On a wave of disruption: how connectedness is changing the business landscape
The connected enterprise is being driven by pervasive digitalization: that’s the key takeaway from Orange Business Live! in Prague, the annual Orange Business Services customer event that explores the impact of emerging technology trends on business.
“The information around us now is thicker, faster, more disruptive and more invasive. It is driving whole industries to fail,” said Steve Prentice, vice president and research fellow at Gartner, in his keynote on ‘pervasive digitalization’. He argued that proliferation of connected devices, ubiquitous sharing, automation and ‘thinking machines’ not only brings enterprises alive with information, it also heralds an age of disruption.
Those that can profit from the disruption will be the innovators who ride the waves of change, just as Google, Apple and Facebook have done with the web, digital media and social networking.
more devices, more chatter
Prentice estimates that there could be up to 50 billion connected devices by the turn of the decade. Half of these are easily imaginable – phones, smart cars, step-trackers and environmental sensors and so on – but there could be another 25 billion smart devices that are unheard of yet. Each device will want to spew out information such as location, weather reports, calories, traffic volumes and it will be gathered in by an expanding range of social apps. Add to this the sensor data from billions of RFID chips, and noise could be deafening.
Gartner’s Prentice believes that individuals and businesses will need help from ‘thinking machines’ to process all this data. They will offer business intelligence on steroids, such as powerful programs that can analyze billions of data points, map outcomes and make recommendations. For instance, IBM is exploring this with the use of supercomputer Watson to diagnose cancer and make the most rational assessment of outcome and treatment.
The self-driving car is another. Although Google’s robot driver can only get a license in California and Nevada today, in a decade, it may have become common to let a robot take the wheel in London or Paris. It will have quicker reflexes that you, will not fall asleep at the wheel, and will be able to select the most effective route based on traffic level. It will be a better and more caring driving, and will let your networks know where you are.
security in the age of connectedness
However, with more devices and users sharing location, status, personal and work information, security risks could increase. At Orange Business Live!, Mischa Glenny, author of bestselling book on cybercrime, DarkMarket, gave us a whirlwind tour of the industry that has grown up to support cybercrime.
“While the Internet has become more complex, the types of attacks launched by cybercriminals are still based on social engineering, malware attacks and hacking,” Glenny said. But with more information being shared over networks, there are more gaps for cybercriminals to exploit. This is despite the world spending around $100 billion a year on IT security (Glenny’s own estimate for 2011).
The motivations for cybercrime are broadening. Hactivists, foreign governments and corporate espionage agencies have joined spammers and criminals looking to exploit digital backdoors. The more connections – human or machine – that an enterprise has, the more gaps to exploit.
harnessing information, improving processes
This reinforces the vital role that security needs to play for businesses looking to become connected enterprises. At the event, Orange demonstrated how it will be helping companies navigate the choppy waters ahead with solutions for enterprise-class security, flexible cloud computing, machine-to-machine (M2M) application enablement and 3600 customer experience management.
Together these services will help organizations move to flexible working, develop new business opportunities through automation, and improve their engagement with their customers.
One example presented at Orange Business Live! was the connected workplace, which can offer enterprises significant benefits. This brings together device management, unified communications, productivity apps, collaboration, near-field communications (NFC), desktop virtualization and cost-management tools.
Clement Lichtenauer, executive briefer, Orange Business Services, demonstrated on stage an example workflow. He swipes his NFC-enabled mobile device over the dock entry pad of his office. It recognizes him, grants access. A second NFC reader assigns a desk. When he reaches his desk, he drops his tablet into a dock, and a virtual desktop (VDI) fires up. If he moves away from the dock, the session switches to the tablet screen.
Clement then instant messages a colleague, which turns into an impromptu video session. The immersive video room is already booked, so he finds a quiet area in a café, and patches in a customer and another colleague. The video session is federated over different networks (Orange, AT&T, BT), on different technologies (DSL, Ethernet, LTE) and different devices (Telepresence room, Android tablet, iPhone).
By bringing together all of the tools needed to perform our daily work, the connected workplace will make is easier for teams to collaborate and achieve their targets. An integrated system with joined-up workflow will help to remove the information silos that slow down business processes.
And that’s the essence of the connected enterprise: speed. Enterprises need the agility to respond to both opportunities and challenges quicker than ever. Whether that’s data from sensor, a firewall flagging a DDoS attack or a sales person needing to pull together to a complex proposal in rapid time, being connected means being faster.
for further reading, check out the blogs:
- all the presentations from Orange Business Live on SlideShare
- technology drives business, get ready!
- shipping industry: why not take the big technology plunge?
- Misha Glenny at #OBL13 : cyber security is big and nobody cares