Monthly Archives: April 2014

Smart Cities video case study – Peterborough DNA

Read on for an excellent Smart Cities case study from Peterborough City Council, who are participating at Smart to Future Cities 2014.

Charlotte Palmer is Climate Challenge is Climate Manager from Peterborough City Council and is leading on delivery of the Peterborough DNA programme.

Peterborough DNA was created after the Peterborough was chosen as a Future City Demonstrator by the Technology Strategy Board to develop and test ways to shape a smarter city.

Peterborough DNA is being delivered by Opportunity Peterborough and Peterborough City Council focussing on growth, innovation and sustainability.

It has four main focuses of work:

Skills – Making sure Peterborough has the right skills and local talent to take advantage of emerging green markets and respond to our own sustainability challenges.

Sustainable businesses – Making sure local businesses are sustainable in all senses of the word – resilient and with low environmental impact.

Encouraging innovation – Taking entrepreneurial ideas and making them happen by providing funding, setting up an innovation hub and testing and trialling prototypes.

Open data – Cities have masses of data about population, transport, health, waste, and housing. Often this data isn’t brought together to form a whole picture. Peterborough DNA is making city data accessible and visual.

Find out more about Peterborough DNA: www.peterboroughdna.com

Twitter: @peterboroughDNA

Hear more from Charlotte on day one of the conference (29th April) at 15.25 in the Interactive Panel session on meeting the challenges of enabling smart sustainable cities.

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OIC speaker interview 6: Dan Crow, CTO, Songkick

Ovum recently caught up with Dan Crow, CTO of personalised live music events database Songkick, who is speaking at Ovum Industry Congress next month in London. Here are his fascinating insights on his career to date, the status of the IT industry, and what his challenges currently are.

Dan CroweI am discussing Cloud Experiences in the Enterprise at OIC 2014. I believe that the move to the cloud is a vast opportunity that many are still struggling to fully take advantage of. I’m interested in how the experiences of smaller startups like Songkick can inform the practices of larger enterprises, and vice versa.

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

Dan Crow: The first startup I joined in Silicon Valley was a B2B intelligent search engine called Verb. I was the VP of Engineering and hired the development team from scratch. We built a strong product and had early paying customers. We attempted to raise a Series B funding round in 2001. This was in the teeth of the dotcom crash – the worst downturn in California in a generation.

We visited every VC on Sandhill Road, each one liked the business, but told us they weren’t funding anyone right then. I had to layoff the whole engineering team, people I considered friends as well as colleagues. We then sold the assets of the business to Dell. The experience was a sobering one, and made me determined that next time I would get a much better outcome for the people I worked with.

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:

DC: In the last few years we have finally begun to see practical, industrial strength Artificial Intelligence being deployed. Techniques like Deep Learning appear to be a major breakthrough. But we are just starting on the journey to smart systems. AI will become widespread, some of it visible through Siri-like services, but much of it becoming a key part of enterprise systems.

Smart systems should be able to automatically understand the knowledge within disparate information systems. These systems will connect siloed data, automatically translating terminology and meaning. I expect that in 10-15 years, most ETL and data connection services will be automatically generated by AI systems and as a result big data will be cheap and commonplace in every enterprise.

Ovum: What has been the most rewarding project you worked on, and why it was rewarding?

DC: I led the engineering team that built Google Squared. This was a prototype technology that extracted billions of facts from the general web and made it available to users through a novel interface. We took a team of 10 of the best Google engineers for a year and built something extraordinary. The extraction technology we built now power’s Google Knowledge Graph, which is the next generation of search on Google. Building Google’s first web-scale semantic search engine that is now used by billions of people, is immensely satisfying.

Meet Dan at Ovum Industry Congress, 13-14 May 2014 at the Victoria Park Plaza, London. Enterprise IT professionals can claim a complimentary pass, here.

OIC speaker interview 5: Roy Illsley, Principal Analyst, Software – IT Solutions, Ovum

In the latest of our Ovum Industry Congress Q&As, Roy Illsley, Principal Analyst, Software – IT Solutions, Ovum, discusses DevOps, software-defined networking, automation and how these game-changers are impacting CIOs.

Roy-Illsley-112x1352014 for most organizations is a pivotal year, most of the world is emerging from the deepest recession in living memory, and when this is combined with the advances in technology the impact on the pace of change will be dramatic. The two-day event has a wide range of topics covered, but for me it is the role of DevOps and how it will lead the way with transforming the IT department. Ovum approaches DevOps from two different perspectives, both a developer and a service and operations background. Understanding how Michael Azoff sees the DevOps movement evolving will demonstrate that change is about more than just technology.

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

Roy Illsley: From a data centre or infrastructure perspective 2014 is all about software defined, and the dichotomy of the movement towards a disaggregation of the computing infrastructure to more local compute and storage implementation to manage the data explosion, and the vendors’ development of new converged infrastructure devices. The software defined growth is the glue that will hold these two different approaches together in a single IT strategy. However, software defined is in a battle between the proprietary development and the open standards movement. CIOs must understand the desired future state for its organization in the value of IT and ensure that the correct deployment approach is used so that they can change and extract maximum efficiencies. Ovum believes this selection is the critical aspect and needs CIOs to have access to all the latest technical trends, but for these to put into a context of what they mean.

Ovum: What in your opinion will be the next big change in the way that we work and the way in which businesses engage with their employees – and specifically the way IT has to service their customers?

Roy Illsley: For me cognitive computing is the bridging technology like the value was between mechanical computing and the digital computing era. The difference is that cognitive computing is bridging to an as yet un-known computing paradigm.  As cognitive techniques become more widespread the need for faster ways to process data will see the limitations of the digital computers become exposed. For CIOs this shift to a world where automation becomes intelligent and UIs become intuitive is leading us towards a world where technology is just a tool that most business users are happy to interact with. IT department’s role will change and the skills needed will also change as the power of cognitive automation drives more efficient IT operations, increased service levels, and reduced IT costs. But just as Jevons paradox predicts this will see greater demand for IT services.

Join us at OIC next month where Roy will be chairing the Next Generation Infrastructure and Networks track of the event. Roy is also the lead analyst at Ovum’s newly-launched Next Generation Infrastructure Forum, taking place in London in September. Find out more here.

How mobile is your enterprise?

m1st usps on iphone

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OIC speaker interview 4: Laurent Lachal, Senior Analyst, Software – IT Solutions, Ovum

In the latest Ovum Industry Congress speaker interview, we chat to Laurent Lachal, Ovum’s Senior Analyst in the Software – IT Solutions division. Laurent is leading the Cloud Computing in the Enterprise track at OIC, including a presentation on ‘PaaS – a 360º view’, and is a specialist in the Cloud market.

Laurent-Lachal-2013Laurent Lachal: At OIC, I am most looking forward to interacting with cloud service providers and consumers, especially during one to one analyst clinics that are freely available.

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

LL: The IT industry likes fashions. Fashions have a habit of coming back. Workflow, for example, was all the rage in the mid-90s then faded away, only to reappear in the mid-noughties as business process management (BPM). Similarly, the industry, which has been talking about the “digitalization” of economies, industries, and/or enterprises for a number of years, seems to have found a new interest, largely cloud computing-centric, in the subject in 2013. I expect this interest to remain sustained in 2014. Both cloud service providers and consumers will continue to struggle to cope with the need to:

  • Define balanced (public, private, and/or hybrid) “cloud first” strategies at both technology and business levels
  • Shift from cloud-enabling IT with a focus on cost control and automation, to cloud-centric transformation with a focus on making it easy to innovate
  • Become cloud brokers that aggregate, integrate, customize, and curate third-party cloud services
  • Understand, manage, and bridge a variety of cloud-centric digital divides including line-of-business (LoB) executives versus CIOs, shadow versus official IT, and developers versus IT operations divides.

Ovum: In relation to your area of expertise, what 2 pieces of advice would you give to end user organisations to prepare them for the coming changes, if any?

LL:

  1. Cloud computing is a long-term that redefines the way in which enterprises relate to their IT assets (in for example, the way they design and provision assets), their IT departments, their IT vendors, as well as one another because it makes it easier for them to share, and via public clouds it massively democratizes IT, disrupting whole industries and supply chains. Get briefed on the latest developments and the implications for your vertical sector. Find out if and where cloud services are already being used in your jurisdiction and others, and discuss the strategy and policy implications with customers and stakeholders. Cloud adoption is a two-way street. It is not just about whether cloud computing is ready for you, it is also about whether you are ready for it.
  2. Many executives regard technology evangelists as “drive-by shooters” who cruise by their offices firing so-called “silver bullet” solutions, creating panic and confusion with a barrage of innovation. The adoption of cloud services can cultivate the kind of decentralized decision-making environment that is an ideal target for “drive-by shooters”. The best defense is flexible enterprise ICT strategic thinking that includes an awareness of the big-picture trends in the ICT industry and the preparedness to get a grip on the logic of ICT management. A strategic perspective is recognizing that cloud services are primarily a business and organizational-level challenge and will therefore require a strategic, outward-looking, top-down response rather than a rigid, inward-looking defense of the enterprise ICT perimeter.
  3. A major challenge is to avoid the temptation to impose the full baggage of legacy IT expectations, requirements, and regulation on cloud services. It will be important to value the cloud for what it is, a new and potentially useful IT innovation in IT delivery, rather than regarding cloud computing services as conventional enterprise IT applications. Many of the benefits of cloud computing stem from the fact that it is a commoditized, standardized, take-it-or-leave-it service environment. Successful early adoption of cloud services will require an acceptance of its limitations, astute selection of appropriate opportunities, and a preparedness to solve the new problems that will emerge.
  4. Keep control under control. Try not to clamp down on employee-driven cloud shadow IT too hard in the name of security and governance. IT as well as business executives need to give user experience and user empowerment the same priority as governance to keep up not only with public cloud convenience and flexibility, but also their peers. They need to train employees on the advantages, not just the dangers, of public cloud services.

Enterprise utilising Cloud technology can claim a complimentary pass for Ovum Industry Congress. For more details, visit the OIC website.

OIC speaker interview 3: Carolyn Brown, CIO at Durham University

In our third Ovum Industry Congress speaker interview, we capture the inspiring and enlightening thoughts of one of the top speakers at the Congress: Carolyn Brown, Chief Information Officer at Durham University.

Carolyn Brown“I am taking part in the Industry Leaders Panel discussing navigating challenges and delivering value in the digital world. I believe the notion that the IT landscape is changing is over-rated. The topics listed – the impact of automation and outsourcing, delivering ROI, evolving with industry transformation – could easily have been topics for discussion in the 1980s. I believe the purpose of the CIO and the IT department is, and always has been, to increase the NPV of their organisation. This could be done by transforming the business model, creating new products, services or assets, reducing costs or increasing efficiency. There are many routes to transformation. Sourcing strategies, agility and predicting change will always have a role.

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:

Carolyn Brown: In the mid-1990s I worked on middleware design for Hewlett Packard, looking at ways we could use a network of communicating devices to change people’s world. In those days, even at HP, we had one shared mobile phone for the team. The ideas we worked on – and in some cases prototyped – included being able to phone your house to switch the heating on (nice when you want a hot bath as soon as you get in), being phoned by your car if it was broken into or by your fridge if it was switched off. We had the idea of the ‘internet of things’. What we didn’t realise was how quickly all of this would happen. That experience makes me think it is impossible to overestimate the speed of change. What I’d like to have is hypertext in my head for everything. Am I the only person who has wanted to point at the TV to find out who an actor is and what else they have appeared in? I am so used to having information at my fingertips that I expect everything to be information-rich, and am disappointed when it isn’t. Perhaps it is the “google contact lenses” that I’m looking for. The trick will be to make it non-intrusive.

Ovum: What has been the most rewarding project you worked on, and why it was rewarding?

CB: My most rewarding project is usually the most recent – right now that’s an organisational transformation and a £40M investment in infrastructure and cultural change. I’ve often saved companies millions of pounds and have found it to be less satisfying than you might think – Managing Directors surprisingly can care more about continuing their pet projects than about the bottom line. Transforming a team or revolutionising the way a business works is a tremendous high for me. Creating and delivering a new business model is fantastic – examples I’ve been involved with are the first online administration of flexible employee benefits, the first online AVC calculator for pensions, and putting smart cards on printers for secure printing. It is very satisfying to see printers everywhere today with card technology and to remember the dinner where my team came up with that idea, which was taken up very rapidly within Hewlett Packard: today I’m rolling out smart–card enabled printing across Durham University, saving paper, electricity and hundreds of thousands of pounds. I’m proud of having been part of creating that capability. A memorable, small piece of work was a few days spent improving admissions processes in a hospital – as CIO I happened to be the best business analyst available. A little analysis and automation saved 2 hours a day for nurses in admissions, leaving them free to look after patients rather than admin: the nurses were literally leaping in the air and screaming with delight when the new processes had been put in place – an image I’ll never forget. Knowing that it was improving patients’ lives as well made this highly rewarding.

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