Home EuropeEurope II 2009 Complexity and innovation in the connected era

Complexity and innovation in the connected era

by david.nunes
Stephen MurdochIssue:Europe II 2009
Article no.:9
Topic:Complexity and innovation in the connected era
Author:Stephen Murdoch
Title:Vice President & General Manager
Organisation:Dell’s Large Enterprise Business Unit for Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA
PDF size:240KB

About author

Stephen Murdoch is the Vice President and General Manager of Dell’s Large Enterprise Business Unit for Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). Prior to his current role, Mr Murdoch was responsible for defining, establishing and leading Dell Global Infrastructure Consulting Services; he previously led Dell’s services and enterprise systems business in EMEA. Mr Murdoch spent many years at IBM where, most recently, as Vice President of the Communications Sector, he was responsible for the entire telco, media and utilities industry portfolio. At IBM, Mr Murdoch held a number of global, EMEA and UK senior management roles with experience spanning software and services, storage, and enterprise systems. Stephen Murdoch has a BSc (Hons) in Physics.

Article abstract

Always-on connectivity makes our lives simpler and more efficient and stimulates innovation and interaction with customers, friends and peers. Nevertheless, the infrastructure for this connectivity has become too complicated and costly. Fortunately, new standards-based computing and virtualization technologies, (that is, ‘cloud computing’) cost less, are easier to maintain, and save space, energy and money. The Internet and social media (Facebook, and so on.) make it easier to connect with customers, tap their ideas to stimulate innovation and offer customers better products and services.

Full Article

The IT industry has reached a crossroads, shaped by the macro-trends of globalisation and balanced by the more sobering reality of recession and our increased responsibilities relating to Green IT. Within that, the online world is undergoing the most significant transformation in its history, and there is a blurring of professional and personal space through the explosion in social media and online communications. Change creates opportunity for those that embrace it and eagerly adopt new routes to innovation opened up by mass usage of the Internet. The trick is to harness all of this dynamism and make sense of it, in order to provide innovative and realistic solutions that can meet the growing needs of today’s organisations. Always-on connectivity The Connected Era is driven by a surge in always-on connectivity – from mobile technology and unified communications, to RFID, overnight delivery and the immediate needs of today’s global businesses. This connectivity opens up new opportunities for innovation and interaction with our customers, friends and peers, utilising technology to make our lives simpler and more efficient. However, somewhere along the way, the underlying infrastructure has become too complicated. The same systems that deliver so much benefit can also be expensive, difficult to operate and hard to maintain. Some complexity is unavoidable, providing differentiation and competitive advantage, but there is unnecessary complexity that needs to be identified and removed for our vision of innovation to become a reality. Data centre management and cost CIOs face escalating management and cost issues in their data centres. Server sprawl, storage constraints, data protection and security concerns, compounded by ultra-mobile always-connected devices, continue to put pressure on resources and budgets. To cope with these pressures and the worldwide flood of digital data predicted by 2010, users have found themselves adding more machines, employing more staff and hiring more consultants to manage it all. More service at lower cost The CIOs’ dilemma is that innovation is typically constrained today, in times when we need it most. A typical business spends only 30 per cent of its IT budget driving innovation to support strategic business growth or for cost control. That means 70 per cent of the budget goes for ongoing IT maintenance. This, combined with reduced budgets, means CIOs must deliver the same – or greater – levels of service at lower cost. CIOs need to scale and protect their current environment without creating more complexity by realigning their investment. Technology to the rescue What has become clear today is that this 30/70 investment ratio is no longer sustainable. If the EU is to meet its goals of fostering innovation, research and entrepreneurship across Europe1, and if organisations are going to ride out the current recession, then the imbalance of investment on maintenance versus innovation needs to be quickly addressed by all sectors. For this to happen IT must be simplified. Ultimately, it is important that organisations act now to address the spiralling problem of IT complexity – ensuring long-term goals and objectives are still achievable and innovation does not suffer. Fortunately, the proprietary systems that once dominated data centres are steadily giving way to standards-based computing that is both more affordable and easier to maintain. However, it is not just a matter of getting the hardware right. Virtualization technologies can make space in the data centre, save energy and streamline manageability; data can be de-duplicated and storage consolidated and tiered. Solutions delivered from the ‘cloud’- via the Internet – are becoming more attractive, economically, environmentally and in terms of performance, and a great deal of service, support and maintenance can now be handled remotely. Opportunity to innovate The positive news is that organisations are now exposed to more opportunities to innovate than ever before. Fundamentally, there is increased opportunity to interact directly with customers. Listening to customers has been forever redefined; whereas it used to mean commissioning a customer survey, it’s now about real-time engagement with your customers (and critics) online and then using those relationships to create a smarter, more innovative, business. Tapping into the ideas of your customers is like having an open source R&D lab. In one example, a company invited customers to share their ideas on the Web for improving products and services; they attracted more than 11,000 ideas and put more than 280 ideas to use. Innovative IT The industry has many other examples of innovative IT in action, not least in the education sector. Solutions such as unified communications have supported local education and authorities in making the virtual classrooms a reality. As well as bringing more innovative learning techniques, this technology is helping the sector meet government directives regarding inclusion and schooling of 14-19 year old students in the UK2. By incorporating easy-to-use Office Communicator Server (OCS) based voice and video conferencing, which enables 360 degree round table discussions, remote learners can now see their peers and fully participate. Location need no longer be a barrier to education. Small and medium business innovation The small and medium business (SMB) sector is also making significant headway through innovative technology programmes. UK-based gardening firm, Wriggly Wigglers, is making the most of the Connected Era by implementing tools to ensure regular customer and community interaction. Social media technology allows the company to reach out to thousands of customers via weekly podcasts from the Wiggly sofa. Using the latest communications vehicles, such as Facebook, Wriggly Wigglers keeps in contact with the 1,375 customers currently listed as friends on their profile page. Social media has also helped them build a mail order catalogue based on Wiki ideas generated on its Facebook page by experts and customers. This is just one of the many organisations now utilising social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to reach new audiences. Despite sceptics, I believe much progress has already been made in both the private and public sectors. I continue to see more examples of innovative programmes in action. I have been involved in IT all my professional life and believe we are embarking on our most dynamic period of technological innovation yet; opening up unseen levels of customer intimacy to those that can harness it. The spread of social media and inventive communication methods, boosted by a real hunger within the corporate world and public sector to throw off legacy mindsets and get serious about investing in the future, will further open up the Connected Era. Managing complexity whilst keeping us all connected will continue to be the greatest challenge, and this calls for smart IT investments that allow CIOs to do more with less, as they focus their energies and budgets on future innovation.

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