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"We ought not be over-anxious to encourage innovation, in case of doubtful improvement, for an old system must ever have two advantages over a new one; it is established and it is understood."
The Case for Emerging and Disruptive Technologies
This book is designed to be a handbook for executives who want to gain the latest insights and strategies for identifying and leveraging emerging and disruptive technologies in the software arena for "back to basics" enterprise value creation, competitive advantage, and increased business agility within their organization.
Traditionally, leverage of emerging technology has been the exclusive domain of businesses that are seen as pioneers and early adoptersnot of the mainstream. Mainstream business has historically waited and cautiously observed the results of others before taking the plunge themselves. However, in today's economic and competitive climate, and in light of recent world events which have required increased focus on resiliency and security, it becomes mandatory for mainstream business to rethink its strategy around the exploitation of these emerging and disruptive technologies.
The strategic use of technology within the enterprise is no longer just an issue for the chief information officer (CIO) or chief technology officer (CTO). Business spending on technology is such a large part of corporate capital and ongoing expenditure that all business executives, including the CEO and board members, need to have a clear understanding of how it can be most effectively leveraged and exploited within their organization. This is an increasinglydifficult task due to the vacuum that has been created in the technology roadmap after the Internet boom-and-bust cycle of the last several years. What seemed a clear path just a few years or even a few months ago is now a minefield of potential distractions; technologies are looking for business problems to solve like a hammer looking for a nail. Emerging and disruptive technologies that can have a real impact are out there, but they will require a proactive approach on the part of the business in order to identify and implement them. The noise level and risk level are now simply too high to take a passive approach or to implement everything that comes into view for fear of being beaten by the competition.
Today, businesses need to extend their radar, both to protect existing assets and to build for the future by leveraging emerging technology as a growth engine. As this book aims to show, certain emerging and disruptive technologies, in the right combination, can become the strategic weapon for both offense and defense in the business world of the new millennium.
Thus, determining which emerging technologies, beyond the previous wave of e-business applications, have the potential for increasing business productivity and even the productivity of the overall economy is something that is on the minds of many executives. Executives need to know how emerging technology in the enterprise software arena can benefit their business in today's "back-to-basics" environment. They want to know how they can increase shareholder value, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, increase revenues, improve productivity, and reduce costs. They also need to know which technologies to invest in, where these technologies are heading and how they can be applied to their unique industries and business processes, and how to avoid the many pitfalls along the way. In these times when "back-to-basics" is a corporate mantra, executives also need to ensure that they manage risk and focus on solid return on investment for all information technology (IT) initiatives both on the current radar screen and beyond.Our Agenda
In this book we approach emerging and disruptive technologies not only as the next business differentiator and source of competitive advantage but also as the next source of solid business value for enterprise operations. We will make recommendations on how to identify and exploit these technologies to design more competitive and agile companies and markets.
The book covers the strategy, process, and technology aspects behind some of today's most promising emerging technologies with a focus on how to achieve real-world results that benefit the top and bottom line for an organization. One of the goals of this book is to help executives maximize their value from these technologies, to reshape their business, not just their business processes. The stakes are a lot higher now than they were in the mid- and late nineties when we saw large investments in enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations, millennium bug fixes, and dot-com initiatives with arguably less scrutiny on investments than is true today. The packaged applications that have been implemented over the past several years have provided a good first wave of business value, but it is now important for businesses to optimize those investments by adding unique extensions and differentiators. Investments in IT must have a stronger payback in terms of the business value extracted, and it is critical that business and IT executives work even more closely together toward corporate objectives.
Innovations in existing software categories and the emergence of entirely new categories have created tremendous opportunity for businesses to re-engineer and rethink their IT applications and processes. Some of the emerging technologies covered in this book include enterprise software categories such as Web services, peer services, business process management, real-time computing, mobile business, and enterprise security. Additionally, we explore trends and advances in areas such as software as a service, grid computing, computing on demand, devices and sensors, electronic tagging, artificial intelligence, speech technologies, and new forms of visual interfaces. The potential impact of these technologies over the next several years will range from simply reshaping business processes to reshaping entire industries.
Much has been published on the technical details of these emerging technologies, such as Web services, but for the business executive the implications and benefits are unclear, at best.
Collectively, these technologies represent the next generation of the Internet. It is vital that business executives gain an understanding of how they may be applied within their enterprise for competitive advantage. The business must now extend its radar since these emerging and disruptive technologies are the next competitive edge.
Packaged applications can take us only so far. It is this new wave of enabling technologies that will set businesses apart. The challenge is that these technologies do not create the value themselves. It is all about executionhow these technologies are identified, combined, and implemented will be the keys to success. There is also no single "magic bullet"no one single technology will provide the solution, but their combination will yield tremendous synergies.Our Approach
Business Innovation and Disruptive Technology begins with an overview of the trends within the enterprise, on both the business and information technology side and within the software industry, that are driving us toward the need to extend the radar. Within the business world, there is increased uncertainty in terms of future growth predictions and the direction of the economy. Businesses are adopting a back-to-basics approach focusing on cost takeout and performance improvement. Information technology departments are increasingly called upon to justify every penny they spend and to do more with less. The software industry is undergoing its own transformation. The software-as-a-service movement, where software is moved to the network for others to subscribe to or rent, is changing the business models for almost all of these companies. It is changing the way that software is planned, designed, constructed, delivered, and maintained. Many emerging infrastructure technologies such as Web services and peer-to-peer computing have enabled new business possibilities in terms of redefining how business value can be delivered or extracted. Many of the technologies have reached a trigger point where they are primed for mass market adoption due to reduced costs and standardization.
Chapter 1 starts with a discussion of the trends within the business and software communities. The book then goes into detail for each of the major emerging and disruptive technology categories that are profiled. Chapters 2 through 7 cover Web services, peer services, real-time computing, business process management, mobile business, and enterprise security, respectively. The descriptions of each of these emerging technologies and critical disciplines are tackled from the business perspective. The book focuses on the business scenarios to which these technologies can be applied and the corresponding benefits that can be realized. Brief technical descriptions of the technologies are included in order to help business leaders understand the underlying infrastructure that is required to be put into place and the conceptual models around how the software interacts. The book then goes on to provide industry examples of success stories and covers some of the leading and emerging software companies within each category, both public and private. Industry examples are taken from a variety of major corporations in verticals, including communications and content, consumer and industrial products, financial services, health care, high-tech, and government. After coverage of the value proposition of the specific technology in terms of business scenarios and strengths and weaknesses, each chapter concludes by making strategy recommendations for how to exploit these technologies and calculate return on investment.
In Chapter 8 we look at how organizations should approach their emerging and disruptive technology strategy and how processes can be put into place in order to identify and implement these solutions, to manage risk, and to maximize the return on investment. This chapter raises the strategy discussion from the earlier focus on exploiting individual emerging technologies to a corporate level discussion on how to extend the radar across the organization.
In Chapter 9 we look at some of the future trends in computing that have relevance to business stakeholders. We look at where information technology is headed and how we may interact with computers in the future. These trends include innovations in core computing and networks, devices and sensors, and user interfaces and human-computer interaction. As software moves out to the network and becomes a readily available service, we are seeing the rise of information technology as a utility much like the water, gas, telephone, and electric utilities. In fact, companies are already exploring the potential of delivering information over the public power network as discussed in our section on power line networking. The section on grid computing and computing on demand explores the opportunities that are possible by tapping into the collective power of the Internet operating system and by accessing computing resources on an as-needed basis. As chips and sensors are embedded into everyday devices, we are entering an era of ubiquitous computing where there is not only human-to-machine interaction but also machine-to-machine interaction and object-to-object interaction. The chapter also covers the innovations in user interfaces and human-computer interaction with coverage of new applications in artificial intelligence, new speech technologies, and new forms of interactions via multimodal and visual interfaces.
In Chapter 10 we look at our current position in the long-term evolution of the Internet and of electronic business applications. Having spent the past five years or so learning what works and what doesn't work, we will spend the next five years realizing the productivity and value that were anticipated when we first embarked on the journey.