The future enterprise

In an instant-on world, enterprises are being forced to adapt and evolve, but what can CIOs in the Middle East do to cope?

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The future enterprise
By  Ben Furfie Published  January 13, 2011

In an instant-on world, enterprises are being forced to adapt and evolve, but what can CIOs in the Middle East do to cope?

As things go, the internet has done the world a number of favours. Never has it been so easy to find relevant information, and tools like email have shrunk the world to the point where a message that might have taken three weeks to reach the far-flung corner of the world can now be sent in less than three milliseconds. However, the culture of immediacy that has built up around it has created numerous headaches for CIOs around the world.

Whereas in the past, an issue with an IT system could have been dealt with quietly and at a pace that suited the IT department, they need to be rectified almost immediately or an enterprise risks a damaging blow to its reputation via social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

The frustration and headaches that such forms of communication have created for enterprises was vividly displayed by the problems that plagued airlines, including the Middle East’s two super-carriers, Emirates and Eithad, during December’s snowpocalypse in Europe. A lack of communication between Eithad and BAA led to passengers bound for London Heathrow being diverted to Manchester, around 250 miles to the north. Dubai-based Emirates Airlines also came in for a raft of negative press during the crisis for failing to keep its customers up to date with the current status of its flights to Europe and the UK. Regardless of whether it was an issue with Emirates’ IT systems or its general business processes, it shows the challenges facing enterprises in these days of an instant on, constantly connected world.

These challenges have left CIOs facing a number of questions about their enterprise’s ability to deal with such situations. How can my enterprise speed up decision making to ensure that it not only remains competitive, but relevant? How can it get its products and services to market quicker? How can we ensure that when there is a problem, it can be dealt with as quickly as customers expect?

It was this issue that HP addressed at its 2010 Software Universe conference, which it held in Barcelona (which was itself caught up in the first act of the snowpocalypse, with even HP managing director and enterprise business lead for the Middle East, Eyad Shibabi getting caught out by the snow on the way back from the event). Although aimed predominately at software development houses and those enterprises that house their own software development departments, the event offered a tantalising glimpse at the enterprise of the future.

The main theme of the event was that of the instant-on enterprise and how its partners could help their customers to enable that. Small things, such as being able to speed up software quality assessment might have been aimed at software developers, but even enterprises that don’t have their own internal development teams can still benefit from products such as HP’s Sprinter, if only because it will enable IT teams to automate a lot of the time consuming tasks associated with debugging and trialling of software. The reward of speeding up testing and time to market should be obvious for any CIO. Less time spent using valuable resources – i.e. your staff – handling mundane tasks like entering data, debugging and repeating, the process until the issue is no longer apparent.

“Technology has never been in such a strong position,” says Jan Zadak, senior vice president and managing director for HP EMEA. “However, the proliferation of technology has also produced a number of problems, especially for the CIO. Change is now instant, and if enterprises are not able to adapt and change instantly, they will face challenges. Our purpose is to enable enterprises to compete in this new world, especially as there are a number of competitors who are emerging leveraging this new approach to working.”

He points to three major trends that are driving the change. “Evolving business models, technological advancements and a changing workforce are all issues that are facing enterprises today. They have resulted in a number of changes that we, as a solution provider, must address.”Zadak adds enterprises needed to be strong in five crucial areas, but that currently, software is holding CIOs back from being able to achieve all of them. “Flexibility, automation, security, insight and speed are all crucial for the enterprise of today. Applications and services need to be able to adapt, scale up and down.

“Assets need to be secured, while facing the realities of a new world of mobility and collaboration. CIOs need to be able to not just gain insight, but use it, and most importantly, they need the speed and agility in their software platform to be able to use and benefit that insight,” he added.

On the issue of security, he said that current models were under stress from two trends. The first is that the next generation of workers were going to come from a generation that have spent their entire life online.

“They work wherever they are and they collaborate online with ease. It is this generation that will soon be entering the workforce and will pose a number of challenges for those enterprises that fail to prepare.”

In response to that, he says enterprises will have to move towards business models that allow rapid changes to take place, not only in terms of adopting new technologies, but also when dealing with situations.

“Change has become instant. Both corporate enterprises and governments must become instant-on enterprises to be able to adapt and thrive in this new world.” The second, explains vice president, strategic marketing, software products, software and solutions at HP, Paul Muller, is that the old methodologies of security are outdated. “The simple fact is that the enterprise has changed from a place where you keep people out, to a place you have to determine who to let in and who not to let in. Mistakes happen, and when they do, they’re often disastrous. We have to change the way that we look at security. We now have to let people in, and because of that, the old approach simply won’t work anymore.”

This approach will require a way of ensuring that software is kept up to date and is as flexible as possible and is fit for purpose,” added vice president of product marketing for HP Software, Mark Sarbiewski.

“The purpose of the software we talked about at the conference is to essentially act as the glue between the multitude of layers of applications and the hardware, in order to make the CIO’s life easier, and to enable smoother operations.”

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