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A use case to illustrate how clouds, mobility and big data create new business capabilities

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Did you read last week’s CTO Blog post which noted and linked to the views of Gartner, Forrester and IDC that we would see 2012 as the year in which a really recognizable shift would be underway to deliver new front office business capabilities and that these would not necessarily be under the CIO or IT? The point being made was that these new business requirements and enabling technologies are not part of the IT environment as we know it today. Add to this the existing confusion over clouds and you are probably trying to work out exactly what these stunning new game-changing capabilities are!

Below is both an extract from the new Capgemini Point of View on how clouds, mobility and big data create a new set of business capabilities (the Point of View will soon be published on www.capgemini.com), and a use case that Capgemini technology communities and practices have been using to determine the skills and capabilities required. The terms and definitions ‘outside-in’ and ‘inside-out’ can be found in full in this paper or in summary on a previous CTO Blog post.

I produce it here in full with accompanying diagrams to help make at least a little clearer what this is all about! I hope it helps, and yes it is high level, but various technology elements are discussed in more detail on the Capping IT Off Blog.

A use case for understanding new capabilities

The operating authority of a major airport is facing demands to improve the operational management of its increasingly congested airport, both to improve real-time efficiency in the face of the increasing number of unplanned events (late arriving aircraft, lost baggage, etc.), and the expectations of passengers and airlines that information flows will be provided both in a more timely way and in different people-orientated formats, or feeds. Already in the airline industry there have been several announcements of airlines individually deploying large numbers of tablets or smartphones to improve ‘operating efficiency’ to frontline staff. In plain language this means using mobility to allow staff to deal with the many unplanned events, from missing passengers to lost luggage, finding the passenger steps to replenishing food and drink for a last-minute change in the gate an aircraft arrives at.

The existing and traditional ‘inside-out’ IT systems of all the various members of an airport ecosystem; airport operator, airlines, baggage handler, food services, etc. will show each separately their individual enterprises’ planned activity from their secure and closed enterprise IT. In each enterprise the data comes from the central ERP systems out to the edge of the enterprise in the form of structured non real-time information to show what should happen, and if it does happen then the whole ecosystem will be synchronized and ‘resource planning’ will have succeeded. Deploying mobility based on existing enterprise applications may allow more freedom to permit staff to work away from fixed desks, but still limits the information to the supposed ‘schedule’ of activity.

The operational improvement challenge that needs to be addressed is that in the ‘real’ world a series of unforeseen events occur that, to be solved, require the staff of the different companies involved to be notified of each event and to be able to interact together to solve each event in an optimal way. The better any business can do this the higher their customer satisfaction and most likely the lower their costs through optimizing their responses. However, to do so is both highly people-centric, and uses real-time data ending in a ‘work around’ solution, or process, to suit the circumstances, and a shift in the technology or IT model. This is where the crucial difference between ‘inside-out’ enterprise IT and its governance and security needs, and using a new business and technology model based on clouds, mobility and big data to enable ‘outside-in’ provides the answer.

Shifting the ‘on tarmac’ front office operational staff outside the firewall and supporting them on a common shared cloud with the other members of their working ecosystem (shown in the diagram of servicing the aircraft on the ramp between flights) creates a revolutionary improvement in operational capability in their prime function. The individual enterprise employees are now able to function as a collaborative team, sharing information, communicating, planning and organizing in real-time using information and data that is not part of their enterprise’s internal IT systems and therefore bypassing the necessary restrictions imposed by ‘inside-out’, traditional IT. Neither does this approach require any of the people involved to be present in each other’s existing enterprise IT systems, the current barrier to addressing this kind of transformation.

There is still a need for those working ‘outside-in’ to handle the ‘in’ part even if it is a secondary focus, for instance, to see what was planned to happen for comparison purposes, or to update records on what has been the final outcome. This does not necessarily mean providing a full enterprise application on their machine with the corresponding concerns of access and security; instead it means the adoption of thin client models working solely in the presentation layer of the browser. Browser-based ‘representation’ of data avoids the issues concerning moving enterprise data outside the enterprise and placing it at risk.

‘Outside-in’ workers are free to use new sources of information from the cloud/big data environment too, such as the very successful iFly app. iFly can be loaded onto a smartphone or tablet, and on initiating connects to the iFly cloud service, which in real-time orchestrates the unstructured information on any particular flight and answers queries that airline staff are unable to answer through their own internal IT systems. There are many stories of passengers using iFly to inform airline staff of the status of their own aircraft and flights at chaotic times such as winter storms creating havoc with the planned schedules.

About the author

Andy Mulholland
Andy Mulholland
Capgemini Global Chief Technology Officer until his retirement in 2012, Andy was a member of the Capgemini Group management board and advised on all aspects of technology-driven market changes, together with being a member of the Policy Board for the British Computer Society. Andy is the author of many white papers, and the co-author three books that have charted the current changes in technology and its use by business starting in 2006 with ‘Mashup Corporations’ detailing how enterprises could make use of Web 2.0 to develop new go to market propositions. This was followed in May 2008 by Mesh Collaboration focussing on the impact of Web 2.0 on the enterprise front office and its working techniques, then in 2010 “Enterprise Cloud Computing: A Strategy Guide for Business and Technology leaders” co-authored with well-known academic Peter Fingar and one of the leading authorities on business process, John Pyke. The book describes the wider business implications of Cloud Computing with the promise of on-demand business innovation. It looks at how businesses trade differently on the web using mash-ups but also the challenges in managing more frequent change through social tools, and what happens when cloud comes into play in fully fledged operations. Andy was voted one of the top 25 most influential CTOs in the world in 2009 by InfoWorld and is grateful to readers of Computing Weekly who voted the Capgemini CTOblog the best Blog for Business Managers and CIOs each year for the last three years.

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