• February 22, 2016

Q&A: Facing Down Fear and Driving Disruption for Enterprise Transformation

To thrive in this technologically driven, perpetually disrupted environment, enterprises need to welcome innovative change rather than fear it. Successful enterprises in the future will embrace a culture of innovation organization-wide.

With the right infrastructure, apps, governance, and security protocols in place, successful companies add modular solutions and scalable frameworks, which provide the crucial flexibility for continuous transformation. Combined, these components drive organizational thrust, positioning the enterprise at the forefront of a forward trajectory to the future state. From this vantage point, disruption shifts from feared threat to welcomed phenomenon.

Where would an enterprise typically want to invest to fully drive innovation? What business outcomes can they expect? We put these questions and more to two seasoned HPE Enterprise Services Distinguished Technologists: Jim “Coop” Cooper, Chief Technologist, Mobility & Workplace Global Practice; and Sudesh Shah, Chief Technologist and Strategist, Asia.

How will the transformed enterprise of the future manage disruption and innovation?

Cooper: From a user experience point of view, business units are looking for disruptive innovations throughout their organizations. However, many enterprise IT departments have gotten in a rut of using legacy methods that are fixated on managing devices. Employees view this approach with disdain and find it restrictive, causing business units to look elsewhere for answers. We need to be equipping our employees, not with devices, but with experiences that inspire them to discover and work in collaborative environments. For example, gamifying business data or looking at business data in three dimensions rather than two can drive new business insights and innovation.

Shah: In the idea economy, it’s eat or be eaten—it’s almost survival of the fittest. If you don’t adapt to what customers want when they need it and at the right value proposition, you will lose to competitors. Think Paypal, Apple iTunes, and Amazon.

What outcomes should an enterprise expect when they have successfully managed disruption and innovation?

Shah: In this future state, the enterprise will have first-mover advantage, the potential to easily globalize its products and services, and the capability to develop a new go-to-market portfolio—which may be well outside traditional industry domains, e.g., retailers providing banking services.

Cooper: Enterprises will be very flexible in terms of the products and services they bring to market. Complex processes will be delegated to—not selected and developed by—IT departments. Users will have access to data in ways that allow them to do more experimentation and discover new themes that will spur new products and new ways of thinking.

What are the barriers—both known and unknown—to fully transforming?

Cooper: From a technical point of view, network bandwidth and the volume of data. Today’s enterprises will be limited by physics and have difficulty switching between services if they have to move petabytes of data from one provider to another. This will be critical, as volume of data used for analytics is increasing almost daily. Think about the number of sensors we are connecting to the internet every day. Moving that data becomes the Achilles heel of the transforming enterprise.

Shah: Legacy technology and siloed business units and processes. Most legacy organizations are composed of multiple business units that operate separately. The technology hasn’t been built with a platform strategy across the entire enterprise. Instead, it’s been built on the basis of needs as individual requirements emerge per that business unit. This is a serious impediment to speed, flexibility, and the ability to rapidly adopt innovation.

How can enterprises benefit from modular solutions and scalable infrastructures?

Shah: When you modularize by infrastructure service component rather than siloed business unit or function, you achieve enormous gains in speed and flexibility. For example, you could standardize to one Windows Server operating system from a haphazard collection of versions of varied OS’s across different business units. The goal is to architect an infrastructure service framework horizontally—not in silos—with standardized component modules to be consumed across the enterprise.

Cooper: While we let the physicists work on new ways of moving large amounts of data, IT departments should focus on how to decompose their environments into modules that will allow their infrastructure to become more agile. Instead of locking into a supplier, consider, “What are the right APIs to facilitate easy access to data? How do I protect my data while enabling speed and empowering users to discover new things?” Considering these two items is a huge step in allowing enterprises to compose new solutions to solve increasingly complex problems.

  What industries will be affected to the greatest degree by Internet of Things (IoT)?

Cooper: Technology like this has actually been deployed in manufacturing for years but has been called different things. Even before the internet as we know it was broadly available, automobile manufacturers were able to collect data from interconnected devices to deliver the right part at the right time, measure quality, and automate processes. Remember Manufacturing Automation Protocol circa 1982? Today we experience the benefits of IoT everywhere. The cars you buy, the televisions you buy—all are loaded with sensors. Retailing will be the next frontier where IoT has the potential to radically change how we shop.

Shah: All industries. IoT technologies will be designed around the customer or client, be available when they need it, and deployable as a service. Alternatively, IoT technologies are driving transformation in manufacturing and transportation, potentially saving billions in maintenance and downtime costs by alerting users to service schedules and potential component failures.

How can an enterprise ensure employees stay up to speed and flexible enough to welcome disruption?

Shah: It is more than just changing technologies. Successful strategies consist of programs repurposing and retraining employees and cultural change programs focused on cultivating agility. It starts first with the understanding among the organization’s governing management that a transformation is required. These leaders must then deploy a change strategy that touches everything: the business, operations, and technology.

 Cooper: Some humans just don’t like change. Add in the huge number of millennials now in the workforce, and we have a huge tension between legacy processes and the thirst to explore. Some enterprises are responding by establishing old IT and new IT environments. You structure one environment with old IT processes for those who don’t want to change. For your up-and-comers, you create an environment that inspires rather than constrains. Think of it as a new IT box that is focused on protecting data, but the device, operating system, and application selected is entirely up to the user. It’s a combination of structural flexibility and education.

What areas would an enterprise typically want to invest in to achieve disruption and rapid adoption?

Cooper: IT departments need to make investments in areas that move them away from legacy processes. For example, to inspire a great user experience, do we really need rigorous device management processes that were developed in the early ’90s? IT needs to redefine itself in the age where employees have more powerful equipment at home than at work—focus needs to shift toward a user experience that inspires and accelerates discovery. For example, enterprises have buried data sets that have yet to be made available to their employees. Correlating this information with publicly available data sets can reveal new insights and ideas. Protect the data jewels rather than the entire data kingdom. The investments should be in processes that protect data while at the same time opening it up. IT needs to listen to what business units are asking for and come up with ways to enable users to leverage data for exploration and discovery.

Shah: Businesses want to move toward the idea economy. This move requires the flexibility to rapidly develop and test new business services with their clients. Instead of developing one business service every six months, you develop five per month. And out of those five, maybe one or two will be successful. This process puts tremendous demand on the IT organization to build the new applications and infrastructure to run these new services. It requires a DevOps culture where rapid applications development runs in tandem with continuous delivery automation. The enterprise has the capability to transform existing applications on the fly while services are in development by testing with selected clients. The flow of services never stops. With this strategy, it’s possible to shrink provisioning time from three or six months to 10 minutes. Now that’s an enabler for rapid adoption of innovation.

Learn more about moving the enterprise from the current state to one that fosters innovation in “The Path to Self-Disruption: Nine Steps of a Digital Transformation Journey.”

For more on real-world transformation with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, click here.