Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why Mobile Innovation Is Blowing Away PCs

Though our Laptops were mobile for quite sometime, We never had the luxury of add-on devices such as GPS, Accelerometer, Integrated Camera. Until a couple of years before, even having a bluetooth enabled Laptop was a rare scenario.

Have you ever thought why?....

I was of the opinion that Mobile applications are picking up because of consumerism, mobile devices proliferation, increased competition across vendors, accelerated innovation, etc...
But, that's not true...

This is an interesting article from Techcrunch that clealry highlights there are fundamental reasons behind this Mobile Innovation!. And some of the reaons the article claims are that increased participation of small vendors across the globe, and tremendous competition from them to outdo each other in terms of product innovation, increased flexibility in accomodating structural changes in terms of hardware/chipset, platforms, software and systems integration.

The article also states that we simply dont have them in PC/Laptops because that ecosystem does not exist in that space. That's quite a revelation!.

At this rate of innovation, I wouldn't be surprised if the mobile ecosystem comes out with an innovation that would introduce structural changes in Enterprise IT platforms, especially software applications.

Like the way, Agile concepts disrupted the application development methodologies/processes, I guess something like a rapid development model would disrupt Enterprise IT application development and system integration as well...And that innovation could come from Mobile space.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

IT is becoming ET! [Enterprise Technology]

Excellent Perspective from CIO.com!

I remember the IT department used to be called as 'EDP' in my school days - Electronic Data Processing Department. In some companies, it used ot be called as 'MIS' - Management Information Systems Department. The Job of the department would be centrally digitize and manage the backoffice functions such as accounting/payroll in a central organizational unit.

The CIO.com article states that, with the advent of PCs and networks, MIS department was decentralized and that led to the evolution of IT. Pretty interesting to observe that how a technology innovation leads to organizational / management structure within the company [The arrival of LAN within the company].

Now, IT is hugely populated with COTS products and Of late, with Software-as-a-Service solutions. Is that all?. No, it looks like its going to change again and its called 'Enterprise Technology'.

When MIS was limited to only computer-savvy professionals, IT expanded the role of technology to larger set of people within the organization such as engineers, business people using spreadsheets/office/collaboration software. Now, with advent of ET, the technology would be made available to larger set of population outside the organization, beyond its own employees, to even those customers who have not traditionally used any devices or phones.

It falls on the idea of 'Internet of Things' where technology is going to get embedded in every possible device that the end customer interacts with. And this paradigm is going to amoss large amounts of data to the Enterprise. And the Enterprise would be challenged to make intelligence out of this vast amount of data to add value to the end customers and their environment. And the key difference from IT and ET is that ET would be wired to the physical world - physically touching the customers' lives.

Now the question is, Is the traditional IT department geared up to face this challenging trend?. I dont think so.

The key challenge would be the ability to envision, conceptualize, architect, build and operate solutions that call for 'Inter-disciplinary' competencies. When I say inter-disciplinary, the future Enterprise Technology solutions would require amalgamation of multiple competencies such as hardware, software and embedded technologies. While the traditional Enterprise IT shops are used to architect/operate software-only / software-intensive solutions.

Are you game for this new IT?

Why iPhone apps are such a big hit?

Have you ever wondered why iPhone is able to make its apps so famous?

1 Billion Downloads in just over nine months. Stunning numbers, isn't it?

I have a Palm PDA that I bought few years ago. I do love the device and its user interface and applications. There are thousands of applications available for Palm platform. But, if i have to look for the most attractive or useful application for Palm, I need to visit umpteen number of sites. One way, its good there are quite a few options. The other way, it makes life cumbersome. I dont really get to see the most used or rated application in one place. And that's exactly the problem iPhone solves.

When I was evaluting the application architecture for iPhone, I was thinking there should be a rapid programming model that shrinks the time-to-market of these applications. But, it was not the case. Some of the iPhone application frameworks are still talking about Model-view-controller or multi-layer architecture. The applications may have a magical user interface. But, there is no silver bullet in terms of its application architecture!.

So, the crux of the famous equation is the 'Management Innovation' combined with 'Technology Innovation' - The economics that gives 70% cut to the developer community, Apple's Certification mechanism for applications, Application Store - the single storefront to search, purchase and download the application onto the device in one go and integrated withit the snappy UI - All this leads to the success formulae. Here is a perspective from IT consultant - Yourdon.

Once Steve Jobs was asked about the secret of success, he said 'its the chemistry'. Yes its the chemistry of the hardware, OS and the applications. He also added - You can't expect that chemistry between a Dell Hardware and Microsoft Windows OS'. How true?

Next Peter Drucker!

Is Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies, an IT Services firm based out of India.

This is what Tom Peters claims!.

One of the key challenges facing the organization these days is not just to make their IT systems agile, but to make their Organization Structure and Culture more agile and adaptive to the ever changing market needs. This is very much applicable to knowledge industries, like IT services.

When the same talent who used to work for one company can be easily poached by any other company by offering more compensation or designation/role, the only thing that could differentiate the incumbent company and increase its influence over the individual is its organization structure and culture. In the longer term, its the org. structure and culture that defines the DNA of the company and it would persist for a longer time, while the projects can come and go.

Having said that, the traditional 'command-and-control' model of organization structure is being challenged. The companies that adopt these hierarchial model are not able to be innovative or leading the industry in specific areas. And in a Knowledge industry like IT services, as Management Guru Peter Drucker says, the employees are well informed and knowledgeable than their bosses. This makes the problem much more complicated.

Now, what would be alternative? - Vineet Nayar has come out with a new book called - Employee First, Customer Second. The title of the book can be counter-intuitive to our traditional management philosophies. But, some of the principles what Vineet articulates are just radical and challenges the status-quo.

Some of the interesting thoughts from his book, as quoted here

  • Its time to switch from the traditional pyramid model to 'Inverted' Pyramid model of organization. In a company that is over hundreds of employees, the top management will not really have a clue on the ground realities and hence the company could be dis-oriented or driving in the wrong direction. Hence, its time to retire the centralized, command-control model to decentralized, collaborative model, where each network node is self-empowered. The leadership will only be guardians of corporate principles, adovates and encouragers

  • Making enabling functions like Quality / General Management to be accountable for the employees, not the other way round. This would improve the effectiveness of the organization. [I still need to get into the details of this point. Am curious to know more on his thoughts on the enabling functions.]

  • By renewing the Organization structure and culture, we would be unleashing the power, passion and talent of 'value-zone' employees. This would lead to the Growth of the company.

Am not sure whether HCL Technologies practices what Vineet has talked about in the Book. Neverthess, its a timely thought!. And any company that wants to be leading and growing needs to consider these thoughts.