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September 28, 2012

Releasing Innovation. And How!

Posted by Sanjay Purohit (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:00 AM


Confluence 2012, Monte Carlo. An ironically 'easy' setting for  discussions on tough-to-crack topics about innovation and business success in a difficult economic climate. And, there was a lot of that over the course of two days. Yes, times are tough. And enterprises have to play the cards they're dealt. However, with innovation, they could change their 'workable' strategies into a winning game plan - a thought that we explored in some detail over the course of two days.

Let's mull over that from a technology perspective. When business turns to technology to resolve a problem, it does one (or more) of three things: seek advice, buy applications, or engage services. Unfortunately, countless organizations have found, after investing months and hundreds of thousands of dollars, that there's little point to upfront consulting without downstream delivery. Products bring their own disappointments, because most are designed to perform a certain function or solve a certain problem, but in a certain way, which might not always sit well with the client's set up. And having to manage disparate relationships with a host of service providers - accountable for project completion not delivery of business results - quickly takes the sheen off outsourcing.

Now, what if enterprises found a technology partner willing to put their money where their mouth is, and follow through their consulting advice with seamless execution? What if there was a product or technology platform with nearly all the nuts and bolts in place, which could be tweaked under the direction of every enterprise to deliver on the exact business results the enterprise wanted...every time? What if a service provider unthought the existing paradigm to take complete charge of the services life-cycle, from testing to application development and management, to building and sustaining infrastructure? And made best-of-breed technology, domain expertise and world class processes all part of the deal. Wherever the enterprise needs it - on a private Cloud, public Cloud or at their premises. 

Wouldn't that open the doors to unthinkable possibility even in challenging times? Faster than market growth, an edge that's hard to beat, efficiencies of accruing value... all from releasing innovation.

September 26, 2012

Industrial Revolution, Industrialization and IT

Posted by Suman Sasmal (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:44 AM

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The industrial revolution was a turning point in modern history, and had a profound impact on the economy, society and culture of those times. As industries matured and the industrial age set in, most things, from automobiles to consumer durables became more affordable. Management and manufacturing sciences came together to bring in automation, mass production, supply chain management, economies-of-scale, statistical quality control, productivity tools and such like. These techniques helped a growing world meet its needs and influenced the progress of many industries creating a mature state where both buyers and sellers saw their interests align. That took focus off manufacturing and engineering quality - which became a given - and trained it on utility, service and quality of experience.

Fast forward to today's wired world. Information Technology (IT) is not only ubiquitous, here, but is also changing social and business paradigms. The way we interact, listen to music, shop around, access information and accomplish things - these have changed. Also, the I (Information) in IT is slowly separating from the T (Technology). To an end-user, all that matters is the way in which the information that is needed is being delivered. IT is simply another service to be purchased.  The industrialization of IT is bringing in scale, consistency, quality and affordability of consumption, best illustrated by the 99 cents industry grade app, which needs practically no maintenance. These are early signs. 

Let's look at another phenomenon shaping the IT landscape - the mind-boggling scale of software needs. An order entry system built years ago had only about 1.7 million lines of code (MLOC), whereas the radio cum navigation system in that S Class Mercedes-Benz alone has 20 MLOC!!  Virtually every product we use has inbuilt software.  The world is connecting through intelligent devices, making the internet of things a reality, and fuelling further demand for software code. Automation is a key driver of software development; one day, custom developed or handcrafted software will evolve to include manufactured software. Whether it is assembly-based development of pre-fabricated components, availability of an enterprise App store, or a large partner ecosystem in the supply chain, things are changing fast and leading us to this holy grail of software development. For example, salesforce.com has launched force.com, a Cloud platform on which customers may deploy social and mobile applications. Similarly, Infosys SocialEdge helps to build an ecosystem of social apps along with analytics capability for greater insight into the interrelated nature of social interactions.

Moving on to infrastructure, during the industrial revolution, between 1838 and 1850, Britain's railway lines multiplied 10 times, making it easy and cost effective to connect factories with centers of purchase and sale.  Now factories can be set up almost anywhere and on-demand. We can find a parallel to this today, when the Cloud ecosystem is making a similar impact on IT. With virtual infrastructure available on demand at a fraction of on-premise costs, an IT shop may be located anywhere. The Cloud has also solved the problem of capacity planning and utilization. All that one has to do is connect the dots.

Virtualized infrastructure offering scale and economy, a mature market where buyers seek business value, and an ecosystem, evolving to assemble software from components and benefit from a mature supply chain, are at the core of this IT industrial revolution. Its potential benefits include consistent, predictable high-quality software delivered using virtualized shared infrastructure. The software leverages a partner ecosystem (supply chain) and comes at a significantly lower cost. 
 
Did someone design all of this consciously by taking lessons from the world of manufacturing? Unlikely. A happy accident? Perhaps. The most plausible answer is that the industrial revolution template for industrial growth and maturity holds good even today, and industries will invariably end up following it.
How do you think industrialization will play out in the future for applications maintenance and development? How will manufactured software and handcrafted software occupy this space? Let's talk.

September 24, 2012

It's Time to Rethink that Data Center

Posted by Chandra Shekar Kakal (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:16 AM

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What Ricoh achieved was no mean feat - removing more than 1000 servers across their Europe-Middle East-Africa operations and reducing their carbon footprint by nearly 17K tons of CO2 - the equivalent of emissions from 3350 cars. Ricoh, for whom Infosys implemented a private Cloud infrastructure, was recognized with a Green IT award

This is no isolated story. Very soon, 3 out of 5 data centers will be less than half their current size, and yet process 300% larger workloads than they conventionally did. Yes, the paradigm is clearly shifting. And the C-suite, not surprisingly, is sitting up and taking notice. Because, this means the CEO has another avenue to drive the 'go-green' and social accountability agenda. The CFO has found a great opportunity to shore up the bottom line. And, CIOs have their hands overwhelmingly full. 

With technologies for virtualization increasing in appeal, the CIO's organization must deal with the operational complexities of data hosted partly on-premises and in parts on private and public Clouds. Consolidating this distributed data - from a highly fragmented and hybrid environment - into a center is no mean challenge. Then, there are the complexities of data generated by a remote global workforce using personal devices for work. The CIO must support the security and assurance needs of this business-critical data as well. Given that this is the picture today, it comes as no surprise that organizations are expected to invest close to US$ 46 billion, in 2012 alone, in data center outsourcing. 

Global leaders like Harley-Davidson already have a head start. Their transformation exercise encompasses management of over 1,400 business applications, end to end infrastructure management and data hosting - center to network to help-desk.  

But, before you set out to script your data center success story, I suggest we ponder these points:
• Your IT infrastructure will inevitably grow as your business does. You may want to put in a structured approach to validate this burgeoning underlying IT infrastructure. Not just applications validation. Not just infrastructure management. But end-to-end infrastructure testing to provide reliable and efficient infrastructure all the time, anytime. This is the good housekeeping that must precede best-in-class data center management. 
• Thanks to public Cloud operators, business users, acting independent of the IT organizations, can create their own Cloud applications on demand. Now's the time for your enterprise to find the means and methods to unify this fragmented Cloud environment. And establish robust governance without compromising business flexibility. 
• The pressure on capital resources remains unabated, and hybrid Clouds will be the chosen favorite when augmenting IT capacity or even enabling infrastructure for disaster recovery. This means investments in technologies that improve storage efficiencies - like checks for data duplication - will not be wasted.
• The premise of the next-gen data center is around seamless value creation between providers on the IT side and consumers at the business end. In fact, that's the real promise of Cloud-led virtualization: enterprise users - without business-only or tech-only mandates - simply gravitating towards one goal: innovation.

I believe 'rethinking that data center' is really no longer an option. After all, if the need of the hour is to support private and public Cloud-led plug-n-play business innovations or the creation of a secure BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)-enabled virtualized enterprise or just plain and simple, yet powerful, infrastructure rationalization, why should your enterprise have to look beyond you - their CIO?

September 21, 2012

Balancing Strategy and Execution, Globally

Posted by BG Srinivas (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:07 AM

Recently we announced the acquisition of Lodestone, a global management consultancy firm headquartered in Zurich. This means we are now equipped, more strongly than ever before, to serve up deeper consulting offerings for our clients in Europe and the world over. The combination of our breadth of capabilities and Lodestone's extensive experience, of driving transformational change, will provide our clients a world-class team to accelerate transformation and innovation-led growth. But, for us, this journey to fortify our business transformation capabilities - so our clients can quickly identify trends, imagine new possibilities and create the means to disrupt the market - began almost a decade ago when we first saw a convergence of opportunities for us to make a difference.  Most leading consulting firms, then, had not globalized their business models, had not integrated technology and business value thinking, and had a shaky record of delivering results on engagements.  We decided to get right in and drive changes in the profession.                                   

And, to this day, this figures right on top of our agenda because we believe that transformational thinking made executable is the secret sauce for a successful business. In fact, more so today. Because enterprises need to be a whole lot more creative and inventive in order to handle the complex dynamics of business. Their ability to challenge status quo...to spark disruption...to strategically manage change - these are probably as important, if not more than management acumen and operational expertise.  

Are we, then, talking of helping our clients build a braver enterprise? I certainly think so. In an environment that is unforgiving of the slightest error, today's business has the unenviable mandate to place bigger bets, upend the norm, take calculated risks, act decisively despite uncertainty and emerge winning. Are we talking of partnering with them as they build a more open enterprise? Yes, again. More than ever, enterprises need to continually examine, modify and redirect their operations and business models, even those that are proven, because there's no guarantee that something that succeeded in the past will do so in the future. This calls for significant opening up - to new ideas, new people, new technologies, new partners, and above all, a new way of doing things perhaps even inspired by other industries. 

In fact, we are applying, to ourselves, these same prescriptions to wholeheartedly embrace change. We want to be the most respected firm for the business value we generate for clients for every dollar, euro, or pound they invest in a consulting engagement with us.  Whether it is through our co-creative partnering style, agile solutions to a client's business problem, or the creation of a best-in-the-industry talent pool, we are determined to discharge what we believe is our principal responsibility - to provide the transformational vision and an equal rigor of execution for our clients to emerge as winners. Because, our own strategy is simple: Build a business on the legacy of business value we generate for our clients.

September 19, 2012

The Potential Pitfalls of Data Mining

Posted by Sanjay Dalwani (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:51 AM

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When it comes to sharing personal information with retailers, consumers are behaving a little wary - even testy -- of late.  Let me share a story with you.  A friend of mine received a $10 gift card from Starbucks as a reward for filling out a marketing survey.  When the card arrived, a sticker urged him to register the card online in order to receive an additional gift of a free drink on his birthday.  Since his birthday was only a few days away, he decided to take advantage of the offer.  When he clicked through a few screens, he saw he had to fill out so many required fields - read, give up so much data - that he realized it was not worth another grande latte.

E-commerce has made tremendous inroads, and consumers have taken to cyberspace in a big way to do routine shopping.  And it's especially true when they've built up a wellspring of trust from a brand or a store they've already done business with.  But this comes with a caveat to the online purveyors of all those goods and services.  You may have the best intentions in providing customer service - wouldn't it be nice if Starbucks "knew" what your regular drink was, just like the local bartender knows his patron's preferences? - but there may be a limit.  

Some of the most widely used apps on Facebook--the games, quizzes and sharing services that define the social-networking site and give it such appeal--are compiling a lot of personal information, more perhaps than the great majority of its 800 million users may believe.  

Recently, the Wall Street Journal looked at 100 of the most popular Facebook apps.  The newspaper discovered that some wanted the email addresses, current location and sexual preference, among other details, not only of app users but also of those on their Facebook friend's lists.  In short, some of the spam that bypasses the best filters and arrives in your email box may be caused by the completely innocent actions of your friends.  Nobody has any sense where some of the data may end up.  

I don't believe there is a major consumer revolt brewing, but I do think that many companies using social networking for commerce should be very aware that privacy is an important issue, and that "perception" is paramount.  

Your customers are still not going to plow through a dozen pages of fine print about your privacy policies.  They know you're protecting your legal position.  They just want you to act responsibly.  

We should be constantly asking these questions.  Do they opt in? Or opt out?  Which one is the reasonable default setting?  Do we market this information to third parties?  If we do, how and when do we inform our customers?  Are we acting in a transparent way?  

Because more and more consumers are wondering why they have to "register" before they even consider buying your product or using your service.  Let's think before we put those asterisks in all the fields as a "requirement" for a customer to do business with us.      

We are in the early days of ecommerce, basically only a five-year-old industry.  Consumers, of course, want services for free, and the only way the app developers can make money is to collect, sort, and sell information.  This can be a fair exchange - as long as each party is aware of their obligation and responsibility.  

The White House already aware of this and is floating the idea of a privacy bill of rights.  This is because we don't have any rules yet about the secondary use of data.   The law is likely a long way off, but it's clear that if major abuses occur and there is an outcry of protest that it is a strong possibility.  If merchants properly self-police themselves in cyberspace - and respect their customers above all - then that is probably the best model. 

September 17, 2012

Bury Old Banking Service. Bring on the New.

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:48 AM

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The ATM for cash withdrawal. The Internet for a checkbook request. The mobile for account balance. An app that deposits checks, transfers money and pays bills on the go. And now, the online automated investment advisory platform that promises an optimized, customized portfolio. Seems like there's no end to what self-service can do for banking.

Responding to a survey conducted by a leading consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, a senior executive at a European bank dramatically declared, "Product is dead". Will the same be said of banking services (as we know them) in the not too distant future? The signs, at least, point that way. In another study that it conducted last year, the aforementioned consulting firm discovered that of all the changes in customer behavior, the use of direct and self-service channels would impact banking the most in the near future. Bestselling author Brett King, an avowed champion of the digital channel, goes a step further to predict the "destruction of the physicality of banking from branches, checks, cards and cash..." Services could well be part of that list.

The multi-channelization of banking has also contributed to the disintermediation of banking services from the physical bank. Banking customers are increasingly using more than one channel to do their business. They are demanding the freedom to consume any service (or product) over any channel, at any time, or even over multiple channels simultaneously. (For instance, register a complaint using IVR and follow up using Internet banking). Other technologies have reinforced the trend. In the countries where it is available, the highly popular Mobile Remote Deposit Capture facility has broken down one of the last standing bastions of physical banking services. Social lending platforms are emerging as an expedient alternative to cumbersome bank loans. In future, it is highly possible that Augmented Reality technology will infiltrate the humble account statement to enable customers have an instant discussion on its contents with a virtual bank advisor, on demand.

In fact, I'll go so far as to say, it can get as radical as 'no service required', once sold. "No service" will become a self-assured display of the bank's absolute confidence in its "need-no-service-ever- products" Seems improbable? Well, there is a bicycle company in North America promising  life-time warranty and replacement. Why can't a bank go that extra mile?

So, yes, traditional banking service is perhaps ready to be buried. But it's technology-led avatar - self-service has already taken birth. Here's to its long life!

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September 12, 2012

World Economic Forum (WEF), Tianjin

Posted by Rangarajan V. R. (View Profile | View All Posts) at 11:04 AM

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So, what's the headline? Simple. "Economists won't bet on world economic trends. They'd rather do something innovative to keep businesses going. And believe it's important that governments work closely for the progress of global economy - after all, it's all interconnected."

Yes, it's exciting to be here again. Big corporations apart, WEF invites fast growing small companies, innovative firms, entrepreneurs with ideas for radical social progress and academicians. Last year, the most talked about topics were the Chinese Yuan-USD exchange and the Economic Crisis in Europe. From what I hear now, it's no more about the crisis in Europe - it's the " Europe phenomena"! Businesses must simply learn to adapt and thrive in the changed situation.

I was particularly intrigued by the address delivered by physicist Albert-László Barabási on his breakthrough ideas about how the social structures of organizations can be understood and influenced through network and complexity science. He put forth a compelling case for social and biological networks being the very same. And explained the importance of injecting information at key points of the hub to make communication truly effective. I am sure, Linked - Albert-László Barabási's book on the study of networks will make for some very interesting reading.

I particularly enjoyed the panel discussion, chaired by Kris, on the Future of IT - with eminent scientist, technologists and state leaders participating. While the panel concurred that the future of IT is indeed bright, it also brought to fore other interesting perspectives. For example, the fact that the apps of the "smartphone world" don't touch the lives of 5 billion people who find no use for them. Who's to develop products for them? Shouldn't there be apps that agriculturalist and the rural populace can use?

The dialogue between Wen Jia Bao the Premier of China and Schwab the Founder Chairman of WEF was rather interesting as well. They discussed the impact of the global financial crisis on the world's economy. Despite significant effort by governments of nations like China, the impact on emerging countries has been significant and employment creation has been adversely impacted. They called for closer working of governments and urged the emerging world's "new champions" to go forth and innovate. Premier Wen talked about the continuous effort of the Chinese government to reform and transform the economy. It was a somewhat touching moment when Premier Wen, a patron of Summer Davos, announced his imminent retirement and expressed his delight at the event expanding in scale and China finding her place on the global stage.

It's great catching up with clients and business associates here. Just another small pleasure typical of an event this large in scale. And undoubtedly rewarding too.

September 11, 2012

A Question of Attitude!

Posted by Srikantan Moorthy (View Profile | View All Posts) at 11:28 AM

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It was a clear Tuesday morning over the Atlantic, and we were a little more than halfway through a flight from London to Dallas. After a light meal, I was getting ready for a short nap when the captain made a cryptic announcement that we were beginning our descent and were expected to land shortly, not in Dallas, but in Newfoundland, Canada, because the U.S. had shut down its airspace!

A wave of apprehension immediately swept over all of us in the aircraft. Our minds went into overdrive in the sudden silence that engulfed the plane.  Since there wasn't any aircraft malfunction, a hijack was the only plausible explanation! But a few minutes later, the captain reassured us that the change in flight plan was solely due to the closure of U.S. airspace. In hindsight, that turned out to be empty reassurance. For the world would never be the same after that fateful 11th of September.

As the pilot circled and landed at the airport in Gander, Newfoundland, the dozens of aircraft filling the runways indicated that something was definitely amiss. After spending six hours on seats that were getting increasingly uncomfortable by the minute, we were shown a BBC news broadcast which relayed the horrifying details of the day's unfolding events. We spent another six hours in the aircraft, waiting for further word from the Canadian authorities, unsure of when we would fly out, or where to.
 
Later that night, the airport authorities cancelled all flights and allowed us to disembark. We soon realized that our troubles were far from over - 37 aircraft had offloaded passengers in this small town of 10,000, which was now bursting at the seams. How could it possibly cope?
 
We were bundled into buses and taken to a nearby church, where we spent the next two days and nights. Misfortune has a way of bringing people closer; it took little time for all the 137 people from our flight to bond together as one big family! 
 
I will never forget the generosity of Gander's residents. They plied us with pillows and blankets, and gave us a TV so we could watch the news. They even shared their home cooked meals with this huge troop of uninvited guests! If that wasn't enough, they spent what little spare time they had, keeping us company. 

The irony was inescapable. Against the backdrop of one of the most shocking attacks against humanity, here we were, at the receiving end of innumerable acts of kindness. Our hosts from this little town gave us big city folks an unforgettable lesson in human values. 

I believe that we need more of this "Gander attitude", in our day-to-day lives, both personal and corporate. After all, our attitude is on display at all times - when we interact with clients, colleagues and the company; when we respond to situations at work; when we build products or self-image; and so on. Attitude shapes identity, both of organizations and of the people who work inside them. It is therefore important to pause and check our attitude quotient once in a while.  

Come September, and my thoughts turn to those people who gave so selflessly in the 9/11 aftermath. They also turn to another group of unsung heroes, our teachers, who pass on their knowledge and wisdom to students year after year, in the same spirit of selflessness. September 5th is celebrated as Teachers' Day in India, exactly a month before the rest of the world does. This is a great occasion to express our heartfelt thanks to the teachers, both from our alma maters and the school of life, who taught us lessons, big and small, that will stay with us forever. It is also a good time to conduct that attitude check, to see how it measures up against the values our teachers tried to instill in us.

But let us not stop there. As we salute our teachers, let us resolve to actually put their teachings into practice. Starting with cultivating the right attitude, which enables us to make a difference to the world around us.


September 10, 2012

Collaboration: Physical-Virtual. And Potent.

Posted by Arindam Banerji (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:45 AM

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Online collaboration, for all of us, is familiar terrain. Blogs, wikis, social media, collaboration applications on forums like Facebook, and social-CRMs are an integral part of our everyday life. But, collaboration can have a very different dimension - Virtual physical collaboration. This is actually a concept that preceded the invention of the World Wide Web and has, in fact, been commonly leveraged in the arena of healthcare - specifically facilitating telehealthcare and telemedicine. For instance, teletransmission of ECGs was popular with doctors as early as 1975. This system was also used to remote-monitor pacemakers fitted out for patients residing in inaccessible parts of India. It helped  doctors remotely interpret arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and reach medical aid. Today, telehealth has advanced to a point where remote testing of patients, physicians' consultations and even remote robotic surgery are all possible. 

So, virtual-physical collaboration is typically a simulation of same room presence and interaction by making tools, equipment, processes, transactions, people and applications appear connected and co-located. This is facilitated through a variety of technologies, some of which may be modern, while others go back to the pre-Internet era. It is a fundamentally unique model of collaboration, reified  and made repeatable, with the purpose of applicability to multiple processes. Consider, for example, its use in the technology space.  

Over the past decade, software product release cycles have shortened significantly. And, suddenly processes that made perfect sense for release cycles of 18 months or more, don't work as well when release cycles are crunched down to 6 weeks or even less. One approach, to make the software development cycle processes more effective, in such short cycles of development and release, is to put all the requisite teams at one location. But, this is very often not practical - especially in the context of large globally distributed teams. So, teams have begun to leverage many of the constructs of virtualized physical collaboration:

Same room effect through telepresence or video-conferencing 
Desktop sharing across multiple sites and locations 
Remote control and management
Deep and seamless integration of surround applications 
Immersive experience of the GUI, enabling participants to interact as if they are, indeed, together 

This approach to bring people, processes and transactions (not just online transactions) together may have a remarkable set of new uses. Consider fast fashion.

As Business Week puts it, in the recent past, small cut-rate clothiers out of Europe and Asia "have raked in more customers and bigger profits" than traditional large US apparel companies by "mass producing low quality digs that keep pace with runway styles". Fast fashion implies idea-to-shelf in 3-4 weeks, as against the conventional 6-9 months. So, how do large apparel companies play the "catch-up" game? Virtualized physical collaboration can come to their rescue. Apparel makers can instantaneously put the latest designers, competitive global apparel sources and even fashion testers, in the same room, through this approach, thus ramping up the effectiveness of their supply chain. Voila! Competitiveness restored!

Virtualized physical collaboration is something we've leveraged, in various forms, for decades now. The emergence of  technologies like telepresence and remote control/management has put its collaboration potential "on steroids".  The resulting acceleration in efficiencies for any interactive process is dramatic. And, as we productize this form of collaboration, what makes for an even stronger proposition is the ability to map this to a model of device-Cloud deployment. Now, that, I'd say, makes it a real clincher!! 

September 7, 2012

Unclog the IT Traffic Jam. And No Casualties.

Posted by Vishnu Bhat (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:15 AM

Innovation@Infosys : Cloud ecosystem hub

There are many who believe that the technology organization has relapsed from driving or enabling business to being an impediment to it. This judgment, undoubtedly, stems from their frustration of being stonewalled by the tech -powers-that-be whenever they approach them with a challenging request. After all, which driven business leader can wait 6 weeks for let's say - an analytics program - however justified the timeline - when a product promo campaign is a less than a month away? 

In recent times, the Cloud has enabled business users to neatly sidestep the issue. Need applications, a digital payment platform, or heck, space to build and run a quick and dirty program? Buy it off the shelf at any leading public Cloud operator. Want higher computing capacity to tide you over the holiday season? Pick from half a dozen providers just swiping your credit card. At low cost, quick time, no fuss.  And the lumbering technology organization hasn't stood a chance. 
  
But what's made it worse is that business users, acting independent of IT, and of each other, have created a snarl of Cloud applications that neither speak to each other, nor to any other application in the enterprise. They've also inadvertently set off a time bomb that exposes organizations to unwarranted security, IP and compliance risks . How bad can it get? Well, according to analysts, a single U.S. government agency was found to have 20 running contracts with the same Cloud services provider! 
  
No prizes for guessing who has to sort out the mess. 
  
The good news is that this story now has an alternative happy ending in the form of a Cloud ecosystem hub. The hub is a pioneering solution, which enables organizations to build, manage and govern a unified hybrid Cloud environment. Private, public, on-premise, and everything in between. 

With full visibility and control over enterprise Cloud assets, courtesy the hub, the CIO and his organization are back in the driver's seat. At the same time, business also wins, because it can continue to pick and drop applications, infrastructure and processes through the Cloud ecosystem hub (with the CIO watching!) without putting the organization's technology equilibrium and security constructs at risk. Now, that means governance, but not at the cost of flexibility. 
  
What's the outlook for the Cloud ecosystem hub? I'm betting that it will not only transform IT, from on-premise to Cloud, but also makeover the IT organization, from roadblock to freeway. Just give it time. A little time. 

September 5, 2012

Infosys edge

Posted by Sanjay Purohit (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:13 AM

Samson David - Head of Platforms, Infosys, gets candid about how platforms are re-defining the way for business

It's a world of growing complexity and changing dynamics. And, I often find many vexing challenges, that businesses face, stem from the fact that they must, on the one hand, add on new capabilities to adapt to change, and on the other rationalize these add-ons in the interests of organizational efficiency and operational simplicity. It's not difficult to see how sometimes this dual-agenda can create conflict.

That's why, when a client engages us to partner with them, to help achieve their goals, we first sieve their requirements and business aspirations through the Infosys "innovation framework". This is really a grid of 7 mega trends changing the game for organizations the world over. This framework helps us, and our clients, zero in on those areas of their business that'll respond with high-value returns when innovation investments are made. So, new capability acquisition, and the resources this demands, can be meaningfully prioritized.

Once this priority is established and the onward path is charted, we ensure our clients speed ahead. In fact, over the years, we have been preparing systematically exactly for this moment. We've crafting business solutions - platforms that combine the prowess of business consulting, applications, services, and process outsourcing. Each an assembly of reusable assets delivering differentiated context-specific business value; these can be co-tailored with clients and partners to rapidly address specific business needs. The result? Our clients don't just rely on IT services to adapt to change but leverage our business solutions to actually thrive with the change. 

So, recently, when I came upon Forrester's report on how IT service vendors and their clients can benefit from taking the asset-based approach and adopting product strategies, it seemed to echo to me Infosys boardroom conversations, from three years ago. Today, of course, that vision has already seeded a radical cultural change and every Infoscion understands that he/she is putting together pieces of the jigsaw - solving some of our clients' most pressing business challenges. And, building their tomorrow's enterprise today.

September 3, 2012

Getting to the Top

Posted by Manish Srivastava (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:00 AM

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Since 1955, around 2000 companies have found themselves in the Fortune 500 list, but only 65 of these have managed to stay on. Getting to the top of the Fortune list and staying there is like mountaineering. Take Mt. Everest for instance - around 4000 people have tried to surmount it, with just 660 succeeding. And 219 (at the end of 2010) lost their lives trying. It is common belief that these deaths occur due to avalanches and ice fall. However, studies indicate that the factor causing most deaths is fatigue - taking grip at about 8000m - often called the death zone.  It takes a well-trained mountaineer 12 hours to cover the last 1.07 mi. A sea level dweller would lose consciousness in about 2-3 mins without acclimatization at that height.

But, what separates the successful from the rest, in most cases, is not linked to the external environment but to one's own ability to deal with extreme situations. Interestingly, research also indicates that for 80% of firms growth stalls because of internal organizational issues while only 20% are impacted adversely by dramatic external changes. Mountaineers understand that packing one's gear before the climb is a strategic act. If you don't carry enough, you risk starving along the way. Carry too much, and it'll slow you down and tire you too. Organizations need to make similar choices - which products, capabilities and relationships to carry and which ones to discard - especially when the business environment is unpredictable and severe.

Mountaineers train themselves to survive in low oxygen zones, with less food and deal with days of loneliness which can affect decision-making sometimes even leading to fatal mistakes. During training, smart mountaineers assess their own capacity to carry weight through long distances, the speed at which they can move with the load, and the nourishment they need to sustain strength. This is key to planning a successful trip to the summit. It not only helps mountaineers make the journey, but helps them choose the right partners as well. Look at great partnerships like that of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay who scaled the Everest. This was not the first attempt for either of them - they had several failed attempts before joining John Hunt's expedition comprising 400 hikers. Like successful mountaineers, smart organizations train themselves to survive with less resources by continuously simplifying their operations to deliver more with less. They learn from their failures. They are keenly aware of their own capabilities and the complexity they can deal with. This helps them focus efforts. Enables them to choose partners wisely and collaborate effectively. When the external environment gets tough, these organizations outlast their competitors who collapse under the load of their own weight. 
 
A successful journey to the top requires serious preparation through continuous simplification, rigorous learning, collaboration and the ability to adapt to change. The key to all this is awareness of one's own capabilities and strengths. The only way to find out if one can climb a mountain is to climb one.  Smarter organizations do - tirelessly. 

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