Eric Hanselman, Chief Analyst with 451 Research, outlined four themes to consider when positing possible futures for an organization.
At the outset of his keynote presentation at the 2019 CIO Leadership Forum: Embracing the Digital Revolution, from Information to Transformation, held on June 20 in New York, Hanselman stated, “I’m going to talk about how you alight on a set of possible futures you can take your organizations toward. What will be the path—cloud, AI, blockchain, Edge, DevOps? All of these transformational changes and the technologies associated with them are interconnected, and they have influence and impact on each other. You have to plan for these in terms of how you expect to move your organizations forward. You can’t change them in isolation. Also, there’s no single path that will persist—it’s a continuous process—and you have to be aware of what that transformation looks like,” he said.
“In technology—and, especially, in infrastructure—more often than not, organizations have been making predictions about where they want to be as opposed to looking at plans to arrive at a multiple set of potential outcomes and enabling what that journey looks like. It’s too difficult to know all the influencing factors that come into play in terms of what’s going to sway your markets, the technologies themselves, and the vendor landscape,” said Hanselman.
“How do you look at potential futures to put together a plan that will help guide you to a future that has a greater probability of hitting one of the outcomes you’re preparing for? You need to be looking at a set of different possible outcomes. You should have at least two or three to think about in terms of how you plan what you’re going to build to support those, and you have to understand how your organization is going to make that journey,” he said.
“To do this, you need to look at potential forces in play and how they’ll affect your organization. There’s no one, right path. The challenge in this process is constraining the choices you have and picking those that will work well for your organization. Four themes of infrastructure capabilities that are useful to consider are: invisible infrastructure, pervasive intelligence, contextual experience, and universal risk,” Hanselman stated.
“The idea behind invisible infrastructure is that the resources you’re providing need to be delivered to end consumers in ways that make them more and more invisible. The goal is to minimize the amount of effort the customer has to exert to leverage the technology or consume your services or products. You need to provide capabilities that consumers prefer to consume from you or through you rather than going to outside vendors,” he said.
“The end users don’t need to know about the details to leverage them, but there has to be contextual experience wrapped around them. Contextual experience describes the interactions between a customer, worker, or citizen and an organization. These interactions are augmented by rich sources of real-time information delivered to them in the right format and at the right time for an experience that’s friction-free and empowered by technologies such as mobile devices, machine learning, and the cloud.”
Hanselman continued, “Intelligence is going to have to pervade everything you do in terms of how you run your business and how you interact with your end customers and employees. Pervasive intelligence refers to the increased use of data and analytics to drive not just business decisions but the core operational applications of the business itself. It’s the infusion of human and artificial intelligence into applications, services, workflows, systems, devices, and computing systems infrastructure—on the cloud, in the datacenter, and at the edge—to deliver and democratize data-driven decision-making,” he said.
“Lastly, you have to consider risk profiles. In technology, risk has meant assessing your information-security posture as opposed to understanding business risks, many of which require business processes—rather than technology—to solve. Analytics (behavioral analytics in particular) will significantly change how security and risk are managed. Behavioral analytics will become a primary tool for defending enterprise technology—but is also, potentially, a target,” Hanselman pointed out.
“When thinking about how to prioritize all of this to make decisions, I recommend supporting service capabilities first. Regarding invisible infrastructure, the number-one thing is automation—being able to get good at scale.” The second is access to data, which is also a top priority in the other three themes—pervasive intelligence, contextual experience, and universal risk.
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