Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Path to Hybrid Cloud



Cloud computing is now an operational reality across every industry.  Organizations that fail to leverage this economic, operational and technology consumption model are merely consigning themselves to irrelevance.  The rapid acceleration of cloud adoption has now ignited a push for the Hybrid Cloud/Hybrid IT model in which enterprises simultaneously consumes information technology services from private clouds, public clouds, community clouds and traditional data center sources. While most see this as a reasonable evolutionary path, others see staying with a single provider or a slow, gradual transition as a more prudent path. I strongly disagree with the latter.

A casual observation of the information technology marketplace reveals that data is continuing to grow at an exponential pace. We have also moved from the management of structured data, through joint analysis of structured and unstructured data into an environment where real-time analysis and reporting of streaming data is essential. We are also in an environment of stricter data management regulations and national data sovereignty laws that, if violated, introduce the possibility of punishing remedies and fines. This rapid progression has also driven an exponential increase in required (and desired) information technology services. Cloud service providers meet this need through the innovative creation and deployment of API accessible, immediately consumable, data manipulation services. Enterprise IT organizations have shown themselves to be incapable of matching the blistering increase in number and breadth of these broader marketplace services.  It’s not cost-effective or even desirable for them to even try.

Business owners, on the other hand, see these new services as necessary competitive tools.  They can’t wait for the required internal governance processes or IT investment decisions. This tension has been the cause of internal conflict between IT and business and also the underlying cause of Shadow IT, a tendency to stealthily procure and use cloud services without internal IT knowledge or approval. The organizational business goal must be accomplished and to meet this imperative, enterprise IT must drive a radical shift from legacy ideas and culture towards embracing the Hybrid Cloud/Hybrid IT model.

Enterprise IT management must face reality.  The development and rapid execution of a business supportive IT strategy require a meaningful conversation between IT and business leaders on targeted new business opportunities and any associated differentiating business strategies.  IT leadership must then select the appropriate IT service mix and sources for each necessary business process. This multi-vendor, multi-source selection process should point to the needed Hybrid Cloud/Hybrid IT target end state. The path towards realizing that target should go through at least two pilot processes. One through which success delivers IT operational efficiency and savings and a second that promises new revenue streams for the business. Ideally executed in parallel, this approach will:
  • Train and educate your IT team on the cloud model and required business processes;
  • Build much-needed rapport and collaboration between the business team and IT team;
  • Accelerate attainment of the Hybrid Cloud/Hybrid IT target end state; and
  • Effectively move the organization down the necessary digital transformation path.


Enterprises that have been successful in completing this transformative process include:
  • CarMax -  a Fortune® 500 company with more than 175 stores across the US and over 6 million cars sold
  • IHG - one of the world’s leading hotel companies, with more than 375,000 people working across almost 100 countries to deliver True Hospitality for everyone; and
  • Smithfield Foods - the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer, committed to providing good food in a responsible way.

In completing their path to hybrid cloud, Smithfield Foods realized:
  • Application response time drop from 600ms to 70 ms;
  • No unplanned IT outages;
  • Increased visibility into business key performance indicators;
  • A transition from a reactive to a predictive decision making culture;
  • A 60% reduction in required IT resources; and
  • The desired enablement of business innovation.
To learn more about starting your company’s path towards the hybrid cloud, take a look at the Microsoft Office Modern Workplace episode on Hybrid Cloud.  In it, Corporate Vice President of Azure Marketing at Microsoft, Julia White, and Tim Crawford from AVOA address how organizations can build the right cloud strategy for the business and its impact on digital transformation.



This post was sponsored by Microsoft.



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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Human-Led Collaboration with Machines


When charged with managing large and complex efforts, an overarching project management task is risk assessment. It involves documenting the current situation, comparing it to the past, and understanding the odds of the past repeating itself. Since the past may never repeat itself, however, an insightful project manager also imagines the odds of any possible future outcomes.  Then the odds of past outcomes repeating themselves and the odds of new future outcome are tempered with the PM’s possible actions.  Executing this repetitive and continuous process is just one area where human-machine collaboration can change the future.

Machines do repetitive tasks well. They have perfect recall. Their forte is being able to record and document what has happened and from that, interpolate what will happen. They correlate the past and calculate the likelihood that those things will happen again. They interpolate and calculate the odds of what will happen in the future.


Humans imagine things really well. While their recollection of the past can be flawed, their creativity can be breathtaking. They intuit and sometimes see things without those things actually being there. Even with these flaws though, they can apply imagination to the whitespaces of reality and change the future. Those uniquely human capabilities need cause and structure, a skill referred to as common sense reasoning. 


Since machines, so far, have been unable to exhibit an ability to use common sense reasoning, this observation becomes the heart of human-machine collaboration. Human-machine collaboration not only support risk-assessment tasks but can also help in:
  • Resource management
  • Prediction
  • Experimentation.

By augmenting human workers with machine intelligence, the project manager can gain access to more and different analysis. More robust analysis enables more informed decisions, the anticipation of dependencies, and better leadership. Improved leadership is also why leading organizations have reshaped the use of rapid analysis, flexible organizations, and team communication tools.

Cisco Webex Teams was developed to support this shift. Focused on bridging the gap between humans and machines, it uses human priorities to plan and schedule tasks. Webex Teams can also be used to document resource levels, record resource use, and alert humans should any previously set limits be breached. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, this collaborative tool can even provide schedule and planning option predictions.

By enabling human-machine collaboration, Cisco Webex Teams not only sets a rapid pace towards the future but delivers some of that future today by:
  • Bringing team members together more easily through advanced messaging capabilities and content sharing.
  • Enhancing productivity during team-based meetings by allowing anyone in a space to schedule, start, and record meetings that can include up to 75 video users.
  • Providing the capability to share a whiteboard application or use Cisco Webex Board’s all-in-one wireless presentation, digital whiteboarding, and video conferencing functionalities.
  • Calling team members using the app, an IP phone, or a conference-room video device.
  • Reducing meeting setup friction with integrations to streamline workflows and bots to automate additional actions.

Cisco Webex Teams enables human-led machine collaboration, a partnership in which humans set the strategy and machines execute the tactics.

Read more in the series:

Welcome the New Project Manager!


Building A Collaborative Team

Artificial Intelligence and the Project Manager


This post is brought to you by Cisco and IDG. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Cisco. 






Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2016-2018)



Monday, May 28, 2018

Sensomorphic


240 million results are returned in 1.06 seconds (as of May 28, 2018) when you search for cloud computing in a Google search. With that much information available, and that many conversations active around the globe;
  • Do we really know what cloud is?
  • Are we confident in knowing what cloud can do?
  • Can we explain why the cloud is changing everything?
If 10 people were asked what cloud computing is and why it is important, we would get at least 12 different answers.
  • Where is the disconnect?
We know leaders want it. CFOs support it. Strategists recommend it. Technical teams request it. Users demand it. Isn't cloud easy? Cloud is often associated with acceleration, cost control, added flexibility, increased agility, lower complexity, and rapid innovation. It takes an incredible amount of work and planning to be simple. CIOs are stating that cloud skills are a top hiring priority in 2018.
  • What do we need to stay relevant?
  • How do we keep up with an industry that is changing every day?
Cloud computing is changing strategies and enabling innovation at every turn. Cloud is changing IT economics. Cloud is blurring the lines and breaking down traditional silos. Cloud is blending roles and redefining boundaries. Regardless of which industry we are in, or the position we hold, cloud computing is changing everything; how we work, how we play, and how we communicate.

Cloud computing is a Transformation, not a Migration.

Migration seems easy because it can be described as a series of things that get done. Migrations seem tangible: from this to that, from here to there. Transformations, interestingly, are mental and emotional. Transformations require a change in mindset. Transformations require constant data that can be continuously compared to expose insights and establish perceived value.  Migrations are planned and executed. Transformations are adopted. Without adoption, transformation fails. Adoption requires a change in mindset, often created from a continuous digestion of highly valued relevant data and insight. This means continuously sensing the environment and continuously changing your actions to better align with goals, which are also changing continuously. We, the authors, call this being:

Sensomorphic.


Businesses and people tasked with adapting and driving change must become sensomorphic. Today, many are flooded with data, yet remain uninformed. Many know they are in the wrong place, yet struggle to know where they are. The only sustainable path for positive transformation is to become sensomorphic. In the world of cloud computing, this means being sensomorphic across many domains, simultaneously. The sensomorphic domains are:

Cloud adoption is a core component of digital transformation. Organizations must align modern technology and current economic models to business strategy. Transformation requires a new approach that balances cost and technology choices with company direction and client consumption models.



Architecting Cloud ComputingSolutions presents and explains many critical Cloud solution design considerations and technology decisions required to successfully consume the right cloud service and deployment models based on strategic, economic, and technology requirements. This book starts with the fundamentals of cloud computing and its architectural concepts. It then navigates through cloud service models (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS), deployment models (public, private, community, and hybrid), and implementation options (Enterprise, MSP, and CSP). Each section exposes and discusses key considerations and challenges that organizations face during cloud migration. In later chapters, this book dives into how to leverage DevOps, Cloud-Native, and Serverless architectures in your Cloud environment. Discussions include industry best practices for scaling your cloud environment as well as details for managing essential cloud technology service components such as data storage, security controls, and disaster recovery. By the end of this book, you will be well versed in all the design considerations and operational trades needed to adopt cloud services no matter which cloud service provider you choose.

About the authors:

Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized cloud computing expert, technology thought leader, and CEO/founder of GovCloud Network, LLC. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes being Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase and Worldwide Sales Executive at IBM. He has deployed mission applications to the US Intelligence Community cloud computing environment (IC ITE), and he has authored and published several cloud computing courses and books. He is a Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP).

Scott Goessling is the COO/CTO for Burstorm, and he helped create the world’s first automated Cloud Solution Design platform. He has lived and worked in the Philippines, Japan, India, Mexico, France, and the US. Being an expert in many technologies, Scott also has been a part of several successful start-ups, including a network hardware innovator that was acquired for over $8B. Scott's perspectives combine many real-world experiences.

( This content is being syndicated through multiple channels. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of GovCloud Network, GovCloud Network Partners or any other corporation or organization.)





Cloud Musings
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Friday, May 25, 2018

Artificial Intelligence and the Project Manager


Organizations use teams to create wealth, market share, customer service, competitive advantage, and organizational success. Effective teams accomplish their assigned end goals by engaging in collaboration as a joint learning activity. Enhanced effectiveness is why collaborative tools are so critical to the project manager, and 7 out of 10 IT professionals see collaboration as essential to their organization.

For an information worker operating within a modern team environment, finding information is relatively easy. Any team member can “google” to find just about anything.  High-performance teams, however, know how to work together to brainstorm and collaborate on discovering the right questions. That concept frames the future of collaboration and the project manager’s role. The most effective project managers use artificial intelligence (AI) to apply computational approaches to the collaborative social experience. In laymen’s terms that means using AI to discover the right questions. Research has shown this approach as a more robust method of helping humans solve increasingly complex business problems.

As AI and collaboration technologies enhance and spread intelligence equally to any worker, machine learning technologies provide just-in-time custom learning based on team needs and the organizational goals. Collaboration technology should, therefore, also help ease the challenge of connecting physically remote teams to each other. This critical function allows more interaction, more collective learning, more collaboration, and more team success. By embracing this new remote collaboration paradigm, project managers can:
  • Identify and engage critical talent independent of their location. This capability improves the manager’s ability to bring complementary skills into a collaborative environment with the broader team;  
  • Encourage and build healthy relationships with remote team members. Strong relationships are the heart of effective collaboration and leadership;
  • Present and communicate a guiding vision to the team. Providing clarity of purpose enhances collaboration;
  • Work with local and remote team members to jointly prepare a clear mission objective and define group rules of engagement;
  • Connect the project with higher level organizational objectives;
  • Create an atmosphere of safety, trust, and respect that, in turn, encourages multiple perspectives, diverse viewpoints, and creativity;
  • Make everyone’s ideas and suggestions visible and tangible by building prototypes, or drawing diagrams;
  • Provide an easy-to-use infrastructure that enables learning, communication, and collaboration;
  • Remove barriers to high performance by nurturing individual brilliance;
  • Coach for improved teamwork, emotional intelligence, and navigating difficult conversations;
  • Jointly celebrate joint accomplishments; and
  • Capture best practices and things that should be avoided.


These are all reasons why Cisco launched Webex Teams. This collaborative platform uses machine learning to present an intelligent and human-like conversational interface for any application or device. With this capability, project managers can eliminate the friction usually associated with remote team member communications. The solution has also embedded Webex Assistant, an AI-enabled service for managing directory and scheduling information and designed to assist, participate, and take action that supports the project manager. Webex Assistant leverages the powerful Webex graph to access better information faster. In doing so, it essentially injects artificial intelligence into every team interaction.




This post is brought to you by Cisco and IDG. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Cisco. 




Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2016-2018)



Friday, May 18, 2018

Building A Collaborative Team



Recently, Harvard Business Review cited some insightful research into team behavior at 15 multinational companies. It found that although these teams tended to be large, virtual, diverse, and composed of highly educated specialists, those same four characteristics made it hard for teams to accomplish their goals. It also showed that complex team members were less likely—absent other influences—to share knowledge freely, learn from one another, shift workloads to break up bottlenecks, or help one another to complete jobs on time or share resources. In other words, to collaborate. The study also looked at teams that exhibited high levels of collaborative behavior. The difference turned out to be in the quality of team leadership.

The eight factors that led to such leadership success were:
  1. Making highly visible investments in facilities that demonstrate their commitment to collaboration.
  2. Demonstrating leadership that models collaborative behavior.
  3. Mentoring and coaching, especially informally, in ways that help people build networks across corporate boundaries.
  4. Ensuring that collaboration skills have been taught to the team.
  5. Building and supporting a strong sense of community.
  6. Assigning team leaders that are both task- and relationship-oriented.
  7. Building on heritage relationships by putting at least a few people who know one another on the team.
  8. Sharply defining team roles and individually assigned tasks.  

This observation means project managers must set an environment that nurtures the exploration of open-ended thought and interactive collaboration. To accomplish this, team interactions cannot be just a series of point-in-time activities. The traditional team meeting must be replaced with continuous interaction and relationship building. To directly address this need, Cisco created the Emerge Engineering Team and TeamTV.




The Emerge Team works to create innovative technology that accelerates the future of work. Since collaboration will be so essential to success, they created TeamTV as a means of exploring the future of collaboration. This next-generation enterprise video collaborative platform integrates with and leverages the WebEx Teams digital collaboration suite. By creating a visually immersive and continuously interactive environment, they’ve discovered the immense value of having a space to interact daily with global teammates as if they were all in one office.
In addition to having a webcam filming the participants, TeamTV provides other useful collaboration tools including:
  • The “team mode” version of TeamTV with all members on-screen;
  • A “popcorn mode” where all members can watch an event or something communally across distances;
  • TeamTV channel ticker, where team-relevant information is available across the bottom of the screen; and
  • A virtual assistant bot with facial recognition technology capable of recognizing team members and serving up relevant email and instant messages. 

Building collaboration across an enterprise is not a quick job. It requires a combination of long-term relationship building and trust, a culture where senior leaders openly exhibit cooperation and make smart near-term decisions on team formation. Legacy practices that may work well with simple, co-located teams are likely to fail when teams grow more complex. Although most factors that impede collaboration today have always been there, the modern teams that are needed to solve global business challenges require much more diversity, long-distance cooperation, and remote expertise. Project managers would, therefore, do well to update their approach to today’s business challenges by addressing the eight factors listed above.  






Read more in the series:

Welcome the New Project Manager!



This post is brought to you by Cisco and IDG. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Cisco. 




Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2016-2018)



Welcome the New Project Manager!


According to CIO.com, the six traits of highly effective project managers are:
  1. Be a strategic business partner who can offer higher-level strategic leadership skills, not just technical management skills, provide significant advantages for organizations of all sizes.
  2. Encourage and recognize valuable contributions because a project leader’s effectiveness is strongly impacted by the contributions of others on his or her team.
  3. Respect and motivate stakeholders using an ability to communicate with and influence a variety of stakeholders. You must demonstrate respect for team members, stakeholders, and sponsors at all times if you are to receive their respect in turn.
  4. Be fully vested in success and believe in the work you are doing and be completely involved in all professional aspects of the project, its activities, and its people.
  5. Stress integrity and accountability. Being accountable for your decisions and actions is vital, and sends a strong message to the rest of the team.
  6. Be able to work in the gray because this is what truly sets a project manager apart. This is a must-have skill since the majority of projects, regardless of type, industry, size, or complexity, will have gray areas that need to be navigated at some point.


A vital component of all of these straits is an ability to communicate both up the chain to superiors and down the chain to your team. In short, successful project management is about successful teamwork.  Teamwork starts with the project manager recognizing that “Job #1” is knowing the people and blending their styles.  This task can be very challenging given the broad societal demographics and cultural variations.  Just in looking at the different generations that may exist in a team, work ethic and values across multiple generations must be addressed from the very beginning of a project. 

Figure 1- Workplace Characteristic Comparative

For a project manager, this challenge often manifests itself through inordinate amounts of time spent on administrative tasks and poor or unproductive meetings.  These symptoms may also lead to the perception of failure or professional stagnation within the team.


Graphic Courtesy Instapage
To avoid this trap, managers should focus on team enablement that also respects personal differences and goals. This path values:
  • Creativity through the use of office spaces optimized for focusing, creating, and collaboration
  • Productivity through the use of secure, reliable access to essential tools and information, regardless of location or device; and
  • Satisfaction through the recognition and celebration of different goals and value frameworks

Good project managers can also discover and create business value by eliminating the need for physical proximity while simultaneously embracing the importance of human connection. Tools like WebEx Teams accomplish this by taking the pain out of both physical and virtual meetings through the use of intuitive voice interaction and collaborative features no matter where your team members may be. These capabilities also make it easier for distributed teams to exchange ideas and collaborate through shared digital whiteboards and chat. This approach addresses modern workers’ ability to work from wherever they can contribute the most value.

By automating mundane meeting components and optimizing the mobile experience of remote  team members, the exceptional project manager reinvents project management by taking advantage of today’s advance communication channels. This will, in turn, create unprecedented value for the team and the entire organization

This post is brought to you by Cisco and IDG. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Cisco.







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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Procurement in a Virtual Business World


Today, companies are undergoing a dramatic change in their environment and processes.  Many groups these changes together as “Digital Transformation,” but that industry buzzword fails to describe the essential details associated with this change.  A critical and often underappreciated area is procurement and supply chain management.

While these areas are not generally under the bright lights of business, these processes grind the gears of business success.  In building new service procurement processes and virtual supply chains, the Chief ProcurementOfficer must:
  • Identify and adopt a framework for electronic procurement that uses virtual supply chains that incorporate existing state-of-the-art public and private sector electronic procurement and supply chain systems;
  • Financial and acquisition changes designed to minimize capital expenditures while simultaneously maximizing operational expenditures
  • Build and deploy electronic procurement system that uses virtual supply chains that incorporate multi-media, distributed work-flow management, document handling, and electronic contracting procedures;
  • Educate and train users on new processes and systems associated with virtual supply chains and electronic procurement systems; and
  • Build, extend and expand supply chain collaboration and electronic data exchange.

All this must also address the new and sometimes sweeping legal and regulatory requirements around data sovereignty and privacy.

Wedded at the hip with the CPO, the CIO must also find a path through “Digital Transformation.” The operational and deployment challenges faced there include:
  • Prioritizing as-a-service information technology consumption and multi-source procurement
  • Transitioning from data center ownership and physical management toward the virtual management of IT services delivered from third-party data centers;
  • Dismantling of monolithic software application designs into modern solutions that aggregate internal and externally delivered microservices; and
  • Retraining and transitioning staff away from Agile and Waterfall management models toward fully automated DevOps.
Taken together these activities start to describe the many details associated with acquisition and procurement in a virtual business world. Traditional and legacy management systems that comprised of disjointed point solutions cannot provide a holistic picture of the modern virtual supply chain and hybrid IT ecosystem. CIOs looking to blend legacy data centers with multi-vendor cloud solutions and CPOs striving to create higher value for the business by harnessing new and disruptive digital technologies must join together. This new age relationship must focus on delivering to the enterprise:
  • A unified source-to-pay platform that can provide seamless information, process, and workflows; easy integration; improved data visibility and integrity; and increased compliance, utilization, and collaboration;
  • The ability to leverage technologies like artificial intelligence, the blockchain, and robotic process automation (RPA) that can remove humans from repetitive or mundane tasks such as managing contracts, tracking expenditures, and assessing supplier performance; and
  • An open, cloud-based procurement platform that enables rapid innovation while actively supporting the shift from cost control and spend management to value creation and enterprise growth.

When building such a relationship, digital procurement transformation tools provide the pathway to effective and efficient procurement in today’s virtual business world. Unified source-to-pay Platforms like SMART by GEP® feature AI-based analytics and automation suitable for complex enterprise supply chains. These advanced systems also work with enterprise resource planning systems such as SAP or Oracle.


Unified Source-to-Pay Platform to Enable and Accelerate Digital Procurement Transformation.



This post is brought to you by GEP and IDG. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of GEP.



Cloud Musings
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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Taking the Canadian Insurance Industry Digital



“Digital disruption isn’t just for hip start-ups. Incumbents can not
only compete but actually lead radical industry change if they pay attention
to the way their business model is shifting and act boldly in response.

Founded in 1871, Economical Insurance operates within the old and relatively static Property and Casualty (P&C) insurance industry.  According to the American Insurance Association (AIA), the modern insurance industry, developed primarily in England after the Great London Fire in 1666. Today, this insurance industry segment protects from risk in two primary areas:
  •  Protection for physical items, such as houses, personal possessions, cars, commercial buildings, and inventory (property); and
  • Protection against legal liability (casualty).

Property insurance provides for losses related to a policyholder’s person or property while casualty/liability insurance protects a policyholder against the claims of others.

Economical sees itself as the insurance company “For Canadians by Canadians.” They also tout themselves as a company that imagines bigger and better things. Their credo is to focus on the customer first, and this is why Economical is one of this country’s leading and most trusted P&C insurance companies.

With this background and belief, it may come as no surprise that innovative internal thinking led to the conceptualization of a new business model.  One targeted to a market segment that was comfortable with advanced technology. They saw these customers as underserved because traditional service channels were not meeting their unique needs. By feeding on a passion and desire to make a difference in everything they do, Economical business and technology teams partnered to build a new channel built entirely on digital processes.


The vision they saw was Sonnet. Launched in 2016 t,his new brand brought an innovative new insurance experience to Canadians who prefer to purchase insurance directly online. Using sophisticated technology and real-time analytics, customers are now able to instantly get customized quotes, purchase a policy, and make account updates online at any time.


The intent was to leverage and aggregate data from multiple sources, apply real-time analytics and provide a unique personalized recommendation based on the customer’s profile. The twin challenges were finding an evolutionary and transformative path that wouldn’t crater the existing business and a savvy business technology partner that wouldn’t waste the company’s time and money. That partner was IBM.

The most critical element in this effort was speed. With time to market being so important, a public cloud-based solution was the answer. The IBM public cloud allowed Economical to deploy quickly, take advantage of automation to reduced errors and enabled business flexibility.
Another key component of this partnership was software development that used the KANBAN Agile Methodology. Kanban is based on three principles:
  1. Visualize what you do today (workflow) to see all development items within context.
  2. Limit the amount of work in progress (WIP) to balance the flow-based approach and prevent team over commitment.
  3. Enhance flow that uses a priority process to pull in development backlog in as soon as a previous task is completed.


When compared to the well know SCRUM model, using KANBAN promoted continuous collaboration and encouraged active, ongoing learning and improvement by defining the best possible team workflow.


Economical pursued a hybrid cloud strategy to leverage the previous enterprise IT service investment. Significant time was therefore spent in the design phase because the right design required decisions on what went in the cloud and what stayed on premise. Those decisions, in turn, drove data flow, security control locations, and any required infrastructure resiliency improvements. The hybrid strategy also brought with it a need to integrate with legacy systems. IBM was able to meet this and associated requirements to partner with other members of Economical’s business ecosystem.

In the end, the key to an on-time launch of Sonnet was primarily teamwork and a real partnership. Sonnet thoroughly disrupted the P&C Insurance market in Canada. It successfully challenged the status quo and demonstrated that digital transformation was possible with the right technology partner. This success has spotlighted Economical as an industry leader and business innovator. Customer reaction has been extremely positive, and the business has been scaling with a healthy and steady growth trajectory.

One of the many lessons learned by Economical during this process was that disruption is not a one-time event. Organizations must continue to re-invent themselves or competition will disrupt you. This new internal operating model has led to new product suites, new offerings, simplified pricing and new internal workflows. The service offerings will be built on top of the infrastructure put in place for Sonnet and will change the way Economical works with their brokers. Although a bi-modal, two speed IT operations model was initially accepted, this next step will use cloud computing to connect cloud-native components to core legacy assets. This “real IT transformation” will use additional efficiency to fund future transformation initiative through a long-term partnership with IBM. 



This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit ITBizAdvisor.



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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

#DigitalTransformation Means Hybrid IT and Multipath


The cloud is ubiquitous in today’s business world. This operational model is changing both data center operations and application development processes across multiple domains. As the manager of data centers for some of the most significant companies in the world, IBM has observed this profound shift in the strategic outsourcing marketplace. These shifts are being driven by:
  • Financial changes designed to minimize CAPEX and maximize OPEX.
  • Acquisition changes that prioritize as-a-service IT consumption and multisource procurement.
  • Operational changes that shift from data center ownership and physical management toward the virtual management of IT services from data centers owned by AWS, Azure, IBM and Hosted VMware providers.

What’s Driving Innovation?

With these changes, organizations are challenged to update their internal processes in a manner that addresses changing people skills, new programmable IT infrastructures and the multicloud world. Application development best practices are also transitioning, which is upending enterprise software deployments. These new development strategies are driving companies away from:
  • Monolithic designs, toward designs that aggregate the use of microservices.
  • Agile and Waterfall management models, toward fully automated DevOps.
  • Physical infrastructures and virtual servers, toward containerized environments.
While these transformations are seemingly inevitable, companies embark on their individualized journeys from a variety of starting points and with three different goals. The first goal is to support legacy enterprise application enhancements and deployments that tend to start and remain in an on-premise environment. The second is to implement new application designs that are primarily cloud-native for deployment to public cloud environments. In the face of this bifurcation, data center transformation projects represent the third goal. These tend to start with the automation of infrastructure components, with an end target of fully automated and containerized IT service provisioning and consumption within a DevOps operational environment.
Attaining these three operational goals is why cloud computing has driven rapid innovation, causing unprecedented disruption to the IT operating model. This disruption is revolutionizing how resources are consumed, delivered and governed. Cloud platforms, in fact, enable digital transformation acceleration along all three of these digital transformation vectors simultaneously by helping to answer questions like:
  • How to design and build new apps.
  • How to modernize existing apps with cloud services.
  • How to optimize the IT owned and operated by the enterprise.

Pursue Multipath Digital Transformation

Efficient and effective digital transformation depends on hybrid IT adoption. Transition requires building consensus across multiple constituencies and a focused change management strategy across just about every business process. The change management vectors must address:
  • How IT service consumption is changing into a commerce-like transaction similar to buying songs from multiple online streaming music vendors;
  • How IT service delivery is changing from service requests that initiate workflows towards fully automated functions governed by IT corporate policies;
  • How IT service governance is changing from incident keyed governance after-the-fact to the proactive setting and enforcement of policies that control consumption based on individual business unit usage models and cloud adoption strategies.
The target operating model is one that uses a multicloud federated management model that leverages IT service abstraction. The model lets businesses select and consume unique services and capabilities from each cloud service provider. The Gen 2 IT operations model depends on a high level of infrastructure visibility and governance that controls assets and usage patterns, a common DevOps consumption interface, the implementation of an enterprise scale DevOps model and, finally, the management of IT as a stand-alone business unit.
To pursue a multipath digital transformation to hybrid IT operations, you must:
  • Run a strategic portfolio analysis: Prioritized based on importance to customer experience, focus on high priority apps.
  • Develop your app-by-app migration plan: For priority, application create a focused SWT Team for each application.
  • Create a customer-obsessed cloud team: Think products and not projects (short iterations with quick customer feedback).
  • Pursue relentless automation: This requires standardization.
  • Re-engage with your trusted partners: External advice in the early change of a cloud migration can kick off the required culture change.
The IT world is changing fast, and the end point of this transition is a hybrid IT platform. This environment has on-premise data centers operating collaboratively across a multivendor, multicloud estate. The key to success in this world is to proactively set and enforce policies that control consumption based on individual business unit usage models and cloud adoption strategies. Get ready now, because it’s go time for multipath digital transformation.

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