Open Business

I have entitled this post Open Business. It could quite easily be titled Open Government, Government 2.0, Open Insurance, Open Retail, Open any business for that matter. So for the purposes of my thoughts here today I have made it generic and called it Open Business.

I was thinking of actually calling it Open Enterprise which then got me thinking. If I was going to call this Open Enterprise and now I am calling it Open Business should we bite the bullet and get rid of the term Enterprise Architecture and call it Business Architecture. It is the architecture of a business after all. Let it encompass all the layers of an Enterprise Architecture that we have today – business, application and technology. Maybe call the layers something like operation, application and technology layers of an organisations Business Architecture? Operation may not be the best term but hopefully you understanding what I am trying to saying. It may help to get rid of the stigma of IT not being part of a business when it is. Something I have written about previously in you never here of business/finance alignment. Anyway that is maybe for another discussion.

The purpose of this posting is around opening up an organisations knowledge capital to allow others to create innovative and exciting value from it. The United States Government has an initiative on-going at present,, to provide access to government data for others to use and create innovative and exciting applications. The UK Government is doing a similar thing with as part of Smarter Government. We all know how google maps is changing the way we find out where places are and how to get to them both on the Internet and on smart devices such as the iPhone. Is there a website with a location service on it anywhere that doesn't use Google Maps these days?

This is all good stuff and there are some really innovative and exciting opportunities being created. I love Google Maps on the iPhone with the overlay of traffic data hot spots. Information is important, see Wisdom Hierarchy. However the one thing that strikes me about this is it just providing information.

For me the real opportunities are in governments and organizations that not only provide access to the information that they hold, they also provide access to core business services and functions that they perform. In simple IT terms a set of business application programming interfaces (APIs). This, coupled with access to an organizations information, will provide really ground breaking innovative applications for consumers.

Imagine a world where you can go to book a holiday from a site called (I made this up and the domain is for sale...). It takes in your personal information of where you have been, what you like to read and watch, integrates that with information from travel companies on what destinations may match what you like and then offers a set of option. You select an option and it makes the booking direct from the site with the company offering the holiday. It also books any transfers and train ticket. This is because that company has not only provide access to its data it has provided an API for others to use. So have the train companies to book train tickets and airline companies for flights. You don't have to book them individually and you don't need an administrative person doing the bookings in the background manually.

This is only a simple example but the possibilities for consumers are immense. More choice and value. For the organizations that provide the information and APIs it offers many more avenues for access to the services they provide rather than people having to go to them directly.

Imagine the possibilities if government not only offered access to its information but also provide APIs to allow you to claim benefits, tax your car and renew your passport. The opportunities seem endless.

So to me Open Business is not just opening up access to information but also to core business services and functions to provide innovative transactional opportunities. Roll on Open Business

Strategically Relevant Technology

Whilst reading some stuff in the blogosphere this week I came across the following blog post from November 2009 in 2020 Science.

There was a paragraph in this that just jumped out at me as simple, straight to the point and true. It is why IT strategies and IT visions created in IT departments are never implemented and why IT people get frustrated. It stuck in my mind so much that I wanted to reproduce it.

Strategically relevant technology does not just happen. It depends on targeted investment, coupling outputs to needs, and working with stakeholders to develop and implement appropriate and acceptable solutions. And it takes time – lots of it.

All too often there is an arrogant, we know better attitude in IT and it is little wonder that the rest of organisation just goes off and does it's own thing.

IT organisations need to communicate, work with and be part of an organisation not just order takers or a creators of stuff.

They need to ensure that IT ideas are linked to the needs of the organisation and its aims and objectives otherwise you are relying on a build it and they will come approach. Understand what they want and maybe what they don't realise they want and convince them they need it.

I was once told by an executive that one of the best training for IT professionals are sales courses to learn the art of selling stuff.

It does take lots and lots of time and lots and lots of conversations and lots and lots of selling to build up that trust, reputation and relationships for IT people and the IT organisations.

The hard work is ,however, worth it as the rewards, relationships and outcomes you create within an organisation are immense.

Low Tech Crowd Sourcing

It is strange but this week both my world of internet information in the form of blogs, social networks, RSS feeds etc. and my world of work seem to have been dominated by a focus on Enterprise 2.0. It got me really excited about the possibilities in a business organisation.

But is this all something new or is it just good ways of working that have been around before repacked for the 21st Century?

There are times when we have an idea, vision or thought of what could be done. However we don't quite know the outcome in exact detail. We have a feeling and unclear image of the outcome. It just feels like a good outcome. People call it intuition, application of experience and knowledge or just plain luck. So what to do?

One approach I use in these situations is get together a group of people who have an interest or stake in this area and others who don't but are innovative thinkers. I then put forward my unclear thoughts and open it up to the group of people. Is it mad, does it feel right, what do people think? The group then verify and build on the thought. This can result in my initial unclear outcome image being shot down in flames (and I learn something), becoming a clear outcome, an even better outcome or an outcome I didn't even think about. The group also feel ownership and empowerment as they helped to create the outcome.

This is what I am now going to call low-tech crowd sourcing. I may even patent it and call it LoweTech© Crowd Sourcing after my surname! It is getting a group of people together for a 30 minute discussion on an initial thought (I am a big fan of 30 minute meetings as they are focused and get results) using low tech tools such as the telephone or just meeting face to face. And most importantly it works.

So maybe crowd sourcing is LoweTech© crowd sourcing for the 21st Century

2010 Predictions

Pretty much everyone is making predictions for 2010 in all walks of life. So I thought I would throw my hat into the ring with some of my predictions for 2010 from the world of IT. Some are consumer based predictions, whilst others are what I class as enterprise based for large organisations.

In no particular order.

1. Bits of Cloud (Fluff) - In 2009 there has been lots of talk about this new silver bullet called Cloud Computing. To me it looks like the old Application Service Provider (ASP) models that were the rage in the early 90's but that is another story. For me Cloud Computing is just the bringing together of lots of different existing technologies and tools and creating new opportunities and value. In 2010 I see some of these technologies taking off and becoming more common rather than Cloud Computing in its purest form. The main one of these is virtualisation. It will become the common default configuration at all levels of an architecture from servers to clients. Gone will be the days of dedicated hardware for a specific task. This will not only be in the computing arena but also the storage arena.

For me there are still some areas around security, information ownership and quality of service that will need to be resolved before public Cloud Computing becomes the norm. There will many private Cloud Computing instances out there. There are even some today that I have been involved in.

2. Touch - I have an iPhone and the interface is a dream. For Christmas I got a Nintendo Wii with a unique and intuitive interface. The kids love it. 2010 will be the year of touch and movement becoming the interfaces of choice. This will be true for consumer based technology products such as phones, televisions and home appliances. In the enterprise we will start to see enterprise based applications start to embrace this new form of interface.

Until we have a faster way of inputing data, which will probably be speech, I don't however see the death of the keyboard. They will be smaller and lighter and maybe projected onto existing surfaces to use. But not yet replaced.

3 - Location, Location, Location - Location based services and augmented reality will take off in 2010. We have so much information available to us these days that we need to ensure that we get the information we want, when we want it, with the minimum of input from ourselves. Location based services will provide that to us. It could be in the form of reviews of restaurants we are looking at in the street, to having immediate travel information and guides when we are standing next to a famous artefact. We can do this now using searches and entering postcodes but in this day of wanting things faster and easier why have the wasted step of us having to know where we are, let technology do that for us. These services can be augmented with additional information on other areas of that may also be of interest helping us to experience new things.

4 - Video - Building on the Touch point how we receive information will start to change in 2010. Text will start to be overtaken by video. Images and video are more easily digested and understood then pages of text and diagrams. 2010 will be the year that video starts to become more common for providing information. The age of the video blog is coming. A good example I like to refer to is a video explanation of what architecture is. This to me gets the point over better than any slide deck or text

5 - The sum of the parts is bigger than each individual piece - 2010 will be the year that we start to see innovation taking off. Not by creating new technology but by packaging up existing technology, services, tools to create new opportunities and products. For example the iPhone doesn't contain any breakthrough technology. It is the way that existing technology has been packaged together to create a new product. This will be the innovation in enterprise IT in 2010. A good overview of this can be found in

2010 will hopefully see the UK Government open up some of its information as part of Digital Britain providing the perfect opportunity and platform for this to be packaged up innovatively to create new applications for us all to use. What they are I do not know, but that is the beauty of opening up this information.

So that's it. A quick dump from me of predications for 2010. I am already wondering what my review of this will be like in December 2010.

Interested to know what your predications are for 2010