3 Tips For Building A Software-Driven Enterprise

Delivering meaning digital transformations excites and torments IT leaders due to its constantly changing nature. Lopez Research is always on the lookout for insights on how to navigate this new IT paradigm, especially when the ideas come from a seasoned veteran of transformation. At the recent CA Technologies. “Built to Change” summit, I had the opportunity to meet with Otto Berkes, the company’s Executive and CTO. Mr. Berkes previously served as the chief technology officer at HBO, spent 18 years at Microsoft and was one of the four original founders of Xbox.

Otto Berkes, CTO of CA Technologies

Otto Berkes, CTO of CA Technologies

Berkes is also the author of Wiley & Son’s book Digitally Remastered – Building Software into Your Business DNA. (Coincidentally the same publisher as my Right-time Experiences book that describes how to approach building better customer and employee experiences in an increasingly connected world.) The conference and my interview with Mr. Berkes focused on the IT imperative to design a modern software factory. The book, whose proceeds support Code for America, describes the challenge and opportunity of redesigning software for the new world of digital engagement.

Digitally Remastered written by Otto Berkes

As you know, digital transformation isn’t new. However, the pace and extensive IT disruption caused by digitizing the business is more pronounced in this timeframe. Berkes make a prescient point when he states that “technology has moved from a supporting role in the firm to a driving force of growth and engagement.” Perhaps you could say that was always true, but I don’t believe it. Anyone looking at a software package designed in the late 1980s knows that these systems, while digital, aren’t the pinnacle of tools for driving engagement and growth.

When Right-time Experiences was released in 2014, I wrote about how social, mobile and cloud computing would change both employee and customer engagement. In 2018, these concepts are foregone conclusions. Yet many businesses haven’t built the systems to must support in real-time two-way engagement and business process completion for both consumers and employees. Why? I posit that difficulty moving to a modern software-driven organization is the cause of these woes.

Image of Right-time Experiences, written by Maribel Lopez of Lopez Research LLC and published by John Wiley and Sons

Right-time Experiences, written by Maribel Lopez of Lopez Research LLC and published by John Wiley and Sons

Agile development, organizational changes and APIs are key to a modern software-driven business. Agile, much like digital transformation, has been around for decades. However, most companies aren’t organized for agile development which requires small teams, which work in spurts. The team and process incorporate the whole application lifecycle from design to testing to maintenance in one group. It’s a complete shift from the waterfall, command and control model that IT organizations have built their existing practice on. Companies literally must change how the business organizes and operates. As we all know, change is hard.

But the need for speed is real. Software-driven enterprises, whether startups or established companies, can respond to changing market dynamics faster. If it takes multiple quarters to change a system, your company will fall behind the competition. Everyone knows this, yet why don’t we act? For some time, there was a belief that the technologies weren’t ready but that isn’t the case today. The Achilles’ heel of digital transformation isn’t technology adoption, it’s the company’s inertia to change.

Three Roadblocks IT leaders must overcome to build a software-driven enterprise

While I could delineate the various technology solutions and strategies IT should be evaluating (e.g., APIs, microservices and security), I think it’s more important to nail three basic concepts before getting mired in technology selection.

First, don’t toy with agile. The road is paved with good development model intentions but failed execution. Lopez Research has spoken with many companies that have used agile for a project or two, but never committed to moving the entire organization to a new development methodology. Without a strong commitment, your company won’t see the benefits because of its running different tools, processes and development schedules. Agile development can start small, but you have to commit to the organizational change.

Second, budgets need to be realigned for a continuous upgrades mindset. One of the benefits of waterfall development is that you lock the scope and theoretically the cost. While I don’t believe the cost estimates every match the actual expenses, companies need to think differently about budgets in an agile world. You’re actually budgeting for quarterly to bi-weekly upgrades. The job is never done. The software becomes a living breathing part of your organization that must constantly evolve as the market changes. There is no “set it and forget it” mindset in a software-driven organization. Refinement, reinvention and innovation are the goals of a software-driven organization.

Third, effective use of data is crucial to any organization’s success. One of the interesting differences in today’s software driven organization is the need to both consume from and share data with third parties. Businesses must break down internal data silos between groups but also look to developing strategies for sharing data with partners. This may require you to rethink data protection, expiration of content, data storage and analytics strategies. For example, It’s unreasonable to expect you’ll create one repository for all of your data so how do you create a consistent and accurate view of a customer across various data sources? How do you anonymize customer data for sharing with a third party? What data can be shared and for how long? What third-party data would improve your products (e.g. reviews, shipping information, weather)? These are the types of questions companies need to answer before selecting various technology solutions.

Digital transformation is a journey, but if you build a solid strategy for the items mentioned above, you’ll build the foundation for the software-driven enterprise.

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5 Reasons To Shortlist Samsung’s Galaxy Note8

 

Image of Samsung Galaxy Note8 from Unpacked event on August 23, 2017 in New York City Source: Maribel Lopez, Lopez Research

Image of Samsung Galaxy Note8 from Unpacked event on August 23, 2017 in New York City Source: Maribel Lopez, Lopez Research

After the tumultuous Galaxy Note7 recall, all eyes are on Samsung as it launches its new flagship device the In keeping with previous Note versions, Samsung aims to make a phone that productivity-driven consumers and IT leaders will love. Yet, one has to ask if there is anything left to excite us in the smartphone market after the rapid pace of mobile innovation.

A majority of the differentiation in mobility has moved into software, primarily led by the operating system vendors. However, Samsung’s Note8 announcement shows that it still has a few hardware (and software) tricks up its sleeve (see the full specifications list below). Here are five reasons why people looking for a consumer-friendly phone that’s also a work powerhouse should consider evaluating the Galaxy Note8.

Improved camera. The camera continues to be a key buying feature for any smartphone.Samsung’s Galaxy Note8 sports two 12MP rear cameras with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) on both the wide-angle and

Image of Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera resolution versus Apple iPhone & taken during the Unpacked event in New York City on August 23, 2017

Image of Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera resolution versus Apple iPhone & taken during the Unpacked event in New York City on August 23, 2017

telephoto lenses. The Note8’s Live Focus feature lets you control the depth of field by allowing you to adjust the bokeh effect in preview mode and even after you take the photo. The Dual cameras and OIS features help the photographer create sharper images. The dual cameras also enable something that Samsung calls Dual Capture mode where both rear cameras take two pictures simultaneously. One of the photos is a close-up image shot from the telephoto lens and one is a wide-angle shot that shows the entire background. Leading smartphone vendors are working on solutions to improve image quality in low light environments. In the case of Samsung, the wide-angle lens has a Dual Pixel sensor with rapid auto-focus to capture sharp and clear shots, even in low-light environments. The Note8 is also equipped with an 8MP Smart AutoFocus front-facing camera. In the camera demonstration, I could see the importance of stabilization and appreciated the ability to have both a wide angle and telephoto shot captured simultaneously. The demonstration of controlling how much background blur you’d like in a photo was also impressive. The quality of the camera will also become increasingly important to business buyers as more companies add image capture and scanning into their business workflows. Personally, I feel the camera advances are one of the most exciting parts of the device.

Bigger screen and the App Pair Feature. The Note8 has a squarer edge than the S8 plus and offers the largest screen on a Note device, with a 6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity Display. The design of the screen’s edge provides more room for apps that use the S Pen. The App Edge function on previous models was highly customizable, but Samsung has taken this software to the next level in Note8 with a new feature called App Pair. It allows you to create a custom pair of apps placed together in the Edge panel or the home screen. For example, a person could have their calendar and phone dialer paired so both apps could be opened together and placed side-by-side in a multitasking view. Another custom pair could have a YouTube paired with a messaging app. On the productivity front, this makes it easier for consumers to work or play without toggling through various apps. Obviously, a bigger screen and an easy way to have multiple windows open at once are important for making this a productive work device.

S Pen. Yes, I do believe the stylus makes a difference. At one point, the stylus seemed like a throwback to the

Samsung S Pen image taken during the Unpacked event in New York City on August 23, 2017

A Samsung S Pen image photograph from the Unpacked event in New York City on August 23, 2017

Palm Pilot days of old. Today we have a pen with Microsoft’s Surface, a pencil for Apple’s iPads and the S Pen for Samsung devices. In each iteration of stylus technology, we come one step closer to the feel and responsiveness of a pencil. Samsung’s latest S Pen implementation of a finer tip and improved pressure sensitivity is a major improvement over its previous generations. In a demonstration of the S Pen, Samsung illustrated how easy it is to sketch, use art apps, write down a grocery list and interact with the phone. At first glance, you wouldn’t think a stylus could change how you interact with a phone, but a stylus helps a large phone bridge that gap between a PC and a tablet by opening up different use cases. For example, the S Pen for Business allows a professional to discreetly take notes in Screen off or quickly annotate documents and photos. The screen off memo made a huge leap forward in replacing the notebook by expanding note taking to up to 100 screens of text by simply paging down as you write. The S Pen is a win for use cases such as clipboard replacement applications where employees need to take notes, fill out forms and capture signatures.

 

Built in security with biometrics, secure folder and Knox. Similar to its other devices, Samsung’s Note8 offers the choice of iris, face recognition and fingerprint scanning security in addition to a passcode. The company offers IT departments additional levels of security with Knox that can be used standalone or in conjunction with another Enterprise Mobile Management software partner. The secure folder, a feature that was on the Note7 and available as an app store download, has reappeared. The software provides a place to securely store and backup your personal data while separating it from your corporate information. Knox Workspace provides a container that allows IT to separate and manage work apps. With mobile security ranking a top IT concern with 75% of the companies Lopez Research surveyed, companies want a hardened version of Android, which is good for Samsung. In the “2017 Lopez Research Enterprise Mobility Benchmark”, over 72% of IT leaders interviewed said Samsung devices are on the short list for approved BYOD smartphones.

Samsung DeX and Note8 create a portal work environment. In March, Samsung announced a hockey puck sized device called the Samsung DeX that allows you to connect your phone to a monitor and use it as a laptop replacement with access to Android apps as well as business apps such as the Microsoft suite. The Note8, when combined with Samsung DEX, can create a work environment where certain apps such as video conferencing can move seamlessly from the phone to a monitor, and back to the phone with Samsung DeX-enabled versions of BlueJeans Network, Zoom, and GoToMeeting mobile apps. Of course, all of this is useless if the device lacks the proper computing power. To meet these performance requirements, the Note8 offers 6GB RAM and a 10-nm processor.

While not new, other features of note include:

Bixby. Initially launched with the S8, Samsung’s voice assistant Bixby will also be a part of the Note8 family. Voice interfaces with natural language processing have resurfaced to help consumers overcome the challenges of discovery and device usage. While Bixby is still in its infancy, it is another way for the consumer to discover and utilize Samsung specific features. I wouldn’t use it as a generic digital assistant, but it’s great for items such as changing settings, using camera features (e.g. take a selfie) and opening apps. In a world of increasing functionality, it makes sense for Samsung to provide a voice interface.

Water resistance. Several Samsung phones, including the Note8, are in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.

Expandable storage. The device comes with 64GB of storage, but consumers can purchase an additional MicroSD card to expand memory can reach up to 256GB.

While it may appear that everyone has a smartphone, the battle for upgrades is underway, which spells opportunity. Comscore estimates there will be 50 million U.S. consumers eligible for phone upgrades in the fall. Additionally, many companies are rolling out new BYOD stipends and more mobile application that will provide more reasons for people to purchase new smartphones.

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 is a worthy contender in the smartphone battle given the improvements in the camera, and S Pen. I still maintain it’s very challenging, but not impossible, to get consumers to switch operating systems. Hence, Apple probably isn’t quaking in its boots, but Samsung’s recent improvements do raise the stakes for Apple’s next smartphone release. With the Note8, Samsung could win significant Android market share, giving the Google Pixel and others, a run for the money.

Maribel is the founder of Lopez Research, a market and strategic advisory firm. She’s the author of the Wiley book “Right-time Experiences” and founder of the – profit organization Data For Betterment Twitter:@MaribelLopez

This article was originally posted on Forbes.com.

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3 Tips For Defining The Right IoT Strategy

A Utility tower is part of the IoT landscape

IoT connects everything from power plants to toasters

The IoT market has matured over the past three years. Industry leaders are IoT-enabling the business using connected devices, cloud services and analytics to build faster, smarter business processes. These data-enriched processes will improve employee productivity, deliver operational efficiencies and provide new revenue opportunities. Over two-thirds of the IT leaders that Lopez Research surveyed listed understanding IoT’s impact on their business as one of their top strategic IT initiatives for 2017.  However, less than half of the companies that Lopez Research surveyed have a documented IoT strategy with clear use cases.

Do you have an IoT strategy?

Every business must rethink its overall operational and information technology strategy to maximize business value from the IoT. Companies must optimize existing business processes with IoT data and create new workflows to drive the business forward. IoT strategy was the topic of a recent ebook from SAP titled Insights on the Future of IoT where TopRank Marketing asked 21 Digital Transformation influencers, to provide their thoughts on the future of IoT and its impact on various businesses.

The answer is tricky because the use cases and technologies vary dramatically across industries. The wonderful thing about IoT is that it isn’t limited to one type of business or vertical. Every company can benefit from IoT use cases such as improved asset utilization, predictive maintenance and security threat prevention.

I’m most excited about the potential for businesses to create new business workflows by using data from their own internal sources and data mashups with third parties for information such as weather, traffic, pricing and customer sentiment.

There are many excellent points in the ebook that you can read here. For example, Dion Hinchcliffe, the Chief Strategy Officer of 7Summits, discussed how IoT changes the customer experience. Meanwhile, Yves Mulkers, a Data Architect for 7wData, discussed how IoT could improve industries such as travel and agriculture. In my opinion, one of the greatest benefits of IoT is that machines can talk to people in a meaningful way, requiring product makers rethink how every aspect of engagement from sales through support.

Companies approach IoT in various ways

While there’s no single answer to the question, there are at least three ways that Lopez Research’s enterprise clients are approaching IoT strategies. These plans include using the IoT to:

  1. Deliver faster access to existing data. Before mobile and IoT, data was locked in systems that required a person to monitor and manage a device at the equipment’s location. Today, connected devices can talk to systems and individuals. For example, retailers can have up to the minute access to inventory availability and supply chain tracking. A plant manager can view alerts and decide on an action while walking the manufacturing floor. And a telecom provider can analyze network issues in real-time to respond to customer support call.
  2. Improve business with access to new data. In many cases, IoT provides the opportunity to create new business processes and workflows by providing a company with information it didn’t have in the past. For example, Coca-Cola connected its Freestyle machines allowing the company to reduce stock out, understand buying behavior and even provide a new service that allowed its customers to create customized beverages.
  3. Transform the business with new workflows and business models.  IoT offers the opportunity to disrupt industries with new services and business models. One example is how GE has moved from selling jet engines to selling uptime. Another is an extension of an existing model with a new twist, such as an elevator company using IoT to deliver remote monitoring and improved field service.

Fortunately, the industry hype has led to new IoT platform and point solutions from a wide range of established vendors and startups. While a company can’t become an IoT-enabled business overnight, it can build a foundation to support better workflows and fuel business growth with a phased IoT deployment. We’re at the beginning of an exciting journey.

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