16 November 2010

Social and Context-Aware Computing, Pattern Analysis and Cloud. What's in it for you?

Gartner has identified four trends which will have impacts on both business and IT
  1. Cloud
  2. Business impact of social computing
  3. Context Aware Computing
  4. Pattern Based Strategy
While these trends will impact ICT investment, they should also impact the services in ICT. ICT organisations should consider how these converging trends will impact the services ICT can provide to their customers, whether that be within the organisation or whether these services could be expanded to become a profit centre.

How might social computing be used to increase engagement in ICT governance, planning, implementation and support? How can communities of interest assist in developing consensus on information needs and terminology to improve discovery?

Examples of Context Aware computing are the Mobile Transit Companion and new research at Ryerson is looking at building an intuitive application which allows mobile device users to set situation-specific business rules on when, how, where they receive voice and video calls. The situational information includes location, calendar information and their communications bandwidth. It is easy to see how this technology could be used to save ICT spend on communications by selecting the most cost-effective connection method, but what else could context-aware computing enable?

How will patterns in and between cloud computing, social networking, context-aware computing and transaction data be able to aid ICT decision-makers in refining the services ICT will provide?

We have been witness to and subjected to rapid change in technology and the way society has incorporated technology into its day-to-day functions at work, at play and at home. It seems with the convergence of social networking, context-aware computing and pattern analysis combined with new licensing and service delivery models offered by cloud computing, the rate of change is poised for acceleration. How are you going to take advantage of it?

15 November 2010

IT Transformation & Enterprise Architecture. What's the Connection?

I recently came across a post by John Palinkas from Castlepointe, Why IT Transformations Fail. This post summarises that to successfully transform IT you need to:

-Have a clear shared vision of the change that is continuously communicated to everyone.
-Ensure understanding and acceptance of the reasons for the change by everyone.
-Create and implement metrics linked to the desired business results.
-Be quick and nimble with interim deliverables that are 80% right

Interestingly or maybe not so surprisingly these behaviours would apply to any transformation project. Additionally I think these behaviours are directly in line with Enterprise Architecture objectives. "So what?" you ask. In many organisations on their Enterprise Architecture journey, the IT shop is seen as imposing Enterprise Architecture upon the business. At a very high level there is some acceptance that IT is needed to enable the business outcomes and an architecture is required to better manage the IT assets. But what this actually means and how to engage across the organisation is a bit of a mystery.

It is expected that the IT shop will get a handle on the technical architecture to drive it from what may have been an piecemeal organic architecture to one which will enable greater flexibility in supporting the business. So there is also acceptance that IT will model the business to demonstrate relationships between IT assets and the business outcomes.

But as you move into information, application and business architecture more and more people across the organisation have needs and opinions. Additionally, the organisation may have continuous improvement processes and EA should work hand in hand with these change programs not as a parallel stream. EA tools and methods may be used in conjunction with the transformation/continuous improvement methods and tools to assist in developing and communicating the shared vision and how activities in the transformation move the organisation towards the vision. The architecture will also assist in defining metrics, which may be more meaningful as they may look across the organisation and pull out previously unknown interdependencies.

Supporting the the last point is probably the most critical and yet for many the most difficult. The architecture team needs to be nimble to keep up with the 80% solutions and the refining their architectures as the transformation progresses. If this is not happening the architecture will quickly be seen as out-dated or simply an after the fact documentation process or even worse an impediment to the transformation, stalling the deliverables because the development of the architecture artefacts is slower than the transformation cycles.

So back to IT transformation and EA, what's the connection? EA practices may be used to support IT transformation. Not just IT transformation in the sense of what IT assets are required to support the outcomes of the transformation, but to work hand in hand with the transformation program and develop dynamic easy to understand artefacts that communicate the vision, tie the vision to the stakeholders view point to give them an understanding of how they impact the vision, interdependencies, identify metrics and the transformation steps.

To me it seems the separation of EA and continuous improvement/transformation programs is counter-productive. As I wrote in a previous post, I believe that EA should facilitate change, not just change in IT assets but business change, otherwise EA will become another stove pipe.

07 November 2010

Behaviour in the Virtual World - Can Enterprise 2.0 Ever Succeed?

I've been researching social behaviour on the internet. Originally I intended to take a closer at a concept from a previous post, how people change their virtual personae depending upon the website. While I was surfing I came across a couple good videos that got me thinking about online behaviour and how it would impact Enterprise 2.0 initiatives?

The first video was by Clay Shirky at the Gov2.0 Summit, Clay Shirky on Technology Insight. In this video Clay goes through two case studies around participative sites: Apps for Democracy and Wikitorial. Apps for Democracy was able to engage the community by providing data sets and then asking the community to surprise them. This is contrasted by Wikitorial, which the Los Angeles Times needed to take down due to "a few readers ...flooding the site with inappropriate material".

Clay maintains that the success/failure of a collaborative/participatorial site is not dependent upon the technology but is dependent upon the type of social contract the participants feel they have. He cautions that the users motivations are unpredictable and they need to be given space to participate. He also cautions that the more "success" is predicted and advertised in advanced the more likely people are to rebel and display rogue behaviour, like those described in this second video which is a bit crude but does nicely depict differences in the way many people behave online then when in a face to face conversation.

So what does this mean for Enterprise 2.0? Will rogue behaviour undermine the conversation channels? Or will the reduced anonymity and increased connectedness (being part of the same company/agency) cause people to restrain from participating, reducing Enterprise 2.0 to little more than bulletin boards where people post information but there is little engagement in conversation?

Is there Enterprise 2.0 initiatives at your workplace? What has been your experience?