur (e.g. the customer is blurring the lines between Sales, Marketing and Services) is the functional model destined to change? Do we begin to see structural changes to long standing organization models?  People remain skeptical, but I look for some evidence of this in 2013.

The foundation for all of this is Digital Innovation, and things are moving so fast that it’s hard to predict anything. But one thing is certain for 2013: more companies will focus on the convergence of these innovations, as opposed to viewing them in isolation. Whether viewed as the third platform (IDC) or the Nexus of Social, Mobile, Cloud and Big Data (Gartner), the realization that the value lies at the intersections is growing in acceptance. Here is what I look for in 2013:

  • The realization that digital is permeating the business will drive a movement towards holistic strategies. These strategies will increasingly focus on managing the convergence of innovation, delivering collaboration and analytic excellence, and enabling effectiveness and next generation efficiency.
  • A focus on moving from a company of digital immigrants to a community of digital natives. This one is a real challenge, as many companies have four generations of employees. This issue was top of mind for many people that I spoke to in 2012. I expect that a key component of holistic strategies will begin to address this issue in the coming year.
  • More companies will exploit the intersection of innovation (Mobile, Cloud, Social, and Big Data). I believe necessity will drive organizations to focus on connecting the dots between the isolated initiatives they have in place today.
  • On the Mobile front, I expect a tremendous amount of activity. I would look for significant effort to make Mobile the new Face of engagement in the context of systems of engagement. In addition, more companies will focus on mobile first design principles and look to redefine business process to exploit the strengths of mobile and drive effectiveness and next generation efficiency.
  • 2013 could be the year that Social moves away from the narrow view of social media, to the broad view of relationship platform. The social ecosystem will continue to evolve, with a growing focus on the employee and the partner. This will introduce a different set of challenges, as companies could create new silos. Three separate social ecosystems is a real danger and I believe many companies will struggle with this in 2013.
  • On the Big Data and Analytics front, I expect to see significant progress next year. Big Data will deliver more practical applications, and the use cases will increasingly focus on business outcomes. The Big Data hype will eventually give way to the realization that it is simply the evolution of information management. I expect to see an expansion of listening from basic brand monitoring to a broader set of use cases like fraud detection. Ultimately, I envision Big Data being the foundational component of systems of engagement, as the real time engine that informs every interaction. We may be a couple of years away from that end state, but I hope to see progress towards that vision next year. To get there, we need to see more in the area of intelligent filtering, and I would expect some advancement in that area as well. Finally, I am hoping that the end state described by IBM Watson – the question and answer paradigm in a business context – starts to gain traction.
  • From a Cloud Computing perspective, I envision progress on three fronts: Personal, Private, and Public. Here again, I believe necessity helps companies overcome their fears. The Personal Cloud emerges as a way to manage through some of the BYOD issues, and the Public Cloud – driven by the movement towards systems of engagement – becomes a bigger piece of the Enterprise portfolio. We will see the emergence of Cloud Brokers, integration frameworks and standards that help us manage in a Hybrid Cloud environment. Lastly, the use of Cloud Computing in the formation of business networks – utilizing the multi-tenancy capabilities of virtualized environments – could see some traction in the coming year.

I hope to be writing about this a year from now, having experienced significant progress in these critical areas. I believe that to compete in the future, companies have to make progress on all three fronts: systems of engagement, operating model change, and digital innovation. However, 2013 may be ripe with continued economic challenge, societal issues, and political unrest; and these issues could slow the movement towards the Enterprise of 2020 – but move we must.

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