IT service automation: A global CIO learns from a millennial

This is the first installment in a series on IT service automation by Pink Elephant expert Jan-Willem Middelburg. The series follows the journey of a fictional global CIO as he realizes that his well-regarded IT organization must radically change the way it delivers IT services. The first chapter below, “Dear CIO, are you ready for the self-service generation?” describes the encounter that sets the CIO on his quest.

It is 9 p.m. and you are staring out the boardroom window across the millions of lights of the city. You are looking back on a day packed with meetings… again. In the morning, you met with the IT steering committee, the risk auditors and the CFO. Your afternoon was filled with your deputy CIOs, each fighting to receive a portion of next year’s budget. It is that time of year again.

As you pack your briefcase and start toward the elevators, you notice the intern still working away. A typical millennial with the latest headphones and a million devices scattered across his desk. The guy was “lucky” to have been chosen out of hundreds of applicants for the summer internship at the CIO Office and, so far, he has been a tremendous asset to your team. The speed and agility with which he can complete complex analyses has frequently surprised you, and you have already decided that you will probably hire him after the summer. You look at your watch and decide it is time to send him home.

You walk over to his office and slowly tap against his screen. The intern lowers his headphones and immediately sits up straight, realizing the global CIO is addressing him. “Tomorrow’s a new day, time to go home,” you hear yourself mutter and the intern immediately looks at his watch, which lights up as he turns his wrist. The intern presses some last buttons on his machine and accompanies you to the elevators.

As you ride the elevator, the silence is uncomfortable, and you start some small talk: “Having a late dinner with your girlfriend tonight?” The intern quickly looks at his phone and replies with a smile: “Dinner should be at my friend’s house in 28 minutes,” he answers. “My girlfriend is staying at her parents this week to finish the paper for her online degree, so we decided it’s better to Airbnb our place for the week.” When the elevator door slides open, you keep wondering what the guy next to you just said.

Right there, at the parking lot in the pouring rain, you realize that you need to make your enterprise ready for the self-service generation. Not just for the young intern who grew up with technology, but for your customers who will also expect the services of your company to be available immediately and with the push of one button.

When you reach the main entrance, you see that it is raining cats and dogs. Your car is parked in one of the executive parking spaces only a few yards away, but you see that even the small distance will get your suit soaked. At the same moment, a small car pulls up at the entrance and the intern opens the door to the back seat. You suddenly realize that the guy already booked an Uber while he was closing his computer upstairs. There’s no thunder as you run for your car, but you feel like you’ve been struck by lightning.

As the intern steps into the Uber, you ask one more question: “Do you still ever call anyone?”

The intern replies: “Just my parents; they are very traditional. Have a great night, boss!”

Right there, at the parking lot in the pouring rain, you realize that you need to make your enterprise ready for the self-service generation. Not just for the young intern who grew up with technology, but for your customers who will also expect the services of your company to be available immediately and with the push of one button.

From service management to IT service automation

The next morning you wake up energized. You order an Uber to take you to work, and whilst you are in the backseat of the car, you reflect on the situation with the intern from last night. Everywhere in the world, new service providers are popping out of the ground with “disruptive” business models. Spotify, Uber, Booking.com and Netflix are some of the main examples that everybody is talking about. They are able to attract massive groups of users and — like the intern — many people like to use these services, because they are instantly available with the click of one app or similar interface.

As you think about this a little more, you wonder what would happen if you could make the services in your organization available in a similar way with IT service automation. What if your employees could select their IT services by themselves and order them as easily as booking a rideshare service? Is provisioning a test server really so much different from booking a driver?

For years, you have worked really hard to achieve operational excellence of all global IT services. Your service catalogue is well-defined and you have consistently managed to reach the targets of your service level agreements (you became CIO for a reason…). You have a very effective and efficient Service Desk that delivers services all over the globe with high satisfaction levels. So, what is the difference between your organization’s services and the services your intern likes to use?

In a traditional service model, the user interacts with the service provider at every step, from request and proposal through paying the invoice and sending feedback. In the automated service provider model, the self-service portal — a technology layer — automates many or all of the steps.

As your Uber drives into the parking lot of your office, and your driver swipes that he has completed his ride, you suddenly realize the difference: The services your organization offers are control-oriented and frequently include manual steps. The services Spotify, Uber, Booking.com and Netflix are offering are user-oriented and completely automated.

Source: searchcio.techtarget.com-IT service automation: A global CIO learns from a millennial

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Why the full-time job will never be so precious, as the gig economy crumbles and judgment work is digitized

The new “rules” of the workplace are being defined as computers are frantically being programmed to take the lead in the workplace, when it comes to judgment and intuition. We humans need to be the idea generators, the motivators, the negotiators, and the trouble-shooters to fix computer errors, if we want to govern our emerging digital environments. In short, we need to get closer to our firms, be more tightly integrated and intimate with work performance than ever before… which means the role and tenure of the much-derided middle-manager in the Dilbert Cartoons could be taking on a whole new potential twist – and a whole new (potential) level of relevance.

I would go as far as declaring 2018 as a new beginning of the value of the full-time employee – where alignment with the mission, spirit, culture, energy and context of an organization has never been so important. We are seeing the value of contract work diminish as so much “outsource-able” work is so much easier to automate and global labor drives down the cost of getting things done quickly and easily. Business success is more about investing in the core than ever – and that core includes the people who are the true pieces of human middleware to hold everything together.

The onus is circling back to the value of being a full-time employee, who needs to value the fruits of having a predictable income and adapt to the changing balance of how humans need to work with computers.

Remember when the rise of the gig worker was supposed to revamp how so many of us worked, as we escaped the shackles of the “evil employer”?

Almost two decades ago, the internet was creating the independent worker, as exemplified in Dan Pink’s timeless book “Free Agent Nation: How America’s New Independent Workers are Transforming the Way We Live” became the seminal guide for what is now known as the “gig worker”.

Furthermore, unless recent research from McKinsey of 8000 workers can now be categorized as fake news, 162 million people in Europe and the United States—or 20 to 30 percent of the working-age population—engage in some form of independent work today. And a recent study from freelance site Upwork (which undoubtedly wants to hype the impact of gig world) cranks up the numbers even further, claiming that a staggering 50% of US millennials are already freelancing, before declaring the freelance sector will comprise the majority of the US workforcewithin a decade. Wow.

So are the days of being gainfully employed really disintegrating before our very eyes? Or is the gig hype beginning to atrophy for many people?

The gig economy is becoming a tough place to craft a living if many of the new reports are to be believed. And it’s not just about driving Ubers, delivering food orders and contracting for logistics firms – i.e., working for businesses that exploit the gig economy to drive down labor costs and improve services. It’s the freelance gig economy where people forge a living writing code, supporting content development, delivering consulting work on-demand etc. Even that lovely Upwork research admits: “While finances are a challenge for all, freelancers experience a unique concern — income predictability. The study found that, with the ebbs and flows of freelancing, full-time freelancers dip into savings more often (63 percent at least once per month versus 20 percent of full-time non-freelancers)”. So even if the most biased of sources admits most gig workers can’t cover their living costs, we can conclude that those “Free Agents”, which McKinsey describes as the gig worker sector using gig work as its primary income, are not in a sustainable earning situation.

Today, it’s a buyer’s market for gig work

You only need to spend a little time on LinkedIn to observe just how many people are now marketing their wares as solo free agents, or as part of a company bearing their name. It’s abundantly clear that so many people have decided to set themselves up as independents, that the market for gig talent is saturated and it’s become a “buyers’ market” for gig work. Whether I want to commission a crack consultant to validate some RPA software, hire an analyst to endorse my product, commission a writer to produce a white-label assessment of an emerging market, produce a go-to-market strategy for my business, redesign my website, my logo, or just have someone support my business on a part-time basis… today, I am spoiled for choice. I barely need to hire fulltime employees these days, unless they are truly core to keeping my business ticking along – and I can create real competition to get the work done for much lower costs than a few short years ago.

On top of the risks of commoditizing gig work, we have to contend with the impact of automation and Machine Learning to stay relevant and worthy of earning a paycheck

We’re not in a world rejecting human work, but a world where work is rapidly changing – and the skills of the dynamic middle manager has never been so important. In short, the increasing availability of computing power to crunch massive amounts of data, coupled with advancing tools to tag and label data and workflow clusters with breakthrough programming in languages such as Python for syntax and R for data visualization, are the game-changers that will increasingly impact how we get work done, as we develop continually smarter algorithms to keep teaching computers to do the work of the human brain.

What’s more, the rapid development of Machine Learning (ML) environments such as Google’s TensorFlow, the Microsoft’s Azure Machine Learning Workbench, Amazon’s Sagemaker, Caffe and Alibaba’s Aliyun are becoming the new environments driving armies of coders and developers to align themselves with ML value – desperate to stay relevant (and well paid) against the headwinds of commoditization of legacy coding and app development.

As ML takes over judgment and (eventually) intuition, the human-value onus moves to interaction, agenda-setting, problem defining and idea generation

In short, the disruptive ML techniques are teaching computers to do what comes naturally to humans: to learn by example. Today’s emerging ML tools use massive amounts of data and computing power to simulate neural networks that imitate the human brain’s connectivity, classifying data sets and finding patterns and correlations between them.

Net-net, pattern-matching jobs are increasingly being affected by ML – vocations such as radiologists, pathologists, financial advisors, lawyers, procurement executives, accountants etc. are all being challenged as judgment work is (gradually) being replaced by smart algorithms. However, as elements of these types of jobs are being affected, other job elements become even more important, namely interacting with other humans, creating, setting the agenda, defining and finding the problems to go after. They motivate, they persuade, they negotiate, they coordinate. They are the dynamic conduits of driving information and ideas in an organization and will be increasingly in the driving seat as Machine Learning advancements increasingly take hold. The digital middle manager who can bring a team together and lead people in the right direction does not exist and likely never will…. I’d be amazed if we saw one emerge soon.

Fulltime employment is now becoming a premium situation

Having predictability of income, healthcare costs covered, guaranteed paid vacation time – and a constant supply of work to do – is fast becoming the dream scenario for the disgruntled gig worker. So here’s a thought – go get a JOB. Or if you’re in a job and wanted to try the gig work thing… spare a thought for what your ideal situation looks like, because last time I looked, most firms are doing everything they can to avoid hiring well-paid staff… especially if they can get the work done much cheaper from desperate gig workers.

The Bottom-Line: Five steps to keeping your job:

i) Become the conduit of ideas and information that is irreplaceable right across your organization. So we’ve now come full circle, where the value of having people really close to the business is becoming more important than ever, as computers perform more and more of the routine and judgement based tasks. To the point, the value of the full-time employee goes both ways: companies need people who really understand their institutional processes, their quirks and ways of getting things done… who are onhand to troubleshoot mistakes, but also there to keep the ideas flowing to keep the business ahead of its competition and close to its customers. “Human middleware” is becomimg the real OneOffice glue to break down those siloes and help govern a slick business operation from front to back office.

ii) Develop a positive attitude by finding aspects of your job you do like.Your full time job is likely the best gig-work you will probably ever get, so even if you hate your boss and most of your colleagues, ask yourself if you’d prefer scrapping around for the boring work other companies prefer to outsource. Focus on the interesting stuff you can do and keep reminding yourself that the grass is rarely greener elsewhere. Unless you are a whizz at Python development, the chances are your job-hopping days are numbered and you need to figure out how to stay put and make it better for yourself.

iii) Motivate yourself and become a real motivator. Being motivated – and helping to motivate others – is probably the least computerizable trait of all. If you aren’t motivated, you are placing yourself at risk when your leadership assess which of their team then want to take them forward into the future. If you really can’t get yourself excited about what you do, or your company just demotivates you in such a way you can’t dig yourself out of your rut, then you may need to take that Python course and brush up your resume…

iv) Let the computers take the lead and become the controller to fix mistakes double checking, intervening when the computers do something dumb. Humans and computers make different kinds of mistakes, so we really need to bring humans and computers together intelligently to cancel out each other’s mistakes. Fighting automation and ML is a lost cause, especially when your firm is completely bought in to the concept and it rolling out bots and working on developing smart algorithms. Just let these things take the lead and them figure out how to make them functional and monitor their errors, ad computers will always keep making them. You can’t fight innovation, but you can nurture it, manage it and troubleshoot it.

v) Find your pareto balance and stop whining. Nothing in life including your current or prospective employer will be perfect. Focus on the 80% that is right, versus making yourself (and others around you) miserable by the other 20%. There is rarely a perfect fit where workers only get to focus 100% on all the things they love to do… there has to be this 80/20 compromise, or you will be forever hopping around trying to find a workplace nirvana that doesn’t exist. And it today’s social world your reputation follows you around like never before… and employers are steering clear of the whiners at all costs.

Source: horsesforsources.com-Why the full-time job will never be so precious, as the gig economy crumbles and judgment work is digitized

Where Will Outsourcing Head To in 2018?

This time last year I wrote in these pages about the year ahead for outsourcing. The key trend I focused on was an increase in partnership with clients and suppliers getting much closer—and that seems to have taken place throughout 2017. One major driver for this has been the change in how consumers become aware of a product and then convert into customers…what marketing professionals call the ‘customer journey.’ Think for a moment about the classic customer journey. A potential customer would see some advertising or some type of marketing campaign, search for additional information, compare products, eventually make a purchase and possibly follow up with a call or email to the customer service team if they have a problem.

Now this experience is much more complex—the way that customers learn about products and access information has completely changed. A consumer might learn about your products by seeing information on a social network, reading a review site, viewing an online recommendation by a previous customer, receiving an email or any number of other ways. This has also dramatically changed the way that customers purchase products too, with many brands offering online or in-app purchase options.

This dramatic change in consumer behavior has affected outsourcing relationships because it has quickly changed many aspects of business, including how:

  • Brands need to promote their products
  • Brands need to offer an omni-channel experience, so customers can locate information and make purchases in many different ways on different channels
  • All these dramatic supply chain changes affect CRM systems, ERP, stock control and how internal corporate departments like customer service and marketing can function

The rapidly changing nature of how companies are structured has led to a need for deep expertise. Brands that are trying to blend their marketing and customer service function have found that it’s a much easier proposition to do this with a partner that has very deep knowledge of how an omni-channel sales, marketing and service environment can work. This leads to a much closer sense of partnership between the client brand and the suppliers delivering IT, customer service or marketing services. These suppliers have started behaving much more like partners because that’s truly what they are in this modern environment.

I think this trend will continue. We are still in the early days of truly exploiting an omni-channel business environment and most companies are still figuring out the implications for their IT systems, public messaging and customer service processes.

When I think forward to 2018, my natural first step is to see what the suppliers and bloggers are saying, but to be frank, I was a little disappointed in my most recent scan of the 2018 outsourcing trend articles. I identified three trends that are predicted frequently:

  • A renewed skills shortage driving more outsourcing
  • Suppliers focusing more on specific expertise rather than offering an all-around service
  • The price vs. quality debate strongly supporting quality as more important than price

I believe these trends could have been published in any end of year prediction list for the past decade so it’s a surprise to see many business journals just focusing on the same old topics. I believe that in addition to the continuation of the partnership trend I predicted last year, there will be a couple of strong trends—especially in Europe.

1. GDPR: The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be enforced beginning May 25, 2018. This completely changes how companies across Europe can store and work with data. It is the biggest shake-up in how companies can use data since the 1990s and essentially puts power in the hands of the customer. If you cannot tell your customer in clear and simple terms why you want to capture and use their data then you are no longer allowed to capture it – and fines in the millions will hit those who ignore the new rules. Many companies that are scared of the legislation will turn to their partners for assurance that their systems are compliant.

2. Data Analysis and Security: Yet even with the GDPR rules and compliance, there will be a renewed focus on capturing more data on customers, analysing it in much more detail, and creating personal experiences or generating business decisions from this information. This leads to a need for increased security, which, from the perspective of data capture, is covered by a new GDPR-compliant approach. But it more generally needs an entirely new approach to security because this information will sit at the heart of your future business. Once again, this is such a dramatic change in practice and procedures that many will focus on working with trusted partners to get this right.

To some extent, these trends are self-reinforcing. There is a great desire for companies to understand their customers better, which requires more data, more insight and better data analysis. However, this also requires GDPR compliance, and by working with expert suppliers in a close partnership all these business benefits can be safely delivered.

I believe that 2018 will be an exciting year for those in the outsourcing community. Partnerships will be deeper and the expertise that the supplier community has in data analysis, and the management and security of data will be sought out more than ever before.

Source: outsourcemag.com-Where Will Outsourcing Head To in 2018?

CIO: Adaptability essential to modernize IT structure

When Darin Morrow took over as CIO at Cricket Wireless in early 2017, he sought to revolutionize the company’s internal operations by revamping its IT vision.

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Morrow made changes to the technology the company used and how employees collaborated with each other. Communication between business and IT was also essential to Morrow’s tech strategy, especially because aligning departmental goals optimizes customers’ experience, he says.

Morrow said the business benefits were twofold: Streamlining communication about how to improve IT processes ultimately saved the company money, while updated user interfaces enhanced customer satisfaction.

As a result of the changes, Morrow says Cricket’s IT structure defines and continuously improves internal and external business processes. In this CIO Voices Q&A, Morrow explains how bringing a startup mentality to large organizations benefits both business and IT outcomes.

From a CIO strategy standpoint, what are the biggest takeaways from your experiences with implementing changes to Cricket’s IT structure?

Darin Morrow: The biggest changes are preparing the IT structure for the future competition. Building a highly scalable, yet nimble IT structure that can adapt to the ever-changing competition is always the largest challenge. Balancing strategic and tactical goals within the IT environment is key.

Small teams tend to become cohesive much easier than organizations. You constantly have to create small teams that can go fast, but the end-to-end organization must be nimble. To overcome that hurdle, we ‘trade players’ by taking a seasoned member of one team and trading [them for] another team member. This helps each team gain perspective from their decisions on the other team. Understanding the end-to-end architecture is key as well — training and teaching the critical aspects of the business and technology, as well as the reasonable-risk tolerance for each piece.

An additional obstacle is making the correct decision when taking calculated risks. Being nimble does not mean ‘go fast at all costs.’ Customer experience and system stability are key as well. Knowing which reasonable risks to take and how fast we can go is critical.

Anyone at any level can, and is encouraged to, communicate with anyone else across the organization.

Darin MorrowCIO, Cricket Wireless

How do you think implementing a startup mentality can help large organizations continue to be successful businesses in the digital age?

Morrow: Our ability to collaborate and make decisions quickly is critical. This is how we implement the ‘startup’ mentality. We simply get the facts on the table along with our homework and make decisions together. A give and take and partnership between business and technology makes it happen fast.

Why is it important to align departmental goals to optimize customer experience, and what is the CIO’s role in pushing that alignment along?

Morrow: Our goals are not technical; they are business goals. As we improve customers’ experience, simplifying the customer and user interfaces to make it simpler to interact with us, it becomes pure math: The customers are happier and the business saves money. It’s important for my team to know how all our departmental goals have to relate to the business goals and strategy.

Our leadership team here at Cricket shows commitment to transparency and open communications on a regular basis. Anyone at any level can, and is encouraged to, communicate with anyone else across the organization. Hallway meetings are an everyday sight. We purposely avoid communication barriers and constantly work to remove any of them that have been built inadvertently.

What new technologies will be most disruptive to companies’ IT structure and processes in the next few years, and why? How can CIOs tap into these technologies to improve business processes and customer experiences?

Morrow: I believe the most disruptive technology today is the move to open systems, cloud technologies and microservices, along with their continuous integration and continuous deployment. The products will continue to evolve with the internet of things. Consumers have an insatiable appetite to be connected, but even more they want to constantly evolve the way that they are connected and the way that they interface with that connectivity. Making our systems more nimble and adapting to change is key. We must adopt the new technology stack. Gone are the days of buying systems and standing up data centers to house them.

The CIO sets the strategy and the vision for the organization. There is a need to clearly understand our business [and] the business goals, align our IT strategy to achieve those business goals and strategies, as well anticipate the changes in the future. With that vision, we can lay the foundation — whether it be microservices or data driven technologies — that allows us to continue to adapt and be nimble.

How has the increased digitization of business changed the CIO’s role in the typical business? Have they become more involved in business strategy development?

Morrow: At Cricket, technology has always been a partner. In my role, I seek to know the business, not just technology. For me to provide advice about good solutions to meet the business goals, I better know how the business runs and know how my team can achieve or enable that. A CIO in the age of digitization has to understand our customers, the balance sheets, supply chain, marketing, sales operations and everything in between.

Source: searchcio.techtarget.com-CIO: Adaptability essential to modernize IT structure

Disrupt, transform or die. It’s time to enjoy the digital ride

The digital future is here. People used to watch movies like Minority Report or Tron and wonder when the day would come. Unfortunately society is not yet able to prevent crime before it happens, but society is not far away from the billboards in a shopping centre stalking us with their adverts. Someone only needs to look at my phone or a watch, and the world of targeted advertising is right there in front of you, and the goods can arrive at a person’s door within hours.

Technology comes of age

Virtual reality flopped in the nineties because it failed to live up to our expectations. Like many technologies at the time, the things we wanted technology to do for us were still quite a few steps behind what was really possible. Fast-forward twenty years and the tables have turned. For perhaps the first time since the industrial revolution, the rate of technological change is outpacing our ability to keep up.

Virtual reality now possesses the functionality to match the hype, and yet we’re only just scratching the surface of its potential. Meanwhile the rise of technologies like mobile, AI, machine learning and robot process automation is posing fundamental questions about technology’s role in both society and in the workplace.

Disruptors race ahead, but road-bumps are slowing them down

Leading the digital race at the moment are the disruptors. As an entrepreneur armed with great ideas, some investment, an innovative culture and an army of millennial talent, you’re well-positioned to ride the digital wave and make hay while the sun shines. However, traditional companies and the powers that be are not quite ready to roll over and give up their control just yet, so expect road bumps ahead.

A case in point is the decision by TfL to suspend Uber’s licence in London. Uber’s problems are many and well-document, but chief among them is that it burst onto the scene at such speed and with such an immediate challenge to the status quo that the regulatory framework to accommodate it just didn’t exist.

Banning Uber from operating in the Capital has been framed as a public safety issue. But it is also designed to give the powers that be time to get their heads around how to integrate this young upstart into an established regulatory framework. In these situations, a few grey hairs may be required to navigate and influence the regulatory and political landscape.

Enterprises ride two-speed, given their shaky foundations

Challenges are also evident at the enterprise level, but theirs are somewhat different. They also see the potential and technologies including AI and robotic process automation are high on the agenda. Organisations are looking at ways to connect with their customers or engage their employees in new ways, while reducing operational costs and increasing efficiency.

But these technologies can only go as fast the capabilities that underpin them. A major part of the challenge is integrating the vast accumulated legacy landscape of applications and systems that must also be maintained, nursed, and supported, before innovation can even be considered.

Organisations are not blind to this issue. According to a recent report we commissioned, 88% of senior IT decision makers agree that modernised IT systems are critical to addressing the emerging requirements of the digital business. And yet according to the same study, just 33% of technology in large enterprises is optimised. Until that situation changes, the art of the possible will remain beyond the grasp of what is practical and doable.

Addressing the skills gap isn’t just about new talent

Even among those businesses who have modernised their IT infrastructure, there are a whole new set of challenges to overcome, notably a lack of available skills in key areas such as DevOps delivery and agile development.

Demand for IT skills is currently outpacing the worldwide growth in this talent pool. That imbalance will change over time as the greater focus on STEM subjects in schools begins to pay off, and younger, more digitally minded employees enter the workforce. In the meantime, a majority of organisations are looking to specialist services providers.

According to our report, just over half (51%) of all large organisations will look for help to implement robotic process automation, while even more still will rely upon third parties for the added complexities of intelligent (63%) and cognitive (64%) automation.

For organisations to ride the current wave of digital disruption, building the right mix of technology and skills is vital. But if they are truly to make their investments in digital technology count, they need to bring all their employees with them on the journey, new and old.

Augmenting, not replacing the workforce

Open any newspaper today and you will read stories about the rise of the robots and the growing threat to jobs posed by automation. I’m not going to sugar coat this; automation is already starting to replace thousands of low-skilled jobs, and it will eventually replace millions more.

But focusing on short-term job losses alone, is largely to miss a far more important point. Forrester predicts that by 2019, a quarter of all job tasks will be offloaded to software or robots. But according to the same report, these technologies will create a further 14 million jobs in the same period.

The problem is not that robots will steal our jobs in the future: it is that humans have been wasting their faculties on tedious tasks that are much better performed by artificial intelligence or software, such as rekeying data or answering routine queries.

Digitalisation offers organisations the opportunity to re-evaluate, re-skill and re-deploy the workforce to tasks that are more fulfilling, more sustainable and ultimately of more value in the long-term. Indeed, our own research found that more than half of global business leaders are confident that IA will augment the human workforce rather than replace existing roles.

Whatever you do, don’t get caught standing still

The pace at which traditional structures are being challenged has some people spooked. A standard response in this type of situation is either to try and slow things down or stop entirely. But organisations that understand the importance of digital transformation to their future relevance know that stasis is the kiss of death.

While others are scratching their heads and wondering what to do, the smartest organisations are putting the infrastructures in place to help manage change so that they can begin to explore the more fundamental questions of how to remain relevant in a digital world. ]They are putting one foot in front of the other, setting out a vision for the future and planning the journey ahead. For those that have made this transition, digitalisation is opening up endless possibilities for organisations in every sector. It’s time to jump onboard and enjoy the ride.

Source: information-age.com-Disrupt, transform or die. It’s time to enjoy the digital ride

In a world of bots, AI and big data, how can employees and businesses survive?

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution hailed as bringing about a digital boom on the global economy, many may think: “Are we not we already well into the digital economy era?”.

It is true that there are now countless apps and computing technologies that allow people to conveniently hail a taxi, book a hotel, or clean floors with a robot. Smart machines can also already drive cars, diagnose patients, and manage finances more effectively than humans. But in a new analysis – What to do when Machines do Everything – we found the real boom is only just beginning.

In the years to come, AI will create further value, for example around safeguarding financial health, insuring families, and enabling people to heal and govern themselves – and this is just the beginning. Systems of intelligence, which combine hardware, AI software, data, and human input will help improve countless customer experiences, business processes, products and organisations.

Jobs and businesses will undoubtedly be impacted. One of the most common concerns is that the bots will take over everything. While it is true that machines will replace some occupations, and make some current skills irrelevant as robots do more of the everyday, mundane tasks, people will also become even more vital to helping an organization innovate and grow.

Machines are getting smarter every day and doing more and more; they will soon change our lives and our work in ways that are easy to imagine but hard to predict. The debate has, thus far, been in the hands of theoreticians: it is now time for pragmatists to take over. These pragmatists – whether companies or individuals realize that machines will replace some occupations, putting pressure on wages for some jobs and making some current skills irrelevant. However, machines will also enhance the human element of work. In fact, more than 80 percent of teaching, nursing, legal and coding jobs will be made more productive, beneficial and satisfying through artificial intelligence. While machines will learn to do more things, and will perform tasks more economically, more efficiently and with fewer errors, this will augment the human experience, generating more jobs, even creating professions that do not even exist yet.

As we expect 20 percent of the more administrative portions of a job go to a machine, the future workforce will require more people to fill jobs currently in short supply: data scientists, designers, technologists, and strategists, as well as create jobs that do not even exist yet.

Materials, Machines and Models – the formula to ‘win’ the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The digital revolution is fundamentally a growth story. While the future of an automated workforce can be frightening, the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution will create a huge wave of opportunity for businesses and individuals who are prepared. Typically, every previous revolution has followed such a pattern: innovation bubble, stall, and then boom. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will be no different. Early digital economy winners have aligned the Three Ms – materials, machines and models – and use them to their advantage.

Firstly, sensors will be required on nearly every “thing” – IoT devices, RFID sensors, accelerometers, motion sensors, etc. – to create massive amounts of data that is the new raw material of the digital economy. Secondly, systems of intelligence (machines) will be required to “process” this new raw material data to improve business productivity and customer. Finally, new commercial models will emerge that monetise services and solutions based on these systems of intelligence.

However, without the right business model to support data-fuelled machines, companies will struggle to be successful. Business leaders will need to decide how to instrument everything, how to harvest all the resulting data, how to ask the right questions of the data, and to “teach” the AI systems what to look for, what is meaningful, and what is immaterial.

Five essential plays for winning with AI

Each of the Three Ms in today’s business success formula must be activated to move AHEAD. There are five distinct approaches for not only winning with AI but surviving and thriving in this time of transition – automation, halos, enhancement, abundance and discovery.

1. Automation: Outsource rote, computational work to the new machine. This is how Netflix automated away Blockbuster.

2. Halos: Maximise the data products and people generate – via their connected and on-line behaviours – to create new customer experiences and business models. GE and Nike are instrumenting their products, surrounding them with halos of data, creating more personalised customer service and products as a result.

3. Enhancement: View the computer as a colleague that can help increase job productivity and satisfaction. For example, a car’s GPS system improves driver performance by enhancing navigation, providing alerts for road hazards, and ensuring the fastest route is taken on any given journey.

4. Abundance: Use the machine to open up vast new markets by dropping the price-point of existing offers. For example, UK-based start-up, Brolly, has created an AI enabled insurance advisor to allow customers to understand, manage and buy the insurance they need.

5. Discovery: Maximise use of AI to conceive new products, new services, and new industries. Just as Edison’s light bulb led to discoveries in radio, television, and transistors, today’s new machines will lead to the next generation of invention.

The world is changing faster than ever before. Our children and grandchildren will study the advances of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, just as we studied the great technological innovations of Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. Automation and the rise of AI are truly deep and unstoppable forces – they are the core of this incredible pace of change. The shift to the new machine and AI is inevitable but if managed wisely, it will ultimately be a positive force for companies, individuals, and society. Leaders can compete and win in the next phase of global business by driving productivity, customer intimacy, and innovation if they align the three Ms and think AHEAD.

It is time to build our own future, complete with a sense of optimism and confidence. When machines do everything, there will still be a lot for companies to do. It is time to start now or risk being left behind.

Ben Pring, Vice President, Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work and co-author of What to do when Machines do Everything

Source: itproportal-In a world of bots, AI and big data, how can employees and businesses survive?

How to institute an agile IT outsourcing process

Traditionally, IT organizations have spent six months to a year or more on the IT outsourcing transaction process, finding the right providers and negotiating a suitable contract. But as IT services — and, increasingly, as-a-service— deals have gotten shorter, that lengthy process may no longer make sense.

Industry advisors and consultants have debated the potential benefits of speedier sourcing for several years. In today’s rapidly changing business and technology landscape, it may become an imperative. But an effective outsourcing engagement demands more than just an accelerated version of the traditional IT services transaction process.

“Typical attempts to speed up the process include leaving out important activities or rushing to a solution to meet completion dates or budget objectives. In some cases activities that are skipped can be picked up and completed during transition,” says Michele M. Miller, director of KPMG’s Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory. “However, we find that in most cases these activities are never completed and result in lost value and dissatisfaction in the outcome of the outsourcing project.”

Preparing for an agile approach to outsourcing

CIOs must take four steps to make sure they prepare their organizations for a new, agile approach to outsourcing, Miller says. First, they must define their business strategy, including the future state of IT and business services, in order to accurately asses how outsourcing will impact their companies down the road. Second, they need a clear understanding of their base case — the current cost of doing business today and down the road. Third, they need to define their target operating model (aligned with business strategy) in order to calculate the potential benefits of internal optimization vs. outsourcing or resourcing.

Finally, they must assemble a dedicated and experience outsourcing transaction team that was involved in building the strategy and is empowered to work closely with providers on day-to-day planning, design, and documentation of the solution as well as oversight of desired business outcomes. This preparation takes time an effort. However, “these steps are required for a successful outsourcing engagement,” says Miller, “and most companies are willing to put in the effort.” In fact, part of the reason Miller’s group began to document this agile approach to outsourcing was the fact that some companies had already established these key components.

 

With that foundation in place, IT leaders can attempt a more agile approach to outsourcing. Like its namesake software development approach, an agile outsourcing transaction process involves constant communication and collaboration between the IT organization and its providers throughout the outsourcing lifecycle, adapting as needs change. Unlike the traditional sourcing approach in which IT service customers approach the process in a linear fashion — gathering requirements, creating an RFP, engaging providers, and drawing up a contract — agile outsourcing transactions are more fluid.

Agile outsourcing starts with a series of sprints. “The sprints focus on collaborative ‘solutioning’ vs. the traditional approach, where the client outlines a solution up-front, often excluding other potentially beneficial alternatives from serious consideration,” Miller says. “Via these sprints, the parties consider alternatives together and jointly build a solid, viable solution. This results in a more-accurate RFP response, less time required in the due diligence phase, and more precise pricing during final pricing submissions or best and final offer.”

Because the process is collaborative, with both parties knowledge of requirements and solutions early in the process, timelines can shrink significantly. In fact, business requirements and solutions are so well understood that a traditional 26-week timeline can be condensed to as little as 12 weeks, Miller says. But increased speed is just one of many benefits. Agile outsourcing can sharpen the focus on business outcomes and instill greater collaboration not just between client and provider, but also among a company’s ecosystem of suppliers, in delivering those outcomes, according to KPMG.

Most companies are drawn to the agile outsourcing concept, but not all can make it work. “These projects are not shorter because we leave out critical processes; the client needs to have completed the four key requirements mentioned and be willing to work in the fast-paced iterative environment and make decisions quickly throughout the project,” Miller says. “Similar to many components of outsourcing there isn’t a single approach which works in all situations.”

IT service providers are game for the new approach, according to Miller. “They understand that a collaborative approach to sourcing tends to result in a more successful outcome for both parties because each shares in the responsibility for the design of the solution.” However, it does require that they, too, have done the upfront work of designing and documenting their solutions for ease of integration into the process.

Source: cio.com-How to institute an agile IT outsourcing process