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:

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Operating Models will Change


The stars are aligning in a way that promises to drive change to long standing operating models. Why? The Venture community speaks of forcing functions that drive adoption of new innovation. Let’s analyze the forcing functions that likely drive change to industrial age processes and organizational structures:

  • Consumerization
  • The far reaching implications of Mobile, Social, Cloud, and Big Data convergence
  • The blurring boundaries  between personal and business computing, industries, and enterprise functions
  • The emergence of the engagement era and the associated adoption of systems of engagement
  • Hitting the efficiency wall

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The Value Ecosystem: A Telco Example


In our transformational march towards the Digital Enterprise – the Value Ecosystem grows in importance. Fueled by the increasing importance of relationships to value propositions, the Digital Enterprise adds relationship management to its list of critical core competencies. This point was underscored at a Telecommunication Innovation Forum held by TCS in London last week. Perhaps no industry finds itself in the same place as this industry – both an enabler and victim of the digital world. As expressed by Keith Willetts, Chairman of TM Forum, this is truly a digital paradox. TM Forum is a global, non-profit industry association focused on enabling service provider agility and innovation. At the TCS event, Mr. Willetts described the various challenges faced by companies in this Industry:

  • Extreme  pressure on cost management and exploiting  economies of scale
  • IP networks dramatically reduce the barriers to entry for services, so core voice and messaging services are under attack
  • The phone number does not equal the customer, and therefore brand loyalty is shifting

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The Social Ecosystem


I recently viewed a video titled The Future of Social Inside the Enterprise, a thought leadership presentation from the recent Dreamforce 2012 conference. The presentation is delivered by Dion Hinchcliffe of the Dachis Group, and Alan Lepofsky at Constellation Research. This is a fifty minute journey through the past, present and future of social business. You’ll find some content on the business value associated with social, and some good examples of how social is evolving to support the way we work.

You can start to see how systems of record may integrate with systems of engagement. Two examples are given by Mr. Lepofsky. The first describes a stream level integration, which allows system of record events to be broadcast into the activity stream. This stream level interface is envisioned to be the place where people spend time doing their jobs. It is pointed out however that stream level integration has its issues, the biggest in my mind being the loss of context. Comments made in the activity stream do not work their way back to the system of record, so context is lost. The other critical issue is the noise level associated with these streams. Without robust intelligent filtering, these streams become worse than email. This filtering – finding the actionable insight among the noise – is critical to the effectiveness envisioned by future systems of engagement. I had a discussion this week with senior executives from a large Financial Services firm, and the general belief is that this critical filtering will take years to develop and optimize. It took IBM four years to tune IBM Watson to compete in the Jeopardy challenge. This is not simply a sentiment analysis exercise.

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TCS Digital Mobile Consumer Study


Tata Consultancy Services recently conducted a major study to understand how large organizations in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America have been revamping their strategies, products and processes to win the loyalty of consumers who use mobile devices to do business with them– the so-called “Digital Mobile Consumer”. The Study focused on how companies are coping with this mobile consumer. Some key findings are summarized here.

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Blurring the Boundaries


Webster’s dictionary defines the term “blurring” as something vaguely or indistinctly perceived. This term – a term I have heard often in the last couple of months, seems like a good way to describe the dynamics of our world today. The lines are blurring, the boundaries are blurring – pick your phrase – I find it really fits. For example, one of the key drivers of change is the blurring boundaries between industries:

  • Insurance: Gartner predicted that at least one social network will become an insurance sales channel by the end of 2014. The rationale is linked to Facebook’s timeline feature, which documents all the crucial events in a person’s life from getting married to having a child to retiring. The personal information controlled by players like Facebook and Google could fuel their desire to take on today’s insurance giants
  • CPG: manufacturers will increasingly encroach upon the Retail Industry as they pursue Direct-to-Consumer models. The number of companies selling products directly to consumers is expected to increase from 24 percent to 41 percent over the next 12 months.
  • Publishing: By facilitating publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others are eroding the position of the publisher in the ecosystem in much the same way Apple eroded the gate-keeping role of the carriers when it introduced the app store.
  • Entertainment: The borders between Entertainment, Communication, and Information are blurring, and service innovators like hulu and Sling are establishing their role in the ecosystem
  • Telecommunications: Competition from content and “over-the-top” companies (Facebook, Google, Apple, Skype, Amazon, etc.) are taking market share and dismantling long-standing Industry value chains
  • Financial Services: Companies like PayPal, Amazon, Zynga, Google, and Facebook are encroaching on their territory, and payment is the battlefield. Banks will need to experiment with new business models and digital disruptions of their own to fight back. The balance of power could shift from banks and credit card companies to innovative companies that provide the best digital wallets

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How Would you Fill in the Blank: ____ Enterprise?


“This is the dawn of the mobile enterprise and as a result, digital strategists must think beyond the idea of a social business”. That’s a quote from a recent post titled Investing in the Mobile Enterprise, written by Brian Solis, a Principal at Altimeter Group. Mobile, much like social, is clearly a critical element of the future enterprise; but so are Big Data, Cloud Computing, and who knows what else in the coming years. One thing is clear: the future Enterprise will not resemble the current Enterprise, as we enter a very transformative period that promises to impact the very structure of our organizations.

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The Early Stages of the Digital Enterprise Journey


I have had the pleasure of attending and presenting at several CIO forums in the past couple months –and with all the talk of their future demise and the changes ahead for Enterprise IT, it’s good to get a view from the CIO themselves. They all seem very interested in the dialog around their role changing in the next 3 to 5 years, and the panel sessions on the topic are mobbed. But I don’t see this group buying into the notion that their role will change – aside from the more progressive CIOs. Actually, at a recent event, it felt like very little was changing – as I sat through presentations that could have easily been given in 1998. Some of the same challenges that traditionally drain the resources of an IT organization are still front and center. 

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2012 IBM CEO Study


The 2012 IBM CEO Study is now available: IBM CEO Study -2012.  This study provides further evidence that the world is shifting to what Geoffrey Moore has termed “Systems of Engagement”. This quote from the report would indicate that CEOs see the writing on the wall: 

“The view that technology is primarily a driver of efficiency is outdated; CEOs now see technology as an enabler of collaboration and relationships — those essential connections that fuel creativity and innovation. Simply put, technology is reinventing connections with — and among — employees, customers and partners.” 

This study underscores my long time premise that collaboration and analytic excellence is required to be successful in this new systems of engagement era. Those that think this is just another cycle or a passing fad are greatly mistaken. We are at a unique point in history – driven by a perfect storm of innovation as highlighted by this quote: 

“Today’s CEOs are in a position few of their predecessors have faced. Although there have been many eras of technology disruption in the past, several factors make this period different. First, a number of new technologies are rippling through society at the same time, and they’re being adopted much faster. In addition, disruptive technologies of previous eras almost always originated in business or government, and then spread to consumers. But recent advances are flowing in the reverse direction and are being absorbed more rapidly by the younger generation.” 

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Will we Spend $1 Trillion on Systems of Engagement?


Geoffrey Moore coined the term “Systems of Engagement” to describe the in-the-moment empowerment required by the middle tier of our organizations. He talks about informed interaction – a great way to describe the type of relationship and analytic excellence required for future success. Systems of engagement address the complexities of an ecosystem that increasingly includes third parties, as more companies move towards specialization. 

In this 30 minute keynote presentation, Mr. Moore describes the historic focus on systems of record, and the $1 Trillion spent over the past decades to develop them. His perspective – one shared by the VC and software community – is that the amount of value we can extract from further investment in these systems of record is a relatively small percentage compared to the value already extracted. In his view – a view I share – the future is about systems of engagement. These systems sit on top of our systems of record – and here’s the fascinating part – Mr. Moore can see a comparable $1 Trillion investment in creating these systems of engagement. I really have no way of quantifying this investment – I’ll leave that to those more qualified than me. I do however feel very strongly that this move towards systems of engagement will dwarf the investment and effort of the recent past. 

His thirty minute presentation is a great look into this movement from systems of record to systems of engagement. You can view the video in three parts: Part 1Part 2Part 3. It’s a well spent thirty minutes.

From an Extended Enterprise to a Digital Enterprise


I find myself reflecting on a common phrase as I watch the digital enterprise unfold: “history is repeating itself”. So much of what is happening today, feels like a second and more attainable version of what was happening about eleven years ago. Back then, I remember developing a framework for the extended enterprise – a popular way to describe the inclusion of other value chain members in end-to-end business process. The Internet was going to change the game by providing the infrastructure required to extend a company’s inward-focused business processes to the value chain. It was to become the catalyst for value chain optimization.

I thought back then about the delivery of innovative product and services comprised of differentiated internal services and value-added external services. The Enterprise would in effect be a functional specialist within their value chain, focused on connecting with partners to gain access to information and services. There would be a divestment of assets, as companies focused on their core competency, making external optimization, synchronization and integration critical success factors. Companies would realize that the ability to adapt to market change was inversely proportional to investment in fixed assets.

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Systems of Engagement


Geoffrey Moore, Managing Director, TCG Advisors recently authored a white paper titled: A Sea Change in Enterprise IT. Mr. Moore – and more recently Forrester – has used the phrase “systems of engagement” to capture the shift from a transactional focus to an experiential one. I believe this phrase captures the required response to this phenomenon and addresses what Mr. Moore describes as a shift in the axis of IT innovation from large enterprise to consumers, students, and children. As stated in the paper, systems of record are no longer a source of competitive differentiation for organizations, but a necessary condition of doing business – enterprises are forced to sharpen their competitive advantage or risk being commoditized. 

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Forrester: Mobile Is the New Face of Engagement


Ted Schadler and John McCarthy of Forrester just completed a report titled “Mobile Is the New Face of Engagement”. I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion at a TCS Innovation Forum last week, where Ted served as part of the panel. Prior to the panel discussion, Ted used a 45 minute presentation to effectively summarize the content of the new report. He provided a written summary via his Blog yesterday.

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When Innovations Collide


The future of sustained competitive advantage hinges on the ability to effectively manage the collision of disruptive innovations. The digital disruption driven by Mobile, Social, Big Data, Cloud and the Consumerization of IT is impacting every industry. To date, much has been said about these individual areas of innovation. But the areas of intersection – critical to creating value from these innovations – have mostly been ignored. As innovations collide, the intersection must be effectively managed – or the result is distributed chaos. As the digital disruption takes hold across every company, in every industry, the need to transform becomes a business imperative – and future digital strategies will define success or failure.

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Review of 2011 and Thoughts on 2012


2011 in my mind will be viewed as the launching point of a digital revolution. The momentum started in 2010 and kicked into overdrive in 2011. The rapid adoption of tablets and Smartphones fueled an aggressive development of mobile applications, while E-Book sales increased at a remarkable pace. Meanwhile, the world continued to go social in ways that few would have imagined. World leaders felt the power of Social Media, as revolutions expanded through the organizing power of Facebook and Twitter. Business leaders came to grips with the power of social media, as skepticism waned and social business turned the corner. Data continued to grow exponentially, expanding the gulf between available data and meaningful insight. Lastly, 2011 marked the year that cloud computing burst onto the enterprise landscape – In fact, 2011 may eventually be viewed as the year of the Cloud.

These factors combined to drive an aggressive digital expansion that in most cases happened through isolated initiatives driven by marketing. Businesses with indirect channels to market looked towards direct to consumer models. Regulated industries embraced the opportunity of social media, while addressing its risk. Customer experience became the mantra for many businesses, as re-inventing customer relationships topped most priority lists. New digital executive positions were created in response to growing questions about effective governance models. The notion of holistic digital strategies was in fashion again, and innovation and operating dexterity rounded out the top priorities for most executives in 2011.

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Digital Governance


Governance is a rapidly growing area of interest. Although social media is driving most of this discussion, broader digital initiatives are just as important. Without governance across all digital initiatives, companies will fail to achieve the most critical objectives facing them: rapid and better innovation, re-inventing customer relationships, and operating dexterity. Because of these stakes, digital governance must have teeth. Companies cannot let their efforts remain fragmented and must address what some at Forrester have called “Distributed Chaos”. Personalization is just a pipe dream if data cannot be lifted from silos to create a comprehensive view of the customer. Today, the Marketing and Communication function is a common place to find some element of digital governance, and some companies may elect to leave it there. However, the current digital expansion is cross functional and much broader than Marketing and Communication. 

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It Comes Down to Excellence


As I reflect upon a month full of customer discussion, it becomes clearer that future and sustained competitive advantage hinge on excellence in two critical areas: collaboration and analytics. The need for a relationship-based enterprise becomes more apparent as we look at the critical need to:

  1. Re-invent customer relationships
  2. Leverage the collective knowledge and talent of our organization
  3. Partner to facilitate operating dexterity

This relationship imperative makes collaboration excellence a critical success factor; and a key enabler is social computing. I don’t mean Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube (although they play a role) but rather the use of social technologies to drive effective collaboration and communication. This evolution to social business moves the enterprise up the collaboration axis as described in the diagram below.

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Disruption


In a recent presentation, Forrester describes the uniqueness of our current business environment as a perfect storm of technology innovation. In the past, technology cycles were driven by one major innovation (mainframe computing, personal computing, networked computing). The current environment sees a perfect storm of cloud computing, social business, mobile computing, advanced analytics and smart computing. This latest cycle begins a period of accelerated innovation, and introduces a larger potential for disruption than in past cycles.

Disruption in many different forms is not just possible, but likely. Business models across many industries are already under attack. The Information Technology (IT) function itself will see considerable change over the next several years. As the workforce and business leaders play a bigger role in technology selection, the role of IT will evolve. What IT looks like in the future is anyone’s guess, but change is almost certain. The current outsourcing model that so many companies have embraced over the years, will change as cloud computing widens its footprint. The way companies build and deploy applications will change, as mobile apps and app stores shift from the consumer world to the enterprise. The way companies interact and communicate with all stakeholders will change, as social media evolves to social business.

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Digital Strategy 2.0


I have visited with companies over the last couple of months and the term “Digital Strategy” has come up many times. It started me thinking about the last time the term was very popular – the late 1990s and early 2000 time period. I saw a reference to Digital Strategy 2.0 last week and thought it was a perfect way to describe this latest phenomenon. Several factors are driving this renewed focus on digital strategy: 

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