The Trusted Aggregator

Posted on: December 16, 2009 by Rob Price

"Increased competition, rapidly shifting technologies, and emerging disruptive business models — are the forces that are reshaping many parts of the global economy. " - Scott Anthony, talking on Harvard Business Online, talking about the impact of the new norm on the global Magazine industry. He then continues on to use the phrase "Constant Transformation is the new normal". I liked it. I'm not overly fond of the "new normal" (used by McKinsey, the Economist, and an obscure album by an Australian prog rock band called Cog), or the "new norm" (used by MCA, ourselves and others) ... in fact I'm still searching for a term that effectively describes the new all connected, IT-enabled world in which we will all inhabit.

Constant Transformation

It is a nice way to describe it. I've talked about "impending chaos", "accelerated decision making", "extreme collaboration" and more, but Constant Transformation more effectively describes the environment in which we and our clients will be operating in. It echoes the need to always follow the accelerated and urgent business need, the new technological possibilities and the new cultural transformation (GenX & GenY, with Gen Z soon to hit) that is now on us all - a perfect storm.

Earlier in the decade, our marketing team coined the phrase "Clarity from Complexity". It was an effective term for translating the complexity of IT requirements, applications and services into some simplified sense and order that both the business and the users of the system or services could exploit. It was effective at the time - IT contracts had grown too large, too complex, too prone to failure. The model has now changed - the contracts are smaller, one size no longer fits all. But the transformational need is ever present - just needed faster. Now we need to drive "Clarity during Constant Transformation".

What do we mean?

I've just read a McKinsey white paper on Business Technology: "Time to raise the CIO's game". There isn't anything new in it, but it reads well - it re-emphasises the need to focus on cost, to talk the language of the business, to step up productivity, to drive top-line company revenues and the need to collaborate. It offers Web2.0, SaaS and Cloud as emergent technologies that drive that change. And it rightly mentions the shift from an ordered process - the need for "best practice" controls and structure, to one that is more of a mind-set shift, "emphasise a bottom-up search for value through experimentation with customers and partners." Again, good stuff, but so what? It tells me nothing about when this new world is going to strike? Or how do I might decide which applications or services to move, and when? And which of the new service providers (SaaS, IaaS or otherwise) is going to be good and will survive, and which is, and will, not? What are the security implications? What are the new legal implications? How can I set up something now and change my mind in six months and then again in three months and then again three months later, and how do I enable all of this change in a seamless fashion such that the business operation is wholly protected from this rapid change, whilst it is equally able to exploit the upside benefits of that change?

This "Clarity during Constant Transformation" drives a new need, an emerging role of Trusted Aggregator - more than an advisor or an analyst, more than an enabler to exploit the rapid innovation in the market - a way of kickstarting Constant Transformation within the corporate or department. The Trusted Aggregator is a group of people, or an organisation, that:

  • has enough insight into a fast developing market to be able to not only spot the services (web2.0, cloud, saas etc.) to adopt
  • but with enough knowledge and experience to pragmatically drive an implementation of those services in the right transformational way for the business, balancing experimentation with risk and benefit
  • is comfortable operating in an open collaborative manner, finding a way to meld the individual contribution through the niche specialist through the global corporate into a coherent whole
  • is able to implement flexibility and agility technically and contractually to enable rapid change and proactivity
  • is able to act decisively and quickly with impact, enabling the CIO to deliver bottom-line savings and top-line acceleration through real transformational activities.

The CIO needs somebody who can hedge the bets that he or she needs to make in this fast moving market. Constant Transformation is not just the way of the magazine industry, or just the IT industry. Today, it is the way of the world. It is indeed the New Norm, the New Normal. The Trusted Aggregator will back both VHS and Betamax, will understand both BluRay and HDDVD, will see the opportunities presented by holographic projection and be clear on how to drive the value from it. The Trusted Aggregator will enable and be able to implement a transformational roadmap that must always deliver benefit to the business and to the CIO - now, tomorrow, the next day, next week, next month, next year - and will ensure the inevitable swift changes in direction can be undertaken effectively when part of the overall picture can be done better, more efficiently, faster, or just plain differently.

Adopt, Transform, Collaborate. Constantly.

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About Rob Price
COO for Worldline UK&I and member of the Scientific Community
Rob is COO for Worldline UK&I, the European leader in the payment and transactional services industry. He was previously Head of Digital for Atos UK&I, is a member of the Atos Scientific Community and was a founder of the award winning CIO/CTO Atos blog, the predecessor to Ascent. He successfully melds inspiration and creativity with strategic direction and implementation, focusing on driving more efficient and effective exploitation of technology and services to drive positive business outcomes and better connect our clients with their end consumers. The insight gained through both operational delivery roles and strategic Digital evangelist roles ensures that he views the Digital Revolution from multiple perspectives. Find him on twitter @The_Digital_COO

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