Thanks to the great folks at CXO Talk for inviting me to join their expert panel on Corporate Innovation. Great perspectives and a very interesting discussion that expanded into how corporates and startups can successfully engage.
Fantastic new publication from Standard Chartered on how technology is reshaping the global economy.
Special thanks to the author for the “shout out” to me and my group for our contribution of input and facilitating discussions throughout the Silicon Valley region, from tech startups to international economists at Berkeley and Stanford.
Special thanks to my colleague John Stewart from Royal Bank of Scotland for co-presenting with me on “Open Innovation in International Banking” at the First Annual World Open Innovation Conference.
A popular presentation, with a mix of corporates and academics, we emphasized that while we each serve our own companies and drive innovation forward, our common goals and common approaches have allowed us to collaborate in an open way and become significantly more effective as “pack hunters” (rather than “lone wolves”) giving more value back to our organizations than either of our groups could individually. We do everything we can to provide high-value innovation services and resources, supporting our respective enterprises, as well as clients and stakeholders.
Even after a few years, I still receive excited inquiries based on Apple’s profile and video segment spotlighting Standard Chartered’s early adoption of iPhone and iPad as a mobile platform within the enterprise.
Times and technology change while Standard Chartered continues its 160 year-old legacy of forward thinking.
Special thanks to Information-Management.com for being named a Top 25 Information Manager
Information-Management.com is proud to release our annual 25 Top Information Managers list for 2012.
Enterprise Mobility 3.0
Enterprise Mobility 3.0 is the inherent face of the new untethered enterprise. It will have deep imprints in the business processes, IT infrastructure and security policies in the company. In a world where work-related information is accessible, anywhere, anytime, new powerful and smarter phones, tablets, and other Internet-enabled devices will usher us into a new era of countless opportunities and exciting challenges. These challenges loom – Mobility 3.0, after all, speaks to a certain level of maturity attained within enterprises – some new, some not-so-new. For example, security policies will have to be revisited for viability and sustainability. Productivity, agility and other business metrics will have to be measured with some rigor. Organizations will also have to measure if the investments in Mobility 3.0 are finally generating the payback and ROI that the executive suite has been looking for.
Our panel of senior technology and business executives will share their experiences of piloting through this transformation in their organizations with leading and leadership around Mobility 3.0.
I implore technology advertising and seminar communities to never, ever use the term “futureproof” in any context except to mock the concept.
There is a world of difference between progressively evolving your business, and an all-singing, all-dancing, futureproof technology solution that so many work so hard to sell.
Several generations ago, my family made their fortune selling farm implements and prospecting supplies in the United States Washington territory, now Washington State.
Immigrants from Skane County, Sweden, the Polsons began farming in La Connor, WA and later created the Polson Implement & Hardware Company, selling supplies to Washington farmers and Alaska gold rush prospectors.
A visitor to the Polson Implement Company’s storefront in downtown Seattle in 1904 would find a variety of farming and ranching supplies combined with a wide array of hitches and bridles so that automation machines could be pulled by a farm horse. All amazing technology for the time. Although agricultural implement technologies evolved over time, the Polsons didn’t carry anything that could futureproof your farm; even if it may have seemed like it at the time.
We work in an environment in which technologies change and mature at alarming rates. The most important aspect is to balance the focus on the steps to make your business successful today, as well as strategic planning and steps to advance and be ready for what you think the future will hold.
As a technology marvel featuring rollers and ball bearings, and despite it being “a practical poem in steel” even the mighty Deering Steel Binder was not futureproof.
In the past three weblog entries, three management personalities argued for their particular stance on a question alluding to the proper, right and best way to run an IT organization. [Is it possible to run your IT shop (like an aircraft carrier) as such an incredibly structured, high functioning, ready-for-anything organization? Is this the right way to run a technology group?]
Although these three answers voice the most common perspectives, they are all misguided and represent the wrong way to approach running technology. All have taken the too-typical stance of IT shops that are self-focused. None have asked about or gone into any depth about the technology needs and drivers of the businesses that they are supporting.
The needs of the business must govern how IT is run. You are not running IT for its own sake; it must be not just fit for purpose, but dynamic and integrated into the needs of the business. Most businesses don’t want an aircraft carrier, nor do they want a dinghy. They want reliable technology that helps drive their business forward. In some cases, this means investment in cutting edge carrier-grade (no pun intended) infrastructure, while in others, it means letting go of control and maximizing cost savings and user flexibility. Some organizations will want to showcase technology, while others want it to be an invisible function. The risk-reward and investment-benefit balances are different at every company.
While you could outfit all staff with unified communications, smartphones and interactive CRM access, you could also just give everyone a netbook, Skype and a free webmail account. The business drivers and investment will dictate the mode required, and because your operational methodology will be very different in these scenarios, your management approach should be as well.
To summarize, the obvious answer is yes, you can run your IT shop as a ready-for-anything organization (like an aircraft carrier), but the additional question of “should you?” is the crux. It is too easy to decide what technology should do based on principle, but don’t get ahead of yourself. It is not a matter of what you can do, it is a matter of what you should do given the true needs of the business.
From a previous weblog entry, a tour of a modern aircraft carrier prompted the questions:
Is it possible to run your IT shop [like an aircraft carrier] as such an incredibly structured, high functioning, ready-for-anything organization? Is this right way to manage a technology group?
There are three general consensus answers for this question:
1. Absolutely. This is what IT groups everywhere should strive for.
2. Irrelevant. Such comparisons are overly idealistic and inherently flawed.
3. Good for perspective. Some concepts should be used and applied to illustrate possibilities and how to approach things differently.
Three different managerial personalities are each defending their respective answer. Mr. Good For Perspective rounds out the third stance with his viewpoint…
Knowledgeable and experienced IT managers know that Answer #3 is correct. Analogies and comparisons are a great way of getting concepts across, as you can make things relatable. This happens every day in common speech. “The glass is half-full rather than half-empty.” “We are charting new territory!” “This box is the Rolls Royce of servers.” Of course there is no such thing as a perfect analogy, especially when you break it down to the details; however a comparison for perspective or imagery is an extremely effective way to illustrate your point. For an IT shop, a comparison to certain functions of an aircraft carrier can help to effectively illustrate key points and principles to your staff. Although the duties of your IT shop are much less complex than the USS Ronald Reagan, you can certainly take inspiration and learn lessons from how and why the RR does certain things the way that they do.
Perspective is the key to this. When you feel overwhelmed, even the construction of the USS Ronald Reagan is a good parallel. It took years and thousands of people to get this ship from an artist’s concept drawing to a functional floating fortress with more firepower than many countries. Whatever technology project an IT shop is planning to do is much less complicated; if a project like constructing the RR can be done, then the IT should be easy in comparison! This kind of perspective can help to inspire staff to move forward and tackle bigger problems with more confidence. This is good management.
Mr. Absolutely is being far too literal with Answer #1. If you spend too much time and effort chasing the perfect system you will lose focus on your IT duties. Life is not black and white, so one must be selective in drawing comparisons. All-or-nothing thinking is bad thinking.
Answer #2 from Mr. Irrelevant shows his closed mind and highlights himself as someone unwilling to look at different viewpoints and think in different terms. He outlines many different reasons why this is not a good parallel, however he is missing the point; it is a selective analogy, not a literal parallel and there are plenty of valid comparisons. Everyone must work together to achieve common objectives; there is major interdependence of functions, there are expectations that duties will be fulfilled. An open minded person can find inspiration in everything and benefit from that perspective. No one is going to literally run their IT shop like an aircraft carrier; otherwise I would leave my current job and start a company that specializes in grey paint and uncomfortable uniforms.
This leaves us with the most sensible viewpoint, Answer #3. Selective analogies help to provide perspective, focus and putting what you do in other terms that can make concepts easier to understand.