The Data Explosion and the ‘Now’ Problem

Three megatrends are shaping the next generation of successful businesses and governments. We’re talking about pervasive mobile applications, highly responsive cloud-computing models, and knowledge-adept social collaboration.

Indeed, by the year 2020, The Economist newspaper predicts there will be 2 trillion devices connected to the Internet. And taking a look at where we are right now, McKinsey Quarterly reported in August that in 2010 some 4 billion people have cellphones, and 450 million have access to a full Web experience.

Moreover, Jupiter Research reports that by 2014 there will be 130 million enterprise users involved with mobile cloud activities. Not only is access pervasive, but the amount of information available is also exploding. The Economist again reports that in 2005, mankind created 150 exabytes of digital data … and in 2010 we will create fully eight times more data.

As these trends literally rearrange business ecosystems, a gap will surely emerge between the companies that master change — and exploit enabling technologies — and those that fall ever further behind.

For those that do step up to the challenge — expect a relentless emphasis on rapidly recurring innovation to meet dynamic customer and citizen demands.

Our latest BriefingsDirect podcast therefore focuses on how these trends — and rapidly evolving customer, citizen and user expectations — are newly impacting the enterprise. We also examine how technology advancements are making it possible to drive innovation to meet these new demands for instant gratification.

Please join HP executive Dave Shirk, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at HP Enterprise Business, as we explore how HP is working to make headway so that the next few years bring about a generational opportunity — and not a downward complexity spiral. The discussion is moderated by BriefingsDirect’s Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Listen to the podcast (30:01 minutes).

Here are some excerpts:

Dave Shirk: We’re seeing a lot of shift going on in the marketplace right now. When we look at where consumers are driving business or where citizens are driving government, it’s fundamentally changing the way they operate. We’ve seen three core things come out.

The business models are all starting to change the way in which people approach markets across the globe. That’s having to really rethink the ways in which they’ve approached them versus traditional methods.

The second thing we see is this whole shift in mobile computing meeting cloud computing and the enterprise trying to figure out exactly how to take best advantage of that to create this competitive advantage. Then, the overall demographic piece weighs into that.

We’ve seen the rise of the millennials, as they’re being referred to. All of these things are forcing business and government to stop and say, “You know what, if we’re going to grow or we’re going to create a service differentiation, we’re really going to need to do things differently and we’re going to have to do it way faster than we’ve ever done it before.”

According to the Society for Engineers, you now have over 800,000 graduates in China, over 300,000 graduates in India, 100,000 some in Japan, etc. It’s over the last 10 to 12 years that each of those graduation rates has occurred. They are part of the workforce now.

When they went through that process, they were always connected and they always were involved in a social network-based environment. They have a level of their lifestyle that is all tied to this always-connected environment. When you think about the ubiquitous computing that that has brought to them, as they enter the workforce, they are looking at things a lot differently than ever before.

They bring new ideas. They bring new ways to that. They’re looking for businesses that will support that kind of methodology and structure. … So, when we think about that Gen X group that’s out there, we see them driving an enormous part of this change.

The last statistic I saw was that they are now over 50 percent of the workforce. The analogy that’s always used is that, to them, being connected and always involved in some type of networking-based collaboration or information sharing of some sort is about the same as it is for you and me to pick up our remote controls and turn on our television sets. That’s already having a very profound effect on how business and government are changing and the expectations that are out there in the marketplace.

It’s this [demand for] immediate or instant gratification: “If I can’t get what I want in the following way, I’ll find the business or government environment where I can.” While the government piece maybe a bit harder to change, the business piece isn’t, and so the competitive pressure to serve this audience, both as the consumer and also as employees, is a big part of that shift.

We call that the “Now Problem.” They want this, they want it done now, and they want it to work a certain way. We see technology as the cornerstone to being able to solve some of these trends and some of these challenges.

These changes are at a pace they’ve never seen before as they address them and try to drive these into their business or government environments.

This is probably best represented in the words of Professor Gary Hamel, who is the foremost business visionary person out there in the marketplace. In his book, Future of Management, he described it as “whiplash change.”

That’s very much the case when I speak with our clients both on the business side and the government side. That’s exactly what they’re sitting there and thinking and working through right now.

Role of Technology

We look at the technology piece of [the change] and say that you really can’t [react] any other way — the pace of it, the speed of it, and some of the complexity associated with it. For a long time, business has tried to use labor as an arbitrage to try to work their way through this and just throw bodies at it. That’s quickly dissipating. The speed and the connectedness that we see, and the confidence level that all of these types of services require make it no longer possible to go through that.

What we see is IT completely embedded in the business. Over the next couple of years, that’s going to continue to be the trend and the strategy that will play out in the way in which business and government work this. Ultimately, that’s going to be the differentiator that drives an ability not only to serve these constituencies but to out-serve them, and that’s going to be the name of the game.

[The solution] starts with a desire to change and to drive innovation in a different way. We sit and we think about the fundamental change in this. We talked for years that the business was focused on business processes and business process reengineering. While that’s still very important, it isn’t going to go away any time soon.

It’s becoming obvious that the bigger driver and the more significant trend is the information process, understanding the segments of business or government that need to be addressed. What their needs are, what they want, what they want to talk about, the ways in which they want to interact is all part of this change that’s taking place.

Closing the Gap

So, as we start to pull back and step back from this, we look at that and we look at this vision that we have for the Instant-On Enterprise and how we’re enabling end-users to become a part of that, how we’re enabling businesses and governments to provide that type of capability. It really is about closing the gap between what IT can provide and what the business needs to be able to serve each of those audiences.

What we’ve launched with this vision is to put the foundations in place to make that possible and take a journey with our clients both from the business side and government side and help them move down that particular path, find ways to navigate these challenges and these trends, and to out-serve and to over-serve all the audiences that they need to meet the needs of.

[This change] is inevitable. Different businesses and governments will have, at different times, one of these four elements be more important or more significant to them at different points. All of them share the innovation requirement. We see that in all things.

Our view is that the innovation has to take place throughout that information process. It doesn’t matter whether it happens back at the data center or at every touch point. Innovation has to take place throughout for the business to meet the needs of those segments I’ve referred to earlier — how it services it, how it conducts itself, and ultimately how it meets our needs or exceeds the needs of the audiences.

Agility, optimization and risk all vary in and out with innovation in terms of their need and their level of importance.

Agility really is about instant expectations, and can we turn things on and off, instead of just setting them up for a rainy day and hoping that they will be used. A big part of technology’s trouble in the past was that we created all of these things and we never had a plan for ending their lifecycle or turning them down slightly, so that we could turn up other activities or other possibilities in an instant-on environment and an instant-on enterprise. A core part of the vision that we see is being able to drive that agility to meet those changing business needs.

When HP looks at the Instant-On Enterprise, the enablement of that is really a journey, and we’ve got to figure out what pieces make the most sense. There are some things that are much easier to focus on first and then, over time, to gain more and more of an Instant-On nature.

Critical Success Factors

Flexibility, security, speed, automation and insight, those absolutely are attributes that we look for. We see them as the critical success factors in the way in which every part of the environment that IT leverages, drives, and embeds in the business has to come forward.

And yet, everybody is stuck in this mode of an enormous legacy that they have to deal with, and that gets in the way of being able to provide some of these new capabilities.

We’ve spent a lot of time and gotten a lot of expertise over the years trying to figure out the best ways to address these albatrosses that are keeping IT from being able to deal with the needs of the business. In the Instant-On Enterprise journey, that’s a big part of the set of steps that we have to work through and work with our clients to make sure that they understand where to prioritize.

Our view is that we work with our clients and figure out ways that they can, as we say, shift that equation. How do you shift from 70 percent of that equation being focused on operational management, and 30 percent, if you are lucky, being spent on new and innovation-based capabilities to help or assist the business and its growth versus shifting it the other way? How do you get to 30 percent operational mode, and move forward with 70 percent focused on the business?

Changing Business Models

When I spend time with clients and listen to them, a big part of what they’re asking for is, “We’ve got these pressures. We’re seeing the business models change and we’re experimenting with some things. We’re seeing the mobile and the cloud computing pieces coming at us like a freight train. At the same time, we’re seeing the demographic shift both on the end-user consumer side and on our employee side. We need strategic partners to help us with this. How do we navigate this? What is the way in which we should do that? HP, do you have a point of view?”

We’re in a unique position, because we’re the only company in the marketplace that has a full suite of consumer products, and yet we stretch all the way back through to the data center. All the capability, all the offerings, that are in between, all the services that are necessary to address each of those pieces, are contained inside the portfolio capability that HP has of hardware, software, and services.

We looked at this and said, “How do we take the best combination of that breadth of portfolio and bring those together in a set of solutions to best address what we are hearing over-and-over from some of the research that we’ve done and listening that we’ve done with our clients?”

They need to figure out how to modernize their applications. We want to make sure that we are there and we’ve got a set of solutions for that. They’ve got huge data-center issues in terms of how they’re going to transform their data centers and deal with more virtualization-based techniques and capabilities and bring networking and storage and compute power together in some fashion.

They’ve got this issue of enterprise security. They need to figure out how to secure the enterprise. I don’t mean desktops, but all points, all touch points of the enterprise — how they build applications, how this information is accessed inside and outside of the organization, and then fundamentally optimizing that information, the ways in which you store it, the way in which you deliver it, the way in which you print it for that matter, all those pieces.

Then, they need to underpin that by the best way to figure out how to deliver it. Do we do it for them? Do they build it themselves with our architecture, and our capability set, and our consulting expertise? What combination of ways makes the most sense to set that up? …

We help our clients work their way through that with a series of workshops that we do to get in and investigate. We ask a series of questions, do a series of exploratory-based activities that help prioritize where we think the quickest return on investment is, because all these require some level of return to feed the next one and then the next one.

Hybrid delivery for us is our answer to the multiple ways in which a customer or client has to go through the process of building or delivering on these various technology services to their enterprise or their government.

There’s an enormous amount of talk about cloud in the marketplace today. HP has been at the forefront of that, but we have a little different position. We think it’s unique and we think we’re the only ones out there that are really positioned to do this, which is the concept of hybrid IT, where you’ve got a mix. You’ve got a mix of traditional on-premises-based capabilities, but then you figure out what private cloud or public cloud-based capabilities best serve your business on a global basis.

HP comes in and, unlike other companies that try to force you into a one-size-fits-all structure, we sit down with the client. Our unique IP in this area is that we have an incredible depth of intellectual capital in this particular area, which is helping the clients figure out the best balance or mix of the delivery methods.

We can help them build it. They can host it or we can host it for them. We can provide those services from our public cloud-based capabilities or from our private cloud based capabilities. We really don’t care, if that blend changes over time. That’s the beauty to the journey to this Instant-On Enterprise.

Starting Small

Our data says that most customers still start with a small private cloud implementation to really understand the value of the cloud and demystify it. We’ve said that there is going to be something after cloud. We don’t know what that level or that style of computing is going to be, but our architecture is built such that we’ll be ready for that. For our clients, we’ll help navigate them through each of these pieces, and that’s the important thing for us.

We have our new HP Hybrid Delivery Strategy Service, which is a place for a client to start, get a basic orientation, sit down and understand kind of where we think they might consider beginning that journey. So that, along with a number of other capabilities that we have to help them through these various workshops, I think is really the best place for them to start.

There are a whole series of workshops globally that our teams are set up to do, everything from a small couple-of-hour based interaction to a full suite of in-depth analysis and consulting engagements to work with a client. … We ask a series of questions, do a series of exploratory-based activities that help prioritize where we think the quickest return on investment is, because all these require some level of return to feed the next one and then the next one.

Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which tracks trends, delivers forecasts and interprets the competitive landscape of enterprise applications and software infrastructure markets for clients. He also produces BriefingsDirect sponsored podcasts. Follow Dana Gardner on Twitter. Disclosure: HP sponsored this podcast.

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