The other day I was cleaning out some of my old presentations which I have delivered through the years and something occurred to me, our business models have truly evolved! Yes I know, that is such a surprise and like welcome back to reality Nathan! However stay with me for a little longer, historically people would talk about transformation in order to achieve the results the business was looking for so as to adapt to long term business or market changes. Then we saw a growing trend to look at transition as businesses realized that transformation could lead to either greater costs or significant business disruption especially during increasing periods of change. Now we have entered into a new era as businesses seek to maximize their existing assets and avoid expensive rip and replace strategies in the current market environment where the only constant seems to be change, an era which I have defined as “Augmentation”.
When we talked about Transformation we would traditionally jump to outsourcing as a means of execution, I mean transforming your business on your own seemed near impossible, but by outsourcing key functions that were not core to your business allowed you to focus on managing the change with the outsourcing partner providing the people and systems support. outsourcing is still an option that people consider but increasingly less as they look to alternative options providing greater controls on costs.
Over time though we realized that transformation became more complicated and less likely to succeed due to rapid globalization, market changes and increasingly complex supply chain and customer engagements. As such it seemed a “partner” providing managed services was best suited, providing a degree of flexibility to increase predictability in your operational cost and target certain synergies in IT and communications platforms. Managed services saw a rapid growth in demand and similar to outsourcing, managed services continue to be in demand albeit reduced as businesses again look to new options for supporting fluctuating business change.
The current era of augmentation has been driven by the advent of cloud computing an opportunity for businesses to find services which are more flexible with their business needs but equally helps to maximize their existing investments. cloud computing has not realized its full potential as yet, but new providers are helping business to realize the benefits of cloud computing through services which augment with existing platforms providing greater flexibility and scalability than previously seen.
What makes this whole evolution exciting is the waves of change are shortening, to clarify the window of opportunity for outsourcing companies has clearly passed, as has the peak of opportunity for managed service providers and now the question is how long will cloud based service providers last for. I am not saying that outsourcing and managed services will cease to exist, however they are no longer the only solution(s), but merely a part of, or provide a supporting role to the challenge businesses are looking for a solution to.
So we are no longer looking to transform, nor transition, but today it is about augmentation to maximize existing assets - which in the current environment no major surprises there. However before you nod your head feeling comfortable you are on the right track, we are awaiting the next wave which will be focused on Business Process Evolution or BPE. This will be achieved through the traditional two pillars of IT and communications finally merging through the common element of virtualization. Hence the title ... Bingo! Although this sounds like a technology puzzle game there is so much change that the key is to be able to adapt to change, anticipate it and recognize that traditional ways of working will no longer suffice. The resulting change however, will provide businesses an opportunity to redefine their business objectives first and foremost with a choice of partners to deliver on the ICT execution of those objectives.
I know many managers will read this and consider this a visionary story … however consider for a moment the diversity of software and next gen providers leveraging standard interfaces to bridge these two pillars of IT and Comm’s together. Their lack of legacy is allowing the acceleration of these types of solutions which will result in businesses focusing on business outcomes with an integrated IT and Comm’s platform that will scale with their changing business needs, no outsourcing or long term managed service required.
So what should you take away from this article? This is a message to all those feeling comfortable bobbing on those legacy waves, now is the time to start thinking about what is required to adapt to the next set of waves, because these waves of change are coming faster and if you don’t anticipate the coming changes someone else may end up deciding the future of your business for you. With that get your bingo cards ready because the next 12 months you are going to hear a lot about these accelerating waves of change and you will need to have the right attitude to survive and hopefully even succeed.