How to get IT on board with RPA

Q&A with Symphony Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer David Brain

What is the initial feedback from IT? Where does the resistance lie?

As you might expect, resistance generally comes from engaging any team late in the process or without sufficient information or sponsorship. Generally, we have found IT teams to be hugely supportive of RPA when it is deployed within IT governance and addresses a challenge that IT is not already addressing through other programs of work.

Information security is generally the IT team we spend most of our time with. RPA provides a new model for understanding and constructing appropriate controls. The thought of a robot performing transactions on an unlocked machine accessing sensitive data has obvious risks. Working with the information security team to propose, review and implement controls to manage these risks is essential to a successful deployment.


How should business leaders message the value of RPA to IT?

RPA has numerous benefits to a business, such as improved quality and consistency, reduced transaction times, business continuity and agility – not to mention the obvious cost savings. That said, it is not the only tool in the tool box and IT teams may have different approaches they are already pursuing to solve the same challenge the business is trying to solve with RPA. Understanding the IT roadmap prior to embarking on any implementation is therefore imperative to avoid conflicting agendas.

It is also essential that a business sponsor with sufficient seniority is identified to allocate project budget and prioritize RPA among other initiatives. We’ve found the key to obtaining sponsorship is to perform a ‘Future of Work Assessment,’ or FOWA, across the area of the business. The FOWA evaluates potential solutions, proposes a Target Operating Model (TOM) and compiles a business case to articulate the value of RPA and the cashable and non-cashable benefits it will bring. Once the investment and benefit are quantified, it’s easy to justify RPA and resources in supporting its implementation.

Why is it important for IT to be involved in implementation?

While RPA is often managed by operations teams to provide a virtual workforce, it is still an IT implementation, and therefore has to be deployed and managed within an IT governance framework so that the risks associated with automation can be effectively managed.

We have seen some organizations take a different route in implementing RPA without the involvement of IT. In every single instance, this has caused additional delay and/or risk to the business, and in the vast majority of cases, has resulted in a lag in adoption or the RPA initiative being shut down altogether.

IT teams tend to be the budget holders for the infrastructure that is put in place (new robots), and are responsible for infrastructure and system availability, up time and recovery. IT teams also tend to hold the licensing and roadmaps for the target applications RPA is automating (office, SAP etc.).

Regardless of which function manages the implementation, for RPA to be successful both operations and IT have to be bought into the initiative and actively involved.

When should IT get involved?

In our experience, it is best to involve IT from the outset. This doesn’t mean heavy involvement – just the socializing of the investigation, which may or may not lead to a business case for RPA. The earlier the engagement, the less risk to the project as you may discover that the application you wish to automate is due for replacement in the following year or that there is already another RPA pilot in your organization that you could leverage.

Once the idea has been socialized, and ideally once the sponsorship is in place, the next step is to perform a FOWA assessment. We have found that a strong business case is far more convincing to leadership than a compromised proof of concept that proves the software can work in your business as it does now in countless other organizations. Once the FOWA is complete, IT needs to be involved in validating the security model and providing the governance within which the deployment can take place. Often the IT team will be required to provide access to non-production environments that mirror the live systems for the purpose of developing and testing RPA.

Once the implementation is complete, IT involvement is more important than ever, as they need to manage any upgrade or change to the systems being automated to ensure continuity of automation.

Where has IT seen value? How have their jobs been made easier?

RPA is a great means to address the projects that IT cannot prioritize. We’ve worked with several CIOs and CTOs who have told us that they now look at RPA in their triaging of investment requests. If the opportunity is not significant enough to make it onto the roadmap, then the IT teams look to see if RPA can provide a lower cost pragmatic solution. This is a great dynamic to create as our clients that deploy RPA do not want to compete with the initiatives to replace systems or upgrade their functionality, rather they want to find a more effective solution than dealing with these problems manually as they do today.

With many projects delivering a typical payback period of less than one year, there is often a case for implementing RPA even when there are longer term strategic solutions for addressing the same challenge.

Another way RPA can be used by IT teams is as a means of prototyping automations which can then be transferred into the underlying applications when stabilized.

How do you see RPA impacting IT day to day in the next five years?

I think RPA will become a more valuable tool to IT departments where they can provide operations teams with a means to provide automated solutions to problems that are not addressed through the IT roadmap.

We do not see it as a means to reduce IT spend or channel away the limited funds IT teams usually have available to them. Instead, we see it as a way to extend the amount of opportunities they can support by enabling operations with tools that have been approved by IT and are managed effectively and securely.

There is also the potential to grow hybrid IT / business roles by bringing the functions closer together.

Source: Blueprism-How to get IT on board with RPA


Top 5 benefits for enterprises embracing digital transformation

If you look back at just the past five years, chances are high that new digital technologies have changed the way you live, work and play. New innovations have changed the way you bank, communicate via our devices, and even how much time you might be spending in physical stores. The fact that the digital transformation is gaining ground is no surprise with the most disrupted industries today being media, telecom, consumer financial services, retail and technology.

According to CA Technologies’ new survey – Keeping Score: Why Digital Transformation Matters which details the significant impact digital transformation is having on enterprises in Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ), there is a strong connection between business performance and the technologies and practices that underpin digital transformation.

Across the Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ) region, the telecom and public sectors in the region are thriving the most in terms of digital transformation.

The survey introduced the Digital Transformation Business Impact Scorecard (BIS), which assessed the success of enterprises’ digital transformation initiatives. As per the study, overall, impact driven from digital initiatives from the APJ region was higher than the global BIS average of 53, with a score of 56. What this reflects is the enterprises’ high confidence in their ability to transform digitally.

Here are the top five key areas in which digital transformation is paying off:

1. Attaining Better Customer Focus

An omni-channel user experience is a must whether it is in-person at a bank branch or retail outlet, over the phone to a call center, or via a mobile app being consumed on the go. If this is handled well, customers will directly and indirectly share huge insights into their preferences and purchasing habits. If this is miscalculated, rate of the customer attrition can be rapid, with little chance to win that disaffected audience back.

As per the survey findings, 73 percent respondents from APJ, reported improvement in customer experience after undergoing digital transformation. There was also 40 percent improvement in customer satisfaction.

2. Improving Business Agility

With mounting pressures to respond to competitive, global market pressures, enterprises that can pivot through technology disruption will remain standing. Digital transformation has improved business agility on a global scale. Organizations in the region are surely seeing marked improvements with 32 percent increase in time-to-decision and 25 percent increase in speed-to-market.

3. Achieving Business Growth

Leveraging modern technology and communications to transform one or more key aspects of the business to achieve a state of digital readiness has now become a mainstream activity to drive ROI. Digital disrupters in APJ are twice more profitable than mainstream organizations. India and China rank highest globally for digital effectiveness, where organizations have seen the most benefit and impact from digital initiatives.

As per the latest findings of the study, respondents in APJ noted 38 percent growth in new business revenue. In fact, the deepening adoption of practices such as agile management, DevOps, API management and identity-centric security has boosted business impact by up to 54 percent in APJ.

4. Gaining a Competitive Advantage

In the application economy, both speed and quality are critical. Quickly delivering customer-winning applications to market can translate to a real competitive advantage. DevOps (the development and operations teams) best practices, such as Continuous Delivery and Agile Operations, can be used to capitalize on opportunities and create competitive differentiation in the application economy.

Having engaged digital transformation, 76 percent reported improvement in digital reach thus gaining a competitive edge.

5. Accomplishing Operational Efficiency

By digitally transforming, enterprises can improve their operational efficiencies through technologies such as automation that helps them keep pace with their dynamic cloud and virtualization environments that are the backbone of the application economy. Other benefits include reduction in IT-related costs, employee productivity as well as mitigating risks.

Besides these five, some of the other benefits include time-to-act on new opportunities, digital reach, customer retention, employee recruitment and retention, quality of development processes/apps and leveraging of third-party developer innovation.

With mobile application becoming preferred interface to the business, CIOs and CTOs need to transform their businesses into thriving, proactive ‘software factories’. Software factories that thrive on an agile and efficient software development process that is constantly translating customer need into delivered experience.

Today, to meet the ever-growing demands of the digital era, it is pertinent for enterprises

to incorporate technology – specifically software, into their operations and embrace digital transformation. It is key for businesses to develop ideas with customers iteratively in order to deliver a rich customer experience throughout the digital journey.

Source: 5 benefits for enterprises embracing digital transformation

2016 State of Digital Transformation

“Efforts in customer experience often serve as the heart and soul of digital transformation.” – Brian Solis

In the age of the customer, the next generation customer experience will bepowered by artificial intelligence. When everyone and everything is connected to the Internet, companies must leverage information and digital technologies including cloud computing, mobile, social, Internet of Things (IoT) and AI to transform how they connect with customers in a whole new way. Per Gartner, 89% of marketers expect to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience. Customer experience is a top priority and managed as a team sport. Digital business transformation will require an experimental and technology-led mindset that must be inclusive of the entire business – marketing, sales, services, IT, R&D and customer and partner communities. How can companies today leveraging technology to drive digital business transformation? To better understand the state of digital transformation, I spoke with Brian Solis, a world renowned digital business expert regarding his most recent research.

Brian Solis (@briansolis) is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist atAltimeter, a Prophet company. Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an award-winning author and avid keynote speaker who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation and innovation. Brian has authored several best-selling books, including What’s the Future of Business (WTF), The End of Business as Usual, and Engage!. His latest book, X, explores the intersection of where business meets design to create engaging and meaningful experiences.

The latest focus by Solis is ‘The 2016 State of Digital Transformation‘ research, designed to learn about how companies are changing and the challenges and opportunities they face while doing so, per Solis. The research is based on input from 500 digital transformation strategists and executives who are digital transformation change agents.

Let us begin by first defining digital transformation. According to Solis, digital business transformation is defined by:

The realignment of or investment in new technology, business models, and processes to drive value for customers and employees and more effectively compete in an ever-changing digital economy.

Research overview:

  • Digital transformation is one of hottest trends in business today but the term itself means different things to different people.
  • Many organizations continue to wrestle with balance of technology and organizational priorities to define a collaborative productive path toward change.
  • IT remains influential in driving digital transformation.
  • In 2016, companies are making progress, but customer-centricity still appears to be more about words than actions.
  • Customer experience remains top driver of digital transformation, but only half of the companies have mapped or are mapping the customer journey.
  • Digital transformation is pushing businesses, across departments and functions, to collaborate, innovate, and design new business models and processes.
  • Innovation has become a key priority in digital transformation efforts.

The 2016 State of Digital Transformation Key Findings:

1. Customer Experience (CX) remains the top driver of digital transformation. But IT and marketing still influence technology investments (even without fully understanding customer behaviors and expectations)

53% of companies cite “growth opportunities in new markets” as a driver to not only reach existing customers in better ways, but also expand markets.

2. 55% of those responsible for digital transformation cite “evolving customer behaviors and preferences” as the primary catalyst for change.Yet, the number one challenge facing executives (71%) is understanding behavior or impact of the new customer. In my opinion, companies must lean into their CRM platform to accelerate transformation and grow market share. This will require investments in smart applications powered by artificial intelligence (machine learning, deep learning, analytics – proactive and prescriptive analytics) and marketing automation technologies that are integrated with services and sales lines-of-business.

3. Leaders struggle to understand new connected customer behaviors.
“Companies that don’t grasp or internalize the customer journey are obstructed from seeing its potential for optimization and innovation,” said Solis.

4. The #1 challenge facing executives (71%) is understanding behavior or impact of the new customer. Yet, only half (54%) of survey respondents have completely mapped out the customer journey. This means that many companies are changing without true customer-centricity.

“Another top challenge facing digital transformation is the very thing that governs the course of business: a culture that is pervasively risk-averse (63%). Boards, shareholders, and stakeholders want to make improvements and increase profitability but are often unwilling to examine and change the governance in place today,” said Solis.

5. Only half (54%) of survey respondents have completely mapped out the customer journey. This means that many companies are changing without true customer-centricity.

6. The top three digital transformation initiatives at organizations today are:

  • Accelerating innovation (81%);
  • Modernized IT infrastructure with increased agility, flexibility, management, and security (80%);
  • Improving operational agility to more rapidly adapt to change (79%).

The CMO and CEO continue to lead digital transformation.

7. According to the survey, digital transformation is largely led by the CMO (34%). Not far behind, though, is a digitally savvy generation of CEOs who, at 27%, recognize that it’s time to lead their companies into the 21st century, according to Solis.

Which departments are digital transformation change agents?

8. Digital departments are now very common, with 81% of companies citing their existence. Yet, only 40% have a formalized cross-functional workgroup. These digitally focused groups tend to employ four to five full-time employees.

9. Innovation tops digital transformation initiatives at companies today. 81% said it was at the top of their agenda, 46% stated their company has launched a formal “innovation center.” Right behind innovation was modernizing IT infrastructure (80%) and improving operational agility (79%).

10. Disrupt or die? Despite all the lip service it gets, only 19% cited “fear of disruption” as a major reason for digital transformation efforts.

11. Mobile is still not getting enough respect. A mere 20% of leaders surveyed are studying the mobile customer journey/behavior.

“Mobile is just the beginning of disruption in the customer journey. With the runway for disruptive technologies still ahead (e.g., wearables, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality), companies will need a resilient infrastructure that adapts to not only mobile’s “micro-moments,” but also the impact of all these trends and new devices over time,” said Solis.

A good reference for to better understand the six stages of digital transformationand how mature companies implement emerging technologies.

12. More data, less understanding. 71% of leaders said understanding behavior of connected customers is a top challenge they face. Despite more data being available, this number has increased from 2014, when only 53% cited familiarity with this challenge.

13. There is ROI in digital transformation.
41% of leaders surveyed said they’ve witnessed an increase in market share due to digital transformation efforts, and 37% cite a positive impact on employee morale (37%).

“Digital strategists must still rethink metrics to chart future development in new channels, experiences, content, and devices,” said Solis. In the early stages of digital transformation maturity, survey respondents revealed the six most important metrics that organizations can actually measure around digital transformation right now are:

“Existing KPIs help validate early work in digital transformation. But often, measurement efforts are focused on measuring isolated efforts within each department/function. For example, only 22% of those surveyed cited having a content strategy in place that addresses customer needs at all journey stages, but content analytics are in the top five most important metrics measured. There is disconnect between strategy and measurement in digital transformation efforts,” said Solis.

14. Digital transformation appears to be driven by short-term plans: Just 29% of companies have a multi-year roadmap to guide to digital transformation evolution.

What are the top benefits of digital transformation?

“Digital Darwinism favors those companies that invest in change,” said Solis.

“Digital transformation isn’t easy though. Its true evolution takes time and resources, with benefits delivered in the longterm. This, to some, can represent deliberate moves away from delivering against quarterly returns. That’s the paradox of investing in digital transformation; it gives returns to those who treat it as a long-term investment versus those who expect immediate impact,” said Solis.

15. Companies are realizing types of ROI any C-suite and board can appreciate:

  • increased market share (41%) and increased customer revenue (30%).
  • Additionally, the ROI of digital transformation is reflected in employee morale. In that regard, 37% of respondents stated that second to increased market share, employee engagement was the next big return.

16. Digital transformation required multi-disciplinary involvement – To accelerate innovation, 46% of those surveyed stated that their company has launched a formal “innovation center” to understand and test new technologies and develop new solutions/services.

17. More advanced companies combat disruption and expand innovation by partnering with startups, investors, entrepreneurs, and universities to accelerate use and adoption of emerging technologies.

18. 51% of businesses partner with the startup ecosystem, 28% focus on product innovation and or concept development and 13% hope to enhance CX as a result of their innovation center.

“Digital transformation is as much a technology story as it is one about how people lead change inside and outside the company. The human factor is pervasive in each of our reports on the subject. It’s really the driving force behind evolution and revolution in business,” said Solis.

I subscribe to a simple definition of digital per Accenture: Digital is the application of information and technology to bolster human performance. How is your company using information and technology to bolster the performance of your stakeholders – employees, partners, customers and the communities that you serve?


Source: Huffington Post-2016 State of Digital Transformation

The 7 Robotic Skills driving the rise of the Robotic and Cognitive Bank and Insurer

There has been a LOT of hype around the impact of robotics software on financial services, and indeed on all service industries, but there is still a lack of clarity around what this genre of software can do. I often hear: “Let’s have a go and see what happens…” but is there a way to deploy this software more effectively?

What is robotics software? Robotics software, ranging from Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to emerging cognitive tools, can be ‘trained’ (coded) to follow electronic enabled procedures, interacting with multiple applications and data sources within a Bank or Insurer via the same means as employees and colleagues. Both – colleagues and robotics software – work together, as an integrated workforce, to deliver key processes and services for both internal and external customers, whether completing a trade, paying a claim, or reporting information to the regulator, to name but a few examples.

So what CAN robotics software do? At Deloitte, we have deployed RPAsoftware, at scale (to the equivalent of the manual effort of 100s of people), within clients’ organisations, and within our own internal support processes, and are advising on the application of emerging cognitive tools, all through the lens of the customer and the relevant business. Through this, I have assimilated that there are 7 Robotic Skills (groups of common skills) that can drive the automationof what traditionally has relied upon human skills and manual effort alone:

The majority of these ‘skills’ are delivered extensively by RPA but cognitive tools provide important additions, such as the ‘skill’ to learn, and increasingly an intelligent and interactive ability to communicate. Critically, these ‘skills’ can be utilised consistently, 24/7, without the constraints of human error, operating at great speeds, all providing great opportunities for a differentiated customer experience, within an attractive expense ratio, allowing the Robotic and Cognitive Bank/ Insurer to make a difference!

At Deloitte, using our deep industry and operational insight, coupled with applied and advanced knowledge of robotic and cognitive tools, we help clients identify which of the 7 Robotic Skills can be delivered by which tools, and to what extent, all to get the optimal level of automation that fits and enhances their customer and client proposition(s). In other words, we can help you figure out what robotics mean for you, how far you can and should go with it, as well as helping you to get there, at the right pace – we do not just disrupt and shape, we deliver.

I would really welcome you getting in touch if you would like to discuss and debate this topic and share practical experiences.

Source: 7 Robotic Skills driving the rise of the Robotic and Cognitive Bank and Insurer

CaaS: What CIOs Can Expect and its Possible Disruption on Enterprises?

Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPAs) have been here for almost two decades. Most of us might still remember Clippy, the interactive paper clip in Microsoft Office. Clippy helped beginners navigate through the intricate features of Microsoft Word and Excel. When smartphones took over the world, there was new kind of IPAs that were introduced; the kind which combined machine learning and cognition based computing. They were called cognitive apps. Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft Cortana are the pick of the bunch.

CaaS platforms are third-party cloud-based operating systems which enable apps to intelligently interact with their users. Almost every major IT company out there is now working on their own CaaS platform including Google, Apple, Amazon, and IBM. Many experts have predicted that in a couple of years competition between CaaS platforms will replicate the OS wars of the 80s and 90s. Siri, launched in 2011, was probably the most popular. Apart from the usual acts like providing weather information and hotel updates, Siri is also known for having a wry sense of humor. Now it is not that hard to imagine applications or software possessing cognitive abilities like Siri.

So What do Businesses Gain from CaaS?

CaaS can help unlock the mysteries of big data and ultimately boost creativity and productivity of professionals and their teams, of industries and organizations, as well as the GDP of regions and nations. IBM Watson’s recent acquisition and deployment of Cognea offers an indication of the potentials of AI as a business and the areas where the market still needs development.

In an interview to Information Age, IBM’s Senior Vice President John E. Kelly stated, “We’re on the cusp of the ‘third era’ of computing- one of cognitive computing. In the age of tabulating machines, vacuum systems, and the first calculators, we fed data directly into computers on punch cards. Later on, in the programmable era, we learnt how to take processes and put them into the machine, controlled by the programming we inflict on the system. But in the forthcoming era of cognitive computing, computers will work directly with humans ‘in a synergetic association’ where relationships between human and computer blur.”

Cognitive systems are capable of offering limitless opportunities to enhance professional decision-making in diverse sectors. For example, the medical and legal professions represent key industries on which cognitive computing is primed to make an early as well as significant impact. These professions depend heavily on an enormous amount of information that is constantly being rejuvenated through the likes of publications, discoveries, precedents, and advances in technology. In reality, experts estimate that the half-life of medical knowledge, or the time it takes before new information becomes a blast from the past, is merely seven years. Therefore, CIOs in medical and legal firms can look forward to some exciting new applications once CaaS “touches down” their respective sectors.

Furthermore, it is impossible for a single human to take in the constant surge of new information, let alone understand it in the framework of existing knowledge. However, cognitive systems such as Watson or Amelia can help with it. Both Watson and Amelia are built to absorb millions of pages of literature and journal articles while updating their knowledge base, constantly.

In addition to the supreme computational capabilities of computers, these tools give an opportunity for IT professionals to improve upon their expertise and decision making. For an example, a cognitive system may help indicate medical professionals with confidence intervals as to the likelihood of certain diagnosis.

Apart from healthcare, financial services, IT, telecom, and insurance sectors will also witness huge transformation once when these industries start to leverage the capabilities of cognitive computing a few years down the line. Moreover, cognitive computing in partnership with IoT connected devices may even play a greater role in mitigating cybersecurity issues.

The Contenders

According to the latest reports, there are more than 500 companies focused on developing cognitive computing systems. IBM has invested almost 26 billion dollars on its cognitive computing platform, Watson, and is betting big on the technology to take the IT behemoth forward. But of course, IBM is far from the only player in the space with so many other contenders including startups nipping on its heels. Google also has invested sizable sums of money into this area. In 2014, Google went on a crazy shopping spree, acquiring about 30 companies with at least four focusing on artificial intelligence. Cognitive Scale, a startup company founded by an ex-IBM Watson pioneer is making waves by utilizing cognitive computing to provide ‘insights as a service’–the next disruptive technology within CaaS.

Another interesting front-runner in the space is Microsoft. With its Project Adam Microsoft has made huge strides in its AI efforts and it is continually raising the heat up with its “Cortana” technology as a front end. We can already do simple things like talk to an Xbox, but the dominance of Microsoft’s office tools like Word, SharePoint, and Outlook point to a much larger impact. Microsoft has the opportunity to provide every user, let alone businesses, with a smart personal assistant. In a few years from now, we will start to see the rise of truly useful virtual assistants.

Indeed, cognitive computing is all set to make a radical disruption in enterprises’ workflows faster than many people’s expectations. According to Deloitte, by the end of this year, about 80 percent of the world’s largest enterprise software companies will integrate cognitive computing applications into their products. By 2020, Deloitte expects the statistic to reach 95 to 100 percent. For years, artificial intelligence as well as cognitive computing was seen as pure fiction or something which was not anticipated to turn up in the next 20 years or so. Well, what to say, we have reached our targets before deadline!

Source: -CaaS: What CIOs Can Expect and its Possible Disruption on Enterprises?

A two-speed IT strategy for the digital era

As the business world gets rapidly digitized, the practice of “bimodal IT” is gaining popularity. For CIOs who want to keep up with the latest trends in technology, it is important to understand what the term, coined by Gartner, actually means. Bimodal IT is the practice of maintaining two distinct modes — Mode 1 and Mode 2 — of IT delivery. Mode 1 is more traditional, with a focus on stability, while Mode 2 is more exploratory, with a focus on agility.

In this webcast presentation, Kurt Marko, analyst at MarkoInsights, discusses how the era of digitization is driving the idea of two-speed IT. Read on to find out about the important differences between the two modes, the role of cloud services in a bimodal IT strategy, and why IT shops need to be able to develop digital IT products in an uncertain environment.

Editor’s note: The following is a transcript of the first of four excerpts of Marko’s webcast presentation on two-speed IT. It has been edited for clarity and length.

The term “bimodal IT” was coined by Gartner in 2014. And like many of the buzzwords that Gartner coins, it quickly became a very commonly used phrase, and, of course, they were instrumental in promoting that through their venues or their conferences and white papers.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people ended up hearing the term “bimodal” — and it does seem sort of stark when you hear it — and it sounds like a psychological disorder. But it’s not any of that, and it’s not nearly as threatening as some people seem to make it out to be. But hopefully after the next 20 or 30 minutes, you’ll understand why.

It really defines two modes of IT where, as I say, they are creatively named Mode 1 and Mode 2. But they’re basically categories to describe different characteristics for IT systems and applications, the operating characteristics, the business requirements, the business environment even.

What is the first mode of two-speed IT?

And the notion is Mode 1 would be what most people would consider traditional IT: your big business systems, your ERP, your finance, your HR, those mission-critical systems that really have defined IT for decades. And IT as a discipline grew up around these systems. In fact, actually the way I got into IT out ofproduct development and engineering was as IT was becoming formalized as a discipline, and it looked like it was an attractive opportunity for me both professionally and just intellectually.

But … many, many businesses have become IT-centric, where IT, instead of being just an operator of critical infrastructure, is now an instrumental part of the business itself.

Kurt Markoanalyst, MarkoInsights

And IT became synonymous with conservative, keep it running, but let’s not take too many risks because the business could be at stake if we mess up. And that worked fine for many, many years. Unfortunately, as the business environments have changed dramatically, through the internet, there have been many catalysts, internet, mobility, consumerization of technology. But … many, many businesses have become IT-centric, where IT, instead of being just an operator of critical infrastructure, is now an instrumental part of the business itself.

What is the second mode of bimodal IT?

And this is where Mode 2 comes in, and it’s a concept Gartner calls the digitization of business. We’ll look at that in a bit. But this type of environment is characterized by digital applications that really take their cue almost from the mobile and the internet world, where things have to be fast, agile, fail-fast, continuous delivery, you have new ideas that need to be tested and implemented at at least a very initial stage rapidly. And it focuses on cloud services and design as vehicles for the deployment. Often, it includes mobile as the target application platform.

And this is partly where some of the confusion about bimodal IT has come in because cloud services are really instrumental in these Mode 2 applications, because they allow developers and businesses to both create rapidly and deploy at any scale desired. And so many people consider Mode 2 synonymous with cloud, Mode 1 synonymous with on premises. That’s not the case, and we’ll get into some of the subtleties of why in a bit.

See other excerpts from this webcast presentation on the two-speed IT delivery model.

Part 2: Mode 1 vs. Mode 2.

Part 3: Myths vs. facts.

Part 4: Bimodal IT takeaways.

Two-speed IT delivery model driven by digital economy

As I mentioned, digital business is driving this notion of two-speed IT. And that’s really what this whole Mode 2-Mode 1 dichotomy is about. It’s about having a set of applications that are run conservatively, but it’s important to understand they’re not on life support. And [then there is] another set of applications which need to be developed, deployed very rapidly but where failure is an option and getting it right the first time or getting it perfect isn’t an absolute requirement.

Explaining this rationale for bimodal IT, Gartner talks about this notion of different eras of IT. And the Mode 1 is characterized by this industrial manufacturing line, kind of the Henry Ford era of IT, where it’s about minimizing risk, planning, being predictable, doing it right, maintaining control, reliability, stability.

However, in this era, this digital business era, which they call a third era, there are very different business drivers and that prompts different behaviors. And they characterize the challenges and the activities that IT and businesses need to be capable of the following five [things]:

  • Absorbing new business models rapidly. Being able to adapt to a changing digital environment.
  • Being able to scale up and down rapidly again, and this gets to some of thecloud discussion, but the notion that a successful product may grow demand, like a hockey stick, or it may have very seasonal demands.
  • You have to be able to react both over time and to events as they call them, “business moments,” whether you have a promotional campaign that’s going to coincide with the Super Bowl or the Oscars or some big event that you’re focusing on, or you have a product that gets mentioned on Oprah Winfrey and suddenly demand has shot through the roof.
  • You also have to be able to support different business models. And as we know, the internet and the digital business era we’re in now, whether it’s sharing services like Uber, and Airbnb, or different distribution channels for media like Spotify or digital content books, you have to be able to support different ways of monetizing your digital assets.
  • And you have to be able do this in an environment where you don’t necessarily understand ahead of time what’s going to work and what’s not. And so you have to be comfortable in developing digital IT products in this environment of uncertainty.

Gartner’s contends, and I actually agree with it, these are two very distinct sets of requirements, and that doing it within one business structure of IT is impossible; hence, this idea that you have two modes of your IT organization.


Source: two-speed IT strategy for the digital era

What is Cognitive Computing?

Although computers are better for data processing and making calculations, they were not able to accomplish some of the most basic human tasks, like recognizing Apple or Orange from basket of fruits, till now.
Computers can capture, move, and store the data, but they cannot understand what the data mean. Thanks to Cognitive Computing, machines are bringing human-like intelligence to a number of business applications.
Cognitive Computing is a term that IBM had coined for machines that can interact and think like humans.
In today’s Digital Transformation age, various technological advancements have given machines a greater ability to understand information, to learn, to reason, and act upon it.
Today, IBM Watson and Google DeepMind are leading the cognitive computing space.
Cognitive Computing systems may include the following components:
· Natural Language Processing – understand meaning and context in a language, allowing deeper, more intuitive level of discovery and even interaction with information.
· Machine Learning with Neural Networks – algorithms that help train the system to recognize images and understand speech
· Algorithms that learn and adapt with Artificial Intelligence
· Deep Learning – to recognize patterns
· Image recognition – like humans but more faster
· Reasoning and decision automation – based on limitless data
· Emotional Intelligence
Cognitive computing can help banking and insurance companies to identify risks and frauds. It analyses information to predict weather patterns. In healthcare it is helping doctors to treat patients based on historical data.
Some of the recent examples of Cognitive Computing:
· ANZ bank of Australia used Watson-based financial services apps to offer investment advice, by reading through thousands of investments options and suggesting best-fit based on customer specific profiles, further taking into consideration their age, life stage, financial position, and risk tolerance.
· Geico is using Watson based cognitive computing to learn the underwriting guidelines, read the risk submissions, and effectively help underwrite
· Brazilian bank Banco Bradesco is using Cognitive assistants at work helping build more intimate, personalized relationships
· Out of the personal digital assistants we have Siri, Google Now & Cortana – I feel Google now is much easy and quickly adapt to your spoken language. There is a voice command for just about everything you need to do — texting, emailing, searching for directions, weather, and news. Speak it; don’t text it!
As Big Data gives the ability to store huge amounts of data, Analytics gives ability to predict what is going to happen, Cognitive gives the ability to learn from further interactions and suggest best actions.


Source: is Cognitive Computing?

Cloud wars: Google turns aggressive in battle with AWS and Microsoft Azure

Google is getting more aggressive in the cloud as it looks to make up ground on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

This may not come as a surprise for many who will have noticed that Google has been pretty active on the acquisition front over the past year, having now spent over $1bn on the likes of Apigee, Orbitera, and other acquisitions.

According to Deutsche Bank estimates, Google Cloud Platform has a $750 million revenue run-rate.

Further findings from the markets research study, ‘ Google getting more aggressive in the cloud’, predict that GCP is preparing a series of new product announcements in September that will be aimed at strengthening the company’s customer-facing roadmap.

In a total available market of $1 trillion the combined revenues of AWS, Microsoft Azure, and GCP accounts for less than $15bn, suggesting that while these companies are big in cloud, there is lot more market that they could grow in to.

Deutsche Bank classifies the Enterprise IT spending market by combining storage, network, infrastructure software, IT outsourcing and support, data management software, BI and analytics, application software and consulting. All of which the cloud vendors have some capabilities in and are looking to build out.

Google Cloud Platform can be used by developers to tap into AI capabilities.
Google Cloud Platform can be used by developers to tap into AI capabilities.


On the product front it is expected that GCP will continue to concentrate on machine learning, data analytics and security, which will include data encryption and identity, and access management. Already the company has revealed capabilities such as SQL Server Images and the second generation version of Cloud SQL.

To support these moves the company is also taking an aggressive approach to building out global infrastructure locations. It announced in its Q4 2015 earnings that 12 new regions would be built in 2016 and 2017.

Of course, Google isn’t alone in expanding its infrastructure footprint for its cloud as both Microsoft and AWS have already made similar moves. Microsoft recently opened a region in the UK and AWS has one planned to open in late 2016 or early 2017.

All of these capabilities and build out of infrastructure still rely upon someone to sell what the company is offering, which is why Deutsche bank said that Google is “hiring very aggressively” to increase its enterprise sales rep capacity.

According to the research these moves appear to be helping it to gain traction among the start-up community. Customers estimated that 25% of start-ups are using GCP today, but 75% are with AWS, so it still has a long way to go to catch up.

Source: wars: Google turns aggressive in battle with AWS and Microsoft Azure

The Role and Value of RPA in Business Process Automation

Over the past several years there’s been a dramatic upswing in awareness of robotic process automation (RPA) in the business world. There’s also been a significant level of this technology integrated into service offerings by BPO providers. But this buzz shouldn’t disguise the fact most people are just beginning to hear about robotic software and trying to make sense of it.

Ironically, a real challenge in getting knowledgeable about this technology is benefits are so conclusive while preconditions are so reasonable. When a manager reads process costs can be cut from 30% to 60% – if activities are rules-based – the temptation is to stop learning and start doing. Perhaps a quick Google search and a demo download. The better route is to hold off on the demo, stay focused on becoming knowledgeable on the technology, and parlay first moves into smart moves.

A good place to start is by asking the question: why, since business process automation has been available for decades, is robotic process automation causing such a stir? It’s a good question because the answer reveals compelling benefits beyond the “30% to 60%” and “rules-based” sound bites. Once someone understands the full rationale for BPO providers to redesign their services offerings to incorporate robotic software, they’ll be able to make sound judgements for their own company. The answer to the question begins by setting a context for business process automation.

Origins of Business Process Automation

Business process automation has its roots in enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and business process management systems (BPMS).

First introduced in the early 1990s, ERP systems have a central database which serves a suite of applications for core business processes such as finance & accounting, procurement, HR, etc. The objective was to rationalize and standardize those processes, and then integrate a common data set. For example, sales data would be used to forecast demand and order materials; it would also trigger commission calculations which integrated with the payroll application. Drawbacks include: expense; complexity; implementation time and customizations creep.

BPMS emerged as smaller and more limited automation option for companies who couldn’t afford an ERP investment. It also became an option for ERP customers who found the standardized application suite too confining. For example, many health insurance companies could afford an ERP system but required a specialized claims processing automation system as well. Drawbacks include: expense (though less than ERP); process design complexity; application and data integration complexity; and implementation time.

The difference between the two systems is one of focus: BPMS is focused on optimizing, improving and automating specific business processes. ERP is focused on leveraging centralized data across an integrated suite of core business functions. Despite drawbacks, these two systems remain the foundation for business process automation.

Where RPA fits in Business Process Automation

The fact is that neither ERP nor BPMS – alone or combined – can automate all of an organization’s business processes. The principle issue is ROI. Both ERP and BPMS are expensive and time-consuming to implement. Unless a process employs a critical mass of resources, it cannot justify the automation investment required by either of those systems. The practical reality is every company has hundreds of processes too small to warrant system automation. The economic reality is the aggregated inefficiencies of those hundreds of smaller processes are too large to ignore. What to do?

The answer for many companies was business process outsourcing (BPO). In a sense, it was a mirror image of the early “your mess for less” approach used for application outsourcing. BPO providers shadowed and documented the processes, then created a labour arbitrage by shifting the work offshore. The concept worked well over the past ten years. Companies saved double digits in business process costs and BPO providers enjoyed double digit revenue growth.

Labour arbitrage is not scalable – as volume grows so does headcount. For providers this means flat margins after the first years of productivity gains. For customers – on the other side of the same coin – it means flat savings. Providers lowered onsite headcount more aggressively and optimized to the extent possible, but the situation was essentially static.

During this same ten year period desktop automation – starting out as macro scripts – matured into rules driven desktop robotic process automation, capable of integrating with applications on the user interface layers. Soon many RPA products became able to integrate on other layers, using API and other technologies.

There were three subsequent RPA innovations that led directly to the current surge in interest and adoption by companies and BPO providers.

  • Enterprise level, server-based robot deployments:
  • Centralized dashboard robot management:
  • Robot Orchestration:

These three innovations were game-changers because they redefined RPA from a desktop tool into a server-based, scalable, automation solution. Companies and providers are now able to orchestrate large (dozens or hundreds) groups of robots into workflows capable of addressing large volumes of work.

Over the past two years the RPA role has shifted to that of an automation solution capable of addressing – both technically and economically – the hundreds of remaining un-automated work processes left behind by ERP and BPMS.

The new value of RPA for the customer lies in the fact savings are freed from the non-scaling nature of business process outsourcing labour arbitrage. In fact, this automation solution frees processes from labour itself. When the benefits of scalability, accuracy and speed are added to savings, it becomes easier to understand why so many people are talking about the technology and why BPO providers are revising their service offerings to include it.

The future role and value of RPA lies in the fact its innovative journey is not over. Industry leaders UiPath and Blue Prism are developing cognitive capabilities for their robotic software. Robots will work with unstructured data (e.g. voice recognition, email, documents) and change rules based on their process experience or additional knowledge. The key for companies and providers will be to proactively implement an automation roadmap, based on a well-balanced technology and operational strategy.

Source: Role and Value of RPA in Business Process Automation

CIOs still struggling to manage cloud use

 Although companies apply ITSM processes to in-house IT, cloud services are more likely to be managed by providers

Research has revealed that 85 per cent of CIOs think the cloud is preventing organisations from having control over their IT network.

A study by Fruition Partners revealed that cloud services are much less commonly managed by IT service management (ITSM) processes compared to other in-house IT services, which are, on average, managed by six processes.

Much of this is down to IT maturity, Fruition Partners said, but the gap and could have a negative impact on the way entire organisations are managed. In fact, 80 per cent of CIOs interviewed by the company said they do not apply the same comprehensive ITSM processes to the cloud as they do for other in-house IT services.

“The maturity of cloud services has started to improve, but it is still leagues away from where it needs to be,” said Paul Cash, managing partner of Fruition Partners UK. “There has to be a recognition that the need for rigorous management is greater, not less, in the cloud.”

Furthermore, the research revealed 73 per cent of CIOs are happily handing over both change management and cloud application management controls to cloud providers and vendors, which means the IT department as a whole has less control over their organisation.

He added that CIOs cannot trust that public cloud services will work flawlessly and be delivered perfectly at all times and therefore should be wary about handing responsibility over to providers without ensuring ITSM principles are applied, because if they do not check there are sufficient safeguards in place, they open themselves up to blame if one of the services fails.

“CIOs should still be managing cloud services internally, rather than abdicating responsibility to the provider. Otherwise they risk losing control, and increasing both cost and risk to themselves and the business,” he added.

Shadow IT is also a concern for CIOs, Fruition Partners’ research revealed. 66 per cent of the respondents said there was an increasing culture of shadow IT in their company and 68 per cent of CIOs reported the organisation doesn’t ask for advice before buying public cloud-based services.

“Organisations have the tools at hand to ensure IT services are delivered consistently, comprehensively, and without risk. By failing to apply these tools to the cloud, they are doing themselves a major disservice,” Cash continued.

“The longer business spend without unifying their approach to both cloud and in-house IT, the harder managing IT will become. Dealing with this is relatively easy in the short term; simply ensuring that ITSM processes are unified across in-house and cloud services will reduce a great number of the challenges and risks associated with cloud.”


Source: still struggling to manage cloud use