Monthly Archives: March 2014

The new industrial and communication revolution of Smart Cities

A guest Smart Cities blog post by Vitor Pereira. We’re closing in on Ovum’s Smart to Future Cities event, taking place in London on April 29-30. We’ve got representatives from 40+ global cities and administrative boroughs on the attendee list – make sure you’re there too.

The new industrial and communication revolution of Smart Cities



We have observed over the past couple of years that themes related to Smart Cities have been on the rise. In 2013, for example, it was noted that it was a turning point. The emphasis of the speech was focused on the analysis of the meaning of “Smart City”, in the perception of the current state and concepts implementation phase, including market viability in the certification of many of these same concepts.

We realize that there has been a huge effort, especially on behalf of the industry and of the main economic agents in the market, in disseminating their solutions, finding partnerships in cities and within the territories, going back to 4 or 5 years ago, when huge projects of Smart Cities occupied many towns and many newspapers pages. However, as paper airplanes, many of these projects have been unsuccessful, inadequate, perhaps excessively megalomaniac, without proper intelligence or financial sustainability in their planning, guidance, implementation and monitoring. Many of them were in ineffective. But they had a contribution. They paved the way for the actual scenario. They forced the industry and key economic agents to assume a more responsible role in organizing the concepts and their implementation.

Also the institutional partners, such as Governments and cities, with the integration of some sustainability objectives in their plans of action, put aside many of the infamous megalomanias of the past years. Many of the major world cities today references in the panorama of Smart Cities chose the path of creativity and offered an active role to citizens and, not least, also opened paths of innovation and economic development, through the focus on entrepreneurship, startups and private projects, even more fundamental, promoting partnerships with small and medium enterprises already in possession of know-how accumulated over the years and because of their small size and flexibility, many of them managed to stay floating during the turbulent waters of the recent crisis. They evolved in a sustainable way, hired the right professional staff and managed to also perform and demonstrate some relevant projects that are of utmost importance nowadays.

On the other hand, universities and educational institutions also noticed the need, in many cases to join efforts in research and development of new products that effectively adjust to the real world, to cities and citizens.

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OIC speaker interview 2: Mark Skilton, Warwick Business School, and the phenomenon of digitization

In our second Ovum Industry Congress speaker interview, we caught up with Professor Mark Skilton, Professor of Practice in Information Systems & Management, Warwick Business School.

mark skilton“I am discussing digital ecosystems at OIC 2014, I believe the phenomenon of digitization has emerged connecting and defining information and relationships in the information era. In the last fifty years the scale of digital data is perhaps the single most extraordinary fact that has grown in unprecedented size.

To put this in perspective the library of congress in 1997 had an estimated 3 Petabytes of data in the form of paper books, microfiches and other records. Just ten years later Google MapReduce cluster systems was reported to be processing approx. twenty Petabytes per day. Today research programs such as the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative to map the human brain is stated as potentially creating Yottabytes of data. Typically today many defence and commercial analysis programs can generate exabytes of storage. The challenge for CIOs and business leaders is to address this central question of our time in the vision, leadership skills and transitional and transforming opportunities and challenges this brings.

Ovum: What do you see as the coming trends in your profession/area of expertise, and how can you prepare?

MS: With so many new technologies and skills for selection, security, integration and design optimisation of information systems today its needs new competencies and business models. I see the impact on outsourcing and multi-sourcing models being disrupted by new innovation, crowd sourcing and funding models to introduce more effective innovation and better return on contract investment and competitive services in leading exponents of these new models. I also see the need for certification and assurance of staff and provider skills, services and solutions that need to understand and professionalise the use of cloud computing, mobility, social media, big data and converged solutions. I think it’s a risk to assume a digital transformational “model” and dash board with verbal assurances is all that’s needed to convince the board and users of “best practice”. Often the underlying infrastructure and management practices may be stuck in old ways of contract lock in and service retentiveness that in the long term many be bad for the customers and the provider financial longevity. Companies need to have leadership and operating plans that address new sourcing and consumption models that drive innovation and value for money that leverage a complete view of technology capabilities. This involves both a commercial, technical, legal security and operating perspective which should be tested and validated with professional certification and qualifications of key providers management skills, key staff and solution environments.

Ovum: Thinking about the conference strapline “Strategy, Technology and the art of the possible”, what tech related innovation, transformation or invention would you hope to see in your lifetime:

MS: I believe in the next twenty to thirty years there will be shift towards connected objects and “things” that will widen the categories of computing in all areas of society, life and devices. In parallel there will be an emerging use of augmented and artificial intelligence that will transform the human – machine relationship. The following table illustrates some examples of the art of the possible today and the future. There is still an element of “futurism” in some of the vision and claims of these technologies that companies need to watch for as well as alleged new platforms that claim to provide an integrated one stop solution. Enterprises need to start to plan and implement digital ecosystem level strategies that seek to understand the real underlying trends in a deeper level and to get the balance between buying the SOT (Same old thing) and the establishing real IOT (Internet of things) presence and the wider digital ecosystem.”

Skilton graphic



To discuss these fascinating topics and more with Mark, make sure you join us at Ovum Industry Congress. It takes place at the Victoria Park Plaza in London, and is free to attend for end-user IT professionals.

OIC speaker interview 1: Neil Williams, Head of IT at Good Energy, on “Fringe IT” and more

In the first of a series of interviews with speakers at Ovum Industry Congress, the Ovum Live team got the thoughts of Neil Williams, Head of IT at Good Energy about the congress, the industry and his experience.

Neil WilliamsNeil Williams: At Ovum Industry Congress, I am very much looking forward to sharing ideas and opinions about organisational improvement. This is the lifeblood of my career and I am very pleased to be panellist in the discussion “Being an agent of change and transformation”

Ovum: From a learning experience viewpoint, what has been your most valuable lesson in your working career?

NW: As my experience grows, I better understand that IT is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient for economic success. Reflecting on the many transformational situations I have encountered, I recognise that people, organisation and process are far more important than technology.
I am also getting better at understanding what informs good economic choices. In the past, I may have been overly concerned about capacity utilisation and conformance to plan. These days, I find that reducing the cost of delay, managing queues and controlling in-process inventory are far more important.

Ovum: What are some of the challenges of your job? Why and how do you manage, or intend to manage these?

NW: My biggest challenges are managing insatiable demand for mainstream IT and governing Fringe IT.

I use the term Fringe IT to classify what others call “shadow”, “stealth”, “rogue”, or “blackmarket” IT. The term refers to technology used by employees without the clearance or even knowledge of the IT team. This can take a variety of shapes and sizes. The most common are cloud services, spread sheets and databases.
Mainstream IT work is often invisible to outsiders – unless, of course, something goes terribly awry. There are tickets flowing through the help desk, bids, proposals, projects, work packages, maintenance and continuous improvement.
At Good Energy, I am adopting various approaches to tackling these challenges.

The major recurring themes include:

  1. Economics
  2. Managing Queues and Batch Size
  3. Centralised vs Decentralised Control
  4. Multi-sourcing”

To discuss these topics and more with Neil, make sure you join us at Ovum Industry Congress. It takes place at the Victoria Park Plaza in London, and is free to attend for end-user IT professionals.

European Parliament report maps Smart Cities in the European Union

Guest blog post from Vitor Pereira. Original post on the Smart Welcome Lab website here. All six of the smartest cities listed will be represented at Ovum’s Smart to Future Cities in London on April 29-30 2014, along with cities from all over the world.

atelier-transportationThe European Parliament has just published a report mapping Smart Cities in the European Union. This is an attempt to identify the number of ‘smart cities’ and their activities across Europe. As usual, this report is confusing, weighty and difficult to summarize or remove excerpts. But defines a smart city as “a city looking to solve public problems through technologies developed and implemented on the basis of multi-stakeholder partnerships”.

This is one aspect that is intended to be a more concrete definition describing in detail the types of actions and areas of intervention, which are now more recognizable:

  • Smart Economy
  • Smart Mobility
  • Smart Environment
  • Smart People
  • Smart Living
  • Smart Governance

Interestingly, smart city is defined in this study as any city that has developed activities in these areas. It is a broad definition and it is not surprising that in 468 cities of about 100,000 inhabitants 240 ‘smart cities’ (about half) are identified. Larger cities tend to be capable of being smarter than smaller ones.

But there are some issues related to the methodology used by investigators to identify these cities and their activities. They used published information, the cities own Web pages as well as information, if any, of EU-funded projects, specifically for the Smart Cities theme. They themselves recognize that there is information that might have been ignored, referring to cities, for example, that are not adept at advertising and communicating or even sharing their work.

The researchers analyzed different types of actions and concluded that the actions related to ‘environment’ and ‘mobility’ are the most common with 33% and 21% of smart initiatives, respectively.

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