CIOs have to be more creative to tap the tremendous potential of mobility and the cloud, Canadian IT leaders have been told.
“We are in a remarkable era of change,” Patrick Howard, global leader of technology strategy at IBM Global Services told the Tech Outlook conference in Toronto.
“The question is for you and your enterprises, where are you?”
Many organizations are using cloud services and mobile applications, he said, but it isn’t happening in a large scale.
The reason, he suggested, is that CIOs aren’t thinking big enough.
Think of these examples, he said:
--Redbox, the U.S. video rental company that places DVD dispensing machines in supermarkets, can jiggle local prices based on the time of day, a postal code or the weather because its machines are linked through the cloud, where a complex algorithm can calculate a number of factors;
--Tesco, a South Korean supermarket, has posted a catalogue of its products on the walls of subway stations, each product marked with a QR code. Passengers can scan the code with their mobile devices to start shopping. The CIO hopes to eventually have the goods ready for pickup when the passenger gets off the train;
--A U.S. airline figures it has 1,000 mobile applications; on average it churns out one a week;
--IBM has created a mobile cloud-based software platform so U.S. developers can post a proposed design and get back finished code at a fixed price, sometimes within eight hours. (The solution will eventually be offered in other countries, he said.)
“You’ve got to look at the big picture,” Howard advised. But it’s not merely signing up for a cloud service or building a mobile app. “You’ve got to think are there practices and disciplines that need to be pulled through so you can begin gain traction and realize the promise around this particular capability?”
Part of the solution is re-thinking what the organization’s ecosystem is, he said. For example, Tesco figured its ecosystem is its customers. IBM created an ecosystem of software developers. Other ecosystems can be the organization’s partners.
In fact, Howard argued, leveraging the cloud and mobility can’t be done by organizations alone – they have to be done with partners.
And there’s lots of help available, he said. To shorten development times there are Web sites that sell thousands of APIs (application programming interfaces) that don’t cost much or are free.
“Everything you can envision can be built,” he said, “but operationalizing it within in the enterprise will take creativity and operational discipline.”
The day-long conference, organized by IT World Canada and IDC Canada, heard stories of how Canadian organizations are using cloud and mobile technologies: