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Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

The Incognito Banking Corporation and the Fairy Godmother 2.0

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One of the greatest privileges in any field is working with the next generation, and specifically, listening to their perspectives on the issues. A little while ago I met one of Capgemini’s ‘BTC-ers’, Sham Mitra. (BTC stands for Business Technology Consultants, and is Capgemini UK’s technology graduate intake and development programme). Sham was keen to engage in the next practice work and I asked Sham to provide his perspective on the Web shift. What then developed was an idea for a potentially benevolent though definitely a little mischievous fairy godmother to visit a major fictitious organisation, and we’d love to hear your views… The corporation and fairy godmother in the following post are purely fictitious and any resemblance to any real corporations or fairy godmothers is purely coincidental… The Incognito Banking Corporation and the Fairy Godmother 2.0 – guest post by Sham Mitra During a boardroom meeting at the Incognito Banking Corporation, a fictitious financial organisation employing 100,000 staff across 30 countries, a Fairy Godmother appears. And in our story, the Fairy Godmother is no ordinary Fairy Godmother, she is a Fairy Godmother 2.0. She lays down what will happen to the business in exactly a month from today, and it doesn’t make for good listening. The company will lose its entire IT infrastructure – everything will go – from desktops to laptops, servers to printers, mid-range to mainframes, comms cabinets to datacentres, office to core business applications, and all the data they have - and all they’ll be left with is one internet connection to a desktop computer, with a power connection to walled socket power supply, in the head office. In one month from now - *poof*! On the bright side however the Fairy Godmother, being the good natured person that she is, allows them to have a hard copy of their records data – such as financial, account and employee records. I’d now like to open up the debate on how the Incognito Banking Corporation can continue with business-as-usual without feeling the full impact of losing its entire IT infrastructure. Where would we start? A re-assessment of the market? A compliance and risk approach? The organisational model? The enterprise social model? The process model? The data model? Custom build IT? Packages? Blind panic? Consume from the Web? What would the new front, mid and back-office look like? How would people know how to use it? How much value is really in the data in the print outs? We would need to answer questions such as how can the business ensure the security (and integrity) of the data? How can the business swiftly access a robust information infrastructure? How would its people and customers experience its services enabled by a new business infrastructure exactly one month from now? And, in the end, is it a realistic option for the business to mesh together a collection of consumer and industry technology and multiple of web-based services to support its core operations? Would the end result look any different from what it had? We’d love to hear your views! Some context for our fairy godmother 2.0 – the paradox of corporate ICT investment versus consumer technology The UK governmental board for trade and investment reported that in the year 2007 the UK had the world’s ninth “best Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure”; this is in-part due to the lavish global investments that were made during the speculative bubble that was known as the “dot-com era”. During this era of unprecedented economical growth, which was catalyzed by the proliferation of technology-driven investments, many of the stocks within the IT sector rose exponentially without a solid grounding, and this foundational flaw was due to most (but not all) of the internet start-ups having the same business plan of monopolizing their respective sectors through network effects. When the dot-com bubble numerically burst on the 10th of March 2000, by hitting its peak on the NASDAQ at 5132.52 points, there was a global panic in commercially-based technology investments and as a result the UK commercial investment in ICT fell year on year from its height in the year 2000 at £34.9 billion (up 165 per cent between 1992 and 2000) to a relative low in the year 2004 at £28.6 billion. However, with all this investment in ICT that had come before us paradoxically we now find it to be the home user who has a more sustainable ubiquitous reach of IT resources. In the book MESH Collaboration, by Andy Mulholland and Nick Earle, Chief Strategist at World Ahead Chris S. Thomas is quoted as saying “the emerging technology-aware labor force is probably using more advanced technology in their personal collaboration than most corporations have deployed or allow today”, and this is echoed by IT strategists and CTO’s alike. The UK Office of National Statistics reported that in the year 1997 the number of employee’s using computers and telecommunication devices to work from home (“teleworkers”) reached 0.9 million (900,000) and by 2005 this had increased to 2.4 million – it’s roughly estimated that by the end of 2008 this number will have reached 3.5 million. What this represents is a paradigm shift in communication that is allowing employees to openly collaborate globally without the restrictions of an office network, and technologies such as virtual private network (VPN), voice over internet protocol (VoIP), teleconferencing, videoconferencing, and instant messaging are collectively making home working easier and more reliable. These technologies coupled with rapid developments in virtual reality – such as the Emily Project, SecondLife, and applications such as Microsoft Photosynth – and the increase in the uptake of online collaboration platforms such as Google Docs and Zoho Office Suite, has meant that cloud computing is becoming a more realistic option for many firms and most of the major technology companies are now driving this forward. Intel, for example, has already pioneered wireless power transmission (which effectively means a mobile device can stay powered continually without the need of wires), and there are a myriad of internet services providers all driving forward the adoption of wireless internet technologies. Corporates are similar to governments in many ways, and they too have invested heavily in ICT infrastructure only to see the home user have more IT at their disposal. And so, the question becomes – what’s the real value in continuing to invest in corporate ICT in the ways we know how to? Back to our Fairy Godmother... one month less 5 minutes to go... where would we start?....

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C. Bate

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