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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.