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The Evolving Face of Business

By Daryl Bishop

Daryl BishopReading popular press or watching movies such as the Aliens series where Weyland Industries pretty much ran the world, you would be under the impression that the future of business is pre-ordained with large behemoth corporations running the show.

The notion that large corporations will evolve into globally dominating entities is not new and not without historical precedent. Certainly, the U.S. Government has in special cases, split up large companies with the aim being to minimise monopolistic behaviours. I would, however, like to offer a counter view that market forces are compelling the move from large centralised organisations to ones where greater profitability is linked to smaller nimble businesses that can rapidly react to changing market conditions.

Here are my reasons why:

Built for Creativity and Innovation
The two companies below highlight the advantages of keeping organisation sizes small or at least acting small

  • W.L. Gore & Associates – Bill Gore, the founder of W.L. Gore & Associates, the maker of the famous Gore-Tex fabric, organised his business into small task force groups. To promote communication he limited teams and manufacturing facilities to 150-200 people. There was a sociological imperative for this sizing as it was thought that this was the maximum number where people could build connections with each other.
  • Flight Centre – Flight Centre, an Australia-based travel company with over 2000 stores, uses an organisational structure where stores within a region operate as tribes competing with other stores. This encourages connectivity and belonging within the tribe while promoting competition between stores.

In both examples the key to unleashing the creativity and innovation of people was limiting the size of the corporate ‘tribes’ to encourage connectedness.

Agility
The last few years have seen the rise of the startup movement; these companies attract the best talent, have a source of funding through venture capital and crowd funding sites and have a lean startup framework to build and quickly adapt to the market. Startups innovate quicker and produce products that customers want, as they can rapidly pivot as needed to match their products to customer demand.

Profitability
Interestingly, when Standard Oil was broken into 90 separate companies in 1911 as a result of an anti-monopolistic legal action, the share price of these separated companies on average more than doubled. Companies survive, thrive and die based on their ability to innovate and quickly bring products to the market. The speed of business has accelerated over the last decade due to globalisation, the Internet era and the aforementioned rise of the startups.  The companies that can create and react quickly to the market will survive and thrive.

Small but Large
The recent 19 billion dollar sale of WhatsApp to Facebook is an example of how companies can be small and still attract large valuations. In WhatsApp’s case it had 55 employees at the time of sale.  The historical link between the payroll and company valuation no longer applies. Smaller organisations make ready use of a larger service and capability ‘organism ecosystem’. This minimises capital investment by use of a service consumption model, allows focus on their market segment, and supports rapid growth. The use of cloud services is an example of a technology service offering from this ecosystem. This also expands to manufacturing services such as design, fabrication and batch run.

Joining the dotted lines, I believe the trend will be towards smaller organisations that will better react and compete in a fast paced marketplace than their larger brothers. Of course, large organisations will still have a place across all sectors; however, I predict the market will provide a natural brake on unrestrained growth, as size becomes an impediment to competitiveness.

So what’s this to do with technology? IT needs to work closely with the business to ensure that the right strategy and services are in place. As technology is at the forefront of change, the onus is on us to inform, educate and be creative for our business. Finally, IT needs to be the model of agility that other business units strive to replicate.

Evolving Business Image


Daryl Bishop is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Melbourne, Australia.

Transforming Your Business with End-User Computing

By Daryl Bishop

Daryl Bishop-cropIn my last blog, I talked about the need for a common definition around what constitutes transformation within the IT organisation. In this follow-up post, I’ll discuss the VMware approach to an end-user computing (EUC) transformation.

First a recap, for an initiative to be truly transformational it must satisfy the criteria of change across the elements of people, process, and technology. Additionally, it should be aligned to business objectives and have clear benefits.

If we look at the typical EUC environment today, it’s transitioning from a rigid environment based on a desktop or laptop running a Windows operating system to one that is application and data-centric rather than device-bound. This has some profound transformational impacts for business and IT.

Today’s End-User Computing Environment
Let’s first take a closer look at the EUC environment found in most organisations today.

BISHOP-EUCAs shown in the diagram above, staff have historically used either a laptop or desktop as a primary device. This device, running Windows as the operating system, is locked down at the configuration layer with applications installed natively. This stack forms your traditional and very common standard operating environment (SOE) model. Coupled with the SOE, the EUC ecosystem included printers, isolated (not integrated) mobility devices, and finally an identity management authentication and authorisation component.

This model served us well, providing control, standardisation, and management of risk. However, the rise of the consumerization of technology, a modern IT-literate workforce, ubiquitous access to applications, the decreased usage of the Windows operating system, and the always-connected Internet means this model is, at best, inflexible and, at worst, irrevocably broken.

The Transformed End-User Computing Environment
So what does a transformed EUC environment look like? In the diagram below, the focus has been abstracted from the devices to the application and data access layer.

BISHOP-EUC2

Let’s look at each layer in a bit more detail to better understand the benefits of removing the focus on devices and elevating it to the application and data access layer:

  • Business layer
    Business is typically not just a single entity: It consists of your internal business and external B2B organisations that collectively form your business ecosystem. While your business will provide a core service, in the future it’s likely that smaller, more nimble organisations like start-ups will utilize your core business services and APIs to provide customers with innovative products. Your applications and data will not just be consumed internally, but also by external organisations as business-to-business transactions.
  • Application delivery platform
    The application delivery platform is a standardised access point where your consumers will access applications, data, and desktops. The key features of this abstracted application access layer are:

    • Device independence
    • Centralized management via policy
    • Auditable access and usage
    • Accessed over secure channels
    • Simplified ease of use

Where security and control was traditionally applied at the device and operating system level, it is now abstracted to the application and data access layer.

  • Lightweight device management
    In this context, lightweight management means the minimal IT controls necessary to manage devices, primarily for security reasons. While rigid, locked-down control has historically been the norm, in the transformed environment only lightweight controls are applied. For example, mobility devices use mobile application management (MAM) containerisation to ensure IT can remotely wipe or lock access only to the corporate container. Data, applications, virtual desktop access, and security controls are now applied at the application delivery platform layer via centralized policy controls.

Finally does this constitute a transformation? Let’s review the impact through the lens of people, process, and technology:

  • People
    A modernised EUC environment is a catalyst to elevate staff from traditional, task-based to knowledge creation activities using the productivity platform that best suits their work style. By unleashing staff from the rigid model of yesterday, staff exercise increased creativity, providing a real point of competitive differentiation through innovation.
  • Process
    The traditional EUC environment is awash with layers of process to manage a monolithic computing stack. From processes to deploy applications and patches to service desk support, they add complexity with many moving parts to manage. Shifting the focus to the application delivery platform with lightweight management of devices introduces policy-controlled automation and simplified management controls.
  • Technology
    Businesses today struggle with BYOD, security, and management. By abstracting the management to the access layer, BYOD becomes a moot point. IT is no longer concerned, apart from connectivity, about what device is being used. Security is applied where it should be, at the application and data layer. Finally, management is focused on controlling access to data and applications via policy, rather than managing a desktop and laptop stack.

I’ve really just scratched the surface of what constitutes an EUC transformation. The role of unified communications, changing work practices such as activity based working, the software-defined enterprise, and the changes to the IT organisational structure to support the transformed environment — can and should be significant components of a transformation program.

I’d be interested in your view from the trenches. What EUC initiatives do you have planned and how are they transforming your business?
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Daryl Bishop is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Melbourne, Australia.

VMworld-graphicCheck out the VMworld 2014 Operations Transformation track for opportunities to hear from experienced VMware experts, practitioners, and the real-world experiences of customers transforming their IT infrastructure and operational processes.

How Do You Know if IT is Truly Transformational?

By Daryl Bishop

Daryl Bishop-crop“Transform your organisation by leveraging the convergence of cloud with the inherent synergies between the information superhighway and the innovation confluence between crowdsourcing and viral inputs.”

We’ve all sat in meetings and presentations listening to meaningless strings of words like these being thrown around with reckless abandon. The biggest offender among these terms is the word transformation. It seems that every IT organization is undergoing a transformation of one type or another.

In the dictionary, transformation is defined as a marked change in form, nature, or appearance. By this rationale, any IT project could be considered a transformation, however I think it’s a little more nuanced than this.

For example, a number of years ago I was involved in a mail platform migration from Lotus Notes to Exchange. Within the technology department, this project was heralded as a major transformation. Was this really a transformation? The first step in deciding is ensuring that we’re all speaking the same language, i.e., we have a common definition.

To decide whether an initiative is truly transformational, there are some key attributes to consider:

  • Aligned to a business transformation
    The surest indicator of an IT transformation is whether it is aligned to a business transformation. When the business undergoes a transformation, for example moving into digital markets, then IT needs to follow suit.
  • Touches technology, process, and people
    Transformation should not be limited to just technology; it needs to reach across the IT organization to include the elements of people and process. The software-defined data center (SDDC) vision is a great example of a transformation that drives efficiency and automation across the entire IT organization and fundamentally changes the way IT does business.
  • Usually a large program of work
    Larger programs of work have more touch points across the IT organization. This is not solely an attribute of transformation, but it’s certainly an indicator. In my earlier example, if the mail migration were a component of a larger activity based working (ABW) program, then it would be a transformation!
  • Often has a cost reduction coupled with a productivity dividend goal
    IT is continually being asked to reduce cost while delivering improved service levels. As a result, transformation almost always has cost reduction, efficiency, and productivity dividends. Otherwise, why would you bother?
  • Is innovative, introduces something new, or modernizes
    By definition a transformation is a change — and real transformation is driven by innovation within the IT organization. Businesses survive and thrive based on driving new innovations within their markets. IT is no different and must continually innovate to remain relevant and deliver the services the business needs, all within budget.

Using my previous mail exchange migration example, the outcome was not transformational as it was purely technology-focused with the business impact being a change in mail platform; evolutionary perhaps — certainly not revolutionary.

Now that we understand and have defined what constitutes a transformation, I’ll talk about how to transform your IT organization using VMware’s end-user computing vision in my next post.

In the interim, if you think of other elements that are required for a transformation or have any feedback, please drop me a line.

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Daryl Bishop is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Melbourne, Australia.

Competing with Shadow IT

By Daryl Bishop

Daryl Bishop-cropOver the last few years, business units have increasingly been bypassing IT and ordering services directly from external service providers (e.g., SaaS applications and cloud IaaS services). IT has been largely oblivious to this threat, believing that the business will continue to rely on IT for technology services.

We’re now seeing the next stage of shadow IT with business openly bypassing IT, in fact the business model for some external providers is now purposely built around dealing direct with the business rather than IT.

The main reason is that IT is seen by the business as being a roadblock to the agility it requires to deliver products to market quickly.

SHADOW IT 1

IT needs to reinvent itself and demonstrate how it can be a competitive differentiator for the business. Let’s look at some of the areas where IT has a natural advantage over shadow IT:

  • You understand your business
    The bottom line is that the IT department intimately understands the business and an external service does not. Use this knowledge to IT’s advantage, aligning and working closely with your business.
  • IT is not just a cost center
    Following on from the first point, elevate your people to work with the business, demonstrating how technology can be used to benefit the revenue generating side of the business.
  • Become a trusted broker of services
    By being a trusted broker of IT services, IT can both centrally manage the costs of external providers and provide internal services when required.
  • Keep your business safe
    External service providers understand risk in the context of the services they provide; however, they cannot understand the nuances of risk particular to your business. Capitalize on this “home field” advantage.

SHADOW IT 2

As shown in the diagram above, embrace new IT. Rather than being threatened by shadow IT, embrace it and use it as a catalyst to provide a superior level of service to your business. You’re bristling with capability, you just need to engage and demonstrate the ways you can help business thrive.

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Daryl Bishop is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Melbourne, Australia.