The Year of the Real-Time EnterprisePosted 04-17-2013
By James Riley
Powerful forces are exerting pressure on CIOs and IT departments today. Companies are competing in markets where structural constraints, such as cost of entry and geography, are greatly diminished. Success is dependent upon a company’s ability to continually differentiate its products and services against increasingly agile global competitors.
A new breed of disruptive technologies–in-memory databases, mobile devices, cloud computing and social media–create possibilities that didn’t exist before. And for the first time, business is looking to IT to drive the transformation agenda, not simply implement it.
These disruptive technologies will fundamentally change the way we do business. Event-driven supply chain optimization, predictive maintenance, dynamic price optimization, and product and service differentiation based upon a “segment of one” are all within reach. The value of historical data will be unlocked, revealing retrospective insights that will form the foundation of increasingly sophisticated predictive models. These computer models, when augmented with a constant flow of granular current data, will transform us all into real-time organizations.
In the past, companies leasing and maintaining equipment at customer locations collected large volumes of data across a variety of systems about equipment failures and the cost of fixing them. These companies can now predict equipment failures before they happen by analyzing the historical data, identifying likely symptoms of impending failure, and combining this data with real-time machine-to-machine diagnostics. The result: Reduced equipment downtime and improved customer service, avoidance of time-consuming and costly machine failures, and increased productivity for field service technicians.
There isn’t a single industry in which the potential of these disruptive technologies cannot be realized. The challenge we face is defining the art of the possible. Historically, we have applied technology to deliver incremental changes to well-defined business processes. Today, technology is no longer about incremental change; it is about step changes, such as creating brand-new business processes and business models.
CIOs and their business partners, aware of the potential of real-time capabilities, are feeling the pressure to leverage these technologies before their competitors. Yet, in many cases, they don’t know where to begin. For example, 71 percent of senior IT leaders see mobile as transformational or strategic to their business, yet only 18 percent have developed a comprehensive mobile strategy, according to IDG Research.
Defining the art of the possible is a team sport, requiring active participation from the CIO, business leaders and, more often than not, a partner to act as the transformative catalyst. The right partner will bring domain expertise allied to technical know-how, plus an all-important new perspective to help identify, prioritize and ultimately realize the use cases that can be genuinely transformative.
Venturing into such new territory is full of risk. These disruptive technologies have a high cost of entry, many competing and often overlapping options exist, and the necessary IT skills to effectively deploy these technologies are in short supply. Furthermore, transformational change will require transformational change management to ensure a smooth transition to new organizational structures, new business processes and more. Of course, these risks can be managed to varying degrees.
The greatest risk, however, is doing nothing.
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