Category Archives : Business Process

P&G IT/IS – Real Time Communication and Data

I’ve not worked or been involved with anything at P&G but from what I have read and heard from a few second hand sources I am very impressed with the CIO Fillipo Passerini and his emphasis on how communication and data are changing how organisations do business.

I’ve included some quotes below from an Information Week article and a roundtable discussion from the Wall Street Journal article:

Lets start with the premise that the IT landscape has fundemtnally changed over the past 5 years and you need different skill sets within your department (WSJ)

The focus on business has become extremely important. An IT professional can transform the way business is done. This is very, very different from the profile of the people we would hire five or more years ago.

The IT department is no longer the king of technology.  Consumerisation has created a push business model where business people are constantly knocking on a CIO’s door.  IT has to embrace this change, if you don’t the business will find someone who will.

From a Unified Communications persepctive it is interesting that a CIO with such a vision highlights video conferencing as a key aspect of an IT provision (IW);

Another example is the ability for people to video-connect anytime, anywhere, any place, because we are a truly global operation. We may have teams working on a new business initiative in China, a commercial plan is developed in Europe, and commercialization [happens] in the U.S. For these people to come together instantaneously without having to fly or without having to plan—this is what is going to enable us.

I think you could take the above paragraph from 95% of the Fortune 500 and it would be an accurate statement of how they are wanting to operate.  They are literally turning their organisational model inside out. Yet if I was to survey those Fortune 500 I’m willing to bet that a significant number of them will complain about their video conference estate.  Even with significant investment most large organisations believe their VC estate is too cumbersome to operate, not fit for purpose and doesn’t have the required network to support.  You then often find the IT department state that video is just a gimmick that no uses anyway.  Well here is a CIO that is as close to the business as he can be and he’s committed to delivering high quality video to as much as the work force as possible.

Moving away from communication and onto data.  P&G want to invest in real time data.  I’m fully committed to this aim as well.  Consumers are living in real time.  They comunicate with their friends and families in seconds yet they typically communicate with the businesses they buy from in days and weeks (and on a separate point they communicate with their governments in months and years but that is a different story).  This will not be acceptable in the communication age.  For a business to respond in real time their data has to be accurate and available in real time (IW);

In terms of data, this strategy needs the right real-time data. What’s real time? The goal P&G’s working toward is that as soon as data is collected, it’s available for use, Passerini says. P&G isn’t after new data types; it still wants to share and analyze point-of-sale, inventory, ad spending, and shipment data. What’s new is the higher frequency and speed at which P&G gets that data, and the finer granularity. Passerini says P&G has about two-thirds of the real-time data it needs.

If P&G really do have 2/3 of data in real time they are probably producing significant competitive advantage within the market place.  My experience with large organisations is that they often don’t even know where their data is or what they are generating let alone have it available in real time (WSJ);

The other example is the ability to predict, do modeling and “what if” analysis. We’re creating some automation to [analyze] what is happening, why it is happening, so that we can focus all of our energies on how to improve what we have to improve. This will give us an ability to predict or to stay in control of sales volume, market shares, much, much better and be more specific, surgical, in the interventions we make.

In my view P&G have the exact blueprint for an IT department:

  • Find business people who can talk IT and employ them rather than IT personnel.  There may not be that many available on the market but its ok you don’t need too many to run a large IT department
  • Concentrate  and focus investment on real time data and communication
  • Don’t fight consumerisation – ride it and use it
  • Continue to cut costs in the department and invest those savings

In the articles Passerini didn’t mention the normal fodder for CIOs, such as; data centres, service levels, security but I guarantee they are the issues that under performing IT departments land on their CIO every day.  I know where I’d rather be focusing my time on.

Kinect and 3D Capture

Mirageblocks is a very interesting concept. Merging 3D projector, Kinect and Capture technology you can start to quickly and easily virtualise real world objects. As the blog states this could have many different applications. Taking online shopping to the next level is certainly one but I also see plenty of opportunities within the enterprise.

One use case springs to mind immediately. Manufacturers continue to divide the design and build process. Typically the design is taking place in the west and manufacture taking place in the east. I know from experience that this process is not smooth. The process has to be iterative but communication challenges and the long distance can often elongate the manufacture time to several months. Utilising UC technology with innovative products such as Mirageblocks will significantly reduce the time it takes from design to manufacture by reducing the amount of lag that it can take to move from the design to manufacture. Companies that embrace this way of working will certainly reduce product development time and reduce cost and as a result will gain competitive advantage.

Take a look at the Mirageblock blog here from the Microsoft Research team

Client Matter Tracking App for OCS and Lync 6

One potential issue preventing OCS and Lync adoption could be the relative lack of features that have been built into existing PBX systems over a number of years.  One such feature is the ability to immediately record a call to a client account.  This is a very common requirement in the Legal industry where Lawyers must be able to quickly and easily record their phone conservations with clients and bill for that time.

Microsoft are relying on the development community to fill the gaps of niche applications.  Enabling Tech Corp are one such company and they have developed a time tracking integration for OCS R2 and Lync.

Take a look at the video below, the demo of the application begins at the 3.00 minute mark.  I’d be interested to know how many organisations could exploit this app, I know several large Law firms are heavy users of OCS.

Machines can communicate too

I love finding examples of Unified Communications working within a business application and for a manufacturer of products there can be nothing more important than integrating their machines into the company communication system.  Wonderware have a case study on the Microsoft site on how they have coded OCS presence and instant messaging into their monitoring software.

Take a look at the case study here and take a look at Rainer’s blog here

“If you look at the technology advancements of the past 20 years, our industry has done a great job creating solutions that make it possible for machines to talk to each other—but has not done much to help people talk to each other quickly and efficiently when there is a question or a problem related to a process,” Regan says. “We have technology that can identify literally in microseconds whether a machine needs maintenance, but it might take hours for someone to decide whether to address the problem immediately or to wait a week. Those kinds of decisions have to be made by people, and industrial software doesn’t easily support decision-making processes.”Wonderware, a Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner, tackled the issue by taking core technologies from Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and incorporating them into its manufacturing solutions. These technologies include instant messaging (IM), Web conferencing, and presence, which shows whether someone in a network is online and available to communicate.

Running UCMA 2.0 with Lync

I imagine there could be several large scale deployments that may have to run UCMA2.0 with Lync. As is typical with new MS versions the migration or cohabitation of old and new is not simple. Joe Calev’s blog does a great job of explaing the options you have if you have a UCMA2.0 and want to upgrade to Lync.

While the most ideal scenario is to only run UCMA 3.0 applications with Lync Server 2010, for many of you this is simply not possible.  You may own an application that was written for UCMA 2.0 and you want to upgrade to Lync Server 2010, but the application has not yet been updated to UCMA 3.0.  Likewise, you may want to continue running your UCMA 2.0 application on an Office Communications Server 2007 front end but still want it to be accessible by users homed on a Lync Server 2010 front end.

These scenarios are all possible, but unfortunately the steps to configure them are rather confusing.  In some respects, this is one area where you really need to follow the directions to the exact letter.  Several steps may look rather peculiar but unfortunately must be run exactly as specified.

See the rest of Joe’s blog post here