Monday, November 30, 2015

The Top 12 Digital Technologies to Consider

There are any number of lists of top technologies for organizations to consider. While the digital movement is not a technology only driven movement, considering the right technologies is important to competing in the new digital world. There are those in the world that are attracted to the latest shiny object, but there are also organizations with their proverbial "heads in the sand". There is a balanced approach that considers mature or maturing technologies in their digital plan. Below is a list of available technologies that may be worth your consideration as you create a digital target and transformation plans. We can agree that we are headed to a world where the distinction between the physical world and the virtual world is blurry and intelligence is embedded everywhere. This takes a new secure IT infrastructure that must be managed differently than a centrally controlled resource. Before you grab the live wire of digital, consider the contributing and evolving technologies.

The technologies are classified by color to show maturity and safety. Green means there are many stable implementations in the real world. Yellow means that there are fewer implementations and some risk may be involved. Red means that you will likely be a pioneer with few skills available or the technology is still rapidly evolving. There is also a short description of each class of technologies for readers. Sometimes business units are created to evaluate these technologies, but most organizations like to have architects on staff to evaluate emerging technologies. Architects are generally housed in the IT department, but the digital movement could change the reporting relationship.

Secure Mobile & Social Collaboration:

As technology moves out to everyone, a secure mobile experience, that revolves around the individual and the network for collaboration to reach their desired outcomes, must be created. This is the most logical place for organizations to start embracing digital, but there are many organizations that have made this jump for differentiation and opportunity or just to stay in the game.

Customer Journey Mapping:

Organizations are self centered and focused on their own goals to the detriment to their customers and other constituents. This is not a surprise to anyone who has ever had to interact with many organizations. By mapping customer journey, from their perspectives, organizations can optimize their touch points with these customers for a better set of balanced outcomes.

Signal & Pattern Processing:

Organizations have to be aware of opportunities and threats to their operations, so being able recognize important signals and patterns is essential in the ever changing digital world. Keeping track of every signal or emerging pattern will be a difficult task and must be done in a near real time fashion. As more more intelligence and autonomy gets pushed to the edge of organizations, signal and pattern detection become more important.

Big & Fast Data:

In order to have make better decisions across and inside of known and sometimes unknown contexts, larger amounts of data moving at higher speeds than the norm today must be stored for further analysis. The analysis could range from immediate to later trend analysis of large amounts of complex data interacting in moving contexts. Managing and storing this mass of data is one of the major functions of big and fast data.

Web Scale Cloud Integration: 

Cloud integration is the process of configuring multiple applications and processes to share data in the cloud. In a network that incorporates cloud integration, diverse applications communicate either directly or through third-party software. Web scale includes not only data, but events, images, interfaces etc., but handles large amounts of data and data types in hyper speed fashion.

Advanced Poly-Analytics & Mining:

This is a grouping of many analytic techniques used to look at past trends, sense current conditions and predict future outcomes for better decisions and actions in order to create better and balanced outcomes for all constituents. As intelligence is pushed to the edge, these techniques combined with cognitive logic/knowledge (Cogs) will be used to optimize locally without negatively affecting global outcomes.

Internet of Things:

The IoT is traditionally defined as the network of physical objects or things embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. This enables sub-nano second response times, but is often combined with humans to notify or enhance actions of both humans and machines.

3D Printing:

This is a processes also known as additive manufacturing that is used to synthesize a three-dimensional object. In 3D printing, successive layers of material are formed under computer control from a virtual image to create an object. These objects can be of any shape or geometry and sometimes materials. The objects are produced from a 3D model or other electronic source. A 3D printer is a type of industrial robot.

Augmented Visualization & Reality:

This is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environments whose elements are supplemented or augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or various forms of data. It is a mediated reality, in which a view of reality, such as business results, is modified by a computer to enhance or focus the view. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing ones current perception of reality by surrounding real world objects with information encouraging user interaction.

Cognitive Computing & Robotics:

This is the at the minimum the simulation of human thought processes in a computerized model. It involves self learning that involves data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing to mimic the way the human brain works. At a maximum cognition is added to mechanical actions embodied in a robot either specialized or generalized.

Context Rich Policy, Rule & Constraint Management:

With more computing components (software or machines) making localized and distributed decisions or actions, there is a need to establish boundaries or constraints that these autonomous components (agents) need to respect and enable. These may be governance or policy related constraints that must not be violated unless they appear in a new or evolving context. Technology can be used to manage these rules and deal with quick change scenarios.

Bio Tech & Nano Materials:

This is the use of living systems to make technological applications or products. Combining bio research with various fields of nanotechnology, such as small biological machines, shows potential for digital advancement in certain industries. Since there are ethical issues surrounding this topic. care must be exercised in the use.

Net; Net:

This list should be considered at various times during the migration to the new digital era. Of course this list will change over time as well as the relative need and maturity of each class of technologies.

Additional Reading on Creating a Digital Plan:

Additional Reading on Digital:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nothing But Thankful

While it's easy to think about being thankful when there is a holiday created to focus on thankfulness, but I think I could be more thankful on a daily basis. In that vein, I'd like to list (below) many things that I should be thankful for every day. I appreciate all my readers and hope I can continue to serve as a helpful blogger. Happy Thanksgiving !!!!

I am thankful for:

Life and health in that I am stronger than last year

My ever patient wife, Sherry. Great adult children in Melissa, Bryon, Dave, Emily, Steve & Beth. Fantastic grand kids in Keegan, Karson, Xander, Gabriella, Hope, Kale, Nolan & Amanda.

My friends all over the world that stay in contact despite my issues

My customers, work associates and followers that keep me honest

The gifts that God gave me and continues to allow me to grow

Freedom to worship and to choose. Faith Bible Church & our study group. 

Family and friends in glory today especially Andy. 

Net; Net: 

I'm not sure if the happiness cycle starts with thankfulness or blessings, but it seems to be a cyclical phenomena. I think I will finish off 2015 and start 2016 with thankfulness. Sustaining thankfulness under all circumstances is the real trick, though. There are so many things to be thankful for in life, it's bewildering to figure out where to start. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Top Seven Digital Plan Inputs

The quality and attainability of an organizations digital plan depends not only on the target plan and the process to get that digital plan, but the inputs that are guiding the decision making process during the distillation of the digital plan. This post will identify and describe the top inputs necessary for a digital plan that can act as a base that will be modified as experimentation, experience and business conditions indicate a potential change. Please see the following post for the content of a digital plan:

Executive Vision:

In order craft a digital business plan, you need to know where the executives want to take the organization. There are strong threads in the original organizational charters and motto, but digital will likely infuse some important add on statements. Listening to corporate financial result meetings and getting access to executive statements, face to face or second hand, will give guidance and constraints for a digital plan.

Operational Plans:

Operational plans gives executive vision legs to make the year to year journey. Scouring operational plans will give strong direction to the digital plan. It will also show role and goal conflicts that will have to be dealt with in creating and implementing the digital plan. The more granular the plans, the more likely you will find and deal with goal conflicts during the interaction phase of creating a digital plan.

Customer Input:

Traditional customer input usually revolve around surveys and focus groups. While these are helpful, they are generally biased towards desired responses. This is where creating true customer journey mapping and experimenting with customer interfaces and interaction models really help create a desirable digital plan.

Competitive Trends:

While doing a formal competitive bench mark is always an option, there are other potential inputs to the digital planning process. If an organization has a competitive organizational unit that tracks the competition, that unit has a multitude of sources of information on the competition (traditional or non-traditional). If there is no official part of your organization watching the competition, then things like industry forums and organizations are good sources as well as digging on the Internet.

Existing Constraints:

There may be historical events in any organization that may inhibit the progress of a digital plan and they should be identified early. Along with executive bias, deep political waters and emerging governance issues, there may be constraints that will shape the delivered plan. Here is another opportunity to identify sticking points for the plan as it rolls out during execution.

Digital Technologies:

Having a list of candidate digital technologies, their definition, strengths, weaknesses, success and failure stories is an essential ingredient in baking a digital plan. It would also be helpful to identify the relative maturity of each of these technologies and the likely hood of each of success within your organizations culture. As usual the cost benefits need to be identified along with proof of concept projects with potential experiments.

State of Legacy:

Your legacy is likely to drag you back when implementing a digital plan, so having an analysis of your legacy portfolio is a handy input. You will likely decide which legacy assets will be carried forward in a modified basis or just left to decay. A good plan will identity those assets that should be cut out phased sunset like fashion.

Net; Net:

The old saying is "garbage in equals garbage out", so selecting and gathering the right inputs to for your digital planning efforts is a key step in creating an effective digital plan that will morph and change over time with experience and feedback.

Additional Reading on Digital:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Innovation Through Experimentation: A Digital Trait

There seems to be a mystery that hovers around innovation. There are those organizations that lock away a bunch of smart people in a room or a separate unit and expect innovation to occur.  Other organizations hire outside consultants to ignite the innovation fires. Still more organizations try competitive benchmarks to infuse innovation. Personally, I think a great deal of innovation comes from experimentation. Not that these other methods can’t help contribute to the solution, enlightened experimentation is a favorite approach of many a modern organization, and it is growing rapidly. This is particularly important to all of us as we contemplate our journey to becoming masters of the digital age.

In the past, testing was relatively expensive, so companies had to be careful with the number of experimental iterations. Today, however, new technologies such as computer simulation, low code rapid prototyping, big data analytics and cognitive computing allow companies to create better learning more rapidly.  That knowledge can be easily incorporated into more experiments at less expense. Because of the lowered cost of experimentation, a major development project can employ many experiments, all with the same objective: to learn whether the product concept or proposed technical solution holds promise for addressing a new need or problem. The results can then be incorporated into the next round of tests so that the best solution can move forward.

If you want to read more detail on low code approaches leveraged in an experimental way see:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Top Seven Ingredients in a Digital Plan

Organizations are seeking ways to create a plan to get to a digital organization that creates value in new ways. While this will require some experimentation / evolution and will be done in an incremental fashion, for the most part, there is no excuse not to establish a plan to get there. In this post, I'd like to suggest what a target plan might initially contain. It is a start that will be altered as time passes, but organizations need a stake in the ground to anchor the efforts to get to digital. This begs the question "What does a Digital Target Plan look like?"  I've Identified seven major ingredients with several deliverable outputs contained with each ingredient category that will change an evolve over time. 

                                DO IT; TRY IT & FIX IT

1. Target Architecture: 

The target architecture is the representation of the business model and all of the technical supports underneath it. This model would likely be visual in nature with supporting vision statements, policies, constraints, large grain goals and incremental phases of change (EG; a local roll-out of a new model & processes / applications to support the model for later improvement or expansion). These phase could be viewed as innovative proof of business concepts and digital technologies working together. Perhaps on an experimental basis at first. It's from this key piece that refinements and revisions emerge. 

2. Benefits & Costs: 

This is a traditional cost benefit approach with capital expenditures, budgets and income sources identified up front. These would be updated as phases occur and monetary benefits will be the fuel for future phases (in whole or partially). This not a new approach, but traditional bench mark ratios may have to be slightly diluted because of the investment nature of the digital efforts (reducing the investment hurdle rate temporarily for selected phases).  There may also be a need to establish some extra rewards for productive risk taking behavior that needs to be factored into the budgets.

3. Rough Organization:

Creating an organizational model that identifies significant and engaged sponsors, risk taking people and emergent skills will be crucial to getting a digital plan lift. It is important to have visionary sponsors with proven deliver track records. It is also important to have people that embrace new ideas and skills because the skills may not be readily available on the market at any price much less a price you can afford. If your organization is embracing innovation through experimentation, which is almost a must when targeting digital, rapid learning curves and great skills transfer folks will be a must. 

4. Contributing Technologies:

Organization must target the kind of technologies they want to embrace for each phase of the incremental transformation. This will probably a list of technologies and a definition of what they are and what they can do for an organization. In addition, organizations will need to asses the relative maturity of each and the kind of skills necessary to test and implement them. Special proof of technology projects may have to be inserted in the plan to test out the capabilities.

5. Projects Needed: 

Organizations are used to project selection and planning, but the digital efforts will likely require more pioneering and proof of concept (POC) projects for experimenting with new business approaches and technologies. Incremental phases will also need to be planned with appropriate follow on projects and necessary POCs.

6. Verification Approaches: 

Establishing visual  and highly distributed measurements of progress or success will be essential for moving a digital effort forward. While making the results highly visible will increase questions and give fuel to the doubters, those committed to success will be motivated by shared results and will make suggestions for better efforts. Once success is sensed a strong communication effort should be launched, if not in the plan already. 

7. Experiment & Post Audits: 

It is imperative to learn from each of the efforts, so identifying what went well and what could have been done better is essential for success in the digital world. Not only during the development but the operations of the resulting business model, process and applications. This must be done without a "punish the guilty" attitude, so that transparency is high for all the sponsors and contributors. The world is watching. 

Net; Net: 

Going Digital will require organizations to innovate through experimentation, but there is no excuse not to plan. Learning to adjust the plans when experiments show that organizations should alter the plans will be a challenge as this is new territory for a number of organizations. 

Additional Reading on Digital:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

It's Finally Time for Intelligent Work

Up until recently, work was automated and optimized within very known and comfortable boundaries where business models, decisions, and actions were stable for long periods of time. Now organizations are faced with seemly unpredictable conditions and they now need assistance with better decisions and actions while sensing emerging patterns in real time.

These conditions demand innovative process/application creation and configuration while completing work in the most optimal way considering global and local contexts. Supporting this kind of work requires a digital business platform that constantly improves business operations through constant measurement, signal detection, great visualization, incremental prediction and appropriate optimization of performing resources - both human and technology. This is work that applies intelligence at the appropriate times. This is a new journey that is the hallmark of digital along with great customer experiences.

If you want more detail on intelligent work, please see the following:

Additional Reading on Digital:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Is Digital for Everything?

You don't have to go very far to hear about the Digital Tsunami headed our way from both a consumer and an enterprise perspective. For those that are really riding this wave, you hear that every policy, process and application will be affected. For those that might be in the path of the wave might have a different perspective. While I believe that "going digital" is a forgone conclusion, there might be some ways of not taking all the risk of riding digital all at once.

Do Digital for Differentiation:

One practice that seems to be gaining momentum is the idea of focusing on those business models, processes and applications that can really deliver great benefit when there is differentiation in the target market. One is tempted to go after the mission critical and differentiating products or services, but a safer start would include lower impact areas where money saving could fund future efforts that were more ambitious. Sometimes brand new areas of growth are also good candidates especially if a better customer experience is an important deliverable. 

Creating a Digital Target Architecture:

When designing a digital target, it is important have a comprehensive view of that target which would include a visual representation that is surrounded with key visions, goals and phases that spell out financial opportunities and risks. Gathering important inputs to the creation process including executive vision, customer needs, competitive forces and the state of the current operations is crucial to creating a solid set of targets. Identifying contributing technologies is also a key ingredient to the baking of a satisfactory digital target. Watch this space for more detail in the future. 

Employ Incremental Transformation: 

Some organizations are starting with customer experience intense products or services and deliver incrementally better interactions. Others are starting with legacy standard transactions and surrounding them with new contexts and experiences. Some organizations are aiming at processes and systems that give immediate revenue boosts like customer on-boarding or prospect gathering. The import issue here is to start small and grow to your digital destiny unless an organization is under great pressure to deliver or an organization has discovered an industry shaking business model. Then it is full speed ahead. 

Net; Net: 

The digital zealots would have you jump on the wave just to be on it. I say work the wave smartly Take control of your target architecture, but don't ignore the need to change and adjust it with a reality based approach.

Further Reading:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Getting to Situational Business Processes & Applications

The digital business demands the ability to adapt quickly to the point of near real time when it comes to the internet of things (IoT). This will mean that there will have to be several fundamental changes in process / application  operation and creation. This means that the traditional application and process will play a different role and a lot of old thinking will have to be updated or discarded. There are folks that think that processes and applications have to be mapped and rarely change. Well this is just not the case any more. Processes are dynamically adaptable these days and applications are emerging with the similar behavior.

Modern Process Platforms Supports Situational Behavior:

Modern processes / cases have the ability to adapt to conditions that were not anticipated when the process or portions of the process (snippets) were originally designed, It's because the process paths and steps can be altered by changing the goals guided by intelligent monitoring or dynamic collaboration processes where resources determine the next best action. While modern process platforms can still service the older style mapped processes, snippets, steps and services, they now can additionally support emergent behavior thus supporting the notion of situational adaptation.

Modern Smart Applications are Leveraging Modern Process Platforms:

Applications used to have to be configured and reconfigured to adapt to change. While this was better than the traditional bespoke application, it's not good enough for the situational businesses that are emerging today. Consequently new smart process applications are emerging today that are built on a modern process platform or application vendors are slowly transitioning their platforms to include the best features of modern process platforms or digital business platforms. If time is of the essence, buying a smart process application makes sense. If commitment to a stable mega vendor is the goal and you can stall some change, organizations can wait for the evolution.

Situational Creation is Leveraging Static & Dynamic  Composition/Creation:

It turns out that the creation / development methods are changing to match the needs of a situational business. Instead of waiting for either an application vendor to build what your organization needs or waiting for internal IT to deliver the latest version of a needed process or application, there will be a sea change set of approaches emerging. Imagine instead of creating something new, composing from internal and external smart components. When something really needs to be built, imagine leveraging targeted wagile projects or SCRUMs to deliver business benefit and function rich steps to reach situational steps. Further imaging intelligent process snippets and code fragments swarming to solve your new situation driven by goals and constraints. These development approaches are already here and getting more popular.

Net; Net: 

We are fast headed to situaltional processes and applications in the new digital world.  The question is what approach will your organization take to get there? Will it be a time to market and nimble approach of creating processes or apps on a digital business platform that is situational process / application focused or will it be waiting until the chosen mega vendor can deliver for your organization? I think it will be a hybrid approach in most cases.

Further Reading:


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

ITESOFT & W4 Better Together as a Digital Business Platform

This is an analysis of a recent acquisition of W4 by ITESOFT. While W4 alone could vie for being a Digital Business Platform (DBP) as a process driven only player, the new relationship with ITESOFT now allows for the creation of smart process applications in areas where ITESOFT has had strengths. By gathering new partners to build a more diverse set of process applications on the capable and growing digital platform, ITESOFT/W4 becomes an interesting player worthy of note. If you are interested in finding out more about what it means to be digital, please access the free white paper I wrote on the potential of the ITESOFT/W4 combination.

Executive Summary

ITESOFT offers financial strength, longevity, growing and able architecture with many customer case studies to proves the point. As their customers approach their digital journeys, more examples of digital innovation will emerge. With W4’s acquisition, ITESOFT now offers a competitive platform for not only expansions for the verticals they currently serve, but new verticals and partners with a differentiating process centric approach.

See my recent post on potential digital platform partners where you will find ITESOFT/W4 listed

Monday, November 2, 2015

Rewards is a Great Way to Start a Customer Engagement Program

Most organizations really want customer loyalty, but are often baffled by where to start to create the kind of loyalty that goes beyond brand representation to intimate engagement. These case studies are about organizations who decided to start with a rewards program as corner stone piece in their overall journey with customer engagement. They viewed a rewards program as the tip of the sword in their overall weapons arsenal and an opportunistic place to start. You can also combine rewards programs with better customer experience efforts and customer journey mapping to optimize your overall customer engagement efforts. See four summarized case studies by following the link below.

Reaping the Benefits of Customer Rewards