Click here to close now.



Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Cloud Best Practices Network, Talend Inc., Charlotte Spencer-Smith, Sanjay Uppal

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Agile Computing, @BigDataExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Two Digital Transformation Time Bombs

Hire a Chief Digital Officer to don the pirate gear, raise the Jolly Roger, and take your ship on an adventure

Adjectives like "swashbuckling" and "romantic" rarely if ever apply to enterprise technology, so the fact that "rogue" IT is now a Thing should give one pause. Errol Flynn swooping down from a yardarm, disarming smile on his too-handsome face? Hardly the image you'd expect bringing your iPhone to work would elicit.

Yet rogues there be, sneaking digital contraband into their cubicle, unbeknownst to IT Big Brother. And while we all like to bend the rules, if only to shake up our Dilbertian existence with a fleeting moment of swashbucklery, rogue IT goes far beyond your secret Angry Birds at work addiction, or dare we say, that contraband DropBox account your entire team surreptitiously shares.

Rogues, after all, come in all shapes and sizes. When the rank and file practice a bit of derring do, it's one thing. When Big Brothers themselves - the executives who steer the ship - practice rogue IT, it's quite another. Yet this top-down scalawagness pervades enterprises far and wide, threatening to upend the IT ship altogether, CIO and all. The name of this nefarious ne'er-do-well? Your Digital Transformation Strategy.

Digital Transformation: A Rogue's Gallery
Imagine, if you will, you've been working your way up the officer's ranks of your vessel, and now you're the captain (or other C-level executive) of this ship you call your enterprise. Information Technology has always been a powerful asset in your treasure chest, from the early data processing days to the rise of monolithic enterprise apps. Then the Web and its evil twin Y2K hit, knocking you and your ship for a loop, promising a New Economy yet delivering a dot.com crash. After that perfect storm you told yourself you'd never again fall for the empty promises of the new technology sirens, singing their songs of business transformation but delivering only broken dreams.

Yet here we are, in the 2010s, and the siren song of new technology is louder than ever - and this time, there are far more voices in this craven chorus: Cloud Computing! Big Data! Social Media! Mobile Apps! DevOps! Added to this cacophony are the digital denizens of this new era, the Googles and the Amazons and the Netflixes, no longer mere dot.com darlings, but massive behemoths out to take a piece of everyone's pie, including yours. This time, sitting on the sidelines is not an option. Siren song or no, the world of business is changing, and your enterprise must change as well, or risk the deadly depths of the Charybdis of digital disruption and irrelevance.

But then you wake up from this reverie and look once again at the cold, hard reality of budgets and balance sheets, and you realize your IT department has their hands full with dull, dreary, yet absolutely essential legacy systems of record - all those numerous apps and infrastructure that have been collecting over the decades, sucking up money, yes, but keeping you in business all the while. Disruptive innovation is all very fine and good, but legacy technology and disruption don't mix. That old gear is just too brittle and important to mess with, right?

That's when it hits you: it's time to go rogue. Your IT department has way too much on its plate to handle the digital transformation you crave so desperately. So instead of asking your CIO to drive these new initiatives, you hire a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) to don the pirate gear, raise the Jolly Roger, and take your ship on an adventure into the wondrous digital future.

Hear that Ticking? Beware the Digital Disruption Time Bombs
We all know that genuine pirates and other such rogues are ruthless criminals, and yet a century of Hollywood mythmaking has turned them into heroes, courageous nonconformists who can justify their questionable deeds because of the presumably greater evil of the establishment from which they have rebelled. Today, we consider CDOs and their digital transformation initiatives to be examples of rogue IT - bucking the establishment, true, but with the best interests of the enterprise at heart. Motivation enough to forgive a bit of swashbuckling, perhaps?

After all, the legacy technology that runs the established portion of the business has a history of intractability. Legacy modernization has a reputation as being expensive, risky, and often lacking clear business drivers. And when we tried to abstract our legacy as flexible Services with the last decade's SOA initiatives, we found that architectural approach to be more expensive and difficult than we expected. Most SOA initiatives overpromised and underdelivered, leaving CDOs with few options but to go rogue and build digital initiatives largely separate from establishment IT.

Errol Flynn and his modern counterpart Johnny Depp notwithstanding, is it truly in the long-term best interest of the company for the CDO to go rogue? In the short term, absolutely. The technology buzzwords du jour aren't holding still, and moving quickly is essential to successful digital transformation. And if there's one thing traditional IT is bad at, it's moving quickly. Yet, while Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow has yet to meet his maker at the end of a rope, enterprises who place strategic bets on rogue IT risk two major time bombs going off in their face.

Time bomb #1: thinking that you can achieve the benefits of digital transformation without dealing with the legacy mess. It's tempting indeed to leave the established order behind. Many organizations think of their legacy IT as a single Gordian knot of complexity, where the only way to fix it is to somehow fix or replace the whole thing - an impossible task that would never come close to justifying its expense. The pirate's life sounds wondrous in comparison.

But remember, legacy is not monolithic. It's heterogeneous and multifaceted, and you don't have to fix the whole thing. Your core business agility drivers from transformation initiatives must connect to specific legacy goals while moving legacy toward agility, not away from it. Yes, you must pick your battles, as the legacy you do bring into your digital initiative will take time and money to fix - but never forget that your enterprise wouldn't be where it is today if it weren't for the best of your legacy.

The challenges with legacy modernization in support of digital transformation are first, to tackle the right problems, and second, to take an approach that will actually work. After all, such fixes require both the appropriate abstraction as well as technology that can support those abstractions. Not SOA - or at the least, not only SOA, but one big step above SOA. For specific legacy capabilities to properly support the digital transformation, we need a better approach for abstracting legacy assets to drive agility, an architectural approach freed from middleware and laser focused on the business agility drivers from the digital transformation initiative.

Even if you think you can avoid time bomb #1, however, you must also navigate your way past time bomb #2: Realizing you have to do something about the legacy mess, but thinking there's a shortcut. Examples of such shortcuts: migrating legacy apps to the Cloud, feeding existing data into Hadoop without a strategy for collecting new information, or perhaps building mobile app interfaces onto aging Web apps that were never designed to support them. True, you may be able to get any of these examples to work, but you'll have missed the point of digital transformation initiatives: they're not about the digital, they're about the transformation. After all, your entire legacy IT shop is already digital. Transformation requires entirely new approaches, not shortcuts.

The Intellyx Take
Perhaps you're not convinced by my scintillating, scoundrel-infused diatribe. Your digital transformation initiative is doing just fine on its own, thank you very much, while IT keeps the legacy lights on, and never the twain shall meet. Sorry to shiver your timbers, but you're not alone in your market. Your competition also struggles with their legacy burden, and the spoils will go to those enterprises who successfully deal with their legacy as part of their digital transformation. If you don't get this right, then your competition will, and no amount of derring-do will save your digital transformation initiative then.

The good news for some organizations is that if you have been successful with SOA you're ahead of the game (and I know there are a few of you out there who actually got SOA to work). But regardless of whether SOA paid off for you or not, to meet your strategic goals with your digital transformation initiative, you must follow a well-architected approach that both understands and connects the business drivers for digital transformation to specific, tactical legacy initiatives.

Remember, transformation drivers are always business agility drivers, which means Agile Architecture is absolutely essential to digital transformation success: an iterative, dynamic approach that focuses on solving problems instead of paperwork, an approach that incorporates regular input from stakeholders - in other words, architecture that is inherently Agile. Going rogue may be fun, but it's high time for your CDO and CIO to work together - or even be the same person. Errol Flynn would be proud.

Image credit: Pascal

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...