The Plug and Play Enterprise

In the last 6 months or so we’ve seen a big push from the new media marketers and enterprise social vendors towards promoting both the connected enterprise and the connected customer. The mobile and social paradigms are shaping the industry landscape at phenomenal pace and businesses are seriously struggling to keep up. But there’s a massive disconnect between it all, a vital missing component in the conceptual stack of ideas that could actually be bigger than all the purported game changers.

If we look at what’s shaping the enterprise industry markets today we have;

  • Cloud
  • Mobile
  • Social
  • Big and In-Memory Data
  • BYOD

On their own they are powerful propositions from Business to Consumer but they lack a cohesion and ability to work together. There is little interoperability, no single defining protocol that both hardware and software vendors have signed up to to ease a lot of IT pain and failed business expectation. So what’s the big problem here and why can’t we learn from other industries ?

Take a look at the digital home market for example.

The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) was founded in 2003 by a collection of global companies with a vision to easily connect and enjoy photos, music and video amongst networked consumer electronics, PC and mobile devices.

DLNA has certified more than 15,000 device models from the world’s leading manufacturers, including: TVs, storage devices, mobile phones, software, cameras, printers, game consoles, PCs, photo frames, media adapters, set-top boxes, AV receivers, Blu-ray disc players, tablet computers and many other products. DLNA Certified® devices take the guesswork out of selecting products that work together and facilitate better, easier sharing of digital video, photos and music throughout the home.

In order to achieve the vision of a digitally connected home, DLNA published industry design guidelines that allows OEMs to be involved in a networked device market, leading to “more innovation, simplicity and value for consumers.” According to the Alliance this ultimately meant that industry collaboration and standards-based interoperability produced compelling products.

So you have to question why on an enterprise scale this can’t be achieved as well ? If there is a protocol and set of guidelines that exist for a consumer market, and there is a big push towards BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to work then already there exists the potential to leverage interoperability between these digitally connected devices within the enterprise and build upon, extend and innovate those guidelines to include device and data compliance in the organisation. When IT tells the business they have this box called an ESB that talks to lots of other boxes to make things work it’s a fabricated truth because there is very little natural interoperability between those ‘boxes’. There are so many ‘standards’ and messaging protocols is it any wonder that large software platform vendors have become little more than a connectivity box with a bit of workflow thrown in to entice the COO.

And so to the true plug and play enterprise. In order to create a PnP vision hardware, software, service providers need to form another digital alliance and come up with a set of guidelines and protocols that literally allow business, organisational resource and consumers to plug in and play without the need for heavy integration cost. If something doesn’t work, swap it out for something else. If a process doesn’t work, allow consumers or internal resources to bring their own that work, on their own devices that they feel comfortable engaging with.

The Cloud has such promise and yet it’s really just another clunky service that requires a lot of data compliance and integration.

Big Data wants to show off it’s plumage and give us predictive analytical capabilities that can determine what consumer behaviour and trends are before they happen at an extremely targeted level and yet like a leaky tap all that complex plumbing required to piece all the systems together will eventually lead to meaningful data being lost.

All these trends are being designed and delivered in isolation and nobody is really thinking about bringing it all together in a way similar to DNLA  that will, according to the alliance, lead to more innovation, simplicity and value for consumers (in this case, the client).

Don’t talk big about a connected future. Build one. And for that to happen you might need to connect with the people you least expected to. Your competitors.


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